I read manga. A LOT. And people are always asking me about manga ratings and how to make sense of them … what manga would teens like to read, and what manga are better for adults?
Well, I personally tend to judge manga in a variety of ways. There’s no better way to judge than to actually breeze through the manga volume itself. I often find that a particular style of artwork can “sink or swim” a manga series for me; some can be a little too stylized for my taste, while others can be too violent or seem to be overwhelmed with action panels. Some manga I read for the compelling story; others I read just for fun because they are so silly and off-the-wall. I think a lot of people unfamiliar with manga get caught up in the fact that it is an unfamiliar format and forget that manga volumes are stories just like all of the other YA novels out there–they just happen to be constructed a little differently. It boils down to personal taste, and ideally you find a manga that has both the artwork and the story that you love and can really sink into.
The reason I really wanted to write this post was sort of a “case in point” about manga that is technically geared for older readers (but that teen readers shouldn’t be afraid to explore). There is a category of manga referred to as “seinen” and “josei.” Seinen manga are aimed at a male audience ages 18-30 (or older), and Josei manga are the female audience equivalent. When I read seinen or josei series, I often worry that some teen readers might miss out on being exposed to some really wonderful stories/manga simply because someone has fixated too rigidly on the suggested demographic. To my delight, YALSA has included more than one seinen title in its graphic novel award lists. Below, I would like to highlight some new (and past) titles that could be of definite interest to teen readers and adults alike.
A Bride’s Story (ongoing) / Kaoru Mori. YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels Top 10 2012. Kaoru Mori has a real knack for historical drama. She takes great care with her craft: you can see the research she puts into the setting, the people, and the true “slice of life” flavor. This series is set in central Asia in the 19th century. A 20 year-old bride has just been married to a 12 year-old from a neighboring town, and the first volume follows Amir’s life in this new family. Amir and her new husband have almost a mother/son dynamic through most of the volume, with genuine feelings of admiration and tenderness growing between the pair. What makes this series special is the easy way that Kaoru Mori introduces readers to a lifestyle they are likely entirely unfamiliar with. I pleasantly lost myself in the story completely. And, in case it makes a difference, you might be interested to know that just about every manga “best of” list out there mentions (and raves) about this series.