"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.
We can’t forget to mention works that don’t fit any of the other categories. Of course, I’m talking about manga! What is manga? It’s literally translated Japanese for “whimsical pictures,” and they’ve been around since nearly World War II. Listed here are some more modern favorites – most read in the traditional style: back to front and right to left, instead of front to back, left to right.
Full Metal Alchemist
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who lost parts of their body when trying to use alchemy to bring their dead mother back to life (which failed). The story has the backdrop of a civil war, which the main characters of the story were involved in. It comes out that the war was generated by homunculi (humans infused with the Philosopher’s Stone) who each represent one of the seven deadly sins. The Elrics are searching for the philosopher's stone to regain their bodies back to normal. The manga (which as a different plot line than the anime series) has deep-running emotions/themes, the essence of what makes one human, humor, action, government conspiracies, and a look at two boys trying to find their way back to an age of innocence when they know they can never un-know what they have witnessed.
YA Fic Arakawa WCV
GN Arakawa MPL
YA Graphic Arakawa ROG
Light Yagami is a young man who is upset by the crime and corruption he sees in his city. When he happens upon the Death Note – a notebook that has the names of people fated to die written in it – he decides to become “The God of the New World,” passing judgment on the criminals he sees. Unfortunately for Light, there are rules as to how the Death Note is to be used by himself and other shinigami (“death gods”), and he will have to deal with them, especially one who goes by the name of “L” throughout this suspenseful series.
YA Fic Ohba WCV
741.5 Death RSV
Graphic Novel Death Note WAM
Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story
Former assassin Himura Kenshin decides to work for peace after the Bakumatsu War. He wanders the Meiji-era (1868 – 1912) countryside of Japan, offering protection and aid to those who need it, as a way to make up for all of the killing he did during the war.
YA Fic Watsuki WCV
GN Rurouni CHE
Ya Graphic Watsuki ROG
Absolute Boyfriend is a short (6 manga) series about an independent high school student named Riiko who helps an odd-looking cosplayer (person who dresses up as anime character in real-life) retrieve his lost cell phone. From there, she "accidentally" fills out an online form from his company on what makes the perfect boyfriend....and they deliver him (a robot) straight to her door! What ensues is a crazy series of adventures as Riiko tries to keep the truth about "Night" (her robo-boyfriend) from the cute-guy-next-door who secretly has loved her for years. Night is perfect in every way, and what every girl dreams of, but will Riiko ultimately chose him over a real flesh-and-blood guy? From a jealous best friend to a malfunction that turns Night the size of a mouse, this manga had me laughing out loud so much. I've never read one so funny. The ending is bittersweet and the entire series is a delight.
YA Fic Watase WCV
YA Comics Wat WMB
If you’re not sure any of these great adventures is for you, try an issue of Shonen Jump or Shojo Beat magazines, which feature many stories in each issue. Shonen Jump specializes in action or “boy” comics, and Shojo Beat is more about romance or “girl” stories.
Shonen Jump YA Fic Shonen WCV/ Magazines WMB SJ
Shojo Beat WCV YA Shojo Beat/ Teen Shelving TPL Sho
Thanks to PW, NB, and BW for your help with this column!