Children. They are squirmy, terrifying little creatures that I am not entirely comfortable with. When they open their mouths and say things profound or interesting, I get confused. I’m not sure how to hold the tiny ones or to quell the crying . I deal with four legged babies a lot better – I understand they just want to be pet and fed and occasionally they have to poop. But my friends have started procreating. There’s a lot more little grasping hands and baby showers in my life, and it’s a strange thing to embark upon.
I’ve learned a couple of things about myself now that I am a real grown up and have friends with kids:
1) I am grossly unprepared for motherhood anytime in the near future. I’m quite certain I would disown a child for breaking any of my collectible action figures.
2) Kids are strange and intimidating, but also kind of hilarious. I have a lot more in common with them than I thought. I’m not sure what it says about my own maturity that 8 year olds are all about trading Pokemon with me and completely dumbstruck by my toy collection, but there you go.
So with all of these tiny humans starting to crop up in my life, I’ve had my friends start coming to me for geeky child rearing advice. Nothing as intense as “would it be damaging to my child’s psyche to dress them up as an Ewok?”, but mostly questions like “what comics should I get my child? What TV shows are good for them to watch? Are they too young for a convention?” etc, etc.
At first I plugged my ears and squealed “LALALA I DON’T KNOW!!”, but I’ve actually started giving some thoughts to these genuine inquiries. As an avid reader of manga with shelves toppling with these thick Asian graphic novels, I’ve started compiling a list in my head of “okay for my friend’s 8 year old” and “hide these if a child ever comes to my apartment.” There is actually a really fantastic selection of manga made available for children ages 5-13, as manga is a completely acceptable reading form in Japan (manga is even reading material at Japanese schools!). If you want your child to read some awesome manga, look no further than the list below.
By Kiyohiko Azuma
Yotsuba&! is the incredibly light hearted story about an adopted 5 year old girl called Yotsuba. The manga revolves around her every day adventures, which are generally adorable and interjected with lots of humor. She is more ignorant than most five year olds to every day things – like swingsets and doorbells. She’s very quirky, strange, and has her head in the clouds constantly – the stories oftentimes revolve around her naivete and her discovery on how things work. It’s a “slice of life” comic, and focuses on curiosity, friendship, and a strong relationship with one’s parents.
By Hidenori Kusaka and Yamamoto
Yes, yes, we’ve all heard of Pokemon: The video games that took our country by storm over 10 years ago. The story of children (around 12 years old) who go on coming of age quests to collect and battle Pokemon – small adorable monsters that teach the values of friendship, teamwork, and that losing is ok. The franchise is still going strong, and the manga has an awesome storyline that preaches friendship above all else. The villains are light hearted, the conflicts are non violent, and despite the fact it’s a manga about children battling monsters, death is never an option and those Pokemon trainers who use their Pokemon for evil gets what’s coming to them.
Ninja Baseball Kyuma
By Shunshin Maeda
This manga is adorable and hilarious. It revolves around a boy named Kyuma and his best friend Inui – a dog. The two of them live deep in the mountain wilderness, where Kyuma trains every day to become a ninja. However, he mistakes a baseball coach as a great ninja master and suddenly he is on a team as the first NINJA BASEBALL PLAYER!
Leave it to PET!
By Kenji Sonishi
Noburu decides to be responsible and help his environment by recycling a bottle – but the bottle comes back to him as a loyal robot called PET! The comic has the quirkiness and fast paced humor of a web comic with the long format content of a typical manga. It revolves around Noburu and PET’s adventures, as PET tries to be a friendly robot and generally fails miserably. It’s adorable and conscious of modern issues – recycling, friendship with people who are different from you, tolerance, etc.
By Konami Sonoda
This is probably one of the most delightful manga I have ever picked up as far as art style goes. Its bright, bold lines and incredibly ADHD storytelling appeals to the girly side of me. It’s all about fashion, best friends, and weird mini contained stories that have the barest thread holding them together. Choco and Mimi are two best friends who are entirely different but held together by a love of fashion. Their hyper adventures mostly revolve around them being in 8th grade, and the format of the manga is that it’s a bunch of mini strips that sometimes tie together.
Swans in Space
By Lun Lun Yamamoto
I cannot even begin to express my intense love for this manga. It has all the right things – friendship, awesome dialogue, a riveting story, unique characters, adorable artwork, fantasy and scifi aspects, and it’s in FULL COLOUR! One of the best things about Swans in Space is that it has a great anti bullying message: It’s based on Corona, THE girl in school – she’s class president, pretty, popular, and well liked. But she befriends Lan, a dorky boy who is obsessed with a scifi series called Space Patrol after he is incessently picked on by his classmates about it. She feigns interest in it to make him feel better… but then it comes out that Space Patrol is REAL, and Lan and Corona embark on an epic space adventure.
By Akira Toriyama
One of the most classic manga of all time, Dragonball is the story of a young alien boy trying to find his place in the world. Goku has a voracious appetite for both food and life, and he spends his time riding around on a cloud and hitting enemies with his staff on his search for the dragonballs – lost balls which will grant the possessor a single wish if they collect all of them. He befriends many interesting characters along the way. It’s one of the most well known manga ever, spawning Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT and a rich world surrounding these stories.
One of the best “magical girl” mangas, Cardcaptors (or Cardcaptor Sakura) is the story of a young girl who is chosen to be a Cardcaptor – someone who can wield magical “clow” cards that summon monsters to fight all the bad stuff that is suddenly happening around her. This means adorable costume changes, an awesome best friend who video tapes everything Sakura does, a mysterious boy who she has a crush on, interesting webs entangling her older brother, etc. It’s written by CLAMP, one of the most prolific of all women’s manga creating groups ever.
Kiichi and the Magic Books
By Taka Amano
Kiichi and the Magic Books is a great story about being different and still accepted. It’s the story of a half demon boy who is shunned by his village due to his obvious differences – a horn on his head. But he is befriended by a traveling Librarian, who teaches him the values of friendship and self acceptance.
Chi’s Sweet Home
By Konata Konami
This manga is about an adorable cat who is owned by a loving family that isn’t supposed to have cats in their apartment. It revolves around his family trying to keep him as Chi gets into all sorts of adorable feline trouble. I read this manga whenever I need cheering up.
Molly McIsaac is currently wrapped in a Hello Kitty blanket while she listens to anime soundtracks. Watch her try to prove herself as a grown up on her Twitter.