15 Essential Del Rey Manga (Mania.com)

By:Thomas Zoth
Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Del Rey changed the manga scene in 2004 with their debut in the market as they landed with some top tier titles such as “Tsubasa” and “xxxholic.” The market was burgeoning in those days with the big book publishers looking to get into the game and Del Rey did it almost entirely right from the start. In the six years since, they’ve released a lot of titles along with their big tent pole titles and we’ve gone through their catalog to explore what we consider to be the titles that belong on an bookshelf, the essential manga of Del Rey.

15. Toto

Kakashi's dream has always been to travel around the world. When he stumbles across a dog who can transform into a giant dragon, he finally gets all of the adventure he'd bargained for. Wanting their weapon back, the Imperial Army is out to get his little dog Toto, and Kakashi too. Tragically unfinished, even in Japan, this is still a trip worth taking.

14. Me and the Devil Blues

They say if you wait out at the crossroads near Dockery Plantation, the Devil will come around at midnight. Musician Robert Johnson sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to play the blues, in Akira Hiramoto's interpretation of the famous Faustian bargain. While Hiramoto hasn't published a new chapter since 2006, the setting and subject matter make this one hell of a unique series.

13. Alive: The Final Evolution

A strange phenomenon is happening across the world: thousands of people are committing suicide, with smiles on their faces. When teenage Taisuke's world is torn apart, will he find the strength to hold his family and friends together? Alive is a grim and haunting look at the bonds that hold people together, and the circumstances that break them apart.

12. Faust

An English edition of the fan-favorite anthology from Japan that includes essays, light novels, and manga, with contributions from the likes of Cardcaptor Sakura's CLAMP, Loveless' Yun Kouga, and Death Note's Takeshi Obata. Faust includes stories about magical girls, apocalyptic horror, and everything in between. While not every story hits the mark, there's enough variety to offer something for every audience.

11. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Nozomu Itoshiki is Mr. Despair. Literally. With such an inauspicious name, how can his life be anything but miserable? Worst of all, he has to teach the most insufferably optimistic girl in all of Japan. Gags and references overflow from every page of Koji Kumeta's famous satire. Zetsubou sensei forces you to see the silver lining on all of your favorite dark clouds.

10. Othello

Yaya and Nana are two of the most engaging and entertaining shojo heroines: They're also two sides of the same person. After enduring humiliation and abuse at the hands of her friends, meek Yaya's anger and wounded pride manifest in the brash and outgoing Nana. Satomi Ikezawa's wit and a nimble plot make what seems like a silly gimmick into a true shojo treat.

9. Negima

Negi Springfield, a magical prodigy, has been sent to Japan to teach at an all girls' school. He's instructed to keep his magical powers a secret, but sometimes Negi just can't help himself. Fortunately for him, he's not the only one in the school keeping his true nature a secret: Almost everybody is! A fun and lighthearted series recommended for all fantasy fanatics.

8. Sugar Sugar Rune

Mangaka Moyoco Anno is famous for writing josei manga where love is a battlefield, and cynical manipulators steal each others' hearts for money, power, and revenge. So it's only natural that her first shojo series is about magical girls who steal boys' hearts for money and power. Witches Chocolat and Vanilla must collect the most hearts to become Queen of the Magic world. A sweet (and bitter!) magical girl series (and satire!)

7. Love Roma

Hoshino falls in love with Negishi at first sight. Having decided that a relationship based on complete honesty is best, he decides to walk up and tell her. Eventually worn down by his sincerity (and persistence) she agrees to go on a date with him. Thus begins the most awkward and charming courtship in all of Japan. Hilarious and touching, Love Roma is also endorsed by superstar mangaka group CLAMP.

6. ES Eternal Sabbath

Ryousuke Akiba possesses strange psychic powers. He can read minds, but he can also manipulate people's memories, making others think he's a friend or family member. However, it's not until he runs across a brilliant woman who is immune to his powers that the mind games truly begin. Surreal imagery and masterful execution of the series premise make this a must read for science fiction fans.

5. Parasyte

One night, strange parasites invade Japan. In a stroke of luck, young Shinichi's right hand is infected, rather than his brain. Those less fortunate find themselves controlled by an alien intelligence, guided only by the instinct to eat other humans. Battling Parasytes both inside and out, will young Shinichi be able to protect humanity from a threat only he is conscious of? A tense and philosophical manga re-issued and re-translated in an omnibus edition.

4. xxxHolic

Poor Kimihiro Watanuki. Plagued by visions of spirits, he finds himself inexorably drawn to a mysterious shop. The proprietress is Yuuko, a witch who can make wishes come true, for a price. For Watanuki, the price is to become Yuuko's assistant, drawing him ever further into the spirit world he'd been hoping to escape. A stylish and spooky series that crosses over with CLAMP's Tsubasa Chronicles.

3. Genshiken

Genshiken is The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, an otaku club for those whose interests include cosplay, model kits, video games, and anime. Kanji Sasahara is thrilled to join a club to meet others with similar interests. His girlfriend Saki... less so. Can Saki make Kanji into a normal guy? Can Kanji make Saki into an otaku? No. A loving, all-too-real look at otaku culture that is a-can't-be-missed.

2. Nodame Cantabile

Musician Shinichi Chiaki dreams of returning to Europe to study to become a conductor. Too afraid to fly, he finds himself trapped in Japan. "No good" Megumi Noda can't even read music, but is a natural pianist. Can Shinichi and NodaMe team up to help each other achieve their dreams? A romance comedy perfect for all music lovers.

1. Mushishi

Since time immemorial, they have lived among us: Mushi. Neither plant nor animal, they are the root of all life, and the cause of many supernatural problems. Mushishi, those who study mushi, are called upon to assist those who find themselves possessed by the mushi. Ginko, one such mushishi, travels around Japan in this manga classic, inspired by the folk tales and ghost stories of old Japan.


Be sure to read 15 Most Essential Dark Horse Manga and 5 Manga That Need an Anime.  If Anime is more your flavor, check out 5 Anime That Should Be Brought Into the Mainstream. While we are thinking about it, check out 10 Great Out of Print Anime We Want Back.

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