Ai Yazawa’s Nana is perhaps my favourite comic ever now. It’s about two young women, both called Nana, who move to Tokyo for a new life. I can’t think of another comic I have ever read that is so strong in every area: character, story, dialogue, drawing, layout.
This epic series is, for me, one of the greatest achievements in comics. It tells the story of Itto Ogami, who starts as the official executioner for the Shogun. The rival Yagyu clan, who had wanted that high position for themselves, attack his family and leave fake evidence to discredit him. He leaves to walk meifumado, the “road to hell”: to work as a hired assassin in an attempt to amass sufficient resources for revenge.
There are gods of death watching over this world. They each have a notebook, in which, when any name is written, that person will die. One of those gods of death, in search of entertainment, drops a notebook into the human world.
Tohru Fujisawa’s series is some of the best entertainment to be had in comics. The story is about a tough but dumb young punk becoming a teacher, sure he will be a great teacher, despite his ignorance and stupidity. And the point is, he is, even if his main motivation is schoolgirl pussy.
I’ve already written about this title in this manga series, but I really wanted to talk more about one short sequence, covering two-thirds of page 81 of volume 5 of Ai Yazawa’s Nana. Obviously there are huge problems in talking about four panels over 1,000 pages into a long story, but I love this sequence so much that I can’t resist taking a shot at it.
Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix is the greatest unfinished work in comics (and a real contender for comics’ greatest work of any kind). Don’t let the lack of a conclusion put you off – each volume is self-contained, though there are gains to be had from reading them all, in that characters recur, as do the central themes of reincarnation and questing for immortality, all centred on the mythical bird of the title, whose blood allegedly confers immortality.
I think it’s worth discussing, if only because there seems to be an assumption that Koike & Kojima’s other works are inevitably inferior to their most famous epic, and I honestly think there is far less to choose between them than is generally thought.