Underappreciated Manga: Historical Manga

If there’s one thing I love almost as much as manga, it’s history. I gobble history up like a starving dog in front of a huge bowl of food. Some people say they don’t get it or that it’s boring, but history is like reading a good book and I can’t put it down.

Emma by Kaoru Mori

Unsurprisingly I am a HUGE fan of historical manga. It doesn’t have to be based off of actual events, but a good historically-based manga like Emma or Red River? I’m THERE. Even if I barely learn anything new, it just gets my history nerd juices flowing to see someone actually do their research.

Sadly, historical manga doesn’t seem to be a great seller. Ooku is a critical darling and seems to be selling quite well, but it’s Fumi Yoshinaga, for goodness sake.  People will snap her stuff up just because it’s her. (That being said, I REALLY appreciate Yoshinaga’s forays into historical manga.) And despite Emma’s success, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen Shirley on any shelves, even when it was a new release.

My mentor at Tokyopop and I actually had a discussion on this. It largely centered around why Red River wasn’t a big seller. One would think that the hard economic times would push an audience to more fantastical works, but I concluded that stuff like Vampire Knight probably fills that hole better than Red River does. I blame Twilight.

Please do not even get me started on stuff like Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time. It’s historical in nature, but it’s just a little to loosely-based on the actual period and too flaky for me to enjoy it as a historical shojo. Let alone the fact that it’s based off of an otome game. Ick. It reminds me more of Fushigi Yuugi. (Although Fushigi Yuugi is better in my opinion. It had more depth.) In comparison, Tail of the Moon was MUCH better as a fluffy historical shojo. I actually felt like I learned something about Japanese history!

Otoyometagari by Kaoru Mori

I wish that Otoyometagari, Kaoru Mori’s latest historical manga, would get licensed so I didn’t have to rely on way too infrequent scanlation updates or my terrible Japanese reading skills.

I can’t really name more historical titles off the top of my head, but if someone just kept licensing great manga with historical bases, I would probably buy every last one.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be one of the very very few who will always root for more historical manga to come out, but a girl can dream, right?

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