I can't even make a clever manga reference since I've never read any.
November 28, 2009 3:33 PM   Subscribe

MangaFilter: Help me find some English language manga for a non-native speaking 11 year old girl.

My partner's niece is 11 and LOOOVVVEESSSSSS manga. I'd like to get her a book or two for Christmas - here's the rub: #1) I know nothing about manga. #2) She is Portuguese and while she speaks English quite well and is studying it in school, I need to find something that's not too linguistically challenging.

Hope me, hive mind! What manga would be appropriate both in terms of content and easy to understand language for an 11 year old girl?

(Yes, I'm totally sold on buying it in English for "foreign cachet" value since she can get Portuguese manga in the mall.)
posted by grapefruitmoon to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Yotsuba books are great, age-appropriate, and written in a very easy-to-understand way (the main character is a little kid and her dialogue is pretty simple).
posted by leesh at 3:48 PM on November 28, 2009

My all-time favorite manga is Cardcaptor Sakura, which is about a ten-year-old girl. If I recall correctly, the language is straightforward and not particularly advanced.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2009

I'd imagine Hollow Fields would be a good choice for a young person. I enjoy it a lot myself as an adult, but it has a strong child protagonist and a relatively simple, though quite fun, plot. I don't know if you're concerned about it, but If I were to rate it, I'd probably give it a PG for apparent danger to children, though there is no real violence.
posted by LifeEngineer at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2009

Another possibility would be Bizenghast. It is happens to be originally produced in english is not linguistically complex. I enjoy this series, and if you are at all familiar with Neil Gaiman's Coraline (book or movie) you might have an idea of the aesthetics of the series. Another of my kid-friendly favorites is Yakitate!! Japan, which is about a boy who dreams of becoming one of the world's best bakers (I'm not making this up) and is quite fun and educational. It's a bit of a long series though, if that matters. The last option that comes to mind at the moment is Hikaru no Go. Most of the characters are young children who are aspiring Go players. I love this manga and it also has the common side effect of inspiring interest in Go, which is not a bad thing.
posted by LifeEngineer at 4:24 PM on November 28, 2009

I am going to shamelessly (but appropriately!) suggest my sister's manga series, Yokaiden 1 and 2. A lot of fun to read.

(She was the subject of this old Metafilter post.)
posted by (alice) at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2009

"Card Captor Sakura" is from CLAMP, and CLAMP's stuff nearly always has strange sexual sub-currents to the story which some might find offensive. In the specific case of CCS, there is a lot of implied homosexuality. Maybe you (or your niece's parents) mind that and maybe you don't, but I thought you should be aware of it.

I agree that Yotsuba&! books would be a good choice. The titular character is a very unusual five year old, and much of the humor comes from the interaction between her and the three daughters of the family next door, particularly 16-year-old Fuka. (The ampersand is part of the title. In Japanese it's pronounced yotsuba to.)

This place ships instantly from stock and their prices are good. If you take advantage of the cheap Fedex 2nd day delivery, you could have your order in four business days.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:31 PM on November 28, 2009

"Card Captor Sakura" is from CLAMP, and CLAMP's stuff nearly always has strange sexual sub-currents to the story which some might find offensive. In the specific case of CCS, there is a lot of implied homosexuality. Maybe you (or your niece's parents) mind that and maybe you don't, but I thought you should be aware of it.

The early mangas, at least, have nothing more than the implications that women might have crushes on other women (or girls might have crushes on other girls); there's nothing in any way explicit.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:38 PM on November 28, 2009

Sugar Princess: Skating to Win is a cute two volume series about a young girl discovering figure skating. CMX has a lot of all ages fantasy manga like Lapis Lazuli Crown, which is also a two volume series.
posted by gnat at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2009

Yotsuba&! is easily my favourite manga and it's one of the cutest and funniest thing I've ever read. The vocabulary is quite simple too.

About Card Captor Sakura, only an severe homophobic would have problems with it as the 'homosexuality' that has been mentioned in thread is only implied.
posted by Memo at 6:12 PM on November 28, 2009

It's old, but Azumanga Daioh is very funny and easily understood. It's by the same guy as Yotsuba&, so if she already has Azumanga Daioh, she'll like that. I also like Love Com. It's a romance, but it's more about getting your feelings hurt and stuff, nothing sexy. It makes me cry, sometimes, but I'm weak.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:46 PM on November 28, 2009

It seems I keep recommending this in manga-related questions here, but Nodame Cantabile is a hilarious and well-constructed story about an unconventional pianist and an aspiring conductor. I've been following the story for years now, and it recently came to a conclusion here in Japan. In fact, I just read the final volume this morning and am sad that it's over but glad that the story wrapped up in a satisfactory way.
posted by misozaki at 8:15 PM on November 28, 2009

