NCent stands for Not C-entertainment. I had been writing this post for what feels like years now. Here is my legacy about mangas. I often read mangas during my free time. They bring me back to my childhood in a way even dramas can’t do. There is such a huge variety and quantity of mangas that I can randomly find true gem. This week, I am sharing my list of favorite shonens (Japanese mangas that has mostly an audience of boys or that is more focused on action/adventure).
The Golden one: Dragon Ball
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this is my favorite manga. I love it so much, it is ageless. I read it when I was in elementary school (so about 8 years old I guess) and then reread it at least ten other times. It was a real sensation at my school and I always went to the library, thinking will I be lucky enough to find the missing volumes today. Of course, that was way before I discovered that those art works were available online 😛 In this series can be found my first ever OTP: Vegeta and Bulma. They are both baddies turned nice thanks to Goku and their personality totally matched. My favorite character is definitely Goku although Vegeta and Trunks are closely behind. Hell, I love all the characters! Everyone had character development and changed for the best. DB is a legendary manga that inspired so many mangakas out there.
Fun good old ones you can’t stop following: Detective Conan
Who is still reading Detective Conan? Me! I seriously have a love/hate relationship with this manga. On one hand, I really like it and it really brings me back to my childhood. There are still funny moments and clever stories. However, I am starting to get annoyed at how 1) the author Gosho Aoyoma doens’t stop bringing new characters when it is obviously time to end the long epic, 2) nobdoy grows old except … me and 3) most stories are starting to sound generic/silly/impossible. I will still keep reading because it is Detective Conan after all.. But I truly wish we could get to the ending soon. Sigh.
Simple, but addictive: Hikaru No Go
The great friendship of Hikaru and Sai is worth every chapter we get. This story is about Hikaru a kid who likes to play around. After the miraculous meeting with ghost Sai, he is brought to the world of professional Go (Japanese Chess game) and slowly starts to fall in love with the game. Even if you don’t understand the rule of the game, the manga itself is a great enjoyment as it explains the basic notion of friendship, loyalty, passion, competition and pride. The friendships introduced here are beautiful and it is a real treat to discover the world of Go through such a beautiful manga.
Classic: Naruto and One Piece
Naruto is another manga I grew up with and whatever happens, it is one of the best manga in the world. The will of the ninja is the strongest. As we follow Naruto growing up, we learn more about the complex world of shinobis, the dangers that are waiting for it. Not everyone is nice, everyone has a long past behind them. Many flashbacks are brought in, especially during the Shippuden phase, to explain what happened to make the world of shinobis the way it is. All in all, it is a beautiful manga that sadly got a bit more boring/out of control during the second half. The overuse of flashbacks to explain any plot hole felt weird by the end. I started liking Sasuke, hating him and then loving him again. My favorite characters are Hitachi, Kakashi, Shikamaru and Naruto. This manga brought me so much laughter and I will forever love each ninja in the story for making what it is.
One Piece is one of the few masterpiece mangas still running. When I first saw it, I thought “What could be so interesting about a group of pirates that doesn’t even look like it?” And to be honest, 900 chapters, that’s pretty scary 😛 However, after I had my first burst of tears in the arc of Nami, I knew I was going to stick with this serious. 900 chapters suddenly doesn’t feel that long, it was pure pleasure and real adventure. It is amazing how talented Oda is and how he managed to create so many memorable characters and story arc. The world of One Piece is one of the wildest ones that I have ever read and it still manage to bring me to tears and keep the reader involved. 🙂 So sad shipping is banned in this manga ><
Fantasy: Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2
Both written by the same author, Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2 are another two of the many mangas that I read and loved while still being a kid. They introduced me to the world of Magic and adventure. I also saw through it more accurate information about Japanese culture, which were all fascinating. I still go back to them for a laugh when I feel especially nostalgic.
Cooking: Shokugeri No Soma
I am a foodie and love to see pictures of food. Yes, my diet is going well, thank you for asking 😉 Joke aside, Shokugeri No Soma started off as a unique manga that shows great cooking techniques and innovation. However, as I keep reading now, it feels like it is going toward the silly path of exaggeration and fake reactions. Oh well, I still think it is one of the best cooking mangas out there.
Sport Manga: Slam Dunk, Prince of Tennis Season 1, Kuroko No Basuke
Sport mangas are great because they are the ideal place for … bromance! In each of these dramas, I chose my favorite athlete, but ended up loving the whole team. As someone not exactly in love with physical activities, I find it fascinating that people can put so much dedication into this kind of passion. It is the perfect way to make eternal friends, participate in challenging competitions, silly situations and improve oneself. Team spirit is always the center of each of these mangas. Always striking for the best, having the Olympic spirit, looking great and confident, sport mangas are always fun to read. Slam Dunk’s main character Sakuragi is loud, funny and confident. Prince of Tennis’ Ryoma is arrogand and skilled. Kuroko No Basuke’s Kuroko is small, yet unpredictable. It is because each of these characters had their own past, goals, and personality that these stories are so good.
