Nov 14

Monthly Recommendations – November 2016

The other best Peridot

The other best Peridot

Are we halfway into November already? Suddenly Christmas and 2017 don’t seem all that far away. And now that we’ve got the first episodes out of the way, we can focus on a new set of monthly recommendations!

I’ve taken the reigns again this month, and if you’re new here, that basically means I’ll be picking out an anime, cartoon, manga, comic and webcomic that I feel more people should be checking out.

Anime – Soul Eater

To me, there is no greater animated shōnen. Soul Eater breaks a lot of ground in a lot of ways, not least by being one of the very, very few shōnen’s to have a defacto female lead in Maka Albarn. In her world, “Meisters” like herself attend Death Academy to help develop their partner weapons by slaying baddies and devouring their souls, with the final goal being to turn their weapon into a death scythe, used by the Grim Reaper himself.

And it’s those characters that truly help this stand out. Each of the main weapon / meister teams get an episode to introduce themselves, which really helps set up who they are and what their aim is. Their personalities often clash, like over-the-top Black Star and his prestigious ninja weapon Tsubaki, but they all bring out the best in each other, and are all determined to be the best.

Even outside the leads there are loads of other personalities and interesting character arcs, such as Crona, who starts off as an assistant of the first big bad, but when she breaks out of her mental conditioning really struggles to even comprehend her newfound “freedom”. The show does a great job of managing the serious and comedic elements too, able to shift from stuff like Crona to stuff like EX-CAL-I-BUR~

Throw in some great animation from Bones, who were celebrating their 10th anniversary so went all out, along with some superb openings and endings such as Resonance by T.M.Revolution and Style by Kana Nishino, and you’ve got a classic. Plus at just 51 episodes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome, and the anime original end fits in perfectly. A must-see for shōnen fans.

Watch it online here and buy it here.

Cartoon – The Adventures of Tintin

While I spent a lot of my childhood watching kid-friendly anime and stuff like Looney Tunes and Dick Dastardly, one show that really jumped out as something different was Tintin. The loveable reporter would get entangled in real fights with real guns and real drugs, something I just didn’t see elsewhere.

Based on the classic French graphic novels by Hergé, the adventures of Tintin and his dog Snowy took us all over the world (and beyond), as he exposed illegal activities and busted criminals. But it was never easy. Tintin got knocked out more times than I can count, making his struggles (which in all honesty seemed less and less connected with journalism as time went on) matter that much more to a young me.

And I’ve not even mentioned the classic support cast, like Captain Haddock (blistering barnacles) and Detectives Thompson and Thomson. Combined with an artstyle that closely matched Hergé’s art and truly made it feel like a comic come to life, the series is a classic and well worth watching

Watch it online here and buy it here.

Comic – Giant Days

An Eisner nominee for best ongoing comic series this year, Giant Days has become one of the leading figures of Boom! Studio’s portfolio, and with good reason. While the series is “only” about a bunch of kids in college dealing with the usual drama, the characters and their adventures are all fascinating to read about.

Heck, the series has a penchant for blowing up those teen dramas like only those in that age group can, like trying to beat colds with totally legit foreign medicine, going to war with the student council president over the most trivial of things and, in one of the crazier issues, a full-blown kidnapping slash hostage slash rescue in the hometown of one the main characters when her pre-college life catches up to her. And romance. Obviously.

Lissa Treiman does a great job in the art department too, making everything come to life in the first six issues, and I must admit I’ve spent plenty of time just staring at all the pretty panels with gorgeous facial expressions. While Max Sarin who takes over afterwords isn’t at that same level, it still looks cool by regular standards, and John Allison is always there to steer the narrative ever onwards. It’s simple but fun, and I always look forward to reading the next issue, so give it a whirl, you won’t be disappointed.

Buy it physically here or digitally here.

Manga – Bakuman.

“From the makers of Death Note” should be selling point enough, but the fact is Bakuman is an amazing manga that can stand on its own two feet. Taking everything they learned from that series and running with it, while the stakes may seem lower, it feels even more intense.

A manga about the process of making manga, it features two school wannabes Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi teaming up and going through the whole ordeal, from breaking out with their first few one-shots to running weekly series in Jump to battling for the top spot and anime adaptations. That last one’s key to the entire plot, with the end goal being that Mashiro gets to marry his childhood sweetheart Miho Azuki when she voices the heroine in the anime of one of his manga.

The whole thing takes place over ten years or so, and is brilliantly paced and written by Ohba, while being complemented by some of Obata’s best artwork, nailing expressions both comedic and… let’s say, passionate. Yeah, there’s a lot of “burning passion” going on, which really showcases the shōnen side of things, even if the fights are done through ratings and serialisations instead of swords or fists.

If you’ve ever wanted to take a peak behind the curtain of making manga, or just want a shōnen with a clear beginning, middle and end, Bakuman’s the one for you.

Buy it physically here or digitally here.

Webcomic – Cucumber Quest

I recommended another webcomic by GiGi DG last time, as she’d just published Lady of the Shard (which is brilliant and a must read), but it was Cucumber Quest that got me into her stuff originally, so I’m gonna talk about that this time.

A massive parody of everything RPG related, we see regular kid Carrot have the entire destiny of the world foisted upon him in a seemingly never-ending battle against the Nightmare Knight, and sent on a Paper Mario style quest to save the day. Except Cucumber Quest never goes the standard JRPG route and always detours from what you expect, nailing both comedic moments and emotional ones. I’d give you examples… but I don’t want to spoil it, as the humour is just that good.

The watercolour art is very distinct, and the use of different palettes for each new continent and character really makes every scene unique. And the character designs? Tres magnifique. The series is still ongoing right now, with the fourth chapter underway, and if you’re a fan of RPGs, comedy, or just pretty art, it’s a must read.

Read it online here, or you can buy it physically here.

Interested in writing for this column? Then talk to Sean, or get in touch with Anicom via Twitter or e-mail. All we need is a couple hundred words on one (or two, or all five!) of the comics / mangas / cartoons / animes / webcomics you love! Looking forward to it~

Want to keep up to date on the stuff I write for Anicom, RetroRemastered and beyond? Then follow me on Twitter here, where I usually post updates (and whatever else is on my mind, fair warning).