New Year, New Manga
By Grace Benedick, Teen Services Librarian
The new year is always a good time for change, and at Manhattan Public Library we’re gearing up for a small change in our Young Adult collection. We’re dividing the graphic novels into three sections. The sections are Young Adult Graphic Novel Manga (YAGN MANGA), Young Adult Graphic Novel Series (YAGN SERIES) and plain-old Young Adult Graphic Novel (YAGN). Any single volume graphic novels will be found in YAGN. Manga series and one-shots will be found in YAGN MANGA, and all other multi-volume graphic novels and comics will be found in YAGN SERIES. If you’ve browsed the graphic novels in the Children’s Room, you’ll be familiar with the approach, and if you’ve looked closely while browsing the graphic novel shelves in young adult, you’ll have seen the new sections on the spine labels.
If you’re an avid manga reader, you’ll be aware that most manga translations are published a few years after the original debut in Japan. So you may not be surprised to hear that some of the following series are brand new to the English-language market, despite having aired as anime shows some time ago.
Hiromu Arakawa, the author of the cult-favorite, “Fullmetal Alchemist” has a new series that just arrived at our library: “Silver Spoon” is a “slice-of-life” story about an aimless teenager enrolled in an agricultural high school. The first volume released in 2011 in Japan, and hit shelves in the USA in 2018.
The lesbian coming-of-age series, “Sweet Blue Flowers” by Shimura Takako, came out in 2013 in Japan but had its English-language release in 2018, and the complete series is out now.
The many avid Naruto fans will be pleased to find the sequel series, “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations” now on library shelves. This series was created by a team comprised of Masashi Kishimoto—creator of the Naruto series—along with Mikio Ikemoto and Ukyo Kodachi. A note for slightly less avid fans: the manga aligns with the character’s ages in “Boruto: Naruto the Movie” which was released in 2015, not the currently airing anime. For the un-initiated, “Naruto” is about a ninja growing up in a world populated with mythical creatures, who is looked down on by his peers but hopes to become leader of his village and “Boruto” is the story of his son.
Readers who prefer their fantasy on the darker side, and can’t get enough “Tokyo Ghoul” to satisfy their appetite, can now tide themselves over with “Happiness” by Shuzo Oshimi, another series featuring a normal-high school boy turned blood-thirsty vampire.
For those who just want something light, romantic or funny, we’ve recently acquired some classic 2010’s shoujo manga series, as well. “Ao Haru Ride” or “Blue Spring Ride” by Io Sakisaka is about a high school girl who reunites with her middle-school crush only to find that he has become a very different person. It’s not possible to pick up right where they left off, but it may be possible to start over.
“Horimiya” by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara starts with the trope of a girl who is polished and popular at school but has a less-than glamorous home life that she’s hiding from her peers. Naturally, she strikes up a romance with a boy who is unpopular at school but considered cool elsewhere. However, as the series progresses neither the romance nor the hidden home life are the central plot-lines. Rather it’s about an expanding friend group and their escapades and comedic dialogs.
“Sweetness and Lightning” by Gido Amagakure is about a single dad who is failing miserably to provide decent meals for his young daughter, until one of his students starts teaching him to cook. This series is all about the food, and it includes recipes.
Another “slice-of-life” series, with a cast of characters of all ages, “Barakamon” by Satsuki Yoshino, is a series about a calligraphy prodigy whose ego lands him in trouble in the art world and takes a break by moving to a rural island village.
For more great graphic novels, check out the list “2019 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Nominees” on the Young Adult Library Association’s “The Hub” website.