Welcome to my very first instalment of Top 5 Tuesday. I think traditionally it’s a Top 10, but I settled on 5 because it just felt like a nice, comfortable number to me. I decided to focus on seinen manga for this post. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the term, “seinen” refers to one of four demographics that are used in Japan to essentially rate anime, manga, and light novels. Seinen refers to mature teenage boys (17+) and adult men specifically.
I’ve got a small list of several of my favourite seinen manga of all-time. I’m rather pleased with the list as it’s actually quite diverse in terms of genres. Anyhow, without further adieu, enjoy!
5. Eternal Sabbath by Fuyumi Soryo (Mars, Cesare)
A science-fiction thriller, the manga has 8 total volumes and was published by Del Ray Manga for US audiences in 2002. The story revolves around a unique gene that was developed by a bunch of scientists within the walls of a secret laboratory. The advancement that they hoped to achieve surpassed anything they thought possible in a most terrifying and unexpected means.
The story is short, succinct, scientifically pleasant, and pleasurably paced. I’ve read and re-read the series multiple times without any disappointment. The artwork is breathtakingly intricate and delightfully clean, crisp. The panels are so aesthetically pleasing that it helps drive you onwards with eagerness. Recommended to anyone who’s got a taste for science-fiction.
4. Elfen Lied by Lynn Okamoto (Brynhildr in the Darkness)
More of a science-fantasy series, this was never published in the US, unfortunately. It was published by Shueisha in Japan with 12 volumes. It’s popularity helped the manga get adapted into an anime of the same name. The story itself is about a mutant species called the Diclonii, who are similar to humans physiologically, yet they also have two horns upon their heads and the ability to telekinetically control transparent arms known as vectors. The main characters are a Diclonii named Lucy and a human boy named Kohta.
The story itself is extremely fucking violent, which is one of my favourite qualities of the series. But the story of the Diclonii, their experiences and treatment by humans, and just their overall existence is extremely fascinating to me. If you don’t mind blood and gore, as well as nudity in large quantities, then definitely check this manga out. If you’re unsure, you can read my awkward, amateur review here to see if it’ll be your cup o’ tea.
3. Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe (Gunparade March)
This super actiony, black comedy, crime drama is one of my all-time favourite manga serials ever, regardless of genre, so naturally it had to make my seinen list. There are currently 10 volumes in release, with more coming out in the near future as it’s an ongoing title. It’s released by Viz Media in the US. It was also adapted in an anime, which is just fucking brilliant with a great dub cast to boot, which is a HUGE compliment because I normally loathe watching dubbed anime.
It’s about a badass lady named Revy who’s part of a group of pirate mercenaries known as Lagoon company. They do plenty of smuggling in and around the seas of Southeast Asia during the ’90s. The vast majority of their clientele and jobs originate in the fictional harbour city of Roanapur in Thailand. They are known for shit blowing up (metaphorical and literal) in their faces and having to ass-kick their way of it. So much to love in this manga from the fast paced, action-fueled, bullet battles to the delightfully colourful foul language to the motley crew members of Lagoon. If you enjoy action and cursing, you will love this series.
2. Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura (Spring Breeze Snegurochka)
A classical chanbara (samurai cinema) manga with fantastic supernatural elements, Blade of the Immortal is an icon in the manga industry. There are a total of 30 volumes in the series, and recently Dark Horse Comics began releasing them in positively stunning omnibus editions, which I have been diligently collecting. There was an anime adaptation as well. I have not seen the anime for this, mostly because I’m worried it will leave me feeling sensationally unsatisfied as there are only 13 episodes to it.
The manga follows Manji who is a very talented samurai with a secret ability that helps him stay alive and kicking. As payment for this unique ability, and a few other plot thingymajigs, Manji is tasked with having to kill 1000 evil men. This synopsis is essentially too simplistic, but if I divulge anything else it will be dipping into spoiler territory. At the very least, if it doesn’t spoil the actual story, it will shatter a lot of the suspense aspects, so I’m just going to keep it short and sweet. In all honesty, if you enjoy historical fiction and badass samurai, then go check out this manga. It’s an icon for a reason.
1. Initial D by Shuichi Shigeno (Baribari Legend)
Excuse me for a second: THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE FAVOURITE MANGA OF ALL-TIME AND I’M SO EXCITED TO SHARE THIS WITH Y’ALL! Okay, I’m done with that. As a former street-racer who lived and thrived off the adrenaline that comes from this particular sport, I have to say that this manga does a phenomenal fucking job of illustrating what street-racing life was like, especially between the 80s and 90s. The culture, the arrogance, the fantastic thrill from driving in such a way, even the technical terms and science behind it–all of it is illustrated and examined so wonderfully in this series. My brother introduced me to this manga when he began teaching me how to race, so there’s also a huge sentimental facet to my obsession with the manga as well.
Damn… I really fucking miss racing… Oh retirement, I loathe you…
There are 48 total volumes in the series. Unfortunately only 33 of those were published in the US via Tokyopop, which went out of business here before the rest of the series could be released. I’m excruciatingly awaiting the day for this to get picked up a current US publisher so I can get the whole collection. I own all 33 volumes in English and Japanese with plans of obtaining the last 15 Japanese volumes as I can acquire them. If you’re into cars at all, then just shut up and go read this. It’s awesome-sauce-boss.