Today’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read… The theme I am going with today is Manga.
Manga is nothing more than Japanese comics. There are a few stylistic changes than traditional American comics, mainly in that the books always read from right-to-left instead of left-to-right. Also, the art is mainly in black and white and the characters are drawn with large eyes and stylized faces.
In Japan, Manga is written for people of all ages and genders, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to find a housewife, her husband, and her children all reading different types of manga suited to their tastes. There are literally hundreds of genres to choose from and unfair of me to represent the genre with ten books (or more accurately, book series), but I’m going to do my best.
Chi’s Sweet Home by: Kanata Konami
This is an animal manga for young people. It follows the life of a kitten named Chi who becomes separated from her mother and ends up living with a family of humans nearby. The chapters are short slice-of-life stories that show Chi as she grows up and learns more about the world around her. This series is almost disgustingly adorable and is great for readers of all ages.
Dragon Ball by: Akira Toriyama
This series and its sequel Dragon Ball Z have been a staple of American Manga publishing for years–and with good reason. This is a popular series about a martial artist named Goku who is in search of seven magic balls that, when gathered together, summon a dragon that will grant wishes. It’s very popular among boys, as it is very action-heavy and features a lot of aliens with cool character designs.
Ouran High School Host Club by: Bisco Hatori
This series follows the story of a girl named Haruhi who must pretend to be a boy in order to pay off a debt to some rich students at her school. It’s a comedy-romance manga fueled by mistaken identities, awkward misunderstandings, and the increasing difficulty of keeping Haruhi’s gender a secret as members of her school begin to fall in love with her. It’s very popular among teen girls and young women, and is one of my personal favorites.
Death Note by: Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
This is an odd series about a student named Light Yagami who manages to get a Shinigami (Japanese god of death) to work for him by killing whoever he asks. Light is being pursued by L, an eccentric police detective who is determined to put a stop to these senseless murders. This is a dark mystery with a hint of the supernatural that is really popular among teen readers.
Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror by: Junji Ito
This is a manga about a girl named Kirie who lives in a very strange, secluded town. Slowly, people in her village seem to be going crazy or dying, and it all has to do with a mysterious spiral motif that keeps showing up everywhere. This manga is not for the light of heart or weak of stomach, as some of the images are very graphic. But this is a great representation of the horror manga genre.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin by: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
A popular manga subject deals with Gundams: giant mechs (robotic suits) that are piloted by people stationed inside of them. This manga takes places in the future and follows Gundam pilots as they attempt to protect the Earth from a rogue group of colonists in space while at the same time trying to prove that their Gundams are not obsolete. It’s a science fiction that appears on the surface to be about giant robots, but is really about the lives of the people inside of them.
A Bride’s Story by: Kaoru Mori
This manga is set in the late 19th century in central Asia. It is the story of a woman named Amir who must travel across the desert to marry a boy who is eight years younger than she is. The bulk of the story is about familial relationships, communal life, and the upheaval that occurs when Amir’s family decides she can no longer be married to her husband. It is a historical romance manga with rich details and beautful artwork. It is more suited to an older audience.
Full Metal Alchemist by: Hiromu Arakawa
This is a fantasy manga about brothers Edward and Alphonse (Ed and Al) who are grievously injured while attempting to use alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. Ed and Al (whose spirit now inhabits a giant suit of armor) decide to head out on a journey to find the philosopher’s stone in order to heal their bodies, but they are not the only people in search of the stone. The manga follows their adventures and run-ins with other alchemists who want to use the stone for more nefarious purposes.
Fruits Bakset by Natsuki Takaya
On the surface this manga seems like a frilly, cutesy high school story. It’s about a girl named Tohru who comes to live with the mysterious Sohma family which is inhabited by people who change into cute animals when hugged by members of the opposite sex. This is because the Sohma family was cursed long ago and now their lives are miserable because of it. Tohru is ever the optimist and cares for everyone, but her strength can only go so far. The series is a comedy-drama romance that’s well-worth the read and showcases Japan’s knack for creating stories that will warm your heart one minute and leave you devastated the next.
Sailor Moon by: Naoko Takeuchi
I’ve had this on a million lists, but it’s just that good! The series is 20 years old and remains just as popular today as it was when it first came out. It follows Usagi Tsukino, a middle school student who is bad at school and a bit of a crybaby. After meeting a magical talking cat named Luna, she discovers that she is a magical girl warrior from a kingdom on the moon that existed a millenium ago. Usagi becomes Sailor Moon and with the help of her friends and fellow warriors (the Sailor Scouts), she fights to protect the Earth and the hearts of all the people living on it. It’s very much a girl power book that shows that strength and power can come in all shapes and forms.