Deb Aoki and friends name the best and worst manga of 2022

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What happens when Publishers Weekly‘s foremost authority on manga–Deb Aoki (Mangasplaining)–invites a team of well-meaning, passionate, yet opinionated, manga aficionados onto a Comic-Con stage? An unabashed hour filled with mayhem and wickedly delivered wit! That’s right, it was the return of Deb’s popular and highly attended best and worst manga of 2022 panel. She was joined by panelists Ryley Moore (manga YouTuber, The Omnibus Collector), Siddarth Gupta (MangaMavericks.com and LumSquad podcasts), Jillian Rudes (Japanese culture and manga special collections librarian, New York City Department of Education), Laura Neuzeth (YouTube and TikTok vlogger), and Brigid Alverson (SmashPages, School Library Journal) to name their reasons why these titles deserved best (or worst) accolades.

SDCC22 Best and Worst Manga of 2022 Panelists
SDCC22 Best and Worst Manga 2022 panelists, from Mangasplaining (Deb Aoki).

The rules were simple. Panelists were advised to select manga series with at least one volume published between July 2021 and July 2022. Panelists were given 60 seconds to pitch their reasons why. All participants tried their absolute best to stick to allotted times, and when they didn’t, they did not let the buzzer discourage any lingering thoughts. Without further ado, let’s dive into the panelists’ picks for best and worst manga of 2022.

Best New Manga for Kids & Teens

  • Jillian, Kaiju No. 8 (Viz): “A part of me always wondered what they did with the bodies!”
  • Deb, In the Clear Moonlit Dusk (Kodansha): “It’s just incredibly beautiful! This is a kind of interesting, odd couple romance that’s a slow burn. The art is exquisite, the way she expresses emotions in these characters is just a joy to watch.”
  • Riley, Sakamoto Days (Viz): “We get this fantastic action-comedy series with this superbly kinetic artwork. It is such a fun title…. the ultimate pick-up read.”
  • Brigid, My Master Has No Tail (Kodansha): “It’s boisterously funny. The art is great; It’s very expressive and kind of cartoony and kinetic.”
  • Laura, My Love Mix-Up! (Viz): “It’s very endearing, funny, and a breath of fresh air for shojo beat because there’s no BL representation in this shojo beat. So it’s a very cute story.”
  • siddarth, Vasilia: The Wise Princess and Other Classic Folktales (Star Fruit Books): “The art style resembles more of the cartooning sensibilities of American comics animation, which they cite as peer influences…it’s just a bunch of history folklore.”

Best New Manga for Grown-Ups

  • Deb, Dandadan (Viz): “This is my all-time favorite one that I came up with last year. If you read it, you’re draw just gonna drop. What a hit!”
  • Riley, I’m Not Meat! Get Your Filthy Paws Off Me! (Ghost Ship): “I really love this. This is hilarious sex comedy serious. It’s only three volumes total, so it’s not going to take up a lot of shelf space.”
  • Laura, I Want To Be A Wall (Yen Press): “This is one of the few series that has been printed about an asexual woman. It’s very endearing, very sweet, very touching as well. But it also has its comedic comments.”
  • siddarth, A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic (Seven Seas): “It really shows how complicated relationships with abusive family members can be and how devastating it is to be able to help someone you care about despite the things they do to you and the damaging psychological effects growing up with an abusive parent can have here on self-esteem and ability to build relationships.”
  • Brigid, Summertime Rendering (Udon Entertainment): “It’s a mystery, and it’s a mystery with a time travel element. If you read Erased by Kei Sanbe, it’s a little bit similar. It has great art, and it has a story that just grabs you.”
  • Jillian, X-Gender (Seven Seas): “While we collectively learn about gender terminology, sexual identities, trans surgeries, etc. As we learn alongside, we realize the significance of powerful emotions, finding somewhere to belong and the importance of friends in our lives.”

Best Continuing Series Manga for Kids & Teens

  • Riley, One Piece (Viz): “I wish constantly that I could go back to being 12 again and experience the beginning of the first time.”
  • Jillian, Blue Lock (Kodansha): “I do not watch sports. I don’t play sports. But to be fair, I still read sports manga. But for some reason, the cover of Blue Lock caught my attention. And that’s when I had all these intense, high-action, quick-paced, thrilling, nail-biting, edge of your seat, what happens next feelings.”
  • Laura, Queen’s Quality (Viz): “It is very dark, much darker than your typical shojo manga. There’s a lot of action. The artwork, as you can see from the cover, is incredible. And you’re also presented with a really great romance as well, which is a little bit unexpected.”
  • Deb, Skip and Loafer (Seven Seas): “Skip and Loafer offers us a really tiny slice of life. This sounds like a super saccharin novel, but it’s very, very smart. It’s really heartwarming. It’s got a lot of great characters.”
  • Brigid, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (Dark Horse): “This is a manga I love because it just expresses the sheer joy of creativity. One of the real beauties of this manga is when they get started talking, the world forms around them that they’re creating. You get to see them interacting in and outside of the world. There’s a lot of creative joy.”
  • siddarth, My Summer of You (Kodansha): “I just really related with the relationship because I have relationships like that in my own life—like friends, people I really love built around a shared passion for movies.”

