Bad manga

Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey is celebrating (observing?) Bad Manga Week, so I thought I’d mention a few of my least favorite titles. By way of disclosure, I’ll note that I’ve only read one volume of any of these series, but seriously, why would I read any more than that?

Earthian, written and illustrated by Yun Kouga, Blu: If I had to pinpoint the exact moment when I realized I never needed to consume another piece of romantic fiction featuring an angel, it would be at some point when I was reading Earthian. Now, this is not the worst shônen-ai series I’ve ever read. It’s not even close. But it features a number of things I’ve come to view as deal-breakers: angel romance; iffy anatomy and composition; quasi-religious hogwash; and too many mullets. It’s like Kouga was deeply influenced by some of the aesthetic elements of the Year 24 Group – ambiguous gender roles and an exploration of human nature and love – without being able to construct a coherent story or engaging characters.

Gakuen Prince, written and illustrated by Jun Yuzuki, Del Rey: Remember that “Mack Rangers” episode of Law & Order where this group of entitled private-school boys created a climate of fear at their high school and ended up raping their female classmates because they felt like it and nobody would stop them except for a teacher that they ended up murdering? Reverse the genders and try and pass it off as a romantic comedy, and you’d have something like this horrible comic. I don’t think that the systematic terrorizing of a minority community is appropriate fodder for wacky farce.

Kanna, written and illustrated by Takeru Krishima, Go! Comi: Over the years, Go! Comi published some wonderful, edgy shôjo and some perfectly terrible shônen. Not all of their shônen was awful, but it’s hard to remember the good stuff when creepy titles like Kanna move to the front of one’s memory. It’s about a mysterious little girl and the creepy adult males who are totally, unhealthily obsessed with her.

Tenjho Tenge, written and illustrated by Oh! Great, CMX: My hatred of this series is bimodal. For one thing, it’s a tediously sexed-up comic about dumb-asses who want to be the best fighters in their small pond of bottom-feeders. (There’s also an awful sequence where someone rapes one of their girlfriends to teach the boys a lesson, and she ends up comforting them over the blow to their manhood.) For another, it’s still thrown out by piracy addicts as proof that stateside publishers aren’t going to respect the purity of the artist’s vision and that they must resort to piracy to honor the creator (and see nipples). So it’s disgusting to me in terms of content, and it’s so damned irritating in terms of context that it may be my least favorite licensed manga ever.

16 Responses to Bad manga

  1. Erica says:

    I watched the Earthian OVA ages and ages ago, for a totally stupid reason admittedly, and was amazed and enraged by the segue from the pentultimate to ultimate episode in which the reference to the entire 21-manga series was one line. Basically “in between ep. 3 and 4 is everything in the manga.” I was boggled. Also, the one character I watched it for had less than five minutes of screentime, d’oh. ^_^

    Tenjou Tenge…I don’t even know where to begin on that, but I can tell you that the western fans of the series were probably bored stiff and enraged by the incredibly silly, totally WTF and extended-over-2-year ending for that series that involved something like one of the character becoming a god (slowlllllllly) and giving birth to a new age (even more slowwwwlllllyyy) and then we all go home, the end. It was just great, let me tell you. -_-;;

  2. LillianDP says:

    Oh man, the Earthian OVA is such a train-wreck. The rewriter and I actually watched it together as a prelude to working on the series, and it was like boring, boring, boring, RANDOM SEX SCENE?! And it didn’t clarify anything about the most confusing aspects of the plot. Woe…

    For all its flaws, though, and there are some major ones, I enjoy Earthian quite a bit as a part of the manga cannon and Kouga Yun’s development as an artist. But yeah, when it’s great, it’s really great, and when it’s bad, it’s awful.

    • davidpwelsh says:

      It’s one of those books where I can see its place in manga’s evolution and appreciate its importance and impact without actually enjoying it as an entertainment, which probably says as much about my tastes as it does the specific quality of the work. Plus, mullets.

      • LillianDP says:

        The pretty wings balance out the mullets for me. :-) Mostly.

        Guardian Hearts is still my all-time winner for bad manga. It was almost physically painful to work on. Mamotte Shugogetten was a close second, though. I try to keep copies of everything I work on, but those two I didn’t bother with.

  3. [...] David Welsh celebrates Bad Manga Week with a rundown of his least favorite titles, some of which feature rollerbladers, rapists, and guys with mullets. [The Manga Curmudgeon] [...]

  4. [...] Color of Rage, and David Welsh continues the theme of Bad Manga Week with his own selections of the worst manga ever. At Every Day Is Like Wednesday, J. Caleb Mozzocco posts short, witty reviews of the first volumes [...]

  5. Oliver says:

    Huh! T-poppers shouldn’t crack wise about their OWN books! Incredible! Seriously, I love T-pop’s new direction, though.

  6. Apple says:

    >(There’s also an awful sequence where someone rapes one of their girlfriends to teach the boys a lesson, and she ends up comforting them over the blow to their manhood.)

    Say no more! Jesus. I’m not one of those feminists that believes rape should never be featured in television/literature, but that’s a bit much.

  7. LG says:

    Oh, Gakuen Prince. I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks that one is awful. I had never heard of it before and found the first three volumes in the clearance area of a used bookstore, $1 each. I figured, “why not?”, bought all three, read them, and wondered how it was all allowed to go on for more than one volume.

  8. [...] is bad manga week in a few places around the web, and I thought I’d top my day off by getting a few things I was absolutely [...]

  9. Aria says:

    Oh Go! Comi…How I miss your wonderful shojo! It’s just too bad that your shounen section didn’t share most of that glory. D=

  10. Ahavah says:

    If I understood it correctly, the protagonist of “Kanna” is supposed to be Kanna father from an alternate universe…or something. Their relationship was sweet. Everyone else was creepy, and the plot was indecipherable. Which is too bad, as the idea of discovering that you have a kid from an alternate universe is an intriguing concept.

  11. [...] Connie of Slightly Biased Manga, who made a solid case for Gloom Party and Queen of Ragtonia; David Welsh, who named Earthian and Air Gear among his least favorite titles; and Daniel BT, who posted an [...]

  12. Jade Harris says:

    Why does Kate keep thinking you talk about Air Gear here? Do you cover it somewhere? I’d really like to see your take on it.

    • davidpwelsh says:

      I’m not sure! Maybe she’s blocked out the fact that more than one Oh! Great manga has been published in English. I haven’t written about Air Gear because I haven’t read it yet. To be honest, TT made a lasting, totally unfavorable impression on me, so I haven’t been willing to pick up AG. Do you recommend it? Is it materially different than TT?

  13. [...] Connie of Slightly Biased Manga, who made a solid case for Gloom Party and Queen of Ragtonia; David Welsh, who named Earthian and Air Gear among his least favorite titles; and Daniel BT, who posted an [...]

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