a) Had a cool cover
b) Had nothing to do with samurai
c) Did not have an unreadably large number of volumes
d) Actually had the first volume on the shelf
By following these standards, I came upon Volume 1 of 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa, which looked something like this:
Described itself like this:
Failed rock musician Kenji's memories of his past come rushing back when one of his childhood friends mysteriously commits suicide. Could this new death be related to the rise of a bizarre new cult that's been implicated in several other murders and disappearances? Determined to dig deeper, Kenji reunites with some of his old buddies in the hope of learning the truth behind it all.
Humanity, having faced extinction at the end of the 20th century, would not have entered the new millennium if it weren't for them. In 1969, during their youth, they created a symbol. In 1997, as the coming disaster slowly starts to unfold, that symbol returns. This is the story of a gang of boys who try to save the world.
And only had 6 volumes on the shelf (I later found out there were 24 total).
Six months later, I have finished 20th Century Boys as well as PLUTO and Monster, two of Urasawa's other mangas.
Urasawa is not afraid of scale. That is, in all three of the mangas I have read, his character base has been no less than 50, the stories have taken place anywhere between Japan, Germany, and America, and the villains have settled for no motive less than the destruction of the entire world.
He has the art of the cliffhanger down to a degree of perfection probably even beyond LOST.
But cliffhangers leave questions, and questions need answers.
While LOST was famous for leaving it's viewers with a boatload of questions, the most important being "Did the creators of this show have this all planned from the beginning, or are they flying forward by the seat of their pants at this point?" Ok, I'm sure not everyone worded the question this way, but ask any LOST fan and this question will not seem unfamiliar to them.
I made the mistake of believing that every single thing that happened on that show was planned long before they ever started filming. I now know that that very idea is ridiculous, but the show was very convincing in the way it connected things early on. I expected the series finale to be perfection--no more questions, no loose ends, everything would make sense in a way that would leave me thinking "I can't believe I hadn't thought of that!" Needless to say, it didn't quite live up to that standard.
It was simply good enough.
I believe that Urasawa's work suffers from the same "High Standards = Inevitable Disappointment" I discovered with LOST.
But, no matter how good or bad an ending is, it doesn't change the fact that I was desperately visiting the library or rental store every couple of days for the next book or dvd. In reality, it is maybe only 1 or 2 bad episodes or bad chapters among the hundreds of others that convinced you along the way that this series worth the time you were putting into it.
How much weight does the ending carry in the overall quality of a work?