Manga recommendations on Fantasy Book Review

Manga are Japanese comics conforming to a style developed in the late 19th century. In Japan, people of all ages read manga. The medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, suspense, detective, horror, sexuality, and business/commerce, among others. The term manga is a Japanese word referring both to comics and cartooning.

Recommended Reading

The fifth grade: the threshold to puberty and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Written and drawn by one of today's most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portays Shuichi and Yoshino's private journey with affection, sensitivity and grace.

"Shimura's style is simplified and contains some humorous elements that are welcome due to the serious subject matter of the story. The pages have sequential art that takes up part of the manga, while the speech bubbles can in some cases take up half the screen. This is normal in manga as the characters have more chance of expressing themselves in a more boisterous way than their Western cousins. In some panels there is a void of space where nothing happens in it, and that leads the reader to take a pause and think about what the characters might do in a given situation. Everything that is in the pages is thought out really well and left to the imagination."

On the planet Aqua, a world once known as Mars, Akari Mizunashi has just made her home in the town of Neo-VENEZIA, a futuristic imitation of the ancient city of Venice. The technology of "Man Home" (formerly Earth) has not entirely reached this planet, and Akari is alone, having no contact with family or friends. Nonetheless, the town, with its charming labyrinths of rivers and canals, becomes Akari's new infatuation, along with the dream of becoming a full-fledged gondolier. Reverting to a more "primitive" lifestyle and pursuing a new trade, the character of Akari becomes both adventurous and heartwarming all at once.

"I felt this was sci-fi twinned with an upbeat fantasy feel; Kozue Amano has brought us a truly exquisite piece, a perfect sequel to Aqua."

Shinjyurou Mamiya, an embalmer in a nation where men of his profession are viewed as outcasts engaging in an unaccepted and unclean practice. For Shinjyurou, it's just a job. But in doing it, he's gained an understanding of death, and more important, what it truly means to live... 

"There is a lot of DOLL in this work as far as the art is concerned, as the style of the dresses creeps into the volume in general. The flow of the material, look, and use of ribbons and bows give the reader enough to be able to somehow link the two manga titles. Original, interesting, gothic and touching – an inspiring manga readers will find impressive."

A mysterious terrorist organization is hell-bent on orchestrating a war between the New Human Empire and the Vatican. Special Ops AX Agent Abel Nightroad teams up with a spunky young novice named Esther to try and stop Gyula, the bloodthirsty Marquis of Hungary, from unleashing the legendary Star of Sorrow.

"So Gyula is not a normal textbook enemy by any means. The story is full of references to place names in the world of Trinity Blood, namely Istavan which gets mentioned mostly in this. Sunau has kept the book true to the graphic novels series, making the story interesting as well as shocking in places. Thores's artwork, mainly inked interior black and white plates in various intervals in the book are both illuminating and humorous, enhancing the overall look of the novel in a way that will be refreshing to the reader. Extras are at the end of the story in the form of a map of the world of Trinity Blood, complete with marked areas, place names, black and white plates of father Nightroad and Sister Esther, with poetry and mini posters of other manga novels. Trinity Blood: The Star of Sorrow is one hell of a book - deep, gripping and with art that defies belief."

From 'dos to shoes, how you dress and style your characters says a lot about who they are, before they even utter a word. Whether your story calls for a flashy drama queen or a mousy bookworm, this guide contains everything you need to know to create fabulous shojo manga characters with personality.

"This wonderful book contains steps and instructions for how to draw the basic characters, then learn how to draw them in a typical manga style. This means that you have to perfect the basic poses which can be a bit difficult to start with, but before you take that leap, you need to know the basics first."

Shojo Fashion Manga Art School Year 2 is a great accompaniment to the first book, and one of the nice touches to it is its age progression of characters from children to puberty, teens, young adults and older age characters. Irene and Krisanne give readers the know how to be able to draw all these characters using the basic structures, and tutorials on clothing. I found this to be a very useful book that can be for those who want to get into manga fashion. If you have ever wondered how to draw collars on men's shirts, there are open collars, straight, spread or button-down, and these two will show you how to get it onto paper, or Photoshop. All you have to do is follow the instructions, start with the basics and the rest will come to you naturally.

Drawing isn't the easiest art out there, but with his step-by-step approach to drawing manga, Mark makes it seem easier than if you were trying to get there on your own. He creates a series of templates that are easy to build on, define and develop your own style from, and that is a valuable way to get drawing and potentially create your own portfolio.

Shimura gives us yet another beautiful offering of emotional upheaval at school that we can take in on an emotional level, but I don't think such a book can really be enjoyed as it contains such sensitive issues many may find alarming.

Jared and Lindsay originally brought us Draw Furries, the first in this series, and this one goes into more depth with various animals you can turn into composite people. They are an artistic duo who specializes in illustration and sequential art. They have previously created several graphic novels such as Peach Fuzz, and they have done several how-to books for IMPACTs art tutorial series. Having won the 2009 Ursa Major Award for Best Other Literary Work, their newest novel series is The Last of the Polar Bears for those who can't get enough of their art.

