Manga Recommendations

I get these asks a lot, so here are some mangas I like!

  • DOGS: Bullets & Carnage
  • Dead Tube
  • Aku No Hana
  • Berserk
  • Lone Wolf And Cub
  • Sun Ken Rock
  • Shigurui
  • Vagabond
  • Paperweight Eye
  • Oyasumi Punpun
  • A Girl By The Sea
  • Solanin
  • Wolfen Crest
  • Monster
  • I Am A Hero
  • Battle Royale

(They contain psychological/physical abuse, rape, gore etc. take your own risk!)


by Asian Kung-Fu Generation
[solanin songbook]



If I could, I would repaint the world.
Nothing as drastic as getting rid of wars,
But maybe, there’s a bit of that too.

I can’t be an actor or a movie star,
I can’t even laugh naturally in front of you for that matter.
What’s there for a guy like me to do?

Everything I did was wrong, and I don’t understand, rolling rolling.
My heart is aching over what was never really mine.
We will probably continue to run… our entangled hearts, rolling rolling
Setting off to the frozen ground, rolling.

There is no reason but somehow I am sad.
Hopeless, when you can’t even cry.
So I sing, hoping to bring warmth to the night.

The rock rolls, taking us away to somewhere, somewhere.
A new life begins to grow, cracking the solid ground.
Beyond those hills, shining in glory…
Comes the morning that will light up all the loneliness.

The small red car is taking her away,
Far around the corner to the other side.
Disappearing from my sight…

What was it I lost? I can’t even figure out, rolling rolling.
My heart is aching over what was never really mine.
We will probably continue to run… our entangled hearts, rolling rolling

Setting off to the frozen ground, rolling.

Asano Inio's Lessons in Loss

Asano Inio’s manga are stories about loss. They teach us about loss both through the content of their stories and the way that the medium of manga is experienced through the reader’s life.

Two years ago, when I was younger and when the characters of Punpun were younger, I still believed in a future for Punpun and Aiko.

As we grow, we lose things – belief in ideals, infantile beliefs about love, faith in our dreams, fearlessness of our own mortality. As we lose, it’s easy to look only at what we lose. We are greedy, after all.

We come to ask ourselves, is there anything that truly belongs to us? Can we reclaim our freedom - Solanin? Can we escape our place and find somewhere that truly feels like home - Nijigahara Holograph, Hikari no Machi, Umibe no Onnanoko? Can we love and receive love? Can we be understood by others - Oyasumi Punpun, Umibe no Onnanoko?

If not – if we really can’t escape and we aren’t free to make something of our lives, and we can’t be understood by others and love each other perfectly, then what do we have? Can we really come to terms with this?

Asano Inio doesn’t stop at asking these questions. She answers them: No, we can’t escape from anything. What we think of escaping from is already there in the present or in our pasts (Oyasumi Punpun). We are free, but with limitations – “purposeless freedom feels a lot like boredom” (Solanin) – and no, we don’t have a purpose. There is no meaning to your life or the lives of anyone else.

And yet, there are hints at something else. The ocean that we stand by, the light through windows after lovemaking, butterflies by a river, a guitar melody, the night sky from a city rooftop. The world is not malevolent. People are malevolent. You are malevolent. Your friends, your family, your loved ones are all different from you, and that can be easily interpreted as malevolence.

If you focus on what you lose as so many of what Asano Inio’s characters do – and you will lose, whether by actually losing or by realizing something that you thought you always had, but never had – you will suffer; if you focus on what you want but don’t have, you will experience something similar to loss. But, life goes on, and that’s enough. That has to be enough.