Welcome to the Cup of Tea’s Best Books of the Year, where I list the best of the best books I read this year.
I’ve read a lot of great graphic novels and manga that it was hard to choose which were the best this year. I love seeing how the popularity and diversity of comics have increased and it has definitely has shown this year with such amazing and compelling stories that are just thought-provoking as it’s prose counterparts. If you have never read a graphic novel, now is the perfect time to join in on the fun! You are missing out on great stories that will stay with you always. And that is what we thought about when we chose these titles.
And yes, I did say we! Of course when I talk about graphic novels and mangas, there is no list without including my friends and comic readers and enthusiasts, Whitney and Joe. We have similar tastes so a lot of our favorites overlapped. So I am going to stop talking now and get onto the best manga and graphic novels of 2022:
Alice in Borderland by Haro Aso
18-year old Ryota Arisu is a really poor student. Living in his seemingly perfect brother’s shadow, Arisu knows he can never measure up in his parents’ eyes, so he goes about life in an apathetic manner, knowing he would fare so much better in a world where zombies roam the earth, and he only has to fend for himself. Well, when an unexplainable phenomenon causes Arisu to spawn in a world where he has to “play” various “games” in order to survive with his life, he realizes that maybe taking things for granted in the real world was not his brightest idea…
The Lines that Define Me by Atsunori Horiuchi
Aoyama’s a 1st year in college, and hasn’t had a part-time job in a long time until now. While working on setting up for a school ink painting exhibition, he strikes up a conversation with a gentleman (Sensei) who’s an enormous figure in that world. When Sensei realizes that Aoyama has an incredibly discerning eye for details, he offers him the opportunity to apprentice with him. This irks Sensei’s granddaughter Chiaki to no end, since she wants to be a big name in the ink painting world herself, and Sensei has always refused to take her on as an apprentice. Will this rivalry bring out the best in these two budding artists?
Deadpool: Samurai by Sanshiro Kasama
A great manga for those who love “breaking the fourth wall” kind of humor! Deadpool has once again saved the world from total domination! This does not escape the notice of Ironman & Captain America, as they ask Deadpool if he could maybe head up the Japan branch of the Avengers, the Samurai Squad. Deadpool’s reluctant at first, but does end up taking on the assignment. When he meets one of his new teammates Sakura Spider, someone who clearly isn’t impressed with what Deadpool brings to the table, the two are going to have to put their differences aside and work together if they want to make sure the ultimate organization of villains doesn’t end up coming to fruition in Japan!
Summertime Rendering by Yasuki Tanaka
Shinpei’s coming home to the island of Awajishima from his school in Tokyo. However, he’s not coming home for a jolly reason. His childhood friend Ushio has passed away, and Shinpei’s home to attend her funeral. Shinpei recently saw Ushio in a dream, and she told him that he now has to protect her little sister, Mio. In addition to that, there are other mysteries surrounding both the island itself and Ushio’s death. Strange marks are found on her neck, suggesting she was strangled, though the official cause of death was drowning. And when an old island inhabitant tells Shinpei that Awajishima’s suffering from “shadow sickness”, it’s clear there’re a lot of secrets that are maybe best left alone…
Record of Ragnarok by Shinya Umemura and Takumi Fukui
Humanity’s seven million year history is about to come to an end! The cause? Humanity’s own creators! It’s by the will of the Gods themselves that humanity is about to face its doom. They feel that humanity has not made the most of their existence, and are electing to not give them another millennium of existence. Right when the decision’s about to be decreed, the Valkyrie Brunhilde interrupts. She is against the Gods’ decision, and instead suggests a better idea: testing the humans instead. The humans pick 13 fighters, the Gods pick 13 fighters, and the first to 7 victories wins. If the humans win, they get another millennium. If the Gods win, their plan to abolish humanity proceeds. It’s the ultimate fight between God and man, with literally everything on the line!
Kowloon Generic Romance by Jun Mayuzuki
Kowloon’s a walled city, quite uncomfortable and cramped, though its population never seems to decline. New businesses never seem to last in Kowloon, which leaves our lead characters Kujirai and Kudou very busy working at Kowloon’s realtor business. Kudou’s a big believer that Kowloon ought to be nostalgic, and he likens nostalgia to love. He laments the constant change Kowloon goes through, acknowledging the fact that Kowlooners love their city for its nostalgia, and not when it undergoes neverending business turnover. Is this the start of a new romance between Kujirai & Kudou? Or does nostalgia have something more…strange in store for us all?
Romantic Killer by Wataru Momose
Anzu has shunned any kind of contact when it comes to romance! As long as she has her video games, her chocolate, and her cat Momohiki, that’s all she needs. However! One day Anzu comes into contact with a magic fairy named Riri. Riri tells Anzu that Japan’s declining birthrate is becoming an issue, even in Magic Land. They rely upon “the sparkly innocence of human children’s hearts” and the last few years there’ve been shortages. So now in Riri’s “department”, they’ve devised a project that targets people like Anzu, people who prioritize their hobbies & careers over romance (folks doomed to wind up single for life!). The project was approved as the Magic-Restoration Resolution, and Anzu is its preliminary subject, designated to be ‘plunked’ in an ideal romantic situation! When Anzu ends up meeting an impossibly perfect partner in classmate Tsukasa, could this mean that everything Anzu thought she wanted out of life’s about to change?
The Geek Ex-Hitman by Ko-Dai
Anyone who knows me knows I love at least two things: Fast and Furious and John Wick movie franchises. I love any story having to do with assassins and secret societies that bred them. So imagine my delight when I happened upon this manga. It’s a story about Marco, an infamous Italian assassin, who abandons his profession in order to pursue the life of an otaku in Japan. You think the powers that be would leave well enough alone, but the Italian government and other forces won’t let Marco be. But that doesn’t stop him from living his best fanboy life. In fact, he gets his fellow (and former?) assassins in on the fun and lets their own geek flag fly. Quite possibly my fave manga of 2022. Volume 1 is both fun and funny and I highly recommend it to anyone who not only loves JW, but also Way of the House Husband.
Tomorrow, Make Me Yours by Kaoruko Miyama
Yuki and Hayato are two classmates who appear to be the complete opposite: Yuki is quiet and introverted while Hayato is outgoing and constantly surrounded by people. But none of that matters when they spot each other from across the classroom that Yuki enters. It’s practically love at first sight for both, but neither Yuki nor Hayato could imagine their feelings being reciprocated. Until Yuki steps out of his shell and takes a chance. This is a super sweet story about two high school boys awkwardly falling in love.
Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure: A Graphic Novel by Lewis Hancox
Follow Lewis in this graphic memoir about his high school life before he transitioned. Lewis gives readers a looking into his life in a British school and tackling not wanting to wear the girls uniform, feeling obligated to perform stereotypical girl gender norms, and overall not feeling like you fit in. While this is about Lewis’ Trans story, teens in general can relate to navigating a world where you’re figuring out who you are in a world that doesn’t understand you.
Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
Four best friends living and juggling adulthood in The Bronx. It tackles the complexities of being a Black woman that are both specific to the culture, but also relatable to women everywhere. As the title suggests, this book focuses on the relationship that Black women have with our hair and “Wash Day” can be an all-day affair, or, conversely, how what’s going on in our lives (read: mental health) may affect it getting washed at all. But no matter what’s going on, trials and tribulations these friends go through, they always have each other’s backs and I found it both amazing and enviable.
Supper Club by Jackie Morrow
Like, Wash Day Diaries, this is another graphic novel about the power of friendship. But instead of hair, Supper Club is about food (if you didn’t guess by the title) that can bring us together. Here we have three best friends looking to stay connected while also looking to beef up their college applications with extracurriculars. Hence Supper Club is born. The friends bring their own culturally important recipes to every meet-up. But life starts getting in the way for all members and you wonder if the club can survive.
I have the pleasure interviewing Jackie for the book and she was a delight! I feel back for putting her on the spot at the end, but check out the interview on vimeo if you haven’t already!
Everything Is Ok by Debbie Tung
Debbie Tung is one of my favorite comic book artists and this latest one from her cemented that feeling. This is a powerful and inspirational graphic memoir that now touches on mental health. Like with all of Tung’s books I felt deeply connected with the stories that she writes. In combination with the beautiful illustrations that make Tung’s personal experiences really come to life. If you haven’t read Tung’s books, then this one is perfect to begin!
Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld
Tom Gauld brings readers another humorous collection of comic strip that only he can deliver! This is just another outstanding book full of bookish wit and humor that is filled with aspects that will be welcomed lovely by writers, Book lovers, even cat lovers!
The Closet by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Gavin Fullerton and Chris O’Halloran
Thom is moving cross-country with his family and dragging the past along with them. When his child, Jamie, is seeing monsters in the bedroom closet, Thom reassures him that they will stay in the apartment after the move. But Thom is very wrong about many things and the monsters do continue to find young Jamie. (Credit: Image Comics)
I had the extreme pleasure interviewing James about his latest graphic novel. Check out the interview on the Vimeo channel, if you haven’t already!
Steeple Volume 3 by John Allison
A new year begins in Tredregyn, and a Satanic ritual goes awry–bringing the filming of a cozy TV detective drama to town. Unfortunately, this particular Pandora’s box contains a few things a lot less pleasant than casual jobs and showbiz glitz. Plus, in a special backup feature, a teen sleuth puts the cat among the parish pigeons as she attempts to solve the disappearance of a glamorous author. (Credit: Dark Horse Books)
Island In A Puddle by Kei Sanbe
Another great new series by Kei Sanbe! Hear is a new mystery that deals with body switching in such a sinister way.
Lost Lad London by Shima Shinya
The whole of London is shocked when the mayor is found dead on an Underground train, but perhaps none more than university student Al Adley. Though he took the Tube at the time of the fatal stabbing, he doesn’t remember seeing anything unusual–certainly nothing to explain how a bloody knife found its way into his pocket that night. However, in spite of this damning evidence, Detective Ellis believes Al’s claims of innocence. Now the two must work together to conceal Al’s involvement and clear his name in the face of shadowy forces working to see Al take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit… (Credit: Yen Press)
Perfect for readers who enjoy British mysteries and TV shows like Luther!
Crpytid Club by Sarah Andersen
Loved every minute of it! Anderson brings the humor and vibrant illustrations that she always brings in here cartoon collections!