Have you ever heard of Shinobu Ohtaka? There are probably many people who is hearing this name for the first time in their life, whereas others are now laughing beneath their mustaches for very understandable reasons. Why? Well, because if this author’s name doesn’t sound familiar in the first place, there is no way that a true manga lover has never heard of works such as Magi and Sumomomo Momomo before. Indeed, Shinobu Ohtaka is the creator of such masterpieces which are representative of the best of contemporary manga and are hugely famous nowadays. In fact, the most surprising thing about Shinobu Ohtaka is that she has written only to main series, but they were both able to reach the top easily and make her one of the most loved manga artists of all times. Maybe it is just a matter of luck or maybe it is a matter of having that special something that set them apart from the rest, but the fact is that certain authors remain unknown for the rest of their lives, while certain others can turn anything they touches into gold. Many of you will definitely agree that Shinobu Ohtaka belongs to this category of people out of the ordinary.
Born in Tōkyō in 1983, Shinobu Ohtaka made her debut in July 2003 with the short story Akutamachi published in Gangan Powered, a shōnen magazine owned by Square Enix. Less than two months later, Ohtaka has been recognized for her talent as a story maker and her Akutamachi was awarded the first prize at the Second Enix Manga Awards. But Ohtaka achieved the real success just one year later with Sumomomo Momomo, her first long shōnen manga, that was soon adapted into a television anime and become one of the most watched series of 2004. Ohtaka’s great creative talent was, then, confirmed once again in 2009 with the serialization of her best-known series – Magi – which was acclaimed by her public both for the clear and detailed drawing style and the plot, more complex than the average of other popular shōnen manga. Magi’s undeniable success led to a two seasons anime adaptation, a videogame, and a spin-off on one of the most loved characters in the series, titled Sinbad no Bōken.
Are you curious to know more in detail about Ohtaka’s best sellers? Then, here’s a chart of her top manga and their secrets uncloaked!
3. Sumomomo Momomo: Chijou Saikou no Yome (Sumomomo Momomo: The Strongest Bride on Earth)
- Genre: Martial Arts, Comedy, Harem, Seinen, Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, School
- Volumes: 12
- Published Date: Jan. 2004 – Feb. 2009
First manga published by Shinobu Ohtaka, Sumomomo Momomo is a unique that is both fun and yet intricate at the same time. The work starts with Kōushi Inuzuka, a high-school student and descendant of a powerful martial arts family. But Kōushi has abandoned the way of the warrior long ago and has decided to enroll in university and devote himself to legal studies in order to punish criminals and fight against violence. Although his father, who is the head of Inuzuma clan, isn’t happy about his only son’s choice, Kōushi’s days are quiet and peaceful… until a girl suddenly blows into his life. She claims to be Momoko Kuzuryū from the Kuzuryū martial arts clan and she is there to honor a promise made by her and Kōushi’s father when they were still children; to marry him and give birth to the strongest warrior clan on Earth. While Momoko seems to be particularly devoted to her father’s wishes, Kōushi sees her as an obstacle to his plans, but he still doesn’t know something terrible is about to happen; a war has broken out between martial arts clans and violent warriors are in search for the son of the strongest family existing to kill him. It will be up to Momoko – holder of superhuman fighting skills – to defend Kōushi until he will change his mind and give her a baby!
Though Ohtaka was still young when she conceived Sumomomo Momomo, she has been able to create a great shōnen manga in perfect balance between a captivating and hilarious story. Sumomomo Momomo’s plot is quite simple since it mainly progresses around fierce fighting against powerful ninja and assassins, and Momoko’s attempts to sleep with Kōushi to fulfill the mission her father has given to her, but it is never boring or predictable. On the contrary, the story has a linear development and is full of funny, absurd moments which make it enjoyable and easy to read. In particular, the contrast between Momoko and Kōushi’s character is interesting due to their different personalities and roles; Kōushi is serious, realistic, always cool and collected, while Momoko is exuberant, overly excited and her scenes are often surreal – like when she pulls out futon out of nowhere, for example. Superbly drawn and with a shocking ending, it is no surprise that Sumomomo Momomo could become one of the most famous shōnen manga of the last times.
