Now, I recognize that Manga isn’t for everyone. It can be rather niche, but let’s explore the genre a little bit. The questions that are asked fairly often are: Where does Manga come from? Is it literature? What’s the difference between a comic book, a graphic novel, and a Manga? All very valid questions and I shall try my best to sum up each one. First, Manga comes from Japan. The origins as to which part of Japan can bounce around, but for the most part, everyone agrees that Manga = Japan.
Is Manga literature? Let’s make some of the book snobs very angry by saying yes, Manga is literature. Some pick up a Manga and think “this has pictures, it’s not a real book.” First off, RUDE. Second, in Japan just like in the USA, Manga has a very large adult following. For the most part, it is very rarely geared toward or advertised toward children. What is the difference between a Manga, comic book, and graphic novel? When broken down to its pure and unfiltered form….nothing. Manga is simply a Japanese graphic novel.
Let us bring Manga out from the stigma of only being for the geeks and nerds of the world. Manga is literature, and to prove my point, let’s get into the recommendation list, shall we?
Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi
First up, probably the most famous Manga and anime for that matter, Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi. I won’t lie, the magic girl trope in Manga is one of my favorites, and thanks to a very popular late-90s/early-2000s TV series, it became well known. We follow 14-year-old Tsukino Usagi (in the original Japanese) or Serena Tsukino (in the English dubbed). She’s a normal girl, although she has a habit of sleeping in and next to always being late for her classes, and as a seventh-grader, that just won’t do! Her world changes when she saves a stray cat and discovers that said stray cat can talk and, oh yeah, she’s a Sailor Scout and has to protect the world from evil. It’s what every 14-year-old wants, right?
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba
Second is another very popular Manga and anime adaptation, Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba. In this series, we meet a schoolboy named Light Yagami. Light is highly intelligent and also extremely bored, which is a dangerous combination. After school, he finds a notebook that has with it a set of rules. It is a Death Note, lost by a Shinigami (Death god).
The rules state that if a name is written within the Death Note, that person will die by any means the writer describes. That is a very powerful item to come into the hands of a bored teenage genius, is it not? What takes place are various events and extremely detailed plots that have the reader wondering just who is the bad guy here and if something done with the best intentions is truly evil or not.
Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi
Our main protagonist is a 16-year-old princess who lives a seemingly perfect life. That is until the night of her birthday when her family is killed and she must flee for her life with just a loyal bodyguard for protection. What happens after that is that this princess must now fight for the throne that was stolen from her and meets various people who help her on this quest.
FullMetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Fourth, this is also a very popular Manga and anime series: FullMetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. We see two brothers, Alphonse and Edward Elric as they dip into a very dangerous bit of magic. After their mother dies, the Elric brothers decide to bring her back with a forbidden bit of Alchemic magic, but of course, things do not go according to plan when each brother is scarred in vastly different ways. What follows is a journey, a journey to find a way to fix the damage that was caused and hopefully help a few people along the way.
Noragami by Adachitoka
This series follows a very, very, minor god named Yato who just wants his own temple. The problem with that simple request is that he has to pay for it himself; how does a god earn money? By selling his services of course. If a stray cat needs to be helped out of a tree or a bully needs to be dealt with, for a simple five yen, he’s your god. Everything is going smoothly until Yato meets Hiyori, a normal middle school girl who has a not-so-normal ability. That sets off a string of events that throws Yato’s dreams into a bit of a tailwind.
Bungo Stray Dogs by Sango Harukawa
In this series, our main protagonist is a young orphan boy named Atsushi, who has just been kicked out of his orphanage for unknown reasons. He wanders around a bit before running into two very interesting men who are hunting a dangerous creature.
It starts to become very clear to Atsushi that these men are not exactly normal and not only that, but they aren’t the only ones. With abilities that mirror that of various literary characters, Atsushi starts to have questions and concerns, and rightfully so.
Dreamin’ Sun by Ichigo Takano
Our main protagonist here is a school girl named Shimana Kameko who is dealing with so much in her life. Her mother died and her father has remarried and has a new baby with his new wife. Shimana feels she has no place in her father’s new life and decides to run away. This causes her to run into Taiga, a rather eccentric man who rents rooms in his house to wayward souls. He agrees to rent Shimana a room on three conditions. Shimana feels that’s a pretty simple deal to make. What she doesn’t count on is just how much these few people change her life.
Seven Manga to check out. Pick one up and flip through it. You never know you might actually enjoy what you read.