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Section Revival: Manga

Some of you may have noticed a lower shelf tucked away near the mysteries; many of you haven’t. Walk past the fiction, take a left at the games, and get low to browse an assortment of books read from right to left, with the cover on the "back" and the description on the "front". This is our little collection of Japanese graphic novels, known as manga. Reviving and curating this section has been high on my personal project list for two years now, and I’ve finally been able to tackle it. With the Netflix release of the live-action One Piece (a kid who wants to become King of the Pirates assembles a ragtag crew), an adaptation of one of the biggest and longest-running manga and anime (Japanese animation) series in existence, we’ve had countless kids (and their parents) beginning their journey into the world of manga.

I stumbled upon manga and anime when I was in high school with Fruits Basket. Here was an animated show, based on a beloved manga, that told of a quiet girl without much confidence who found her place in an odd and rambunctious family that just so happened to turn into the animals of the Zodiac when hugged by the opposite gender. A wild premise? Maybe. But it was also so engaging and sweet and entertaining. Fruits Basket was something my sister and I could share, and we began to find other manga that we could read together and discuss. This was our introduction to an abundance of stories that had been previously unknown to us.

The great thing about manga is that there's something for everyone. It covers a range of genres, from sweet slice-of-life series like Insomniacs After School (two high schoolers with insomnia restart their school's defunct astronomy club in order to have something to occupy their sleepless nights) to postapocalyptic worlds like Heart Gear (a young girl is raised by a robot after humanity has been wiped out).

There are the One Piece-level classics:

  • Naruto (a troublemaking kid wants to become a ninja)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (two brothers pay the price in an alchemical ritual gone wrong and become state alchemists in their quest for the Philosopher's Stone)

If you like reading about people learning to use magic, try:

If you prefer short vignettes, consider:

Or try current customer favorites, which are popular for a reason:

  • Spy x Family (a spy, an assassin, a telepath, and a dog that can see the future must form a fake family to prevent war)
  • Cat + Gamer (a woman who loves video games adopts a cat)

For many of the same reasons that Western graphic novels are so popular today, manga lets us enjoy amazing storylines with impressive art but with a different culture's perspective. I’ve long enjoyed the many ways people find to share stories and bring others together, and it’s been so rewarding to see a new generation and new readers discover a medium that means so much to me. If you want to try something new, we can point you in the right direction of our little (but hopefully not for long) shelf of manga.