The Brain Teasers: Death Note and Liar Game
An amazing manga that follows the two smartest people in the world with the most dangerous killing tool ever imagined. It is the first manga I read that made me really feel just how twisted the world is. Although I remember huge fan wars between Team L and Team Light, I didn’t really feel like siding with either. Light was a bright character turned dark and to be frank, I wanted to see him go beyond human capabilities and change the world. However, as he became more and more rotten, his death was destinated to happen. L had always been smarter than Light, but he did die first. I would say both are winners. The ending was a bit of a let down since Mello and Near didn’t bring much interest in me. The way Light died at the end also crushed his last quality: his confidence.
Liar Game is another must read in the psychological and intellectual categories. It follows a brilliant psychologist Shinichi Akiyama and his newly friend Nao Kanzaki. After much misfortune, they find themselves entangled in the most twisted human created game ever to test human behaviour when greediness and betrayals of humans are exposed. Nao is the MOST mary-sue character ever. Like seriously, if they ever film a cdrama version, I don’t think even Tang Yan can give her justice. Joke. 😛 The manga is full of smart strategies to win the game and amazing antagonists such as Yuji Fukunaga and Norihiko Yokoya, who make this a true thriller that will keep you captivated until the very last chapter (yes! this is a completed manga, how rare…).
Masterpieces of all Time: Monster, 20th Century Boys
In Monster, a genius doctor saves the life of a little boy who turns out to be evil. The story follows the protagonist througout the decades as he unveils the past of the life of the little boy and what made him a Monster. In 20th Century boys, a group of little boys imagine an end-of-the-world scenario as a game. When they grow older, the stories they invented slowly become reality.. and they are the only ones who can save earth! Mangaka Naoki Urasawa is trully the master of all masters. He writes amazing, elaborated and complex stories that comes together to make perfect sense. His writing is so exceptional it is as if he cast some magical spell. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, making it impossible to stop reading. The stories will also make you think about friendships, compassion and the impact our actions can have on others. Monster is one of my favorite mangas of all time and 20th Century Boys, ikitten’s.
Following the death of their mother figure Yuiko-sensei, two young boys decide to take revenge on the four killers and on the corrupted police who didn’t do anything to stop/arrest the killers. Danno became a yakuza in dark Japanese mafia while as Ikuo became a policeman. Through solving cases, they get closer to their ultimate ennemy, the policeman with a golden watch who dared to threaten them fiften years ago. One of the strongest bromance in mangaland, this manga shows the corrupted world that is the police force and is not afraid to show the ugly side of humans. With many action scenes and twist, the reader follows the main characters as they solve complex cases and gets closer to the golden watch.
Unexpectedly Good: Imawa no Kuni Alice
Arisu, Karube, and Segawa, a trio of highschool delinquents, are bored with their current lives. During a firework celebration, Arisu wishes that he could live in a different world which would be more exciting for him. As such, his wish was granted, and the three were transported into a seemingly post-apocalyptic-like parallel world. After stepping into what seems to be an empty festival, they are greeted by a woman who tells them that they have already “entered their game”. After clearing the game, she reveals to them that, in Borderlands, they must play games to survive.
With such a weird premise, I was reluctant to start this series. But boy does it get good quickly! At first, the protagonist is boring and frankly, not very heroic. But after losing precious people in his life, his survival instincts are awoken and he does his very best to live for others. He is an extremely smart being and his ideas bring many twists to the story. The ending was also to my satisfaction, which is rare to find these days.
Fun and Smart, but yet not masterpiece: Bloody Monday and Fish Gambler
Bloody Monday is the story of a hacker who has to prevent multiple terrorist attacks from happening in the world. This one is action packed with some smart moments and shocking twists, but is not too heavy on the brain usage. xD
Gamble Fish is another fun manga to try-out. You basically follow an extremly smart main character as he arrives in an elite school. There, he starts a chain of gambling in hope of finding his dad. He will face off with the main villain Abidani multiple times. Because of how unusual and exceptional his tricks are, it was a fun read all along. The manga keeps you captivated the whole time, even if some parts make no sense.
The Most Satisfying Shonen: Dokgo
Dokgo is officially a manhwa (Korean manga), but I still wanted to add it to this list. It is a short (it has 90 chapters, but they are quick) and extremly satisfying manga to read. We follow Dokgo after the death of his whole family (brother, father and then dad). He takes on the identity of his identical twin Kang Hu to revenge for his brother, dead through a violent bullying session. As he demystifies what really happened to Kang Hu, he shows off his amazing fighting skills. It always amaze me how huge the Korean bullying system is. Here, we have an invincible lead with a noble goal. Without fail, he goes step by step through his plan to achieve his goal. He is backed up by his two best friends and talented fighter. Seeing a good main character succeeding in his role makes the story so much better.
The first chapter may feel weird and uninteresting at first, but you need to tough it through because the best scenes are to come later! We follow a bullied and ugly “pig” like boy as he changes to a new school. There, he suddenly finds himself with.. two bodies. One that is super handsome and the other one is his old self. As we read through the book, we learn more about once again, the Korean bullying system. We also question ourselves about violence, love, friendship, looks and bullying. It is a great manga to read and learn about a different perspective over the world. As a bonus, the drawings are extremely pretty.
- Doubt by Tonogai yoshiki
- Eden no Ori by Yamada Yoshinobu