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Manga Round Up!

Friday, July 31st, 2015

In search of a new manga series to read or to recommend? Check out the titles below!


Karneval 2-in-1, Volume 1 by Touya Mikanagi:

Nai has spent his entire life living in the woods with a young man named Karoku, who he thinks of as a brother. Because of this, Nai is an extremely naive thirteen-year-old boy. When Karoku disappears, Nai ventures out to find him, but the only trace of Karoku is a bracelet in a “big, red puddle.” Not even realizing that Karoku could be dead, Nai sets out to find him. He’s quickly kidnapped and taken to Lady Mine, which is where the story opens. She recognizes the bracelet for what it is: an ID bracelet of Circus, an elite organization that hunts down wanted criminals. Nai is rescued by Gareki, a thief who heard Lady Mine talking about the value of the bracelet. Gareki plans to just use and lose the kid, but Nai reminds him of his own younger siblings and he finds himself helping Nai stay out of trouble, which proves to be quite the task, as he looks for Karoku.

Yen Press’ omnibus includes the first two volumes of Karneval, bonus comics, and a sneak peak of the next omnibus (to be released July 2015). In the included volumes we follow Nai and Gareki as they become more and more involved with the government agency Circus and the band of characters that come with them. Karneval is a josei comic that will appeal to teen readers who enjoy action-packed stories and who can get beyond the occasional absurdity of Nai’s naivete.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! 1 by Satoshi Wagahara:

It’s hard being a Devil King on earth, especially when you’re stranded with no magic in modern day Tokyo. There are bills to be paid and a part-time job at McDonald’s doesn’t pay all that well. And as if that wasn’t enough, the hero responsible for banishing the Devil King Sadao Maou and his general Shiro Ashiya to earth has tracked them down and is bent on destroying them both.

For readers in search of a humorous but action packed read, look no further than Volume 1 of The Devil is a Part-Timer. The shenanigans of Maou, Ashiya, and Emilia as they struggle to adjust in a magicless world, that isn’t suited to their epic battle of good and evil, are ridiculous and hilarious. Plans for world domination through being promoted to a fast food manager? How could that plan not work?

A Silent Voice 1 by Yoshitoki Oima:

Shoya is constantly on the run from boredom. He’s a risk taker and a daredevil. He’s also a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes his new favorite target for keeping boredom at bay. He and his friends torture her for months, until Shoya goes too far and Shoko is forced to leave the school. Six years later, their paths cross again, but can Shoya make up for his past mistakes?

This is a pretty powerful manga about the consequences of childhood bullying. Volume 1 starts with Shoya and Shoko meeting again for the first time in six years. Shoko running away from Shoya segues into a flashback of elementary school, which is what makes up the rest of this first installment. It will be interesting to see how this manga progresses. As it stands, this would make a great conversation starter about bullying, the bystander effect, and disabilities.

Non Non Biroyi 1 by Atto:

Welcome to Asahigaoka Branch School. With only five students enrolled and a bus that only comes through every five hours, it might be the smallest and most isolated school in all of Japan. But that doesn’t mean that Asahigaoka lacks adventure. Sharing one class with students ranging from first grade to eighth grade is an adventure in and of itself.

There’s no real over arching story-line outside of the characters and their relationships. Instead each chapter places the girls in different situations: being the new girl adjusting to the difference of life in a big city vs the country, having a first crush, trying to out-smart a crafty rabbit, and the struggle of trying to relate to each other despite their age differences. It’s really a manga about dealing with life and growing up. This would be a great title to put into the hands of younger teens!

March: Book Two

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Title: March: Book Two
Author: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
Illustrator: Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Publication Date: January 20, 2015

March: Book Two continues the story of Congressman John Lewis’ experience during the Civil Right’s Movement. As the tension around the country grew, the violence and language used against the Nashville Student Movement and others participating in the Civil Right’s Movement intensified. A large portion of this graphic novel focuses on the Freedom Rides. The juxtaposition of the Freedom Riders’ experiences with Barack Obama’s inauguration is just as, if not more, powerful than its use in the first volume. The struggle and perseverance of the Freedom Riders, the students of the Children’s Crusade, and the countless men and women who wouldn’t back down made an everlasting change on the United States. That’s not to say that everyone agreed with how their goals should be achieved. While many supported the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this graphic novel doesn’t skirt around the fact that others questioned non-violent protests and wanted to defend themselves or react with violence in turn.

