Friday, January 3, 2014

My Epic Year of Manga: Best of 2013

So every year I do a reading challenge on Goodreads. Not only does it help me keep track of what I'm reading and encourage me to continue reading, it's also a whole lot of fun. I read a lot of manga so this year I challenged myself to read 250 books with the understanding that at least half of that number would be manga.

In reality I read 224 volumes of manga, across 24 series, and 33 books in 2013 for a grand total of 257 books and 51,012 pages. To put this in perspective in 2012 I read a total of 181 books with only 105 volumes of manga, across 14 series, and 43,266 pages. I more than doubled the volumes of manga I read and increased the number of series I read in as well. In addition to all the manga I've been reading I've also watched a ridiculous amount of anime and Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese dramas.

Following are my best picks for manga, books, anime and dramas I read or watched in 2013. Most of the manga and anime will probably eventually get full posts later in the year if they don't already have one.

My Best Manga Reads of 2013

High School Debut High School Debut by Kazune Kawahara:  I laughed so much while reading this series! Haruna's naivete and determination make her an enduring character. The chemistry between Yoh and Haruna is beautiful and the care they take with each other heartwarming. The ending is perfect without feeling contrived.
Kimi ni todoke Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina:  While the pacing of this series is slower than I usually like, the characters and story more than make up for it. Sawako and Kazehaya are one of my favorite couples, seeming so different yet being more alike than even they realize. The friendships formed in this series seem real and steadfast.
Strobe Edge Strobe Edge by Io Sakisaka:  This is another series with slow pacing, but the story is absolutely beautiful. There is so much emotion and longing in this series along with believable and relateable characters. It has some of the best bonus stories and stand alone stories included at the end of each volume as well.
We Were There We Were There by Yuuki Obata:  This series will make you feel all the feels. It's more than just a love story and goes beyond high school crushes. It explores how guilt can create obligation and the tug of war desire and obligation have with each other. A wonderful series and an inspiring ending.
Venus Capriccio Venus Capriccio by Mai Nishikata:  I love how the series explores gender roles while creating two unique characters that will stay with you long after you've finished the series. The last volume isn't published in English so I read the fan translations. While I appreciate these translations, different translators can change the intention of a piece as some of the process is subjective. The last volume wasn't as good as the others, but I have no way of knowing if it's the translation or the story.

My Best Book Reads of 2013

Eleanor & Park Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:  This book is moving and the story crafting is perfect. It's a little edgy with some truly swoon worthy dialogue. A beautiful read and I highly recommend it.
Ready Player One Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:  I loved this book! There's action, suspense and even a little romance. The world building is top notch and the 80's, science fiction and nerd culture references are not only entertaining, but integral to this world and plot.
Dare You To Dare You To by Katie McGarry:  This was one of those sequels I put off picking up. I was nervous because the pairing wasn't what I expected after reading Pushing the Limits. However, the author knew what she was doing and the chemistry between Beth and Ryan was perfect. While I disliked Beth in the first book, by the end of this she became my favorite character. She's a vulnerable yet strong female lead who one can't help but admire. The series deals with real world issues and makes no apologies. Great book, great series!

My Best Anime Finds of 2013

Say I Love You Say I Love You:  The characters in this series are fleshed out. They're flawed and at times even broken, but they aren't flat. I love that the story doesn't leave an antagonist as only a villain. They have back stories and they actually grow like individuals do. A really well done series.
Princess Jellyfish Princess Jellyfish:  This series is delightful and revolves around a group of girl otakus as they try to save their apartment with the unlikely help of a gorgeous woman, who turns out to be a crossdressing hottie. There were times when I teared up while watching this series and other times when I was laughing hysterically. Seeing these awkward girls slowly come into their own is just lovely. And the friendship (hoping it will become more) between Tsukimi and Kuranosuke is playful and sweet.
Kimi ni Todoke Kimi ni Todoke:  So I really love Kimi ni Todoke! The anime is just as well written as the manga series. I love watching Sawako start to make connections with other people. This series has some of the best supporting characters as well. I love how important friendship is in this series. The romance between Sawako and Kazehaya is delicate and wistful. I have so much love for this series!
Baccano! Baccano!:  Not my usual type of anime, but I found this after watching hours of videos on Anime Freak's YouTube channel. The plot of this series is unique and the pacing helps set the lively tone of the series. While there is violence, it's not needlessly so. The characters are fun and some are just flat out deranged. My favorite character is Claire, closely followed by Isaac and Miria. Claire for his unequivocal approach to life and Isaac and Miria for their joie de vivre.
Skip Beat Skip Beat!:  Skip Beat! is an anime that I have re-watched several times this past year. This premise of this series is ludicrous in the best possible way, but still retains sincerity at its core. The characters are well done, even those I don't like. I hate that it only has one season.

My Best Drama Finds of 2013

Boys Over Flowers Boys Over Flowers:  This K-Drama is over the top as only K-Dramas can be. I binged on the complete series in a week's time. No matter how outlandish the situation I was incredibly entertained. It's a kind of Cinderella story, but with near rape and meddling mothers. I might have been the only one of my friends that didn't want Jan-di and Jun-pyo to get together. I grew to be okay with the pairing by the end of the series, but I paired her with Hyun-joong even if it was useless.
It Started With a Kiss It Started With a Kiss:  This is another drama (Taiwanese this time) where the jerk ends up with the girl. Of course this might be like 80% of television dramas so I can't really complain. Regardless of the fact that he's kind of a jerk and she's kind of stupid, I really liked the series. It was fun and at times super melodramatic, but well worth watching. I tried watching the Korean version, Playful Kiss, and couldn't get into it. It was too fanciful.
High School Debut High School Debut::  I suppose that technically this is a Japanese film and not a television drama, but it's close enough that I'm including it. The film takes most of the seriousness out of the manga series and focuses on its comedic aspects. Have you ever watched something that was so terrible that it was funny? That's the best way to describe it. There are giant pencils, dancing santas (like over twenty of them), prat falls and a mini mall concert that is interrupted in the most hilarious way. There's no way you can watch this adapatation and not laugh and cringe at the same time.


  1. I love that you're getting into K-Dramas and Taiwanese dramas! You should watch Fated To Love You. It was the first one I ever watched and I still have a soft spot for it although it's ridiculous (like all the dramas).

    I didn't know you read Ready Player One in 2013! For some reason I thought you read it years ago. It's also on my Best of 2013 list. And I need to read Pushing the Limits and Dare You To.

    Love your choices. I think I might have to do Best of Movies, TV Shows, and other stuff at the end of 2014. I'll just need to remember to keep track of all that I watch.

  2. I'll have to give Fated To Love You a try! I LOVED Ready Player One. So glad you read it!

    Track all the things! Then blog all the things! :D