Now that Joe’s covered all the best ways to track your favourite manga, I thought I’d talk about ways to add more good manga to your reading list. Unlike anime, it’s much harder to find a good manga amongst the 100’s currently being serialised but I’ve picked up some tricks here and there which I’m going to share with you in this post.
The easiest way to add ongoing titles to your reading list is to keep an eye on the magazines your manga comes from. This is easy for anything running in Weekly Shonen Jump or even some other series like Weekly Shonen Magazine or Weekly Shonen Sunday. Most of the time a new series from these, especially Jump, will get scanned.
Each magazine also has its own style, so there are rarely any series that stand out as being wildly different from the others running in the same magazine. I’ve personally noticed a few things about some of the big magazines. Apologies in advance to shojo fans, I don’t know enough about those magazines to comment on them:
- Weekly Shonen Jump – Summed up by the motto “Friendship, Effort, Victory” Jump loves to promote manga centred around camaraderie and attaining goals. It also boasts an extensive history of well-known fantasy/action-adventure series and sits comfortably as the most popular manga magazine.
- Weekly Shonen Magazine – A little rough around the edges with most of its series, a common ground of drama exists with most of the series running in Magazine. Tends to be more juvenile in my opinion – not always a bad thing.
- Weekly Shonen Sunday – Out of the big 3 shonen magazines, this is by far the most underrated. Series running in Sunday are usually light-hearted and easy to read but you may occasionally see something a little darker.
- Bessatsu Shonen Magazine – The word grim comes to mind when I think about series from this publication. Each one has something that would turn most readers of shonen manga away, be it murder, rape etc. A lot of series have ended up with anime adaptations, proving that this niche magazine could be one to look out for.
- Gangan Comics – It’s hard to talk about any one Gangan magazine. From their shounen to seinen stuff, there is an interesting mix of genres. The most popular would have to be their fantasy series such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Black Butler. Often overlooked, the Gangan magazines have a lot to offer.
- Jump SQ – The monthly Jump of the shonen department favours fantasy series and has a nice enough range of them. It also runs the manga adaptations of popular original anime like anohana and Psycho-Pass.
- Ultra/Young Jump – Jump’s seinen magazines are pretty much one step up above their shonen magazines. With looser censorship, the amount of fantasy or action series running in this magazine seems excessive to me. Ultra Jump runs manga adaptations of Steins; Gate and Robotics; Notes, much like SQ does for original anime.
- Morning/Afternoon – If Shueisha got it right with their shonen department, then Kodansha got it right with their seinen department. Weekly Morning is one of my favourite magazines with a line-up stronger than any other (Drops of God, Space Bros, Giant Killing to name a few) and Afternoon doesn’t lag far behind with some impressive titles of its own.
- LaLa – My knowledge of shojo manga is limited. I know of maybe 5 series at most that are worth picking up, but the one magazine I cross paths with most is LaLa. With a few fantasy series that non-shojo fans can enjoy its line-up is one of the more diverse ones for a shojo manga magazine. It still has the more traditional series like Maid-sama!, so you can expect a decent amount of diversity.
A quick Wikipedia search should keep you up-to-date on most of these. If not, you can always browse the Mangahelpers pages that post rankings for each issue of these magazines.
Depending on how much attention you pay to creators of your favourite manga, you may already be doing this. Established authors tend to usually have more than one or two works under their belts. Not everyone can be like Oda or Kishimoto and stretch out their manga for 600+ chapters, some people are better suited for shorter works.
Some authors may have older works spanning for less than 1 or 2 volumes which is perfect if you want to have a quick read. Or if you want something longer, it’s possible that they have another series you didn’t know about. It’s worth a quick check on MAL or MangaUpdates to see what other series have the same author you like so much. Just to give an example, here’s a few of mine that have many works:
- Takehiko Inoue (Slam Dunk) has 2 ongoing series as well as 2 short completed series.
- Naoki Urasawa (Monster) has an ongoing series as well as many completed series.
- Shin Kibayashi (Drops of God) has 4 ongoing series as well as a number of completed series.
As you can see, a lot of authors like to mass produce manga. If you like their style, getting into a series with some sense of familiarity may not be a bad idea.
Oricon Sales Charts
This is the double-edged sword of finding new manga.
Much like checking BD/DVD sales, checking the Oricon manga charts can either go well or terribly wrong. Don’t forget that our Japanese friends have some “interesting” tastes, which to you might seem beyond bizarre.
I will say that I don’t have as big a problem with the manga sales as I do the anime sales, so I usually avoid disappointment whenever I check out a popular series. The only example of strong difference in tastes is To Love-ru, but that’s pretty much it.
Still not the best method, but a method nonetheless.
Manga Taisho Award
Just to be clear, I’m only recommending this award. Unlike the Shogakukan and Kodansha awards, this one is free of publisher bias and doesn’t discriminate by demographic or genre. The award is decided on by book store staffers and not editors of magazines. Also, it gives the award to series with less than 8 volumes available for sale.
Past winners have included Chihayafuru, Sangatsu no Lion and Silver Spoon. All of these are great manga in my opinion, and the nominees are always impressive. In fact, looking through the nominees list may also do some good because past non-winners include Yotsuba&, Space Bros and Kuragehime (to name but a few.) Check the wikipedia page for a full list.
The award is exceptionally good at recognising originality. Having picked up a good number of series that have been nominated or won the award, I can vouch for its legitimacy. It really does recognise good works.
Hopefully I’ve helped impart some wisdom onto you with this post. Finding great manga is no easy task, and I hope my methods help some of you find another series that you love.