The Other Side of Manga

About this page: why and what

Japanese comics, or manga, are now one of the most popular "subcultures" in Japan, also well-known and exported to the rest of the world. In my humble opinion, however, many of the mangas translated into foreign languages are not quite the best ones and giving a wrong impression that mangas are "for children" (in the sense that Disney cartoons are primarily for children) or, worse, for geeks. This page is going to give a (very rough) overview of mangas which I like more, in the hope that it leads to better understanding of our spirit (or mine, at least).


Uchini Oideyo – Come on a my house!

Hidenori Hara, Shogakukan, 7 volumes, 1991-1994.

The first half of this comic is a love story of a university boy—who aims to be a professional photographer—and a young woman. Yes, it is boring, of course. The more boring the first half is, the more shocking the latter half is: it is a story about how the boy abandons the woman in exchange for his dream.

Yattarojan (Let us make it)

Hidenori Hara, Shogakukan, 19 volumes, 1992-1996.

The story of a high school baseball team. The students are nice and happy, but they are losers. They have a new coach who also looks nice, but turns out to be a rather offensive "baseball elite" who used to be the pitcher in a winning team of the national tournament. He provokes the team to victory, while which they learn the pain and joy that lie beyond the line of just "enjoying" baseball (or life in general).


Takuya Mitsuda, Shogakukan, >41 volumes, 1995- (continuing).

The son of a good baseball player loves his father and baseball too. Being such a thoroughbred and being talented himself, he is often considered arrogant and he doesn't care. Actually, he exercises far more than other boys, even when his father dies because of a sudden accident (though another famous baseball player adopts the son) or even when he almost couldn't continue baseball because of a severe shoulder injury. He doesn't bother to show off any of such effort, either. He has a rather rude tongue and a warm heart, with both of which he makes enemies and real friends everywhere. (Unfortunately, this manga is getting more and more boring recently.)

Aoki Hono-o (Blue Flame)

Kimio Yanagisawa, Shogakukan, 6 volumes, 1989-1991.

A young man with a (seemingly) coldest heart takes advantage of his looks and his lovers to suffice endless ambitions. What is interesting is that he works hard – he studies hard to enter a good university, he works out a lot every day and even become a top football player just to win the love of the daughter of a billionaire (but he doesn't love her at all, of course), etc. For such a purpose, he goes so far as murdering his enemies.

By the way, the drawings of this manga don't look quite professional and the ending is rather abrupt.

Shin Nozokiya (Peeper II)

Hideo Yamamoto, Shogakukan, 11 volumes, 1994-1997.

A professional "peeper" reveals the darkest side of his targets or even his clients. Among the erotic and grotesque stories of various people, one of his targets—a cute and clever girl—gets interested in the peeper himself. She finds that, although he seems smart and sociable, he cannot actually communicate with other persons in any deep way. Since then, she begins to fight to open his mind.


Hitoshi Iwa-aki, Kodansha, 10 volumes, 1990-1995.

A mediocre high school student is fated to fight against scary creatures that destroy human brains, take control and eat other humans. However, as he overcomes his mother's death and gets better at killing, he is confronted with the crisis of his own identity as a human being.

Aozora (Blue Sky)

Hidenori Hara, Shogakukan, 13 volumes, 1998-2002.

Another "high school baseball" manga by Hidenori Hara. A boy in the countryside plays baseball to keep his promise with a man who used to be the top pitcher in a high school baseball team. When the boy revives the team and becomes its pitcher himself, his dream is betrayed: the man turns out to be now imprisoned as a member of the Japanese Mafia. Even so, the boy continues to play baseball for himself...


Makoto Yukimura, Kodansha, >2 volumes, 2001- (continuing).

Science fiction of a young "space debris collector" (and his colleagues), who used to be a commonplace worker until he determines to become a member of the elite crew of Jupiter Project, for which his mentalities begin to change – in both positive and negative ways.

Coming soon (or later): Ningyono Mori/Ningyono Kizu, Berserk, Pineapple Army, Megumino Daigo, Ushioto Tora, Master Keaton, Hyoryu Kyoshitsu, Kilico, Itsudemo Yumewo, Hakaima Sadamitsu, Jipang Boy, Hitsujino Uta, Shakariki!, Orochi, Oretachino Field, etc.