It seems just right that the manga chosen for Vertical by Adopt a Manga grand prize winner Alexa would be so very different from the manga she won. I’ll let her describe it.

“I’ve decided to suggest Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter.

“It’s a one-volume manga. The art might strike some as ugly (though I personally find it quite stylish), which is ironic considering the main character, Ririko, is searching for perfection. She’s selfish, volatile, cruel to those around her, but beautiful; a model who’s utterly afraid of becoming insignificant, old, and of course, ugly. Thus she undergoes mysterious modifications to keep herself beautiful at all costs and some of the consequences on her physical and mental state are quite shocking.

“If I was to compare Helter Skelter to other Vertical titles, I would liken it to Black Jack and To Terra. It’s similar to Black Jack in that it deals with the effects surgery can have on the mind and body, but from a feminist perspective. And like Keiko Takemiya, Okazaki is a female mangaka who continues to be relevant and revolutionary. Okazaki was hurt in a drunk driving accident years ago, and has been rehabilitating ever since. This saddens me, because I myself am a young woman, and want to see authors like Kyoko Okazaki who aren’t afraid to take on heavier subjects and portray women realistically as opposed to the soulless and stupid objects of desire.

“I think Vertical Inc is a company that isn’t afraid of diversity in the manga they release, and I think Helter Skelter is a smart and insightful josei title that can appeal to a variety of manga readers– from the polished critics to hipsters in need of showing off their varied literary diet.”

I’m persuaded! Now, let’s move on to the second-prize recipients.

Erica Friedman breaks out the classic yuri:

“I would very much like to see Paros no Ken (aka Sword of Paros.) It’s a trilogy that could well be printed in a single volume. It’s classic shoujo and since Rose of Versailles will not be coming to Western shores in this lifetime,and Ribon no Kishi is also not yet being brought over by Vertical, it would make a good stand-in.

“By Igurashi Yumiko and Kurimoto Kaoru, it makes a great ‘classic’ shoujo story that would appeal to the cross-gender fans, Yuri fans, the BL fans and straight romance fans all at once. It’s adult, dark, ambiguous and disturbing and, at the same time, is a touching romance between a poor, abused serving girl and her ‘prince.’

“It has all the bells and whistles.”

Jim Hemmingfield stays in the classic quadrant, wishing for:

Hakaba no Kitaro / GeGeGe no Kitaro (9 Volumes) by Shigeru Mizuki

Kitaro is one of the all time classics of manga by Shigeru Mizuki, one of Japan’s most beloved manga-kas. GeGeGe no Kitaro is a cultural phenomenon in Japan, and the franchise remains popular to this day over 50 years after his first outing in Mizuki’s manga series. It would not be hyperbole to say that Kitaro’s image in Japan is as synonymous with Manga as is Astro Boy’s. Despite this, apart from an impossible to find three volume bi-lingual release, Kitaro’s adventures in manga form have never been translated into English. Two factors that I would imagine contribute to this are the age of the manga (classic releases are normally not picked up by western manga publishers) and the subject matter, which is very much rooted in Japanese folklore/yokai which could be seen as to alien for non-Japanese readers, unfamiliar with the legends associated with the characters.

“I feel that Vertical Inc would be able to publish Kitaro and do it justice. The reasons for this are:

“1- Vertical has already gained a reputation for publishing highly regarded manga classics.

“2- Vertical is not known just for its manga, but also for various other Japanese books that cover a wide spectrum of Japanese culture, which I feel the addition of Kitaro would benefit from and enrich.

“I feel that if Vertical released Hakaba no Kitaro and provided good notes with each volume and, perhaps, some background on the mythology regarding the different yokai involved in the stories then it would surely be a success; hopefully not one that would only be restricted purely to manga fans but also fans of Japanese culture, people interested in folklore and mythology etc. And, basically, anyone who enjoys a classic piece of storytelling, with wonderful characters and art, that appeals to a broad spectrum of people, regardless of age.”

In a somewhat more contemporary vein, we have Nicole’s choice:

“I suggest Ami Sugimoto’s Animal X: Aragami no Ichizoku. There are three series covering 16 volumes in the Animal X story, but Aragami no Ichizoku’s four volumes make up the first series and stands solidly on its own. It has a somewhat older art style like some of Vertical’s releases, but in its own way is beautifully detailed, attention being paid to not just the characters, but the atmosphere and backgrounds. While released as a non-explicit BL series in Japan, this label becomes rapidly becomes fuzzy–while both ‘romantic leads’ identify as male, one of them is genetically engineered to be a fully functional hermaphrodite.

“Ridiculous premise, you say? Yes, it is. However, the way in which this character in particular deals with his gender and sexuality confronts societal norms. He sees himself as a man, but he doesn’t see himself as part of a gay couple as part of him is female. Would he have any interest in the man he learns to love if he were a normal man? Can he balance the male and female aspects inside him?

“The other characters have their own issues to deal with, as well as with each other; a woman whose fiancé isn’t who she thought he was. A scientist trying to cure a disease in a scientific community that shuns him. A boy whose whole community is razed to the ground in the name of public safety. A daughter bent on bringing honor to her family in the only way she sees left.

“Despite the off-kilter premise of Animal X in general, the stories of the characters in it are told so that one forgets the scientific implausibility of the world and see the highly personal, intertwining stories of the people therein.

“Even if some of those people happen to be able to morph into dinosaurs.”

Audra knows that you can’t go wrong with comics originally published by the creator of Emma:

“My suggestion is Kaoru Mori’s new series Otoyomegatari.

“The art is superb and her storytelling is second to none. I strongly believe there’s an audience for her work here in the US as I find her work transcends simply ‘manga’. She’s also had a lot of critical success with her work Emma. Since CMX will no longer be pursuing titles, this would be a wonderful opportunity to scoop this gem up!”

And last but not least, there’s Sam Kusek’s suggestion:

“I wanted to throw my two cents at you for a series called D-ASH with story and art by Miya Kitazawa & Manabu Akishige. It is the story of a young track star, who tries to balance his sexual awakenings & desires with actual legitimate relationships and the entirety of his future resting on the soles of his feet as he grows from a fairly idiotic young man into an adult. It is a series that runs 5 volumes and would require an adult rating or heavy editing, as they are some sexual scenes in it.

“I think this might be an interesting direction for Vertical to go in. It isn’t specifically a sci-fi or fantasy title by any means but deals more with the human condition and how our bodies play almost a larger part in our lives than our minds do. The track star element appeals to a lot of different crowds and the subject matter is not ostracizing by any means. In fact, it is just the opposite, a series that would attract a lot of readers outside the typical manga crowd.”

Thanks to everyone who entered and to Vertical for founding the feast.