Japanator's 2013 Holiday Guide: Manga


Keep your friends well-read this holiday season

Black Friday has already come and gone, which means that the days are quickly counting down before you need a gift. Bookstores are still a viable retailer for manga, which saves you with that last-minute gift.

Are you standing in front of the aisle this very minute, unsure of what to buy? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

Manga makes a great gift (much better than anime or videogames) because you can easily add on based on how much you like the person. Secret Santa at your anime club? One volume. College buddy? Three volumes. Your significant other? A complete series.

Follow me after the jump, and we'll delve into all the titles you should buy this season.

For the mecha fan who needs to

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (Vertical)
MSRP: $29.99

Gundam, love it or hate it, is a hallmark of our fandom. This is the giant robot title that got us all excited for 30-ft tall mechs and the pretty boys who pilot them. Gundam: The Origin takes us back to the beginning -- back to Char Aznable, Amuro Ray, and Bright Noa -- and provides a great jumping in point for new fans daunted by the sheer volume of Gundam stories to get into.

Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's art makes it pretty easy to get into, as well. The scenes are beautifully drawn, offering up great detail on the mech designs and the battle scenes. Each volume goes at a killer pace, and leaves you hungry for the next. I'm not even a giant robot fan, but it's been a must-buy title for me with every volume that comes out.

Be sure to get the volumes this year, because you never know when Vertical's beautiful hardcover editions will go entirely out of print! Sure, digital copies will exist, but it doesn't match the look and feel of these hardcover editions.

For the teenage boy who loves boobs, violence, and boobs...

Wolfsmund (Vertical)
MSRP: $12.95

If you've got a friend who's interested in action and just loves to stare at boobs, then Wolfsmund is going to be the manga for them! Set in medieval Europe, Wolfsmund is a dramatic version of the story of William Tell, as done by Mitsuhisa Kuji -- an assistant on the Berserk manga.

That should give you an idea of where this title will go.

It's proven to be one of the more engaging stories this year, as Kuji quickly has you rooting for the downfall of the Castle Wolfsmund. I spent some more time recommending this in my A Look @ Wolfsmund piece, which is worth checking out for more detailed info on the story.

This will be right up the alley for anyone who's been interested in violent medieval-era tales, such as Berserk or Guin Saga.

For the J-RPG lover in your life...

The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy (Dark Horse)
MSRP: $89.99

There's nothing better than a book full of Yoshitaka Amano to class up your coffee table. Amano's art defined the look and feel of the Final Fantasy series, and what better item to give to your J-RPG-loving friends than this tome of Amano's art designs?

It's jaw-droppingly beautiful, and something that will be hard to part with when you pick it up in stores. I mean, just take a look at the inside images on Amazon's page. Gorgeous, isn't it?

The three-volume slipcase will make a nice gift for anyone who's logged months and months of their lives playing Final Fantasy games.

For the person who only reads "indie" titles...

Attack on Titan (Kodansha)
MSRP: $10.99

If your giftee hasn't gotten on the Attack on Titan bandwagon, it's time to get them hooked. Sure, they might want the "hip" stuff, but Titan is just too good to pass up.

Attack on Titan has quickly become one of the hottest titles on the market -- driving up an even greater sales frenzy than typical stalwarts Bleach and Naruto. The story features humanity fighting back from the brink of extinction against a new class of predator -- the monstrous Titans. Not only is there the mystery of where these gigantic beasts came from, but also why one young recruit has a mysterious power that can help turn the tide against the Titans.

The series created a sensation when the anime hit simulcast channels, and the manga has been a huge seller ever since. At New York Comic Con, both Vertical and Kodansha Comics announced licenses for several spinoffs and light novels, which means now is a good time to get into the series before the material becomes overwhelming.

For the Nintendo fanboy in your life...

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse)
MSRP: $34.99

Before there was Final Fantasy in our lives, many of us first sat down with our NES, SNES, or N64 (youngin'!) to play a Legend of Zelda game. Whether your memories are of the original or Twilight Princess, Hyrule Historia will be a tome filled with fond memories.

Containing numerous character designs, release notes, interviews, essays, and manga pages, this book is the edition that deserves to be in the hands of your gamer giftee.

