Ten Manga to Look Forward to in 2012

Just two weeks in, 2012 is looking like a good year for manga, with interesting new titles coming that should satisfy every taste. Here’s a peek at ten that look promising.

Arietty film books: The latest film from Hayao Miyazake and his Studio Ghibli is Arrietty the Borrower (Kari-gurashi no Arietti), which finally makes its U.S. debut this month. Last June, Viz announced four Arrietty books: The Art of Arrietty, an Arrietty picture book, and a two-volume set of Arrietty Film Comics. All are due out on Feb. 7, just in time to catch the eye of fans of the movie. But even if you never see it, these books—particularly the art book—are beautiful and well worth a look.

A Devil and Her Love Song (Akuma to Lovesong): Viz announced this manga at San Diego last year, and the first volume is scheduled for next month. It’s the story of a sharp-tongued girl whose brutal honesty tends to alienate people. Originally published in Shueisha’s Margaret magazine, it will be part of Viz’s Shojo Beat imprint.

NonNonBa: NonNonBa, by the creator of Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, won the prize for best album at the Angouleme International Comics Festival a few years ago (to the surprise of many observers, who didn’t expect it to go to a manga). Manga-ka Shigeru Mizuki based the story on his memories of growing up in the 1930s, raised by his grandmother who introduced him to the world of spirits and yokai. Watch for it in April.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: This magical-girl manga has a classic shoujo manga storyline: Two teenage girls are granted magical powers, but in exchange, they must fight against evil witches who bring death and despair to the earth. Like similar manga (Sailor Moon, Sugar Sugar Rune), there are various magical objects that must be captured or avoided to make it all work. The three-volume series, which has been licensed by Yen Press and is due out in May, is adapted from the anime of the same name.

Until Death Do Us Part: Scheduled for a May release from Yen Press, Until Death Do Us Part is the action-packed story of a girl who can tell the future, and a blind swordsman who is protecting her from the evil corporation that wants to hold her captive and use her powers for their own ends. This series is published by Square Enix in Japan, and it is up to 15 volumes so far.

5 Centimeters Per Second: Vertical, Inc., announced at New York Comic Con that it would publish a manga adaptation of Makoto Shinkai’s anime 5 Centimeters per Second, a wistful tale of lost love. Shinkai does beautiful, thoughtful work (I interviewed him at New York Comic-Con); the book, which is illustrated by Yukiko Seike, is due out in June.

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin): When he announced this license at New York Comic-Con, Kodansha Comics editor-in-chief Dallas Middaugh described it as “kind of like The Walking Dead, only with giants.” It’s a survival/horror manga about a future in which 60-foot giants (known as Titans) rule the earth and the remnant of humanity hides away from them in a walled city. Attack on Titan is a huge best-seller in Japan, where over five million copies have been sold, and a live-action movie is in the works. The first volume is due out in June.

Jiu Jiu: Another NYCC announcement, Jiu Jiu is a shoujo manga that mixes up some common themes of love, loss, and human-animal hybrids that are difficult to control. It’s the story of a girl who was born into a family of monster hunters and loses her older brother at a young age. She withdraws into her grief, but then she is given two wolf-boys to raise. They mature faster than she does, so in the time frame of the manga, they are going to the same high school she does. What could possibly go wrong? Viz has licensed this series and plans to release the first volume in July.

Sakuran: This one-volume manga by Moyoco Anno (Hataraki Man, Flowers and Bees) is the basis for the film of the same name. It’s the story of a young brothel maid who is trained to be a courtesan and must deal not only with internal rivalries in the oiran but also with the problem of love. The manga will be complete in one 308-page volume and will be released in July.

The Heart of Thomas (Tôma no shinzô): This 1974 boys-love story by Moto Hagio is considered to be one of the classics of shoujo manga. Now Fantagraphics is publishing it in a deluxe, 480-page edition, translated by Matt Thorn (who credits the book with first getting him interested in shoujo manga) that is due out in August. For more on the book, and how Hagio developed the story, check out this interview for The Comics Journal several years ago.

That’s a strong list with something for every taste—high-school drama, classic boys-love, action and adventure. And that just takes us through August; stay tuned for more announcements of good things to come.

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