One of the most interesting (and yet often overlooked) trends in the development of modern manga is the Nouvelle Manga movement, which includes both Japanese and Franco-Belgian creators and focuses for the most part on a realistic depiction of life as it is actually lived in the modern world.  Many of the key titles produced by these artists are published in English by Fanfare/Ponent Mon and are available in the U.S., while others are available only in Europe or Japan.  The term Nouvelle Manga was coined by Kiyoshi Kusumi, the editor of the Japanese manga magazine Comickers.  The emphasis of Nouvelle Manga is on everyday life and the works published by Ponent Mon do have an affinity with 'alternative comics,' though it could easily be argued that they are closer in spirit to the humanistic graphic novels of Will Eisner such as The Building.


Some of the chief creators associated with the movement include Jiro Taniguchi (The Walking Man, The Times of Botchan), Frederic Boilet (Yukiko's Spinach, Mariko Parade), Kan Takahama (Monokuro Kinderbook), Kazuichi Hanawa (Doing Time), Kiriko Nananan (Blue, Sweet Cream and Red Strawberries), and Hideji Oda (A Patch of Dreams).  Sweet Cream and Red Strawberries is available from Central Park Media, while all the other titles mentioned above are available from Fanfare/Ponent Mon.


Fanfare/Ponent Mon's latest release The Building Opposite, which is due out in the U.S. in early 2007, was just named the #1 manga of the year by Kai-Ming Cha writing in Publisher's Weekly.  In The Building Opposite the extremely talented, 20-something Franco-Belgian artist Vanyda Savatier weaves together four different overlapping narratives about a disparate group of tenants whose collective narrative provides a marvelous evocation of the depth and resonance of everyday life.


Retailers in urban areas, college towns, specifically those who do well with alternative comics should definitely consider carrying the Fanfare/Ponent Mon line of Nouvelle Manga as well as the thematically related gekiga titles of Yoshihiro Tatsumi (The Push Man and Other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo) published by Drawn & Quarterly.