Recently, I’ve started to read a manga (Japanese comics) genre called seinen. It is supposed to be a genre for university students and older males in general, as opposed to shounen for younger males, or, well, boys. (If you’re interested, the female equivalent is josei and shoujo respectively.) Seinen manga is suprisingly… interesting. It’s very refreshing and different from the hack and slash shounen and the insanely lovey-dovey shoujo.
Seinen ranges from utterly comedic to deeply psychological. Some of them still scars me to this day when I recalled the story. Indeed, it is not a genre to be taken lightly. So today, instead of discussing the usual programming stuffs, I shall be introducing some of the seinen manga I’ve read recently.
1. The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer (Wakusei no Samidare) by Mizukami Satoshi
This manga shocked me. I was laughing uncontrollably after only the first two pages! It was an awesome introduction (read it here: page 1 and 2). The story revolves around a college student who woke up to find an… err… talking lizard. Hilarious! Oh, not to forget that he later on swore allegiance to a princess who wants to save the earth from being destroyed by a… biscuit hammer. Did I say that the princess does that just so that she could destroy the earth herself? Gosh!
Read it here.
2. Angel Heart by Hojo Tsukasa
The first thing I noticed about this manga is that it has a unique drawing style among manga. It looks more like an older American graphic novels than a Japanese manga. After several chapters, it matters no longer. The story revolves around an assassin who committed suicide only to receive a stolen heart transplant and ending up becoming the “daughter” of the guy who is the fiance of the dead girl from whom the heart was stolen. It’s a heartwarming story of redemption of an ex-assassin doing good deeds as a city hunter.
Read it here.
3. Binbou Shimai Monogatari by Kazuto Izumi
The story revolved around two sisters who are incredibly poor and living alone in a meagre apartment rented from a fierce landlord. They constantly had to skimp on food. It tells the tale of the two sisters coping with their lives with a smile everyday. A truly slice of life story, it amazingly sticks to the premise up to the end. It’s as if you’re looking at two real sisters in real life and not in a manga. There is no happy ending and I didn’t expect it to have one. After all, the two sisters are already happy from the beginning just by having each other’s company.
Read it here.
4. Real by Inoue Takehiko
This is a deeply psychological manga. It provides a looking glass into a world of handicapped basketball through the eye of a school drop-out (who used to be a darn good basketball player), an ex-sprinter who had his leg amputated, and a popular basketball captain who lost all his friends after being involved in an accident and was paralyzed from waist down. It is a perfect twist to other basketball manga like Slam Dunk or Cross Over.
Read it here.
5. Skyhigh by Takahashi Tsutomu
Do you believe in afterlife? This story brings you into the gate of heaven, where a lone girl becomes its guardian, offering each spirit three options: one, to go through the gate and be reborn; two, to stay as wandering spirit on earth; or three, to curse (read: kill) one person on earth and go to hell afterwards. Each chapter portrays the decision each spirit made and the consequences. I was captivated. I read the continuation: Skyhigh Karma, but I still think the original Skyhigh is far more amazing than the second.
There were several other seinen I’ve read recently, notably Hot Milk, Bitter Virgin and Lucu Lucu; but I forced myself to limit the list to five. I was really torn when I was at #4. I decided to put up the two that are most different from the rest. But these three are pretty awesome as well.
Seinen is a refreshing genre because it’s so diverse. There is no common plots among many of the popular seinen manga. I’m glad I read them. Though I think they contribute to my headache. Imagine working 10 hours in front of an LCD screen and reading manga on another LCD screen at home. Surely, there is a limit for my eyes… :(