2. Magi: Sinbad no Bouken (Magi: The adventures of Sinbad)
- Genre: Shounen, Fantasy, Adventure, Action
- Volumes: Unknown
- Published Date: May 2008 – currently
Spin-off of the more popular Magi, there is no need for you to read Sinbad no Bōken after the regular series since its plot develops in a different time and place than Labyrinth of Magic. In fact, Sinbad no Bōken follows the adventures of Sinbad before he became the ruler of Sindoria Kingdom. Thirty years before the events of Labyrinth of Magic, a predestined child with an extraordinary strength was born in order to change the world and make it a better place; his name was Sinbad and he was destined to become the King of the Seven Seas. Sinbad leaves his hometown when still young in search for the power he needs to fulfil the mission he has been destined to. On his path to clear his first dungeon, Sinbad will meet many special people who will follow him in his adventures around the world.
Probably one of the most appreciated manga of recent years among fantasy lovers, Sinbad no Bōken is worth its reputation because of many aspects which makes it a masterpiece: first, as in Magi, the story develops in clever ways. Undoubtedly, Sinbad is very self-confident and has all the reasons to be so, but he is not a gullible someone who will use his powers to make every kneel in front of him. On the contrary, he is wit enough to understand that the only way to change the world and build a peaceful, unified government is not through force, but through hard work, loyalty, and cooperation. Second, although diplomacy is a fundamental element in Sinbad no Bōken, it is cleverly hidden among funny scenes and epic fights so that the manga is never tedious or hard to follow. Finally, Sinbad is a very interesting character who actually looks charismatic, not only in the eyes of people who deal him in the manga, but also in the readers’. Simply put, he has got a real way with words. Probably Ohtaka’s best character ever, so his dedicated story couldn’t be less interesting than he is.
1. Magi (Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic)
- Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic, Shounen
- Volumes: Unknown
- Published Date: Jun. 2009 – currently
Masterpiece between masterpieces, Magi is the most successful of Shinobu Ohtaka’s works, and it has every reason to be so. Re-interpretation of the famous “One Thousand and One Nights”, Magi is a complex story about the flow of fate and the battle to keep the world on the right path. This task is entrusted to a mage child – Aladdin – and his chosen king – Alibaba; when the world will be about to lose its balance because of people who want to destroy the flow, the magician and his king will have to fight to prevent the chaos from prevailing.
Magi is more mature than the two previous titles, and also deeper and more complex. The plot shows both mystical elements inspired by Taoist religion as well as magical elements inspired by classical fantasy stories, so it isn’t that simple to follow the narration if basic rules and beliefs of that world aren’t completely clear. But Magi’s real asset is the political situation of the kingdoms and the relationships between their sovereigns; some characters are ambiguous and so are their way to behave and the choices they take. The result is that it is extremely hard to establish who is right and who is wrong, given that the bad guy could be acting in a certain way because he is farce to do so.
Another of Magi’s good points is the fact that it is not the typical shōnen with the typical main character who is full of himself, fearless, reckless and owns super powers able to destroy all sort of enemy in a single shot. On the contrary, Alibaba is resigned and confused in the very beginning of the story, doesn’t know what is the right thing to do or how to do it, and thinks very low of himself. His sole point of strength and self-confidence is Aladdin, on which Alibaba relies every time he feels lost and uncertain on the destiny that was given to him which he doesn’t think he belongs to.
For the most interesting point in Magi is probably Alibaba’s development as he grows wiser while people who surround him – Aladdin in particular – gets stronger and stronger. Though having cleared a dungeon and being the possessor of a very dangerous power, Alibaba’s real strength lays in his kindness and capability to use both his brain and heart to defeat his enemies rather than relying on brute force. Moreover, unlike typical shōnen protagonists that are often sole warriors who have the task to protect their allies, Alibaba always works well with Aladdin who is his guide, inseparable friend and makes his victories possible. Finely drawn, perfectly structured, interesting in both the plot and characters’ growth, no wonder why Magi is the manga of the moment as well as Shinobu Ohtaka’s most successful series.
Clever and funny; this is probably the best way to summarize Shinobu Ohtaka’s works. Ohtaka isn’t just a common author of shounen manga. In fact, she was able to conceive great stories with a deep meaning and thought-provoking, with a focus on what is right, what is wrong, and how is better to act in a certain situation, in particular. Despite that, Ohtaka’s manga are never boring or hard to follow. On the contrary, when you start a new one you can’t stop reading, dying to know what is going to happen next.
And you? Have you ever read something by Shinobu Ohtaka, or are you thinking to start now? Let us know with a comment, we are curious to know your opinion!