Manga for pre-teens/early teens?
November 13, 2007 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend any good manga series for 12 to 14-year-old boys?

No nudity or adult themes, please!

They've read the iD_eNTITY series, and someone has suggested Death Note, if those are useful guidelines.

I know absolutely nothing about manga, and would really appreciate the help.
posted by davetill to Shopping (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Deathnote anime has some pretty deep themes on humanity, but I wouldn't call them adult. Having never read the manga, I'd read through a couple just to make sure they didn't edit anything out for TV that was in the manga. Other than that, I would suggest it, even if 12 and 14 year old boys may fall short of recognizing the more intellectual aspects involved in the plot.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:40 PM on November 13, 2007

Fullmetal Alchemist is very, very dark, and probably more geared towards 14-17 year olds, it depends on their maturity level. But it is an absolutely amazing series and well worth a read.

One Piece and Shaman King are both good 'clean' fun as far as I can remember, and the age range is definitely right. One Piece is about pirates (extremely unconventional pirates at that) though a bit liberal on the gratuitous violence thing. Shaman King does deal a bit with social responsibility and the like, but overall it's really just a really cool story.

Initial D is a race-car manga, so that might go over well. You could also give sports manga a try - Eye Shield 21 has some silly humour but I've only read the first 2 or 3 volumes, so I can't guarantee value. I do strongly recommend Prince of Tennis - interesting characters and interesting challenges but not too heavy on the philosophical thinking.

*wanders away from otaku label whistling innocently to self*
posted by Phire at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2007

Naruto might be worth checking out.
posted by milarepa at 7:05 PM on November 13, 2007

Hikaru No Go is very entertaining and doesn't have any objectionable themes.
posted by gnat at 7:05 PM on November 13, 2007

I have the first 5 volumes of DeathNote. I don't recall any "adult" scenes, and while flipping through them quickly scanning for nudity I only saw one or two panels in which the main character is perusing girly magazines (of the S.I. Swimsuit Edition variety).
posted by CKmtl at 7:17 PM on November 13, 2007

Death Note is FANTASTIC, but I would say it isn't right to read for a few more years. It's got some adult themes... which is to say, morality, justice, and of course constant and pervasive murder.

I would start with some classics...Lupin III for example?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:27 PM on November 13, 2007

Seconding Hikaru no Go.

Also, do they like science? Do they like baked goods? Yakitate!! Japan
posted by spec80 at 7:51 PM on November 13, 2007

The basic story of "Death Note" is that the hero (sic) gets involved with a shinigami (death god) and steals a magical book. Any time he writes someone's name in the book, they die. So he starts knocking off people he thinks the world would be better off without.

The authorities notice the sudden rate of unexplained deaths among movers-and-shakers and try to figure out what's going on. So the rest of the series is a cat-and-mouse story about this guy trying to keep ahead of the cops, who are trying to find him while also trying to keep their names secret so that he can't kill them all. Plus he isn't supposed to have the book, so there are supernatural forces after him.

It's very dark. It's a horror title. It's about a mass murderer. I haven't read it myself but it really doesn't sound like something I'd want my 14 year old boy reading, if I had one.

Unfortunately, if you exclude fan service, outright hentai, horror, and girlie stuff, it doesn't really leave a whole lot. How about Dragonball or DBZ?

(No matter what you decide to buy, I wholeheartedly recommend Robert's Anime Corner Store. I've been buying my DVDs there, and they have shipped every one of my orders on the next business day, even in November and December.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:52 PM on November 13, 2007

Seconding Naruto. I'm a teen librarian at a large public library, and this is by far our most popular title for that age.
posted by LizardOfDoom at 8:59 PM on November 13, 2007

20th Century Boys all the way.
It's by far the best mainstream serie going on these days. It starts as a murder mystery and it evolves into a dystopian SF odyssey.
Basically it tells the story of the rise into power of a strange cult and a group of guys wondering if the leader of said cult was one of their childhood friend.
There's some deaths in it but nothing gruesome or gratuitous.

Nausicaa of the valley of the wind is one of the best manga ever made. It's also a film.
Every children in japan has read it. It's a classic, perfect for that age range.
As far as adventure stories are concerned it's on the same level as Lords of the rings AFAIC.

As a general piece of advice check this list :
Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize it's probably the most coveted prize for manga authors. Not everything might be for children on the list, you'll have to check it yourself.
posted by SageLeVoid at 10:23 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have always been a fan of Kindaichi and Detective School Q.
posted by m3thod4 at 12:15 AM on November 14, 2007

Thanks, everybody - greatly appreciated.
posted by davetill at 4:32 AM on November 14, 2007

Second the Nausicaa 7-volume set. Fantastic! Most of my Manga knowledge is very, very dated, so I can't give you too much input into today's crop.
posted by absalom at 6:27 AM on November 14, 2007

I really haven't read through it in a while, but No Flying, No Tights is devoted to reviewing graphic novels for teens. I was introduced to it when it was run by a teen librarian, and it looks like the site has multiple reviewers now. They've got suggested core lists plus additional lists by topic (science fiction, action/adventure, etc.)
posted by lillygog at 7:00 AM on November 14, 2007

If he has been into it for awhile Naruto is going to be old hat. My seven year old finished the series over the summer. Go over to Barnes & Noble and look in the manga section- you will find a pretty good selection. Perhaps, just by browsing, you might see something that looks good.

Your question is a tough call. This might be a good case for a Barnes and Noble gift card instead.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:27 AM on November 14, 2007

Shounen manga is the manga genre you are looking for, it means "boy's manga". But even if it's labeled as such, it's not a guarantee: Air Gear is a shounen manga, but it has a lot of fan service (panty flashes, brief nudity, etc). Nothing too serious, but I wouldn't like my kids to read that kind of material if they are not mature enough to understand that women can be portrayed in different ways too.

As with any other hobbies, it's a good idea to read or google what your kids are reading, and it might be useful to learn some manga/anime terms too.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2007

I'm a little late to this, but I had a suggestion that they might enjoy:

-Kekkaishi. Supernatural comedy/action series about a couple of childhood friends charged with keeping a particular area of their neighborhood free of rampaging monsters. For the most part it's a fairly lighthearted series, well-written and mostly character driven. Overall, a fun and entertaining read.
posted by kosher_jenny at 12:43 AM on November 17, 2007

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