Probably a tie between Go With the Clouds, North-by-Northwest (hard to beat a guy who talks to cars and drives around Iceland solving problems) and Gou Tanabe's adaption of In the Mountains of Madness (Tanabe's real good at drawing Antarctica and ships and horrifying monstrosity)
Amonduul, please contact me via Twitter so that we can send you that $25 RightStuf gift certificate right away! In the meantime I hope you enjoyed my own take on Go With the Clouds, North-by-Northwest.
This year was probably the most I've had to struggle to put together the line-up for my holiday reviews. That wasn't because there weren't enough books, but because there were so many good and interesting ones to choose from that I had to make a lot of hard choices. While making all of those hard choices, I was able to reflect on just how much has changed between the beginning of this decade and its end.
At the beginning of this decade, I was in 26, just starting to dabble in anime, single, looking for steady work, unsure of what direction my life was going in. Now as I head towards 36, I have a loving husband, two adorable kitties, and...well, I'm still working on the whole steady job and life direction part. Yet the choice to start a manga review blog back in 2012 has a greater effect on my life than I ever could have expected.
Yes, it's true that most of the manga blogs that inspired this particular site faded away as the conversation around manga shifted almost entirely to social media. Yes, it's true that this particular blog has only garnered a little bit of attention over the years and a very modest income. It's still more of a hobby than anything else. Despite that, I'm proud of the nearly 600 (!) reviews I've written in that time. Those works help me forge my own voice; without them, I probably wouldn't be writing pieces for Anime Feminist or doing convention panels across the country, much less making more friends (online or otherwise) than I ever could have dreamed of back at the beginning of this decade. The Manga Test Drive has helped make me the woman I am today.
That's far from the only thing that's changed - manga in the US has changed radically in this last decade. At the beginning, the American manga scene was one that was still in freefall. Publishers were failing, series were getting dropped, the shelves were clogged with B- and C-list titles, and it all wouldn't come to an end until a year later with the (sadly temporary) closure of Tokyopop. Now it's stronger than it ever, bolstered on the backs of Attack on Titan and half a dozen different series from various Jump magazines. The publishers learned well from the mistakes of the previous decade, and combined with the rise of e-books and reading apps it's increasingly easy to enjoy manga legally. We have hit series in genres that were previously thought unsalable: sports manga, josei, yuri, food manga. We're seeing old standards resurrected for English audiences and new frontiers forged through webmanga. Manga has truly never been better, more diverse, and more accessible than now. These trends have shown no sign of stopping as we head into the 2020s, and I can only dream of the wonders this next decade will bring for myself, for manga as a whole, and for all those who love it.
Happy New Year, Happy New Decade, and may your days be full of good manga to read.