OK, so I’m doing a panel on underrated scifi and fantasy manga next week at Loscon 38. I’ve already figured out that I want to talk about Planetes, To Terra, Pluto, From Far Away and Twin Spica, but I also don’t want to miss anything!
So, even if I don’t wind up using it in my presentation, I would love to hear about your favorite, underrated scifi or fantasy manga, why you love it so much and why you think it deserves much more attention!
My personal favorite is From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa. (I know I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but it will NEVER get enough love to me.) It’s a sweeping fantasy that has the two main characters, Noriko and Izark, become the Awakening and the Sky Demon. Everyone pretty much views these two forces as destructive, and the two must keep their identities secret as Izark struggles to control his dangerous powers.
Sometimes the characters seem a bit Mary Sue-ish as they defeat their enemies with love and other positive feelings, but they also struggle greatly with their imperfections. I also find that the mangaka deals with issues with a certain realism. For example, Noriko struggles with learning the local language after arriving in the new world, which isn’t something you see in too many fantasy manga. (And it actually takes her time to learn!)
Another strong point of the series is how strong and/or respected women are. It would be all too easy to have all the women be dainty little flowers or to throw in a lot of sexual violence to intimidate even the strongest lady, but Hikawa steers clear of this. That being said, Hikawa showcases a lot of personalities across both sexes. There are strong women, dainty women, scary-looking men who are really softies, skinny men, men and women with noble demeanors; it’s refreshing to see all kinds of people and all kinds of body types in a manga.
A lot of people I know have never heard of From Far Away, probably because it was released during the Great American Manga Boom. By now, it’s probably quite out-of-print, but not ridiculously expensive on eBay or Amazon. (Thank goodness.)
Anyway, please let me know which scifi and fantasy manga you love in the comments below! Thanks!
P.S. Has anyone noticed how remarkably similar To Terra is to Battlestar Galactica? (Although I think To Terra predates the original BSG a little bit.)
P.P.S. In case you’re wondering, I’m going to stick to legally-published-in-English manga for my presentation. Might as well.