Best Continuing Series Manga for Adults

SDCC22 Best and Worst of 2022 Dick Fight Island

  • Riley, Golden Kamuy (Viz): “Golden Kamuy has been one of my favorites for a while. It has everything in it. It has a fantastic action-adventure series. It is often the funniest thing on my reading list.”
  • Deb, Dick Fight Island (SuBLime): “Here’s my favorite, hands down, no question about it. It lives up to its title, and more. Even if you don’t think you like BL manga…please!”
  • Laura, Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! (Square Enix): “You have a lot of awkward moments. It’s really cute. The manga is amazing.”
  • siddarth, Real (Viz): “Real is about three teams grappling with the psychological hurdles that came with changing physical as well as in the case of those characters with disabilities, bodies.”
  • Brigid, Blue Giant (Seven Seas): “Seven Seas publishes Blue Giant as five two-in-one graphic novels. The first two volumes are kind of like a sports manga. And they can seem to have a competitive approach. But then the third volume switches over. It’s a great line-up.”
  • Jillian, Blood on the Tracks (Vertical Comics): “It is a suspenseful thriller and psychological horror but without the blood and guts. If you want to read a manga that makes you want to violently scrub yourself in the shower, read this.”

Worst Manga (for Anyone, Any Age)

SDCC22 Best and Worst Manga of 2022 Deadpool

  • Deadpool: Samurai (Viz): “I recommend you read Joe Kelly’s run of it or Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn’s run, but I do not recommend you to read Deadpool: Samurai.”
  • Deb, Villainess: Reloaded! Blowing Away Bad Ends with Modern Weapons (J-Novel Club): “This is a repulsive one.”
  • siddarth, My Hero Academia, Vol. World Heroes (Viz): “The manga in here is just so atrocious on a technical level. The lettering is left-aligned. The storytelling does not account for tone or story emphasis. The translation is stiff and does not account for the personality of the characters.”
  • Laura, From the Red Fog (Yen Press): “It just felt disappointing because I saw the potential, but there was nothing psychological, nothing to analyze the way he rationalizes his killing. You would get gored with horror without any explanation.”
  • Jillian, Crazy Food Truck (Viz): “When it comes to cooking manga, we want to see the process of cooking, and there is none of that at the end of volume one, Gordon asks, ‘Why do I bother?’ And Gordon, I was wondering the same.”

Most Anticipated New Manga (Fall 2022 – Winter 2023)

Thus Spoke Rohan Cover

  • Laura, Do Not Say Mystery (Viz), May 2023: “It’s a great psychological drama.”
  • Riley, Thus Spoke Rohan Kishibe (Viz), September 2022: “I couldn’t be more excited for this, and it’s going to get a beautiful hardcover edition that will go nicely on your shelf next to your volumes.”
  • siddarth, Shana’s Journey (First Second), November 2022: “It’s a full color work, and the art is just gorgeous, like watercolor illustrations.”
  • Deb, The Yakuza’s Bias (Kodansha), Spring 2023: “YouTube goes case files.”
  • Brigid, My Dear Detective: Mistuko’s Case Files (Azuki), August 2022: “I love mystery novels because I love a good puzzle. And I always feel like it would be a perfect type of story for manga and graphic novels. So, when I saw this one, I immediately thought, oh, this is going to be good. And I’m hoping I’m not disappointed.”
  • Jillian, Sasaki and Peeps (Yen Press), October 2022: “After hearing about all this bat manga, I was super excited to find that bird lovers like myself could finally have adventure and fantasy story with a vertical tightness.”

Most Wanted (But Not Yet Licensed) Manga

  • Riley, (Katekyo Hitman) Reborn!
  • Deb, MIX: Meisei Story
  • siddarth, Zatch Bell & Zatch Bell 2
  • Laura, Kimi ni Todoke Bangai-hen: Unmei no Hito (Soulmate)
  • Deb, Dance Dance Dancer

Underrated, But Awesome

  • Brigid, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun (Yen Press)
  • Riley, Marvel’s Secret Reverse (Viz)
  • Deb, Sensei’s Pious Lie (Vertical Comics)
  • Jillian, Creepy Cat (Seven Seas)
  • Laura, Requiem of the Rose King (Viz)
  • siddarth, Bat Kid (Bubbles)

At the conclusion of the discussion Deb challenged attendees to play rock-paper-scissors with the panelists for a chance to win manga, which included copies of SEMANTIC ERROR. While many wanted to play, the titles soon dwindled away as attendees bested their good-natured opponents.


Miss any of The Beat’s previous SDCC ’22 coverage? Find it all here!

https://madcavestudios.com/

https://madcavestudios.com/

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