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.