Comics for Kids: Manga

Introduction

Manga is more and more popular amongst young people, but there is so much less published in America for kids then for teens and adults. Here’s a roundup of manga for kids to add to your collection or to check for which volumes to replace!

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

Kuma Chan

This classic story of a girl growing up has been beautifully adapted into manga format. Anne Shirley, a precocious orphan girl, was sent to the Cuthberts’ home of Green Gables by accident. The Cuthberts, siblings Marilla and Matthew, were hoping to adopt a boy to help around the farm, but they got Anne instead, a girl full of imagination and spunk. Readers will fall in love with Anne's outgoing, bubbly personality, and root for her to achieve her dreams despite the gender roles and stereotypes she is up against.

Appeals to

Fans of the classic novel

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Ascendance of a Bookworm

Miya Kazuki

In a past life, a bookworm is crushed to death by her beloved books, and she finds herself reincarnated into the body of a very young, very frail, little girl in a world still in its Middle Ages. Parchment is rare and expensive, and almost no one is taught how to read. All she wants in her new life is to be able to read a book, but the rarity of the items and skills makes this a very daunting task for young Myne. Through her adventures of recreating clay tablets and papyrus, to her training for one of the few professions that require reading books, Myne learns to appreciate the people in her new life, as well as some other things that are not books. Myne is a sweet character that readers can connect with and root for, even though the odds are horribly stacked against her.

Appeals to

Bookworms, fans of fantasy manga

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Cardcaptor Sakura

CLAMP

Sakura is a 4th grader who loves sports and hanging out with her best friend Tomoyo, who dresses her up in custom-made outfits. She also is a magical girl, bound to capture all of the Clow cards that have escaped and are causing mischief. When not stopping flower hurricanes or sneaking into museums to steal paintings, she's helping out around the house and sorting out her feelings about her brother's friend, Yukito. All in a day's work for a magical girl!

Appeals to

While the covers are very flowery, and the art tends towards frilly, the story covers adventures of creative thinking, ghosts, and magical creatures. There's humor, but also darkness, and the magic is just cool, so this appeals to any reader looking for a more fashionable adventure story or a romance story that also has feats of derring-do.

Content Notes

There is a subplot that implies a teacher is dating one of his students, and significant age gaps in relationships, in general, are seen. Also, the main character's mother is deceased, for readers sensitive to that topic.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Cells at Work: Baby

Yasuhiro Fukuda

A spin-off of the original Cells at Work series, this one focuses on cells inside a baby's body. We open up on the tiny cells receiving oxygen deliveries from the mother's cells, but tremors throughout the building announce the birthing process has started. Once the baby is on its own, the series goes through how the mother continues to support the baby cells, like transferring immunity-boosting information through milk. The baby cells have to learn how to do their jobs and keep their body alive, but it's amazing how much information these cells all seem to have, all from genetic coding passed down from the parents! There is a lot of scientific information in this series, so this would be awesome for readers who want a primer on how the body works. Just like Cells at Work, the body is presented as a large factory, so no actual body parts are shown as the cells navigate the "hallways" and built-in bureaucracy of navigating their tasks.

Appeals to

Readers who are interested in science, biology, and the human body. It's also extremely funny, so fans of humor manga will also appreciate this (and maybe learn some science along the way).

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Chi's Sweet Home

Kanata Konami

Chi is a rambunctious kitten, as her adoptive family (young son, mother, and father) quickly finds out when they add her to their no-pets apartment. Her random antics in and out of their abode will have readers either recognizing their own cat or feeling relieved Chi is not their responsibility.

Appeals to

Cat lovers, pet lovers

Content Notes

There is one instance of mild adult language, but this is otherwise suitable for all ages

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Dinosaur Hour!

Hitoshi Shioya

Lots of dinosaur facts and short dramas between dinosaurs with lots of jokes and eating each other.

Appeals to

Fans of dinosaurs and silly jokes.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamonroll

Yumi Tsukirino

Cinnamoroll is a very special puppy who can fly by flapping his long ears. He lives at a sweet shop called Café Cinnamon and loves to hang out with his puppy friends. Together, they have lots of whimsical adventures!

