SDCC 2013: Best & Worst Manga

SDCC 2013: Best & Worst Manga

On Saturday evening, an opinionated group of manga and comics bloggers, retailers, editors, and pundits gathered to rant and rave (okay, mostly rant) about the best new manga that debuted in the past year, the continuing manga series most worth reading, the most anticipated upcoming releases, the Japanese manga we most want to see licensed/published in English, and of course, the worst manga that you’d best avoid.

This year’s panel of pundits:

For now, I’ll be posting the list of books we’ve mentioned, and later, if the recording turned out okay, I’ll post the audio from the panel.

UPDATE: Jamie Coville from has posted an MP3/audio file of the panel, so you can hear the rants/raves/laughs/gasps of horror from this discussion for yourself. Go check it out!

So, without further ado, here we go:


Attack on Titan Volume 1

Attack on Titan Volume 1 © Hajime Isayama / KODANSHA


  • One Piece by Eiichiro Oda (Shonen Jump / VIZ Media)
  • Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi (Shonen Sunday / VIZ Media)
  • Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato (Shonen Jump / VIZ Media)
  • Wandering Son by Takako Shimura (Fantagraphics)
  • Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane (SigIKKI / VIZ Media)


Sunny Vol. 1 by Taiyo Matsumoto

Sunny Vol. 1 by Taiyo Matsumoto © Taiyo Matsumoto / SHOGAKUKAN

  • Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto (SigIKKI / VIZ Media)
  • Danza by Natsume Ono (Kodansha Comics)
  • Tokyo Love ~ Rica ‘tte Kanji!? (ALC Publishing) – by Rica Takashima
  • The Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Edogawa Rampo and Suehiro Maruo (Last Gasp)
  • Utsubora by Asumiko Nakamura (Vertical)



Bleach Vol. 57

Bleach Vol. 57 by Tite Kubo © 2001 by Tite Kubo/SHUEISHA Inc.

  • Bleach by Tite Kubo (Shonen Jump / VIZ Media)
  • I Don’t Like You at All  Big Brother! by Kouichi Kusano (Seven Seas)
  • Demon Love Spell by Mayu Shinjo (Shojo Beat / VIZ Media)
  • Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)
  • Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama (Kodansha)


  • Toriko by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro (Shonen Jump / VIZ Media)
  • The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame by Gengoroh Tagame (Picturebox)
  • Dr. Slump by Akira Toriyama (Shonen Jump / VIZ Media)
  • Shotaro Ishinimori manga (Comixology)
  • Blood Lad by Yuuki Kodama – (Yen Press)


Nijigahara Holograph by Asano Inio

Nijigahara Holograph by Asano Inio © Asano Inio / OHTA SHUPPAN

  • Nijigahara Holograph by Asano Inio (Fantagraphics) – Feb 2014
  • Showa 1925-1939, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly) – November 2013
  • New Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori (Dark Horse) – Sometime in 2014
  • Doraemon by Fujio Fujiko (Fujiko Pro/Shogakukan) – Fall 2013
  • Insufficient Direction by Moyoco Anno (Vertical) – Spring 2014
  • Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka (Shonen Sunday / VIZ Media) – digital: August 2013/ print: Jan 2014


Silver Spoon Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa

Silver Spoon Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa © Hiromu Arakawa / SHOGAKUKAN

  • What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Kinō Nani Tabeta?) by Fumi Yoshinaga (Kodansha)
  • Silver Spoon (Gin no Saji) by Hiromu Arakawa (Shogakukan)
  • DJ Teck’s Morning Attack by Katsuhiro Otomo (Shinchousha)
  • But Gou-Gou Is a Cat (Gou-Gou Datte Neko de Aru) by Yumiko Ōshima (Kadokawa Shoten)
  • Chihayafuru by Yuki Suetsugu (Kodansha)

So what do you think? Did we hit the mark, or did we miss your favorites? Add your comments below!


  1. I don’t get
    * Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)
    * Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama (Kodansha)
    being best and worst at the same time.

    (AND they’re masterpieces in their own right.)

    • I think that kodocha should be on here. Its my fav. seris

  2. Well, we had five pundits who had very different opinions on these books! Those two titles in particular were somewhat polarizing, but I think it made for an interesting discussion. I hope to post a link to the audio soon and/or post some of the comments we made about our choices, so to provide more context.

    The reason why I didn’t at this time is that I didn’t want to delay posting this list any longer than I already have. I had originally hoped to have it up by Sunday morning, but Comic-Con ate my brain – Deb

  3. Can’t wait for the audio. Very curious what the reason is for Heart of Thomas and Attack on Titan being on the Worst list, and who put them there.

  4. I actually laughed out loud when I saw Bleach on the worst list. It really is terrible. But very glad to see Utsubora on the best list. Nakamura deserves more attention in English.

    • ha! you shoulda heard the reaction in the room when the Bleach slide came up! Everyone roared and laughed too!

      And yes, Utsubora really, really impressed me. I’m looking forward to giving it another read so I can do a write-up. What else would you recommend from her?

  5. How is One Punch Man a “BEST NEW MANGA FOR KIDS/TEENS”? I know several people over the age of 18 that read OPM. Also, where’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?

