“U” is for…
Let’s just get it out of the way: Ultra Gash Inferno, Suehiro Mauro’s legendarily disgusting collection of erotic grotesque tales that was published in English about a decade ago by Creation Books.
Junji Ito’s Uzumaki (Viz) is also kind of disgusting from time to time, but it’s much more conventional horror, though beautifully drawn and very creative at points.
I’ve never read Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy (Viz), by Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada under the pen name Yudetamago, though Viz has made it through 27 of the title’s 29 volumes and that it was originally serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Playboy, which is an awesome name for a manga magazine.
Shueisha also publishes Ultra Jump, a monthly seinen magazine that’s been home to licensed series like Dogs (Viz) and Hayate x Blade (Seven Seas).
On the unlicensed front, I’m not finding a lot that really grabs my attention. Sensha Yoshida’s Utsurun Desu sounds kind of interesting, offering apparently abstract gag manga (which might not translate at all). It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits.
There are also some very fine creators in this letter, starting with the adorable, possibly insane Kazuo Umezu. Cat-Eyed Boy (Viz) is one of his seinen works that’s been published in English, and The Drifting Classroom (Viz), while shônen, was packaged like seinen, probably for its insanely high body count. Nobody loves Umezu as much or as well as Same Hat!
You thought I’d start with Naoki Urasawa, didn’t you? He’s great and all, but he didn’t make The Drifting Classroom, so he’s automatically second. Sorry. He has created a lot of excellent manga that’s been or is being published by Viz, like Monster, Pluto, and 20th Century Boys.
Tochi Ueyama is one of those manga-ka I’ve never heard of before putting together one of these entries, but he’s creator of the 100-plus volume Cooking Papa, which has run in Kodansha’s Morning since 1984. It’s a cooking manga, as the title strongly suggests, so I want it, in spite of the fact that it’s ridiculously long.