Not only are you giving the gift of all that Zelda lore contained within the book, but you'll also light the spark of desire to play the games once again. Before you know it, your friend will be down in the basement, booting up the NES and searching around for that gold cartridge.

It'll be a warm trip down Nostalgia Lane.

For the ultimate shoujo fan...

Sailor Moon Box Set I and II (Kodansha)
MSRP: $65.94

Much like Gundam: The Origin, Sailor Moon is another important title in our otaku history. It's the magical girl show that launched a thousand ships and showed all of us that girls can kick our butts (with the power of the Moon).

Now that Kodansha is finally done with the run of the original series, you can give the gift of Sailor Moon in two convenient box sets. Then, once your friend plows through all 12 volumes, they can move on and devour all the short stories available. Oh, and they can spend endless hours trying to figure out the ending, too.

Even though many of us watched Sailor Moon when it first came out in the west, there's a wholly different -- and wholly necessary -- experience in reading the series.

For the friend who already owns a katana...

Lone Wolf & Cub Omnibus Edition (Dark Horse)
MSRP: $19.99

Have a friend who's big into samurai stories? Lone Wolf & Cub is the classic series for them. Originally released in the US in the '80s, they're finally getting a properly-sized reprint in these omnibus editions.

This celebrated title is about the Emperor's executioner going on the run with his three-year-old son after false accusations force him out of his position. Armed with his trusty sword and Battle Carriage, Ogami is forced to be an assassin in order to get through life.

Lone Wolf & Cub has seen six movies, four plays, and a TV adaptation, and has influenced artists on both sides of the Pacific since its debut in 1970. Since it's a classic series that hasn't been in wide circulation in recent years, now is the perfect time to make it a gift they're sure to love. 

For the friend who spends too much time in the bath...

Thermae Romae (Yen Press)
MSRP: $34.99

The premise: an unsuccessful Roman builder finds himself time-traveling to modern-day Japan when he falls asleep inside of a hot tub. There, he finds the Japanese bath designs fascinating and brings the technology back to Ancient Rome and wins himself great glory as an inventive bath house maker.

That's enough of a hook for you, isn't it?

Yen Press pulled out all the stops in their production of this series, giving the title all the same pomp that Vertical put into Gundam: The Origin. And this is a title that deserves it -- the art is rich with historical detail and marvelous to behold.

For the friend who loved Satoshi Kon...

Tropic of the Sea (Vertical)
MSRP: $14.95

Satoshi Kon left a big impact on the world of anime when he died, but now we're seeing more of his early work come out into the light. Tropic of the Sea was Kon's first published manga, and it carries all the hallmark beauty of his later works.

It's a classic tale of traditional culture butting heads with the business-minded desires to modernize everything, and what happens when the local shrine's sacred treasure is put in jeopardy. It's a basic story, but the art in this single-volume title is Moebius-quality stuff.

To boot, there's an included essay of Kon's (originally written for the Japanese republication of Tropic of the Sea) where he eerily foreshadows some of his health problems. That essay alone is worth the purchase price for Kon fans, and this unusual volume will make a great gift for anyone who loved his works.

For anyone who's been through high school...

No Matter How I Look At It It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! (Yen Press)
MSRP: $11.99

We've all been in Tomoko's shoes: sitting alone all night playing otome games in the hopes of mastering social skills, only to find that once she arrives at high school, she's a total loner. The title then follows Tomoko as she takes a look in the mirror and sees what she needs to change.

It sucks. A lot. If you've ever been socially awkward, then this title will speak to you loud and clear. You can feel Tomoko's anxiety and awkwardness radiate off the page, which is a testament to how well Nico Tanigawa tells the story. It's a flip on the slice of life genre, and if your friend liked Lucky Star, this will be an easy transition into something with a bit more grit to it.

Those are our manga picks for the season; of course, if some of the people on your shopping list are of a less literary bent (*sniff* *scoff!* Pardon us while we adjust our monocles), Japanator has shopping guides for games and music coming up later this Cyber Monday.

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Brad Rice
Brad RiceFounder   gamer profile

Brad helped found in 2006, and currently serves as an Associate He's covered all aspects of the industry, but has a particular preference for the business-end of things, more + disclosures



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    Filed under... #Holiday Shopping Guide #Kodansha #manga #top stories #Vertical #Yen Press



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