Vassalord pulls you in with its witty dialogue and unique style - sensual and seductive it is one to keep a look out for.

Pixie is a beautiful vision of an enchanted fantasy land rich in detail and alive with colour. Mariolle and Aurore are a startlingly brilliant combination of Writer and Artist. In this volume is an added extra - there is an eight panel preview of the next volume of Pixie to whet the readers' appetite for more adventures. Pixie hooks the reader from the first page, the characters are bold, real and the art exceptional - I dare anyone to try and put this down!

Peacemaker Kurogane is bloody and violent and has a humanitarian edge to it about the ongoing wars. From the creator of Momo Tama and Vassalord, this is a new and interesting samurai warrior take with bloody fight scenes and characters who are believable and funny at times. Extras in the book include a post script about the artist and a special Bonus Manga excerpt of her new series Momo Tama Volume 1.

The intrigue, suspense and sheer excitement shall give the reader enough to compel him or her to continue it through to the last volume to see who the victor will be. The penultimate volume is here, the battle is nearly over. Death Note is the ultimate in compelling suspense and tense drama.

For those who like RPG art there are illustrations based on characters from Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, Propaganda Games, and Blitz Games. Many will be able to marvel at the familiar characters depicted there. Exotique 4 is an amalgamation of fantasy art that also includes sci-fi as well as some of the most in depth portrait art from both not known and well known artists at the moment; Fan Yang, Mario Wibisono, Joerg Warda, and Chris Ortega are just some of the best who have spared time to give people a good idea of what is inside their professional portfolio and from what can be seen, there is no room for disappointment.

Exotique 5 proves itself as being just as good as the previous issue, if not better, and contains more than 200 illustrations that test the boundaries of what people view as art.

Known as Amalfie no Hanayome in the native Japanese, Marito Ai's artwork is a mix of Japanese style and European elegance. As a one-shot manga it has great appeal as Nico is one of the most handsome men a girl could ever want to meet. He oozes charm and sexuality, and it is right there on the page standing out at the reader, urging them to read on. Marito makes Regina look like a pretty young lady, as are most of the women in this manga. Ann Major's writing makes all the difference as the two make a great writer and artist team. It would be great to see more from them in the future.

Having recovered from her fever, Noriko is now ready to travel, but her trip is cut short by the powerful Hiroki. Confronted by Shogo, the two come to blows until Shuuya intervenes. Inviting Hiroki to join them, the young martial artist briefly considers it, but ultimately goes his own way, revealing that he's searching for Kyoichi Motobuchi. Making plans to re-join the alliance as soon as he finds Kyoichi, Hiroki departs just as the alliance finds itself under attack. When it's discovered that the attacker is Kazuo, Shuuya agrees to distract him while Shogo and Noriko flee. It's a sacrifice that will cost him dearly. Shuuya survives, but just barely. Having caught several rounds from Kazuo's machine gun, it's only through the interference of Hiroki that Shuuya escapes with his life. Meanwhile, Shinji and Yutaka are on the verge of completing their plan to take out the "school," when the bumbling Yutaka loses an integral piece of equipment. With his temper slowly rising, how will the frustrated Shinji react?

"Takami and Taguchi hit all the bases with the martial arts angles, friendships and being under pressure, watching their friends die and the obligatory fan service for the boys. Battle Royale Volume 6 is just one of the shonen (boys category of series) that puts characters in a no win situation where they have to battle for their lives on a daily basis." Sandra Scholes

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Recommended reads by sub-genre

Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.

High / Epic fantasy books
High / Epic fantasy

Secondary world with epic characters, themes, and plot
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
Historical fantasy / fiction

Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Grimdark fantasy fiction

Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
Parallel worlds.
Parallel universe

Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science fantasy / Speculative fiction books
Science / Speculative

Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Children's fantasy books
Children's Fantasy

Fantasy for ages up to 12
Young adult fantasy books
Young Adult

Fantasy for ages 12+
Adult fantasy books
Adult Fantasy

Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian fiction
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Image derived from Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns book cover
Monarchy / Empire

Fantasy books with empires at their core
Gothic fiction books
Gothic Fiction

Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Vampire fiction
Vampire Fiction

Fiction with vampiric characters
Werewolf fiction
Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
Steampunk books

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Dragon fiction
Dragon Fiction

Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Wizards / Magicians

Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Military Fantasy

Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Praetorian cover image
Roman historical fiction

Explore the ancient Roman Empire
An image of Darth Bane, taken from the cover of a Star Wars book
Star Wars

Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
An image taken from the front cover of The Wind in the Willows
Animal fantasy books

Fantasy with sentient animals
An image taken from the front cover of Giant Thief.
The Thief / Assassin

Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
An image taken from the front of hush, hush.

Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
An image portraying manga art.

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows

Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
An image portraying comic fantasy.
Comic Fantasy

For the reader who loves to laugh
An image of J. R. R. Tolkien
Inspired by Tolkien

Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The Time Traveller's Almanac

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies