I've been reading quite a lot of it! (so this post may be rather long)
So, back in college when I was watching tons of anime, Naruto was THE big thing. The anime club started showing it from the beginning, and continued with 3 episodes each week for the two years I was going there. Eventually, I started getting ahead on my own, too. But around episode 90 I hit a wall. Everything was filler garbage, the fun had gone away, the characters were whiny and annoying, and I simply stopped bothering.
This past November or December, I started working with a student who reads a lot of manga. We got to talking; Naruto is one of his favorites, and he's got every English-language volume that's been released so far. He offered to loan me anything he had, and convinced me to give Naruto a second chance. I leafed through until I found the place where I'd left off the main story, right before filler had taken over and I'd started to lose interest. To my surprise and delight, the manga did not take a break from the story at the same spot, instead continuing on in ways that were new and interesting to me. So, over a few months, I got caught up on the series, and am continuing to follow it when the new weekly releases hit the net.
The kid also had the first few volumes of Bakuman, which I'd never heard of. His taste is mostly standard shonen battle fare, so I was surprised when he recommended it so highly, since it's got a lot of text and no fantasy element whatsoever. What it does have, though, is REALLY good story and art. He only got the English versions as they came out, so after reading the first 3 volumes or so, I forgot about it for a few months. Then, just a few weeks ago, I found all the chapters online and went on one of the craziest, most intense reading sprees of my life to get caught up in just a couple days. I can't say how much I love this manga, and since it's a story ABOUT the manga industry, it's given me a lot of good insight and also ideas of what to read next. It may have single-handedly changed me from a dedicated anime viewer to an avid manga reader instead.
Bleach, like Naruto, is further evidence to me that the original manga stories are much better than their anime adaptations. I'd seen the first few episodes, not been very interested, not had the time, and forgotten about it. Then the dubbed version hit Cartoon Network and ten minutes was enough to turn me off the series completely. The manga, on the other hand, hooked me right from the start and kept me. True, the arcs are stretched out WAY too long, and the battles get rather ridiculous at times, but it's still worth my time (plus I have this bad habit of not abandoning a story once I've started, no matter how far downhill it goes). Once in a while they throw in a little flashback or mini-arc that I really enjoy, and the reboot into the current story really renewed my interest.
After getting current on those big three, I finally gave in to my brother's nagging and gave Fairy Tail a shot. I didn't really want another battle-infused shonen manga, so I was leery at first, but the initial story was based more on short arcs with more emphasis on setting and character development, and I was sucked in quickly. The focus was less on the battles, and more on a blend of plot, humor, and adventure, with the action playing its proper supporting role. Unfortunately, that changes later on, with the fights taking the fore, but despite being reduced, all the elements that I really like remain in place. The art is incredible, especially backgrounds and settings, and the author does a great job tying things together and developing some plots and characters over the course of YEARS rather than just one arc (things I thought were unnecessary loose ends eventually came back 200+ chapters later to make perfect sense). This will probably remain my favorite fantasy manga for a while, and I'm going to give the anime a shot, as well, since its story has yet to deviate from the manga's.
Lastly, I'm trying to mix some comedy into my regular reading, so I've started both To-LOVE-Ru and Gintama. The latter is rather unimpressive so far, and I don't know if I'll really bother to get caught up. The former, however, is quite amusing, so we'll see if it can become a staple for me or not.
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