It was around this time last year that I finally signed up for a mangaupdates account and began tracking my reading of manga. I have come to realize that my tastes revolve in two main categories, comedy and fight– usually in the shoujo or seinen genres, which are generally aimed for a younger demographic.
This post will briefly introduce the best comedy / shoujo I have read this year. The second post (that shortly will follow) will introduce some of the best fight / seinen. In these lists, I have only chosen to include manga that have been recently updated (within the last three months at the most) or have been completed. I hope you find something fun to read, and drop me a line if you have any recommendations. As always, my religiously updated manga reading list can be found here.
COMEDY / SHOUJO
Headlined by a talking cat shaped like a donut, with companions like a macaroon bear, bagel cats, and other animals in ridiculously cute food shapes, Donyatsu takes place in a post-apocalyptic world with sentient robots. This manga is even served with a dash of romance. Sorry, how can one rate this manga anything below a 10/10? It is mecha, has talking dessert cats and romance. It has it all.
Tonari no Seki-kun
This is a gag manga at its finest; each chapter is self-contained and has its own little story. With a strong sense of justice, Yokoi is normally studious, yet she cannot help but become distracted by Seki-kun’s ridiculous antics in class, which strangely, no one but Yokoi notices. The premise sounds a bit boring, but the author’s scenarios and humor consistently always draws a few chuckles, and it is refreshing to see a manga about a boy and girl without there being romance (except the misunderstood romance for gag effect, of course!).
Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki
This manga centers around an impossibly round cat, Poyo. The ridiculously round-bodied cat is adorable, though I think the brother Hide-kun is actually quite moe as well, especially as he embarrassingly eats his Poyopoyo lunch bento. This is another gag manga, but unlike Tonari no Seki-kun, the format (4-koma) is a bit different. Each chapter has one full page story, followed by a few more pages. The following pages have eight panels on each page, with two vertical columns containing four panels each. One column is intended to be read as one mini-story, though the entire chapter usually has an over-arching theme or plotline.
There was also an anime released that you can watch on Crunchyroll. Each episode is just a few minutes, but hilarious. I advise watching just to listen to the Poyopoyo’s “Nya~~”.
A Bad Boy Drinks Tea! or Ocha Nigosu is the latest shoujo manga I have picked up, and centers around a high school student nicknamed Akuma-kun (“Devil”, often shorted to “Ma-kun”) due to his naturally scary face and legendary fighting abilities. Ma-kun joins the tea ceremony club and tries to reform himself into a self-described “kind guy” that a passerby would ask for directions. The best thing about this manga is that though we may view Ma-kun as a delinquent in the beginning, his character is developed skillfully and we come to learn he is rather misunderstood, and I have grown to like his honesty and innocence.
By the way, this manga is incredibly funny (wait until you get to the scene after the triple hamburger). Ocha Nigosu also does have a fair amount of fighting so it could fall under seinen as well. In terms of romance, there is a light fairy-dusting, but it does not feel forced and rather adds to the comedic atmosphere.
Set in high school (where else?), Nisekoi is essentially a large harem of girls all wanting to end up with one guy, Raku Ichijou. The first sixty-or-so chapters of Nisekoi were quite coherent with well-developed arcs. Nonetheless, the newer chapters seem more like one-shots and the amount of girls in the harem increase without any real progress on the previous relationships. Currently, there are around six girls vying for Ichijou. It was already quite crazy and interesting with four girls, and the relationships with those original four girls so far have not even come close to fruition, so read this manga only if you do not mind a large harem!
However, Nisekoi is incredibly polished: the artwork is consistent, and the jokes are surprisingly fresh (even if the situations are cliched).
Girls of the Wild’s
Like Ocha Nigosu, this manhwa (Korean full-color manga) also has quite a lot of fighting. Yet, I placed this to be on the shoujo post as it is quite heavy on the romance and also features a harem of three girls for one boy, Jaegu. Jaegu is the only male at Wild’s High, previously an all-girls’ school with a strong focus on athletics, particularly those that engage in combat. The manhwa documents Jaegu’s growth from a person that was bullied to someone who learns how to stand up for himself and others– an underdog story.
Despite Girls of the Wild’s updating weekly, I have put this series on hold for now. I find that the story moves too slowly if you read from week to week.
Without being saccharine or cheesy, Horimiya is straight-up pure shoujo romance with no fighting or harems. If you like shoujo at all, you need to read this (and Kuragehime). If you refuse to without reading a summary, tsk tsk, you don’t really like shoujo, you fake.
[No picture because the manhwa’s art is hit-or-miss.]
This relatively short and completed manhwa centers around a small Korean modeling agency run by a tyrannical lady which tries to propel their one male model into stardom. The story is compact, with few deus ex machina, making for a fast and straightforward read.