    • @STiger — I think you’re taking the categories a little too literally! 😉 Best New Manga for kids/teens doesn’t mean it’s ONLY interesting/suitable for younger readers! I’m perfectly aware that One Punch Man is serialized on Young Jump’s website in Japan, a magazine that’s geared for 20-something readers. But let’s not quibble — I don’t have a problem recommending One Punch Man to a reader who’s say… 15. I think it’s a HOOT for readers age 13 – 53 — it’s that good. Keep in mind that it’s serialized in the US edition of Weekly Shonen Jump, which is largely geared to readers age 13 and up.

      So anyway, don’t sweat it too much — we’re not insulting your taste in manga as ‘kids stuff’ if that’s what’s bothering you! 🙂

      Also, the title of the panel was the best and worst manga of 2013 — so the guideline I gave to the panelists when they were making their picks was that they had to pick titles that had new volumes released in NORTH AMERICA within the last 12 months. And JoJo’s… well… sorry. It didn’t make the cut.

      Anyway, lists like this are meant to be opinions, not facts! So your mileage may vary. 🙂

    • Shounen means young boy in Japan and that is the demographic in Japan and obviously in most countries shonen is aimed at teenagers, but many people over 19 read it anyway because it’s amazing for example One Piece is one of those shonen that are read by adults due to it’s themes.

  6. I agree with Heart of Thomas being on the worst list; it’s a creaky, derivative melodrama that can’t rise above its outdated morality. Personally I would hate for a kid, especially an LGBTQ kid, to read this book and take it seriously; not only are girls and women uniformly portrayed as pathetic, its trajectories for boys attracted to boys end in suicide or priesthood. Granted, Heart of Thomas is a product of its time, but in contrast, the movie it was based on, Les amitiés particulières, is even 10 years older and remains compelling and relevant.

    I hope The Passion of Gengorah Tagame is just the beginning of seeing this amazing artist’s work available in english. He is a true visionary, even if much of his vision reminds me of the vivid nightmares I had after reading the Inferno for the first time.

    As far as a license requests, BL fans are still waiting for an english release of Setona Mizushiro’s The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese and The Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice. Like Gengoroh Tagame’s work, they’ve been available in multiple other languages for years.

  7. Ah, it’s posts like these that make me especially miss Comic-Con and remind me that I need to get back to reading manga! After a self-imposed hiatus (I’m surviving toddler-hood right now), I think I’m ready to start digging back into good comics, especially since they’re easier than ever to find in my local libraries. Looking forward to reading more, Deb!

  8. Just so you know, Yusuke Murata twittered a link to this page!

    • @Kibate I saw that! Pretty rad! 😀

  9. After years of reading mainly European and North American comics i’ve spent the last 6 months getting into Manga. I’ve been ploughing throught plenty of classic stuff – Tezuka, Otomo, Taiyo Matsumoto, Umezu’s Drifting Classroom etc It really feels like finding buried tresure.

    Anyway, having lists like these arounf is super helpful for a new boy. Thanks!

    Neat looking site too. Hope it is a raging success.

  10. Ahh….I CANNOT WAIT for Nijigahara Holograph!!!!! I was so surprised when I heard that announcement. Now….if only more of Inio-sensei’s works could make it over here. 🙂

  11. I like Bleach sure it’s a mess in a lot of ways but I find it odd that Bleach gets listed as one of the worst and a title like Mayo Chiki or Haganai don’t (mind you I read and enjoy both of those titles but they seem more deserveing of being put in “the worst” than Bleach) just my two cents

  12. I’m only hoping that Saint Oniisan could be included on that list… it’s hilarious although it’s not likely that it will be licensed in the US due to Jesus being in it and licensing companies not having enough money to deal with definite lawsuits from ultra-conservative Christian groups.

  13. In the “UNDER-RATED BUT GREAT MANGA YOU SHOULD BE READING NOW” list Eyeshield 21 should be there, it’s AWSOME, the art is great, the characters are special, unique and cool, the plot is simple but exciting, everyone should read that manga!!

  14. I disagree 100% with having “Bleach” in the worst column. It is a great series.

  15. Why is Bleach the worst manga?

    • Bleach is a great seris and it definitely shouldn’t be in worst

  16. This is bs Bleach and Attack on Titan are great series these people must be high

  17. These guys are off on reviews. I as a 30 yr old ma, enjoy attack on titan a lot. It is a thrill ride of action and at the end of each manga you are left with a cliffhanger and the edge of your seat. Sacred black smith is very good as well. I find it odd to even have a kids or teen manga label when mangas are for all ages. Blue exorcists is decent to. one piece makes me lol. got to love luffy.

  18. Quite shocked Bleach categorized as worst manga. It is one of my favorite manga too.

  19. where is naruto ? you should put it in the “worst manga for anyone any age”

    • Not really.

    • Thems fighten words my freind,no way no how is naruto ever gonna be on “worst” list… ever!! Its just some people have better taste

  20. Manga is the Japanese word for comics and cartoons in print. Manga is well respected as both art and as a form of popular literature. In fact, much the the adult population in Japan read manga and several major manga magazines in Japan sell several million copies each week.

  21. It is not as bad as you thinking … It is a time pass comic at all .


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