Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Merry Christmas Manga Shopping List

The Manga Christmas Shopping List 2011

It's the holiday season, and no matter what the reason for celebration, gifts generally make an appearance in some form or another.  It's been a great few years for manga, so here's a few suggestions for the manga and anime lovers on your list, or simply anyone who enjoys a good story.

For Shonen Fans:

These are often the type who, and any age, still get up early on Saturday mornings to watch their Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and Naruto.  They probably enjoy other anime and manga as well, but they still let their inner 7 year old out to play

The casual anime fan in the US might not even know that there is a whole serie before Gohan is even a twinkle in young Goku's eye.  Here, we get to see the origins of our favorite characters, from Goku and Krillin to Turtle Elder and later, even Demon King Piccolo.

Before even Dragon Ball, Osamu Tezuka created a series around Hyakkimaru and Dororo.  Hyakkimaru's father made a deal with the demon inhabiting a shrine, promising each demon a piece of his unborn son.  Now Hyakkimaru, abandoned by his father, travels the countryside fighting these demons to win his body back, with a young pickpocket named Dororo tagging along.

For Shojo Fans:

Mainly the domain of the 8-16 year old girl, just like the Shonen manga it appeals to the girl in women of any age.  Not just filled with magical girls in sailor suits anymore, it spans all sorts of eras and topics.

Princess Knight
Another Tezuka classic, this is the manga that set the groundwork for the shojo genre.  Due to some…mischief up in heaven, poor Sapphire is born with both a boy’s heart and a girl’s heart.  And to make things worse, the poor girl has to pretend to be a boy to inherit the kingdom and keep her evil uncle off the throne.  With an ensemble cast including the angel-in-training that caused the problem in the first place, an evil witch trying to steal her girl heart for her own daughter, and a Prince Charming from the kingdom next door, this is an epic fairy tale for girls of any age.


These are the manga that you can give to someone who wouldn’t be amused by the shonen/shojo offerings.  Seinen manga, targeting young men, and Josei manga, targeting young women, have been coming to the US in larger and larger numbers in recent years, and some are of outstanding quality.

It sounds like the premise of a terrible sitcom, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.  30-year-old Daikichi, at his grandfather’s funeral, is confronted with a bizarre truth: his grandfather has a 6 year old lovechild, whose mother is nowhere to be found.  When the family discusses giving Rin to a children’s home, he impulsively declares that he will take Rin in.  This slice-of-life drama revolves around finding daycare, changing work schedules, and making it through flu season in one piece.  A very sweet, touching story.

It might seem odd that a comic based on a kitten and her family would be found in a seinen magazine, but Chi’s Sweet Home tempers its sweetness with a sense of longing and nostalgia that appeals to both men and women who are growing up and leaving old friends behind, as they are making new ones too. 

The new series by Emma: A Victorian Romance’s Kaoru Mori, this takes place not in Victorian England but in 19th century Mongolia. The first volume focuses on Amir, the bride of a boy five years her junior.  While the series moves slowly, the meticulously researched and detailed characters and art make this a fantastic success.

So there you have it.  These books should just about cover anyone on your shopping list.  But always remember, since geeks can sometimes have the most surprising items already in their collection; tuck that gift receipt in the front cover.  Just in case.

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