Misozaki: is it appropriate for an eleven year old reader?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:12 PM on November 28, 2009

There's another problem with Card Captor Sakura: it's out of print in North America. Some retailers still have some of the volumes, but you'd have to search to find them all.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:19 PM on November 28, 2009

Chocolate Pickle, it looks like both amazon and barnes and noble have at least early volumes, from what I can tell from a glance--since it's a series with so many volumes, immediately buying the whole shebang would be cost-prohibitive anyway.

grapefruitmoon, I found the whole series online as well, so you can take a look and decide if it would be to her tastes and appropriate re: (again, exceeeeedingly slight) homosexual subtext.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:33 PM on November 28, 2009

What are some manga your partner's niece has said she liked? That would help narrow recommendations some. There are several genres in manga, and if she is a fan of one genre then she might not like even a highly-recommended volume of a different genre. When I was 11, I really liked giant robots smashing each other manga and hated the shoujo stuff my friends were reading. I still find the gigantic eyes shoujo style of drawing really creepy.

I loved Nodame Cantabile, but I think it's more appropriate for older teens.
posted by needled at 6:04 AM on November 29, 2009

needled is right in that it helps considerably for recommendations to know what genre/series of manga this girl has liked.

My niece when she was that age loved Princess Tutu, both the manga and the anime versions, but she has always been a big fan of the shojo/shoujo type. Kodocha and Gals! (Super Gals) are other favorites of hers.
posted by gudrun at 9:59 AM on November 29, 2009

My daughter has been big into manga and anime and at that age she loved reading are listed below. Hope this helps!

Tokyo Mew Mew - Fun sci-fi series about an 11 year-old girl whose DNA merges with a wildcat and she and some other girls become part of a group to safe the earth from aliens - cute

Di Gi Charat - Very funny and cute series about a 10-year old girl who is a princess of another planet. She and two of her friends get sent to Earth and the series tells of their hilarious adventures while here. My daughter really loved this one around 10-12 years old.

Kodocha - Comedy series about a child star in Japan who tries to help others with their problems. Quite funny. There are some sidebars that have additional text - these may be more than she wants to read, but they're not integral to the story - just additional info.

Tsubasa - This series is also from CLAMP who does Cardcaptor Sakura - about a princess and her childhood friend. This is a romance series as he tries to save the princess, but it's well done and not inappropriate for an 11-12 year old.
posted by garnetgirl at 10:57 AM on November 29, 2009

This may be a little off-base, but the Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
has been experimenting with "Haida Manga", an aboriginal-Japanese fusion, and has recently published a children's book called Red.
posted by Rumple at 4:39 PM on November 29, 2009

Amazon link to 'Red'.
posted by Rumple at 4:41 PM on November 29, 2009

I suppose needled's point about Nodame not being suitable for an 11-year-old girl is right, depending on how comfortable you feel about kids being exposed to allusions to sex. But it's not explicit at all and only alluded to a few times here and there, so if it worries you, you might want to just flip through the story first. [Although I don't really see the problem, since it's no worse than some PG-rated movies out there. Even my son (currently 12 but has been following the series with me for years now) and his friends (both girls and boys) have enjoyed the series immensely. But I guess YMMV.] I enjoyed reading manga geared towards an older target when I was your niece's age, and also manga geared towards boys (like One Piece, for a good current example), so the points made above about what genre your niece likes are also right.
posted by misozaki at 6:02 PM on November 29, 2009

Another title I was going to suggest was "Strawberry Marshmallow", except that it's out of print, too. Again, if you look in the right places you might be able to find it, though.

It's got five main characters:

Chika, age 12: the sane one in the middle. Distinguishing characteristics are that she has no distinguishing characteristics.

Nobue, age 16: (In the anime she was age 21.) Chika's older sister. She smokes and drinks. (That's why the anime made her 21 and put her in college.)

Miu, age 12: Chika's best friend, who lives next door. Or on another planet; Miu is a very strange person.

Matsuri, age 11: A crybaby. Intensely cute even among a cute lot. She wears huge glasses and has a pet ferret named John.

Anna, age 11: Anna was born in Cornwall, England, but her parents moved to Japan when she was really little. Which leads to the curious fact that she is fluent in Japanese but doesn't speak English very well. Nonetheless, she stands out because of her ivory skin and blue eyes and blonde hair. And because she pretends that she doesn't speak Japanese.

And the stories are about their every-day life.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:50 PM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: Turns out, she's already reading Fullmetal Alchemist IN ENGLISH.

D'oh. So much for my trying to be hip. Thanks for all your help!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:29 PM on December 29, 2009

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