This outstanding graphic novel trilogy continues to be one that should be in all high school and public libraries.

Manga Classics: Les Miserables

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Title: Les Miserables
Adapted by: Crystal Silvermoon
Illustrator: SunNeko Lee
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Publication Date: August 19, 2014

Les Miserables is a story that has been adapted many different times and in various formats. The novel itself is quite the beast of a story, coming in at almost 1,500 pages. It’s a classic and moving story of love and tragedy set in 19th century France, but it can be difficult to wade through. Given the choice between even an abridged copy and other options on a reading list, high school students are more than likely going to pass up digging into this classic. By adapting Les Miserables to manga form, it opens the original story up to even more readers while remaining true to the heart of Victor Hugo’s novel with the complexities of right and wrong, justice, and human nature. While the account of the riots that took place after General Lamarque’s death are fictionalized–just as they are in the source material–there is a definite attempt to capture the feeling and setting of France and the history of the French Revolution.

As with any adaptation, some things have been omitted and order of events tweaked to fit the new format, but that lends itself to examining stories through a different lens. Pair the manga scenes with the matching passages from the book and scenes from movie adaptations for an activity on how information is presented through different medias.

The Manga Classics series includes Pride and Prejudice and the forthcoming titles Great Expectations, Emma, and The Scarlet Letter.

Strange Fruit. Volume 1

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Title: Strange Fruit. Volume 1, Uncelebrated Narratives From Black History
Author: Joel Christian Gill
Illustrator: Joel Christian Gill
Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing
Publication Date: June 3, 2014

Strange Fruit, Volume I is a collection of short stories about uncelebrated African American heroes. They’re stories that readers won’t often find in the typical history books, but each story is certainly worthy. Among the stories are: Henry “Box” Brown, who escaped from slavery by mailing himself to Philadelphia; Theophilus Thompson, first black chess master; and Bass Reeves, deputy US Marshall of the Old West.

This graphic novel is definitely a unique gem. It has something for people of every age, but will make an excellent teaching tool for a younger audience. The author doesn’t shy away from the heavy topics of racism, but he goes about presenting them in ways that make this a safe space for discussion. Racial epithets are represented by images in place of the words and the hostility of Jim Crow laws are brought to life in the form of actual crows instead of an angry mob. There is much to be read into the illustrations that Gill has created. Also be sure to keep an eye out for a Harry Potter reference! The end includes a “Did You Know” section with more facts about each story as well as a bibliography that lists sources for each individual story. The one downside is that this collection is lacking female heroes. Hopefully a Volume II with rectify this. Overall, definitely a must have for libraries and a book for teachers to strongly consider using during Black History Month lessons. While one book can’t fill in the voices that have been mostly overlooked by history, this one is a great start and is sure to inspire readers to believe that they too are capable of great things.

Also consider pairing with this Strange Fruit Lyric Analyzing lesson for grade 6-12, as this Billie Holiday song is discussed in the graphic novel’s Foreword.

The Shadow Hero

Friday, October 17th, 2014


Title: The Shadow Hero
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator:  Sonny Liew
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: July 15, 2014

In 1944, Chu Hing became one of the first Asian Americans to work in the American comic book industry. He created a World War II superhero named the Green Turtle, whose face was never shown and whose origin is shrouded in rumor. Decades later, Gene Luen Yang has given an origin story to what is believed to be the first Chinese superhero.

Enter Hank. He’s a pretty average nineteen-year-old. He helps his parents run their Chinatown grocery store and he aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps as store owner. When Hank’s mom gets the notion that he should become a superhero his arguments about not possessing any powers don’t dissuade her (and lead to a few run-ins with toxic chemicals).

While the original Green Turtle never did find an audience, this re-imagining is a great addition to the superhero ranks! Sonny Liew’s illustrations are wholly captivating and beautifully drawn and Gene Luen Yang’s story is humorous and engaging in true superhero fashion.

Thinking of using this book for the classroom or a book club? Be sure to check out First Second’s discussion guide.