Appeals to

Fans of puppies and cute things; readers who want sweet, feel-good adventures

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Flying Witch

Chihiro Ishuzuka

When Makoto moves in with some relatives in a new city, she learns her way around town as well as how to handle magic in this gentle slice of life that includes a talking cat.

Appeals to

Young witches in training, enjoyers of Japanese culture, cat lovers

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Giant Spider and Me

Kikori Morino

This is the sweetest story full of potential but not actually messy ingredients. The giant spider is more like a teddy bear. The POV protagonist, Nagi, lives on her own in a post-apocalyptic world, but the focus of the story is about how she gets by and the food she prepares for herself. An inventive setting within the slice of life genre.

Appeals to

Fans of post-apocalypse stories, cooking, giant pets, survival

Content Notes

A character points a rifle at the spider in the third volume

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Hana-chan and the Shape of the World

Ryotaro Ueda

Buckle up for Hana's adventures in her small town! From quests for rations in the middle of a typhoon to robots in a field, this collection of short adventures will delight and befuddle you.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy the whimsy of Studio Ghibli movies and Yotsuba's absurd humor may want to check this out.

Content Notes

There are a couple of scary parts that may be unnerving for some readers. There is a section where characters are drawn with monstrous features. There's also one set in an old, abandoned house where there's a futon with dark stains; it's not clear if there's actually blood. Neither part goes into full-on horror though.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Hikaru no Go

Yumi Hotta

Takeshi Obata

Sixth-grader Hikaru is haunted by the ghost of an ancient Go player who wants Hikaru to find skilled opponents in the timeless board game. Hikaru becomes interested in the game, and in the process, he includes making a name for himself in a gaming scene replete with colorful characters and competitive egos.

Appeals to

Gamers, fans of intense rivalries

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Kirby Manga Mania

Hirokazu Hikawa

Kirby, Nintendo's videogame and cartoon mascot, stars in his very own manga! Kirby is a pink puffball who can inhale an astounding amount of matter and use all kinds of abilities. Kirby and the extended cast from the games, including many anthropomorphic animals and unique creatures, get into chaotic adventures from chapter to chapter. Slapstick, sight gags, and funny faces are stuffed into each page.

Appeals to

The endlessly silly, Nintendo fans, Saturday morning cartoon addicts

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

Akira Himekawa

Young hero Link must master magical weapons and tools, defeat monsters, and save the kingdom of Hyrule. This series includes two 2-volume stories and six stand-alone adventures, each based on one of the Legend of Zelda video games. This volume is a reissue that combines the first two books: Ocarina of Time Part 1 and Ocarina of Time Part 2.

Appeals to

Fans of video games, fans of classic swords-and-sorcery-type fantasy

Content Notes

There is violence, as Link fights a lot of monsters.

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Plum Crazy!

Hoshino Natsumi

Plum is a cat with eyes readers will get lost in. Her family (a single mother with a teenage son) adopts a new kitten, Snowball, and jealousy ensues. Plum is friends with several neighborhood cats, each an example of different cat behaviors, and the humans are loving cat caregivers.

Appeals to

Cat lovers, pet lovers

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Pokemon Adventures

Hidenori Kusaka

Mato N/A

Pokémon are amazing creatures with all kinds of abilities, and many people keep them as pets or assistants. Others train Pokémon to battle each other, competing to be the strongest. This long series - really a collection of connected series - follows various trainers as they raise and learn about Pokémon, befriend other trainers, and battle criminals who would use the creatures for evil.

Note: If the whole series is too intimidating, there are several stand-alone Pokémon volumes based on the movies. Look for any manga that includes "Pokémon: The Movie" in its title.

Appeals to

Fans of video games, fans of fantasy action, and battle scenes

Content Notes

Pokémon fight. A lot. Some of the battles in the manga - especially early volumes - are more brutal than fans of the video games and movies might expect.

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Sue and Tai-chan

Konami Kanata

Sue is an older cat who wants a calm life, but it's not to be when Tai-Chan enters the household. This sweet story is full of cute and funny kitty antics and is a great intro to the manga format for kids.

Appeals to

Animal lovers and fans of slice of life stories.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Witch Hat Atelier

Kamome Shirahama

Coco lives with her mother and dreams of being a witch. One day, she stumbles upon the secret of magic and accidentally turns her mother into a stone statue! She's taken in by Qifrey, a master witch, and joins his Atelier with three other students, and hopes to learn enough magic to change her mother back. But, there's something different about Coco, and the world of magic is not as bright and shiny as Coco once thought. The art is exceptionally beautiful and detailed, with lots of full-page splashes and some two-page spreads that captivate and pull readers into this rich world. The mystery of how magic might be different and dark is hinted at throughout and tantalizing, so readers will keep going, hoping to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Appeals to

Fans of fantasy, magic, adventure stories, and complex worlds

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Yotsuba&!

Kiyohiko Azuma

When Yotsuba moves to a new neighborhood, she immediately wanders off only to create a massive misunderstanding with her new neighbors who just want to help her get home After that impressive introduction, each volume takes the reader through Yotsuba's further adventures. From broken locks to trips to the zoo, and more, Yotsuba's adventures will have you grinning and laughing.

Appeals to

In addition to a spirited lead with a great supporting cast and tons of quirky adventures, Azuma has a knack for portraying the story and characters in a way that is funny to both kids and adults. As a result, this is truly a graphic novel that will appeal to all ages. Give this to kids who are looking for wacky, slice-of-life hijinks!

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Manga for Middle School

Introduction

Manga is very popular in many libraries, and middle schoolers are some of the most voracious manga readers. For adults unfamiliar with the format, it can be challenging to pinpoint which manga are appropriate for middle schoolers.  The No Flying, No Tights staff is here to help! 

Astra, lost in space

Kenta Shinohara

Elevator Pitch

This 5 volume series includes hints of romance, lots of character development and background stories, and the growth of various relationships, as well as plenty of adventure and excitement. The blend of both action and adventure as well as realistic, relationship-focused fiction is sure to attract a wide audience of manga fans.

Appeals to

Middle school and up

Content Notes

Some mild fan service in the later volumes. The characters also wear skin-tight spacesuits.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Intersex Characters
Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Delicious in Dungeon

Ryōko Kui

Elevator Pitch

Middle school D&D fans will gobble up this series and older teen readers will appreciate its quiet humor and points for discussion. For school libraries struggling to find manga acceptable to their population’s Westernized taste buds, this is a great choice. It’s funny and includes plenty of monsters and adventure, but has no fan service and little to no questionable jokes or behavior. In short, there’s something to meet the tastes of every reader in this manga menu of monsters.

Appeals to

Middle school and up

Content Notes

As the series progresses, there is a little more graphic violence but it's no more than Harry Potter level. There are a few risque jokes.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese
Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Flying Witch

Chihiro Ishizuka

Elevator Pitch

Novice witch Makoto and her black cat familiar move in with her cousins to learn flying, spellcraft, and everything else she needs in order to become a full-fledged witch. In addition to Magic 101, the story is a laid-back look at life in northern Japan, including seasonal festivals, enchanted gardening, and a variety of outdoor trips.

Appeals to

Fans of Kiki's Delivery Service, sweet slice of life

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Giant Spider & Me : A Post-Apocalyptic Tale

Kikori Morino

Elevator Pitch

Can a young girl make it on her own with a giant spider as a roommate? So goes the adventure of Nagi, a girl who did not expect to become such close friends with an eight-legged creature, but it turns out they have a lot to learn about each other. She leads a life of seeming domestic bliss, complete with delicious recipes, and the spider acts as a guardian able to signal its emotions through colors and sounds. This series is complete at three volumes, making it as easily digestible as Nagi's cooking.

Appeals to

Fans of human/monster bonding, cooking, slice of life with a surreal twist

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese
Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Haikyu!!

Haruichi Furudate

Elevator Pitch

Despite being very short, Shoyo Hinata wants to be a star volleyball player. He's devastated after he loses his only middle school game to the other team thanks to “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama. When Hinata starts high school he's ready to make up for the loss but finds out that Kageyama is also a first-year at the same school. They will have to play on the same team! Can they work together, and can Hinata become a star?

Appeals to

Fans of realistic comedy, sports manga, and friendship stories.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Hikaru no Go

Yumi Hotta

Takeshi Obata

Elevator Pitch

This series turns the strategic board game of Go into a team-centric hero’s journey that can match any shonen for heightened drama and competition. Great coming-of-age story with likeable characters.

Appeals to

It has general appeal for boys and girls of various ages. However, teens looking for a series with non-stop action may want to look elsewhere.

Content Notes

High quality, “clean” series. No violence or romance. Includes a few flashbacks to Japan’s past, but always with context for the reader.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Robin Brenner

Kitaro

Shigeru Mizuki

Elevator Pitch

Kitaro is a yokai (Japanese monster of folklore) child who lives on the edge of society. The only surviving part of his father's body is a sentient eyeball that is able to give him some amount of guidance, but by and large, Kitaro must survive on his wits and observations. Though he is a yokai, he will act to protect humans if other yokai try to harm them. Some yokai are recurring characters and relatively friendly in nature. Readers will enjoy meeting Mizuki's grotesque yokai in all their forms, especially from a safer distance than Kitaro often experiences.

Appeals to

Lovers of all things spooky, monstrous, and fantastical

Content Notes

Fantasy violence

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Laid Back Camp

Afro

Elevator Pitch

Rin and Nadeshiko absolutely love to camp. They have adventures hiking, making friends, and eating delicious food.

Appeals to

Fans of the great outdoors and those who enjoy cute, slice of life stories.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

My Hero Academia

Kōhei Horikoshi

Elevator Pitch

In a world where many people have superpowers called "quirks", Izuku Midoriya has none but he is determined to be a hero anyway. When he meets a famous hero called All Might who shares his powers with him he is able to enroll in a high school for heroes in training. Can he change his destiny as a hero with no powers?

Appeals to

Fans of shonen manga, superheroes, friendship, and team stories.

Content Notes

Mild language and some characters wearing tight clothing.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

My Neighbor Seki

Takuma Morishige

Elevator Pitch

Seki is a professional procrastinator, to the point that the distractions he manufactures for himself are far more elaborate and creative than whatever he's supposed to be doing in class. His desk neighbor, Rumi, is often taken in by his productions, either enjoying or disrupting his games by association. Her imagination and ability to read Seki's face makes her an interpreter for the reader, the third individual caught up in wasting time during class. Everyone will have a ball of it, though!

Appeals to

Anyone in need of a laugh, DIY types, and crafters.

Content Notes

There is a short story partway through the series in which a friend's mother is oddly obsessed with Seki and he must hide throughout her house while searching for an escape. There is nothing sexual about the scenario, but it is still jarringly threatening and surreal compared to the otherwise wholesome premise of the series.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Naruto

Masashi Kishimoto

Elevator Pitch

This classic shonen manga tells the story of a troublemaker named Naruto who aspires to graduate from a Ninja Academy. This series has inspired many spin-off manga and current series and remains popular.

Appeals to

Fans of shonen manga, ninjas, friendship and rivalry stories, and mischief.

Content Notes

There’s a good amount of violence and some slight gross-out and sexual humor.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Naoko Takeuchi

Elevator Pitch

This classic magical girl hero story never gets old. Middle School student Usagi Tsukino has always lived a normal life until one day when she meets a cat named Luna who can talk! She tells Usagi that she's really a sailor guardian named Sailor Moon and gives her a brooch that allows her to transform into a superhero!

Appeals to

Fans of magical girl stories, superhero, friendship stories, and slapstick comedy.

Content Notes

Mild violence

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Splatoon

Sankichi Hinodeya

Elevator Pitch

Squid kids from the Splatoon videogame series are squadding up and playing through a massive turf war tournament. The main protagonist Goggles isn't terribly talented, and neither are his teammates, but they've got heart and creativity on their side, and those count for something, right? Each team they battle for ink-spreading supremacy has a different strategy or team dynamic that must be considered and countered, often in humorous fashion. These characters do not always play by the rules of the videogames, but they relay messages about sportsmanship and teamwork that apply to any kind of competition.

Appeals to

Fans of Splatoon, online shooters

Content Notes

The main character sometimes loses his clothes and inadvertently shocks surrounding players with his nudity. This is strictly played as a limited gag, with he and his teammates embarrassed by his behavior.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Multiracial Characters

  • Squid kids in this series have a variety of skin tones

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Strobe Edge

Io Sakisaka

Elevator Pitch

A first love story with all of the ups and downs that can come with a new romance.

Appeals to

Big fans of romance and the rush of finding your first love.

Content Notes

None! A clean manga romance

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Robin Brenner

Tegami Bachi

Hiroyuki Asada

Elevator Pitch

The action centers around the exploits of ‘letter bees’ – couriers who have to traverse dangerous territories as part of their delivery routes.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy stories set in a detailed fantasy world with its own magic, culture, and creatures, as well as tales of heroism, heart, and never giving up

Content Notes

There are some battles with insect-like monsters called Gaichuu, but the letter bees’ weapons carry ‘heart’ and not bullets, so the battle scenes feature sparkly stars more like a kids’ video game than a blood bath.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese
Recommended by

Robin Brenner

The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún

Nagabe

Elevator Pitch

A young girl, Shiva, has lost her way and found herself in the company of a cursed, supernatural-looking being she calls Teacher. There is a plague upon the land that is transmitted by touch - Teacher has it, though he wishes to look after Shiva for the time being. His existence attracts fear and danger from the townspeople and guards who attack his seemingly immortal body. Will Shiva be able to reunite with her family, or will the plague find its way to her? How did she become lost in the first place? And how many more creatures like Teacher are out there?

Appeals to

Fans of high-contrast black and white art, gently disturbing fairytales, and human/monster bonds

Content Notes

Fantasy violence with swords and arrows

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese
Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

The Legend of Zelda (series)

Akira Himekawa

Elevator Pitch

When the fantasy kingdom of Hyrule is in danger, the hero Link is there to save it! These ten volumes - many of which stand alone and can be read in any order - follow the plots of the wildly popular Legend of Zelda video games.

Appeals to

Fantasy fans, Legend of Zelda fans, fans of other video-game based manga series such as Pokémon

Content Notes

Cartoonish violence

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creators are Japanese
Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy

Maki Minami

Elevator Pitch

Hime Kino only wants to be one thing in life - a voice actor like her hero Sakura Aoyama. And Hime is on the right path after she gets accepted to the prestigious Holly Academy's voice actor department. But, Hime's got some problems - first, her rough and gruff voice leads everyone to question whether voice acting is right for her. Plus, Sakura's son is in Hime's class, and all he does is question Hime's talent and call his mom's show stupid. Hime is in for some tough times ahead, but she won't let anyone or anything get in the way of her dreams!

Appeals to

Fans of laugh out loud manga and tales of empowered protagonists who follow their dreams no matter what.

Content Notes

Name-calling, put-downs, and minor bullying.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese

Main Character Representation

  • Japanese
Recommended by

Traci Glass

Witch Hat Atelier

Kamome Shirahama

Elevator Pitch

Coco's dream is to become a witch, but witches are born, not made, and it seems like Coco doesn't have any magical ability whatsoever. She is this close to giving up her dreams, but one day she meets a mysterious traveling magician, and after watching him and the strange and different way he performs magic, Coco is convinced that she, too, can be the witch she truly wants to be.

Appeals to

Fans of Harry Potter and Kiki's Delivery Service. A beautifully drawn story that will enchant magic and fantasy fans.

Creator Identities

  • Creator of Color
    • Creator is Japanese
Recommended by

Traci Glass