Manga gift guide 2009

I find the whole idea of a manga gift guide a bit puzzling. Who would I be giving manga to? People who read manga already know what they like, and they probably read it as soon as it comes out. People who don’t read manga are likely to be stumped by the peculiar conventions of the medium. Imagine if your first manga was Kitchen Princess, for instance, or Higurashi When They Cry. I think those stories would be incredibly hard to understand if you weren’t already familiar with the quirks of their particular genres.

However, I can think of two groups of people who might appreciate a gift of manga, so I’m tailoring this guide to them. The first is children and young adults who like genre fiction; there’s a lot of good global manga out there that may appeal to them. The other group is curious adults who have heard about manga and would like to try it but aren’t sure where to start. For them, I picked a handful of titles that are fairly accessible in terms of style and also speak to other interests or tastes.

Children and Teens

51f1jgHc8ILDomo the Manga: Domo, the mascot for Japan’s NHK network, is like a Japanese version of the Cookie Monster: He’s big, simple-minded, and tends to let his enthusiasm get the best of him. I like this book because it is bright, colorful, and with short, simple stories, it is enjoyable for young readers and even pre-readers.
Publisher’s preview
My review
Buy it on Amazon

518fGuGFEzLWarriors: As it happens, there was a 10-year-old fan of the novels in my house yesterday and he was asking for this. These manga are all original stories based on the characters in Erin Hunter’s prose novels, so it’s something new but stays within the familiar genre. Also, most of them are well written and well drawn. There are several series; links are for the first.
Publisher’s preview
My review
Buy it on Amazon

hollowomni_vol1_fullHollow Fields: This story, set in a steam-powered boarding school for future mad scientists, is a great choice for imaginative kids who like adventures with a bit of magic to them. Harry Potter fans in particular may like the school setting, but it’s good for younger readers as well. The omnibus edition is a particularly good choice for gift giving.

Publisher’s preview
My review
Buy it on Amazon

9780345503275-1Yokaiden, vols. 1 and 2: A good choice for teens and young tweens who like a bit of fantasy or folklore, particularly those who already have an interest in Japan. Nina Matsumoto’s story of a young boy traveling through the yokai realm to avenge his grandmother’s death puts an original and often funny spin on the traditional creators of Japanese folklore, but it’s clear that Matsumoto did her homework before she started writing.
Publisher’s catalog page
My review of volume 1
My review of volume 2
Buy it on Amazon

nightschool_1Nightschool: Svetlana Chmakova’s spin on the supernatural-school story has more depth, darkness, and complexity than is the norm for this type of manga. The main character is very likeable, and her supernatural companion is an imaginative touch. Fans of the Twilight novels may find this book enjoyable.
Publisher’s catalog page
David Welsh’s review
Buy it on Amazon

Adults

61KQepCsK8LSuppli: This series, about a twentysomething working woman reassessing her life after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, captures perfectly the feeling of reaching the end of your twenties and wondering what’s next. The art is accessible, if rather busy, and some of the characters and conversations are dead on.
Publisher’s preview
My review
Buy it on Amazon

61VFB1lhkhLOishinbo: These short stories about Japanese food often evoke traditional Japanese culture as well. Each volume of the American edition focuses on a particular food: Rice, sushi, vegetables. The first one, Oishinbo: A la carte, establishes the storyline and provides a sampler of the delights to come.
Publisher’s catalog page
Kate Dacey’s review of Oishinbo: A la Carte
David Welsh’s review of Oishinbo: Vegetables
Buy it on Amazon

black jack 1Black Jack: When I talk to non-manga readers about how deleriously goofy manga can be, this is one series that springs to mind. With graphic drawings of surgical procedures, this manga about an outlaw doctor is not for everyone, but people with a high tolerance for the incongruous may get a kick out of this. Vertical’s production values give this a deluxe feel that makes this a good gift choice.
Publisher’s catalog page
Johanna Draper Carlson’s review of volume 5
Buy it on Amazon

51d8pjE7DPL._SL250_Real: I’m not a sports fan, but I love this manga about wheelchair basketball, because it wraps a good story in great art. The teenagers who are the main characters seem solid and real, and their interwoven stories are about much more than mere basketball. Takehiko Inoue’s art is outstanding, and Viz gives this volume the deluxe treatment as well.
Publisher’s catalog page
My review
Buy it on Amazon

10799_400x600Fire Investigator Nanase: This series has a great hook: A fire investigator who is being stalked by a mysterious arsonist she saved from a fire. Sparkies and fans of procedurals such as CSI should get a kick out of this book, which provides a lot of information about fire investigation along with the drama.
Publisher’s catalog page, with link to preview
My review
Buy it on Amazon

10254_400x600Astral Project: A young man finds a CD in his dead sister’s stereo; when he listens to it, he is transported out of his body to the skies above Tokyo. There are several mysteries in this complex story, including the origin of the CD and the riddle of his sister’s death; music lovers may be hooked by the jazz subplot.
Publisher’s catalog page, with link to preview
My review
Buy it on Amazon

5775_400x600Emma: This is a story you immerse yourself in for the atmosphere. Kaoru Mori’s re-creation of Victorian England is engrossing despite minor flaws. A single-volume choice is her less detailed but still charming collection of short stories, Shirley.
Publisher’s catalog page, with link to preview
My review of vols. 1-3
My review of vols. 4-7
My review of Shirley
Buy it on Amazon

519tHPwaIqLPluto: No gift guide would be complete without a Naoki Urasawa recommendation. Pluto isn’t just a story of fighting robots, it also evokes questions about what makes us human, and in places, it’s heartbreaking. Readers of science fiction may find this story particularly appealing.
Publisher’s catalog page
Ed Sizemore’s review of volume 1
Buy it on Amazon

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Comments

  1. Brigid,

    Superb list. I had forgotten about Hollow Fields. I enjoyed what I read on line. Seven Seas has been so under the radar recently, I’m glad you included a title from them.

  2. Thanks, Ed! I loved that book, and I really hope the one-volume edition finds a bigger audience.

  3. Oh, how nice to see Nightschool listed! This is a wonderful guide.

  4. Higurashi and Kitchen Princess were my first manga. XD But I was already familiar with anime so it wasn’t that hard for me to understand.

  5. Great list! I just got into manga and anime this year and I need somewhere to go once i’m done with naruto. I nevere knew manga had so much variety I thought all manga were about ninja but I was wrong! Thanks 4 the help!!!

  6. “People who read manga already know what they like, and they probably read it as soon as it comes out. ”

    I disagree very much with this. There are way too many mangas to read them all. And there will always be series which you do not know of, or didn’t think they were interesting when seeing the cover and summary, or just ignored because it’s a “shojo” or because it is “not a shojo” etc. – but which you will like once you read them.

    Even people reading manga regularily don’t know let alone read everything. That’s why we ask other regular readers or bloggers for reviews and recommandations.

    I’m always giving manga presents to my manga reading friends xD

    So, thanks for the list ^^

  7. Definitely agree with Yokaiden being for a teen, it has that Yugioh, Digamon feel to it.. ^_^


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  2. […] Manga Blog just recently wrote a Gift Guide as part of the Great Manga Gift Guide, and concentrated her list on Children and Teens.  Her guide also includes links to publisher’s page and reviews of the […]