Viz’s summer sale has become an annual event, and it’s a good one: From now through September 5, all the manga on their digital service (web, iOS, Android) and on the Nook are on sale, up to 20% off the standard price (which starts at $4.99). That means there are a lot of manga you can read right now for $3.99 to $5.99.
Bakuman: The ultimate manga about manga, Bakuman follows two would-be manga creators as they work their way up the ladder. They start out in high school, and it’s a bit manic, but this series really provides an interesting glimpse at the manga biz (some characters are supposedly based on real Shonen Jump editors) and the clean-lined art is a perfect fit with the subject matter. This book is by the team of Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba, who are also responsible for Death Note—another manga well worth checking out.
Children of the Sea: A haunting and beautiful story of two boys who were raised at the bottom of the sea, and the ways that the sea and humans interact. Parts are like an adventure story, and parts are like folklore. The art is absolutely stunning. At $5.99 per volume, this one is a little pricey, but the volumes are 300 pages long and the series is only five volumes.
Saturn Apartments: Splendidly drawn and cleverly thought out, this is a story about a ring-shaped apartment building that orbits the earth. The class structure of the apartments is defined by the physical space: Rich people live in the top level, and they are the healthiest because they have the greatest exposure to sunlight, while the poor and working classes live in darkness in the bottom level. The lead character, Mitsu, is a window washer who is one of the few who can travel between levels, and he and his compatriots see all sides of life in the complex. (The link is to a free preview.)
Vampire Knight: We have to have a good shoujo manga in the mix, and Vampire Knight is a dark romance that really delivers the goods. It’s set in a special school that has a night class for vampires, and Yuki Cross is the only point of contact between the day and the night classes. There’s plenty of romance, melodrama, and angst in this splendid potboiler of a manga.
Oishinbo: The ultimate Japanese foodie manga, Oishinbo is the story of a reporter on assignment to assemble a meal composed of Japan’s greatest foods. He takes his own sweet time about it, and each volume of this series is based on a specific type of food (except the first, which is a mix). Although there is a bit of a narrative thread—the reporter is the estranged son of a famous gourmet—each volume is a collection of self-contained short stories and can be read on its own.