The Best New Manga of October 2019

Halloween is nearly here, and the manga publishers have responded in kind, breaking out with some scary stories, including a new edition of the horror classic The Drifting Classroom, a manga version of Dracula, and a brand-new story about a girl living in a house full of spirits. For those who prefer a calmer read, there are also some nice romances, a new take on Neon Genesis Evangelion and a behind-the-scenes look at the animated series RWBY. Here’s a look at some of the best new manga of October.

The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition, Vol. 1, by Kazuo Umezz
An entire school vanishes from the face of the earth and reappears in a weirdly vacant wasteland: that’s the premise of this classic horror manga, originally published in English in 2006, and now back in a new hardcover edition featuring a new translation and larger trim size. The lead character, Sho, quarrels with his mother before heading to school, an argument that haunts him when he realizes that she has vanished along with all his familiar surroundings. While those left behind on Earth try frantically to figure out what happened to the school, Sho witnesses his teachers spiral into madness, requiring the kids to take over the school. This hefty omnibus volume contains the first three original volumes, enough to take you deep into the story.

Tokyo Ghoul Monster Edition, Vol. 3, by Sui Ishida
Like the first two Monster Edition volumes, this Barnes & Noble exclusive collects three of the original volumes of the don’t-call-them-zombies mega-hit in an oversized omnibus. This is where the story really goes dark and the action ramps up, as the mostly ghouls of Tokyo face threats even greater than the city’s Commission on Counter Ghoul. The larger trim size and high quality paper really show off Sui Ishida’s art to its best advantage, making this is a great way to read or reread the series.

Ghostly Things, Vol. 1, by Ushio Shirotori
Yachiho’s father, a folklore researcher, leaves her to move into their new house alone, but as he heads off for his research trip, he asks her to search for a mysterious book that may help them find her mother, who has been gone for five years. She soon discovers that the house is also inhabited by spirits and other creatures, including a dragon and a very bossy little doll, and the basement is a very peculiar place. The critters eat her food and annoy her with their constant giggling, but there’s also a sinister aspect, especially as she has to keep her book hunt a secret from them. It’s a promising, intriguing start to a sweetly spooky new series.

Dracula: Manga Classics, by Bram Stoker, Stacy King, and Virginia Nitouhei
This manga is a faithful adaptation of the original Dracula story, and a great way to freshly experience Bram Stoker’s original without all the extras that have accreted to it over the years. It starts off with an awful lot of detail about the superstitious locals and the oddness of Jonathan Harker’s host, then slowly shows his situation getting more and more menacing, which is a good way to handle horror. Nitouhei uses light and shadow to good effect and does a impressive job of creating the cavernous spaces of Dracula’s castle. With art so crisp and clear, the scary stuff all the more striking when it does finally occur.

Ryuko, Vol. 2, by Eldo Yoshimizu
The first volume of this series was a whirlwind trip through the life of the title character, a supremely badass, motorcycle-riding member of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. The daughter of a Yakuza boss, she had to kill her father when her mother was kidnapped, but there’s more to that story than meets the eye. In this second and final volume, she administers some rough justice, searching for missing relatives, helping her friends, and most importantly, dodging the Chinese mafia, who have deadly designs on her. This series is fast-moving and action-packed, and makes for a compelling read even if the plot is a bit hard to follow at times.

The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms, by Nagabe
Nagabe is the creator of The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, and the art in this volume is similarly ornate and intricate. It’s a self-contained volume of short stories set in a school for humanoid animals—they walk on two legs but have animal faces and wings or paws instead of hands. There is a lot of same-sex interspecies romance going on in these tales, mostly involving blushing and stammering, as well as some other shenanigans.  Nagabe’s backgrounds are superb and really make the school feel real, and each short chapter is followed by a paragraph about the real-life versions of the animals—so it’s educational as well as entertaining!

An Incurable Case of Love, Vol. 1, by Maki Enjoji
By now, Maki Enjoji fans know what to expect: a flustered young woman with a good heart but a tendency to overshare falls for an aloof jerk in the workplace. This manga has a classic romance setup: He’s a doctor, she’s a nurse. It also kicks off with an aged-up version of a shoujo trope, the kind stranger. Nanase Sakura was on her way to school one morning when she saw an elderly woman in distress. She called for help, and a handsome doctor materialized out of nowhere and took control of the situation. This was enough to set Nanase off on a nursing career, but when she arrives at the hospital, five years later, having finished her studies, it turns out that Dr. Tendo is not the kindly guy she remembers. He’s, well, an aloof jerk, and she makes everything worse by blurting out her feelings for him right off the bat. This earns her the respect of the other nurses, if not Dr. Tendo, and from then on they have her back. Of course it turns out he lives next door to her, and it’s probably not a spoiler to say that she begins to see another side of him as the volume progresses. We know how it’s going to end, but it sure is a lot of fun getting there.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA, Vol. 1  (light novel), by Ikuto Yamashita
People just can’t leave Neon Genesis Evangelion alone. The original series spawned three manga spinoffs (Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse, and Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project), as well as Tony Takezaki’s spoof. Now there’s a light novel series set in an alternate future, in which, having saved the world, 17-year-old Shinji Ikari is the leader of the Evangelion team, which has been fitted out with updated Evangelion suits. And there are now four clones of Ayanami Rei, who are tasked with hunting down and destroying the Angels—until one of them goes haywire, and things start to get weird. Well, weirder. This is Eva, after all.

My Hero Academia, Vol. 21, by Kohei Horikoshi
This volume picks up in the middle of the battle between Endeavor and the Nomu. Endeavor is a heroic figure, pushing himself past the boundaries of injury and pain, with Hawks backing him up, until he finally incinerates the Nomu high in the sky. It doesn’t end there, though, and in the aftermath, there’s a hint of a double-cross. Like the 20 volumes before it, this one is filled with high-powered superhero action, but the plus ultra of this series is Horikoshi’s incredible imagination—he keeps coming up with new heroes, new villains, and new quirks, each one weirder and more memorable than the one before.

The World of RWBY: The Official Companion, by Daniel Wallace
RWBY is a phenomenon: The American-made, anime-style animated series has spun off several manga series—Viz just announced they had licensed another one at New York Comic Con last weekend. The companion book includes  character profiles, breakdowns of key scenes, commentary by the producer, and interviews with the writers, artists, and voice actors. It’s an equally good bet for longtime fans and those who came late to the RWBY party and want to know what they missed.

What new manga is on your list this month?

Follow B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy