Since we all have a lot more free time these days, I’m here to recommend my top 10 manga series!
1. Pandora Hearts written by Jun Mochizuki. Characters end up tangled into a mystery surrounding the Abyss.
2. The Case Study of Vanitas written by Jun Mochizuki. A vampire and a human explore France while discovering new secrets about their worlds.
3. Toilet-bound Hanako-kun written by Iro Aida. A highschool girl wonders into a bathroom in seek of the ghost that supposedly resides there.
4. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba written by Koyoharu Gotouge. Demons slaughter a boy’s family and he wants revenge.
5. My Hero Academia written by Kōhei Horikoshi. In a world of superheroes, a boy was born without powers but still aspires to be a hero.
6. No. 6 written by Atsuko Asano. A so-called “perfect” city turns out to have dark secrets lying beneath its wonderful reputation.
7. Blue Spring Ride written by Io Sakisaka. A girl encounters her first love from middle school again in high school.
8. Bakuman written by Tsugumi Ohba. Two boys come together to create manga.
9. Bloom Into You written by Nio Nakatani. Two girls who have never fallen in love before end up seeking love from each other.
10. Kimi no Todoke written by Karuho Shiina. A shy, misunderstood girl befriends a kind and considerate boy, and they fall in love with one another.
I hope you find my list helpful! I tried to include different genres of books so many different viewers could enjoy.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, then Crow by Barabra Wright might be a good book for you. Crow follows 12-year-old Moses Thomas, a black boy who in 1898 lives in Wilmington North Carolina. Wright’s book describes the Wilmington Race Riot, which took place 35 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and was started by white Southern Democrats, who wanted to get rid of black leaders and professionals. This book describes real events and many of the characters are based on real people.
Moses lives with his parents and Boo Nanny, his grandmother and a former slave. His father, Jackson, who has been a free man all of his life, is one of the town’s Aldermen and works at the largest black newspaper in the south. Moses’s mother, Sadie, works for a white family in town, taking care of their children. Boo Nanny does the laundry for people on Moses’s street while also making healing potions for those who need them. Moses spends most of his time with his friend Lewis or at school, which his father is adamant he attend. Moses has experienced isolated instances of racism in his life, but when the violence begins and the black printing press is destroyed, he is not prepared and his life is never the same.
One of the biggest personal conflicts in the book is between Jackson and Boo Nanny. Moses’s father and grandfather were free men who also had good educations and went to college. Boo Nanny, however, had a very hard and traumatizing time being a slave, and when Moses asks about it, she refuses to answer. Because it was illegal for slaves to learn how to read or write, she is illiterate. Due to his experiences, Jackson isn’t much of a realist and constantly tells Moses that as long as he is respected and can give a firm handshake he will be fine. Jackson is also mainly book-smart and understands what has been in a book, but might not understand what is right in front of him. The conflict between Jackson and Boo Nanny becomes more important when the editor of the black newspaper responds to a white woman’s opinion article in a white newspaper, which happens before the riot. While Boo Nanny is definitely superstitious, she is also very much a realist, so when Moses tells her about the conflict going on in the town, she immediately knows there is going to be trouble while Jackson is slow to understand.
Stumbling over some of the words, I read: “Every Negro lynched is called a big, burly black brute, when in fact many of those who have thus been dealt with had white men for their fathers and were not only not black and burly but were suffieciently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love with them.” Rocking in her chair, Boo Nanny murmured, “That ain’t gone sit well.” (Wright 114-115).
Because of these two different backgrounds, there is often a lot of conflict between the two characters, but eventually Jackson sees the tension in the community changing and realizes that things are not how he hoped they would be.
The entire book is a build up to the riot - the major conflict - which results in the printing press burned, many people killed on the streets, and black leaders and professionals forced out of town. This riot was an important part of history because it was the first and only time that government officials were forcibly removed from office. The riot is also where there is a real change in the relationship between Moses and his father. Moses was not prepared for the dangers he could face and when the violence starts, he comes to the realization that his father and Boo Nanny had not prepared him. Jackson had let Moses believe that they lived in a world where everything is fine and will be alright, and Boo Nanny never told Moses what violence she had experienced. Jackson even apologizes to Moses at the end of the book because he wishes he had prepared him.
“There’s a lot more ugliness out there then I’ve led you to believe, and I haven’t prepared you for it. I saw this clearly when you told me about Mr. Manly’s escape. You didn’t realize the danger you were in, and because of that, I could very well have lost you...” (Wright 202).
I enjoyed reading this book, but it definitely was hard because, based on the history of the Wilmington Race Riot, I understood that there would not be a happy ending. I think that the writing was very good and the author did a great job painting pictures of what the characters were like. Learning about the riot is important because while a lot of people don’t talk about it, it changed the population in the town to a majority being white and took away the opportunities that the black people had. In the end I would rate this book three out of five stars.
“Phantom Tales of the Night” written by Matsuri is a horror manga that takes place in modern Japan. It has four stories, with the first and last related. Murakumo Inn- where all the events happen - is a mysterious business open to people or spirits who are having issues with their life. The odd innkeeper does not desire money; instead, he wants your deepest, darkest secrets in order to let you stay.
Tokihito, the first story’s protagonist, had always seen butterflies following him, but he didn’t know why. One day, a giant and aggressive butterfly spirit was chasing him. Tokihito then runs into the Murakumo Inn and meets the unnamed and eccentric innkeeper. The innkeeper asks Tokihito for a secret, but he has none. The innkeeper reveals that the butterflies chasing him were actually one of the inn’s employees, Butterfly, but in a different form.
Tokihito soon realizes he’s forgotten how to get home and what his parents look like. He is startled when the innkeeper calls him a “spirit.” Tokihito starts to freak out when he’s told that he’s actually dead, and immediately his body begins to decay and his torso turns into skeleton. When he wakes up in a bedroom and sees the innkeeper behind him, he realizes that it wasn’t a dream. The innkeeper says, “This is a secret I made just for you.”
The next story follows Miho, a woman in her late 20s. She and her twin sister, Kaho, were always told how different they were. Miho felt jealousy towards Kaho and when she gets dumped by her boyfriend and loses her job, while Kaho gets a fiancé, these negative emotions are amplified. One day, Miho stumbles upon Butterfly in his human form and starts to talk to him. She tells him about Kaho and Butterfly says he has granted her wish. She doesn’t seem to know what this means and heads home to find her sister dead. For some reason, the only feeling that welled up inside her was joy. Miho starts her new life with a smile on her face only for it to turn into a frown when everybody starts calling her Kaho. Miho slowly goes mad and starts to melt into butterflies.
The third story introduces a new character, Spider. Like Butterfly, he can change into different forms. He also possesses the ability to use webs. Spider serves as one of the guards for the Murakumo Inn. A girl (who is mostly snake) shows up and tries to assassinate the innkeeper on her master’s order. Spider locks her in a cage and tells her she’s being used. The girl seems to believe that she’s the only one her master trusts to kill the innkeeper, and she starts flipping out when she realizes she has been lied to. The innkeeper ends up killing her, and Spider becomes bitter because he couldn’t save her.
The last story involves Tokihito again. He meets an odd man who wishes to kill the innkeeper. Tokihito brings him to the inn, and the innkeeper and this man start attacking each other. At one point, the innkeeper is presumed dead but starts to take the form of a demon-like creature with eyes all over his head. The man’s attempt fails, and he and Tokihito go home.
I personally really enjoyed this series, and have been dying for volume two to come out. This has a mix of traditional Japanese lore yet modern themes. Matsuri wrote this really well and portrayed the innkeeper as a sadistic in-human creature. The art is beautiful and quite expressive. I would definitely call this a horror series.
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5
“American Born Chinese” a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang is a winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and is a National Book Award finalist. The genre of this book is realistic fiction, and the recommended audience is 13 and up. This story follows three characters (Jin, The Monkey King, and Chin-Kee) as each of their stories become intertwined in a journey of learning to be happy with themselves.
Jin Wang is the son of immigrants who moved to America from China. When he is in third grade, his parents move to a new town. At this new school, Jin faces many challenges, one of these being discrimination. Teachers at his school can’t even say his name right, people assume because he’s Chinese he was born in China, and the other kids make racist comments. Jin feels very frustrated because he wants to just blend in with everyone else, but he can’t because people only see him as who they think he is based on his race. Eventually Jin becomes so obsessed with trying to be like everyone else he begins to change his appearance and pretends he is someone else until one day he actually changes into someone else named Danny. When this happens the character Chin-Kee is introduced.
Chin-Kee is supposed to be a living representation of all negative Asian stereotypes and makes life very difficult for his cousin Danny who thinks of him as a nuisance. Danny can’t stand to even be around Chin-Kee because all he sees when he looks at him are things that make him embarrassed. Chin-Kee’s character is supposed to be incredibly offensive, and I think the reason the author put his character in the story at all is to make a point. I think Yang is trying to show people the stereotypes they have subconsciously embraced, and I believe he is trying to make readers aware that anyone can have them, even those who should know better.
The Monkey King - based on one of the oldest Chinese fables - is the ruler of all monkeys and a master of the four heavenly disciplines of Buddhism. One day, the Monkey King starts to believe that he doesn’t want to be a monkey; he wants to be a god so that he will have the respect of everyone in the land. Like Jin, as he becomes someone he isn’t, the Monkey King forgets who he is and loses all his honor. SPOILER: Later on in the story, Jin discovers that Chin-Kee was actually the Monkey King in disguise, his purpose to remind Jin who he is.
An important theme in this story is self. All of the characters in American Born Chinese have some part of them that represents self or self-discovery. Jin’s character represents not liking yourself, Chin-Kee represents the part of yourself you don’t like, and the Monkey King represents learning to appreciate who you are in order to keep moving on in life. A quote early in the book captures this well. “It’s easy to become anything you wish… so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul” (Yang 29).
Overall, I found this story very intriguing. All of the messages were really interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction and anyone who likes complex stories or fables. The only thing I did find hard about this book is that some of the stories and parables within took me a while to understand and sometimes there was so much going that I got confused.
The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, with art by Ellen Forney, is a New York Times Bestseller and a Nation Book Award winner. The genre of this book is realistic fiction, and the recommended audience is 14 and up. The story follows Arnold “Junior” Spirit, a 14 year-old who has lived his entire life on the Spokane Indian Reservation, drawing comics to help him process the world, which helps him deal with a life full of struggles and pain.
Junior has never been very hopeful. Since he’s grown up in poverty, he doesn’t have a lot of hope for his future, and believes he will end up living the same lives as his parents and the people before them. Junior worries about living like his parents because they both constantly struggle to get money, one is an alcoholic and the other is recovering, and they’ve lived on the reservation forever. He doesn’t think he will ever have a lot of money or ever be able to go to college. One day there is an incident at school where Junior ends up throwing a book at his teacher out of frustration, which later leads to his teacher coming up to him and telling Junior that he must leave the reservation. His teacher says that he doesn’t want Junior to give up and that he wants him to keep fighting for a better future. “The only thing you kids are being taught here is how to give up. Your friend Rowdy, he’s given up. That’s why he likes to hurt people. He wants them to feel as bad as he does” (Alexie 42). After this, Junior decides to take a leap of faith and go to an all white high school off of the reservation in a town called Reardan. When Junior tells his best friend Rowdy that he’s leaving, Rowdy gets upset and calls him a traitor. Throughout the story you get to watch Junior grow as a person and learn many important life lessons. The theme of this story is hope and there are many examples of it in the book.
When Junior decides to go to Reardan, he discovers that the people there have expectations for him, and he starts to realize he should expect things of himself and discovers hope. Junior learns that regardless of what other people say or the situation he’s in, he should always expect better for himself. An example of this is when he decides to try out for the basketball team and ends up on the varsity team. Since he’s part of a team, he discovers that people have high expectations for him to do well. “...[A]s they expected more of me, I expected more of myself, and it just grew and grew...” (Alexie 180). The Reardan high school was very different because everyone there seemed to be pretty sure of their secure futures. Junior realizes that just because he may be different then the people at Reardan doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve a good future as well.
This book has a very interesting perspective because I have not read a lot of stories about the modern day life of an Indian or what it’s like growing up poor. Junior talks a lot about his struggles and opinions on life. He not only criticizes white people, but is also not afraid to shy away from sharing his many critiques of his fellow Indians. What makes Junior’s perspective really unique is how he processes life using his drawings. When he talks about what he experiences using his drawings, Junior isn’t afraid to be brutally honest with his opinions and thoughts.
I thought that this story was very enjoyable and interesting, and I will rate it four stars out of five. I believe that books like this are very important to read and educate people because at school when I was studying how Indians lived, we never talked about how they actually live now. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, reading about the lives of people who don’t have a lot of representation, and reading about characters with a different and unique perspective.
“Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is a graphic novel following the main character Freddy Riley, a highschool girl who’s girlfriend, Laura Dean, won’t stop breaking up with her.
Laura is popular, good looking, and supposedly the perfect girl. But Freddy’s been trapped in a toxic relationship with her, and always ends up coming back to her despite their many break-ups. Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, tries to get her out of this relationship many times, but Freddy grows cold towards her instead. Freddy’s other friends, Eric and Buddy, are also concerned for her. She seeks help from a journal columnist, Anna Vice, and Seek-her, who is a curious medium. Freddy is told to break up with Laura, but doesn’t know how. “I think I know now why the words “‘love’” and “‘punch’” go together so often. Seriously, it’s a punch.”
Laura never seems to devote herself to Freddy and often leaves her alone at parties while she dances with someone else. Laura can also be rude, but Freddy’s convinced herself that Laura makes her feel good. When she and Doodle head out of a party, Freddy meets Vi working at a donut shop. Later in the story, Vi and Freddy become friends and Vi gives her the push she needs to fix her current situation.
While this is happening, Doodle is going through a rough time and needs Freddy around. But she’s so caught up with Laura she doesn’t realise Doodle feels the way she does. Freddy finally realizes she needs to pay more attention to the person who cares about her and less attention to Laura.
This series has been praised by many authors and was definitely worth reading. I enjoyed the characters and the story seemed very real. It’s a really good book, and I liked it a lot.
The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-time, by Mark Haddon, is a national bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Book of The Year Award. The genre of this book is realistic fiction, and the recommended audience is age 13 and up. This story follows Chrisopher Boone, a 15 year old with Asperger’s syndrome. Christopher lives in Swindon, England with his father, and his pet rat, Toby.
Christopher has always enjoyed the color red, dogs, space, math, and mysteries stories (specifically Sherlock Holmes). Little did he know that one day he would be writing a story about his own mystery. One night as Christopher was walking around, he discovers that his neighbor’s dog has been killed with a pitchfork. Determined to figure out who is responsible for this murder, Christopher embarks on a journey that teaches him about self-discovery, bravery, and the truth.
A prominent theme in this story is bravery, which is something that Christopher learns a lot about throughout the book. An example of when Christopher had a lot of bravery was when he was trying to question people on his street to see if they knew who killed the dog. This was a huge feat for Christopher because he does not like talking to people, especially strangers. “I do not like strangers because I do not like people I have never met before. They are hard to understand.” Another example is when Christopher has to travel to London, which is also difficult for him because he’s never traveled on his own and there are many things that could go wrong.
Overall, this story could be enjoyed by many different people, but you might enjoy it especially if you like realistic fiction or mystery. There is nothing that I disliked about this book and I’m only giving it 4 out of 5 stars because I wish the ending was longer.
I would rate this series: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
Today I’m reviewing, “Behind The Scenes!!!” by Bisco Hatori, the author of the famous manga “Ouran High School Host Club.” The story’s protagonist is the very anxious and pessimistic Ranmaru Kurisu.
After just settling in to his first year in college, Ranmaru is caught off guard by zombies near the area he’s relaxing in. They’re not real, granted, but despite that fact Ranmaru is still frightened. Ranmaru later finds out it was a movie shoot for his college’s group, the “Art Squad.”
In order to repay the group for messing up their shoot, its seemingly hostile leader, Ryuji Goda, says Ranmaru has to help fix and clean up their props. Ranmaru has always been very crafty and artistic, unlike the rest of his family. Seeing his skills, Ryuji lets him join the Art Squad. The following books consist of Ranmaru and the group’s different film projects and people they meet along the way.
The other characters in the story are Ruka Enjoji who is a third year economics major, and is a kind and caring character who always tries her hardest to make sure everyone’s okay. She is also part of the Art Squad.
Another character is Maasa Rokubu, a gore obsessed second year marketing major also in the Art Squad. She’s one of my favorite characters, and she seems pretty creepy but is actually very kind.
Some other Art Squad members are Tomu Tenba and Izumi Samura. Tomu is an energetic first year Humanities and Science major, while Izumi is a calm and friendly third year economics major.
I really enjoy this series. I have yet to read all the books, but I’m halfway through volume three. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys the “slice of life” genre. I can personally relate to Ranmaru in the way that he’s always thinking about past conversations and worrying that he could of said something wrong. This book is very funny, but it’s also very warm feeling. My favorite line in volume one is when Izumi says, “Ranmaru’s negativity might be some kind of talent.” I don’t know why, but that line cracks me up.
A series I have really liked and spent a few weeks racing through is Pandora Hearts,written by Jun Mochizuki. There are 24 books, but here I’ll be reviewing volume 1. The protagonist of the series is Oz Vessalius, a young and carefree boy who just turned 15. Being born into an aristocratic family means he must be the next head of the Vessalius family, and his coming of age ceremony is the talk of the town, while he couldn’t care less.
Oz seems all smiles and fun, but is always studying in hope that his father will praise him. His mother died when he was young, and his father despises him. Luckily, Oz’s uncle, Oscar, takes care of him, and Oz sees him as a father. Oz is always getting into trouble and teasing his servant, Gilbert, who is a year younger than him. Before the start of the ceremony, Oz meets Sharon Rainsworth, a 14-year-old girl who is planning on being the head of the Rainsworth family herself. Sharon becomes an important part of the story.
When the ceremony finally happens, it strays far from what it was supposed to be. Suddenly, people in red hoods appear called the “crimson shinigami” or “the reapers in red.” Oz is sucked into the Abyss which is another dimension described as an “eternal prison” and there he encounters creatures called “chains” which are monsters that live in the Abyss. Oz also meets a girl named Alice, who rescues him from the chains despite being one herself. Alice can turn into a giant rabbit, also known as B-Rabbit (B stands for bloody and black) and is known as one of the most powerful chains in the abyss.
Alice asks Oz to make a contract with her, meaning that he would inherit her powers and she could stay in the human world. The thing is, time is weird in the Abyss: you could be in there for five minutes and, if you can get out, three years might have passed. So, when Oz does escape the Abyss, he finds out that 10 whole years have passed.
Oz wakes up inside Sharon’s home and is greeted by her, a strange man named Raven, and Sharon’s servant named Xerxes Break. Break informs Oz on how long he’s been gone, and tells him that everyone Oz cares about are doing just fine. He also tells Oz about an organization called “Pandora” that studies events that occur related to the Abyss. Alice possesses Oz and attacks Sharon, and Break acts fast. He knocks Alice out of Oz and he’s surprised to see that B-Rabbit is a small girl. Later in the story, Oz and Alice begin to work with Break, Raven, and Sharon as they study cases involving chains entering the human world. When Oz is reunited with his sister Ada and his uncle, he feels relieved.
I loved this book so much that I read all 24 books as fast as I could. Before I read the manga, I watched the anime version, which stops after the ninth book so that was disappointing.
I definitely want to read more of Mochizuki’s books, and I think she’s an amazing author. She was able to fit so much humor into this series while also capturing sadness. It made me cry, actually. Pandora Hearts referenced Alice in Wonderland as well as Pandora’s Box. Overall I’d have to say it’s my favorite series so far.
“the gods lie.”written and illustrated by Kaori Ozaki is a manga that takes place in Japan. The story follows Natsuru Nanao who is an 11 year-old boy who ends up spending his summer with Rio Suzumura, a tall and quiet girl. Natsuru lives alone with his mother who is a writer. He has a passion for soccer but is sad when his coach ends having to go to the hospital. The team gets a new coach, but Natsuru is not looking forward to soccer camp as much.
A few days before summer vacation, Natsuru finds a stray kitten. He brings it home to take care of it, but his mom doesn’t allow it, as she is allergic to cats. Natsuru brings the cat outside and runs into Rio and her younger brother, Yuuta. Rio announces that she’ll take care of the cat, but she had to stop for groceries first and asks Natsuru to tag along. Natsuru brings the cat to Rio’s house, and soon finds out that Rio and her brother live alone. Their father abandoned them and they don’t have a mother.
When Natsuru has to go to soccer camp a few days later, he packs all his things and goes out. He sits on the bench where his bus was supposed to arrive, and decides he doesn’t want to go. Rio and Yuuta find Natsuru who says he can’t go home because his mother thinks he’s at soccer camp. Rio invites Natsuru to live at her house. That’s how Natsuru spent his summer vacation. Eventually his mom finds out about soccer camp, and Natsuru has to go home.
My opinion: I really, really like this book. I wish there was a sequel, but at the same time I feel like the ending was just fine. This manga made me cry, so I’d have to say it’s a pretty sad story. Overall, it was written very well and the art is beautiful.
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