What Kinds of Manga Are the Kids Reading These Days?
April 12, 2016 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Consulting the hivemind for manga recommendations for a 12-year-old boy. In other words, please help me give a kid a cool, exciting present. Snowflakey details within.

Hi, hivemind. I'm searching for a manga or two for a very smart and sensitive 12-year-old boy who enjoys an array of things, including dolls, My Little Pony-type stuff, Totoro, and also a classic Marvel or DC comic book. He's never read manga before, but has watched some anime. What would you consider a good jumping-off point for a tween to get into manga? What mangas are tweens really into these days? Is Evangelion still cool, or has everyone moved on?

Alternately, it might be nice to get him a really great, age-appropriate graphic novel he can sink his teeth into. Any suggestions there would be much appreciated, too.

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by Miss T.Horn to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Has he got any Calvin and Hobbes books?
posted by Jacen at 9:30 PM on April 12, 2016

Chi's Sweet Home!
posted by thetortoise at 9:51 PM on April 12, 2016

Manga is not huge like it used to be. The shonen standards of One Piece, Full Metal Alchemist and Death Note still seem popular enough. My nephew really likes The Flash and The Green Arrow, mostly the TV shows but also the comics. There's a couple of Disney XD comics out he might like, like Guardians of the Galaxy.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:55 PM on April 12, 2016

My 13 year old and my 10 year old both obsessively love Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. The 10 year old loves One Piece but the 13 year old thinks it's dumb. The manga version of Maximum Ride was a big hit with both of them last year. (They loved the novels, too.)
posted by Redstart at 10:11 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

What's his favorite anime? Chances are there is manga of it.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:57 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another possibility is Fairy Tail. Volume 53 of the manga was just released today, so he won't be using it up soon.

What may turn him off is that more than half of the important characters are women. The main group we follow in the story consists in the beginning as two women (Lucy and Erza), two men (Natsu and Gray), and a flying cat (Happy). All the humans are about 17 years old at the beginning. Eventually a girl (Wendy, 12 years old) and another cat (Charle) join the team. Lucy is the audience viewpoint character, and Natsu is the main character in the story but they don't completely dominate it.

"Fairy Tail" is the name of a magician's guild. There are quite a few such guilds, and the rule at Fairy Tail is that to join you have to be a mage and you have to be vouched for by an existing member. Lucy gets in because she's a Celestial Mage who can summon spirits representing constellations in the sky, and because Natsu vouches for her in the second episode.

The women in Fairy Tail are nearly all gorgeous and stacked and there are occasional bathing scenes which are not really all that explicit. These kinds of mangas generally have a fair amount of fan service, but as such things go Fairy Tail is relatively mild.

If you want to look at it, the whole thing is online here. It isn't deliberately written for kids, but I think if your kid is mature enough he would enjoy it, as long as he doesn't mind reading about girls.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:14 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I was 12 I loved Ranma 1/2. It's weird (the main character is cursed so he turns into a girl when gets wet with cold water and turns back to a boy with hot water) but I loved it. The anime series is quite fun too.
posted by like_neon at 1:09 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yokai Watch is the new Pokemon, but it might be a bit childish for a 12-year-old.

Slightly more grownup, the monthly shonen manga that looks half Harry Potter half Fullmetal Alchemist (which is GOOOD but it's already completed) is Blue Exorcist, but if the kid's family objects to demons and stuff they might give it a pass. Hiromu Arakawa from FMA is nowadays drawing Silver Spoon (which is a slice of life manga about an agricultural high school, very good but not 12 year old kid thing) and a new version of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which is a Persian-inspired high fantasy.
posted by sukeban at 4:43 AM on April 13, 2016

Now I see that the Arslan wiki article has the novel illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano. Arakawa's manga looks like this.
posted by sukeban at 4:49 AM on April 13, 2016

A couple of 13-year-olds I know really loved Fairy Tail, and also Attack on Titan (some graphic violence, but it's so over-the-top no kid would be in danger of trying to emulate it).

For their 6-year-old cousin, they picked out the first volume of kid-friendly Yotsuba, which is just super-cute.
posted by witchen at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2016

Thanks, everyone! I'd say he actually prefers stories about girls, so all these suggestions are great. I also loved Ranma 1/2 when I was about his age, but didn't know whether it was still cool (and worry his kind-of-conservative family might find that one a bridge too far). Fairy Tail sounds perfect!
posted by Miss T.Horn at 11:16 AM on April 13, 2016

Ranma 1/2 ended a long time ago (1996) and the mangaka moved on to other titles. (Takahashi then spent twelve years doing Inuyasha, and now is working on Rin-ne.)

But she didn't resolve the story, because the story couldn't be resolved. Ranma is caught up in a web of promises made by his father, including being betrothed to at least three girls, and the only honorable solution in character would be his suicide, and of course no reader wants that from a romantic comedy.

So the "ending" just leaves the situation hanging and doesn't ultimately resolve anything. And that's rather unsatisfying.

One time someone asked Takahashi, "What happens if Ranma gets pregnant while a girl?". Her answer was "I don't think about such things, and neither should you." She didn't really think through a lot of the things she tossed into the story, which is why it wasn't possible to come up with a satisfactory ending to it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:41 AM on April 13, 2016

I'd say he actually prefers stories about girls

Chihayafuru is the bestest sports shoujo manga ever. Or at least currently running. It's about a girl who plays competitive karuta (pairing cards when the classical poem on one of them is read aloud, to put it shortly). It's a very clean manga (as far as I've read) and there's no violence, although some characters have grownup problems like family members dying. There's an anime, too.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a gag series where our protagonist, Sakura, just wishes that handsome, silent Nozaki-kun noticed her. Problem is, Nozaki is a romance shoujo manga author (under a female pseudonym) with absolutely no sense of romanticism. Also has anime.
posted by sukeban at 12:52 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Although not exactly anime, what about Avatar the Last Airbender? It also has comics (which should be read after watching the main show).
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:31 AM on April 14, 2016

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