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If your son has brought home a book with big eyed characters, and he seems to be reading backwards, chances are, he's discovered Manga. The Dent library has a Manga collection that would be the envy of many schools, with over 100 unique titles. It Is easily the most visited section in the library, over half of the top 100 titles borrowed this year are Manga! But what is Manga?

Manga is an umbrella term for a variety of print comics and graphic novels originating from Japan. Unlike western comics, Manga is read from left to right; even when translated to English, to maintain the original art and flow; It feels weird to read this way when you first start, but we are very adaptable, and before long you will hardly notice.

Most Manga series are long running, which is definitely something to keep in mind, and, as the stories are serialised, you need to read them in the correct order. It may be easier to start with a short series like A Silent Voice or Death Note which are complete in under 12 volumes; as opposed to some of the longer running Manga, which can clock in at 50 or up to 1000 in some very long running cases.

Are Manga and Anime the same?

Simply put, Anime is animation, Manga is print. If a Manga becomes popular enough they may make an Anime and vice versa.

Where to start?

There is a ‘lot’ of Manga out there; so how do you choose one that is appropriate for you? Manga is generally arranged by audience, then genre; and there are five main audience groups.

Shonen: Tween and teen boys; Shojo: Tween and teen girls; Seinen: 18+ men; Josei: 18+ women; Kodomouke: young children

While these may be a target audience, it does not preclude readers from looking beyond their typical audience grouping. Likewise, not every Manga neatly fits within one of these categories.

The majority of well known Manga tend to come from the Shonen, Shojo and Kodomomuke categories.

Popular Manga

One Piece

As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally gained the power to stretch like rubber…at the cost of never being able to swim again! Years, later, Luffy sets off in search of the “One Piece”, said to be the greatest treasure in the world...

My Hero Academia

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called "Quirks" at age four? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless? Middle school student, Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn't got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny.

Naruto

"In another world, ninja are the ultimate power--and in the village of Konohagakure live the stealthiest ninja in the world. But 12 years ago Konohagakure was attached by a fearsome threat--a nine-tailed fox demon which claimed the life of the Hokage, the village champion. Today, peace has returned, and a troublemaking orphan named Uzumaki Naruto is struggling to graduate from the ninja Academy. His goal: to become the next Hokage. But unknown to Naruto and his classmates, within him is a terrifying force..."

Demon Slayer

In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister, Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.

A brief warning about appropriateness

Given that Manga is in comic form, and can be written with adults in mind, it is important to judge the appropriateness of the book before reading. Many Manga feature Fan Service, which essentially is putting the characters into revealing outfits or pseudo sexual situations; often played for laughs.

It is important then, if you are unsure, to read the book yourself, or see the guidance of an expert like the local librarian, some titles may also carry an age-rating on the back cover.

In Conclusion

The world of Manga is huge; more than I could ever hope to cover in this brief guide. This is very much the basics, and not every Manga will fit into the criteria above; but discovering new genres, tropes and styles is part of the fun. I hope this may encourage discussion around what your sons are reading or possibly encourage trying something new. Remember, if in doubt, do some research or ask an expert; if you enjoy them, there's a vast new world of books waiting for you.


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