As many of you know from my Sunday Posts, my 14-year-old son Jaden has been enchanted with all things Japanese lately. He went to a Japanese immersion camp, he’s taking a college-level Japanese class at our local community college, and he soaks in whatever Japanese culture he can: at first that was mostly in the form of watching Japanese music videos on YouTube, but now he’s expanded that to manga and anime.
It started because he decided that his dream job is to be a video game level designer for Nintendo. Not sure that this is the most realistic goal, but if it makes him excited about learning a language and exploring another culture, I’m all for it. I’ve been eager to encourage his newfound passion, and I decided that the best way to connect with him is to get involved myself as much as I can. I’m not a huge fan of video games, but manga and anime I can relate to!
So, we read our very first manga series: Death Note by by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. I actually found this series because Cait over at Paper Fury was reading it and I saw her reviews on Goodreads. After a little research into the series, I decided it would be a great place to start!
I’m not going to do an actual review here because that’s not what this post is, but I will say that I really enjoyed reading the series, and it was a great experience for my son and I to read it together. The series explores a lot of moral issues—the idea behind it is that a teenager named Light finds a notebook that allows the bearer to kill anyone whose name is written in it. At first Light uses it to kill dangerous criminals, but as time goes on he starts killing others: people with much less egregious crimes and even the police who are investigating him! This made for a lot of lively discussion between my son and me. We especially loved the earlier volumes of the series—as it went on it got a lot more convoluted and a little crazy and unbelievable at times (not that the storyline itself was terribly believable, but you know what I mean).
Reading manga was a little different, but fun. The actual reading experience is interesting because you read from back to front and from right to left on the page. I thought this might be difficult, but it amazed me how simple it was to get used to the process. We’ll definitely be reading more, so let me know if you have any suggestions for another manga series to pick up!
We also jumped into anime. I found some recommendations over at Mara Was Here and decided to look into them. Our first anime was Blue Spring Ride, which we really loved, but we’re a little disappointed that there’s only one season and we’re not sure if they’re going to make the rest of the series—the manga are only available in Japanese right now, so that doesn’t help us. Which brings me to a question for any manga readers out there …
There are lots of sites out there where you can read Japanese manga in English, but I assume that these are pirated copies of the manga? For obvious reasons, I don’t want to read anything that’s been pirated. Does anyone know if there are legitimate manga translation sites where the author has been compensated for their work (or, at the very least, given permission for the translation)? I’m happy to pay a fee to use a site if money goes back where it’s supposed to, but I can’t tell what’s legitimate or not.
Anyway, back to anime. When our Spanish exchange student was here, she introduced us to a bunch of anime. We ended up watching the whole Special A Series (which we loved! My daughter was especially sad when we finished that one) and started watching Maid Sama!, but none of us are as crazy about that one—it’s a little TOO over the top for us sometimes, and I’m not fond of some of the sexual references and how much the girls are objectified. I know, I know, anime is filled with those in general, but these seemed more irritating to me somehow. We might still finish the series, but we’ve been giving it a rest lately. We also tried out Sailor Moon, but again none of us were huge fans (it might be a little young for my kids? Though we liked the movie My Neighbor Totoro, which is definitely geared toward the younger set).
Anime is really fun and energetic – there’s lots of crazy antics (why do all the teens in anime seem to have superpowers?) and elevated emotion (lots of the crazy facial expressions and emotional explosions made us laugh) and stylistic elements that are very distinctly anime.
Again, if anyone has any anime you love, suggestions would be welcome.
So far, this has just been a brief foray into the world of anime and manga, but I’m guessing we’ll be jumping in more and more!
Are you a fan of anime or manga? Have any recommendations?
Have you ever stepped far out of your comfort zone and tried something brand new? I want to know!
I recommend D.Gray-Man, Full Metal Alchemist, Natsume and Friends.
If you are looking for a site to read some manga there is Crunchy roll, you can read manga and watch anime on thier site.
Thanks for the recommendations!! I will check those out!
Agree that Crunchyroll is a good resource for manga and anime. I had definitely read pirated manga, and I made up for it by also buying the Japanese versions when I could find them. Kinda sucks but I did what I could to mitigate the damage. Anyway, I don’t read a lot of shonen manga, excepting Bleach, which I enjoyed. But I have read plenty of shojo manga and have a top 10 list on my website of all my favorites. They’re all romance manga which your son may or may not be interested in. As for anime, I’m still a fan of Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, and the rest of the Miyazaki films. I haven’t watched any recent anime. I wish I had more hours in the day!
Good to know that Crunchyroll is legit. Obviously since I know many authors are affected by pirating, I don’t want to contribute, but it seems like that’s the only way to read some of it (of course, I know that’s what people say about certain books in non-English-speaking countries as well, so …)
I was seriously considering using your approach for Blue Spring Ride – finding the English version online (even if it’s pirated) and buying the Japanese version. I think that’s fair because I’m still giving the author the profit for the Japanese manga. The more I’ve looked into it, I think maybe the manga ended in the same place the anime did – but I might consider this for future.
I’ll have to check out your list of shojo manga. My son enjoyed the ones we watched – I think I just need to sprinkle in some shonen too. 🙂
I’ve considered reading Death Note because a lot of people seem to be obsessed with it. The plot intrigues me. When I was in high school, a lot of my friends were in the Japanese Culture club, and they loved anime, but I never got into it for some reason. I guess because I’m not a huge fan of superpower stories.
Try it out and see what you think! I do think Death Note started out strong and then got a little too crazy for me, but I still enjoyed it overall.
I still need to finish reading Death Note! I have the last two volumes, but I haven’t got to them yet. I’m less crazy about the series than I was in the first few volumes, but I still really like it and I’ll definitely go on to finish it. After that I’m going to have to find another manga series to read, and I’ve been meaning to watch some anime too, so I may check out Blue Spring Ride and Special A 🙂
Special A has been our favorite anime so far. It’s sort of middle of the road as far as the crazy anime effects and overblown emotions go – Blue Spring Ride has very few and Maid Sama has a LOT! I agree that Death Note was much better at the beginning and then lost some steam at the end, but I still enjoyed it overall!
I can recommend sooo many. Fruits Baskets might be on the girlie side but it’s a really good manga series the anime only went for one season and wasn’t that great. Anime I would recommend Elfen Leid is super short but great. No Game No life has a book/tv series and is fantastic it’s one of my all time favorites. Also look into a crunchy roll account it only has anime and Japanese movies/shows and he might like that a lot. Think it’s only 8.99 a month or something along those lines.
I think I will definitely look into Crunchy Roll – A few people have recommended that, and it definitely seems like it would be worth it. We recently went to a new library and they have a HUGE manga section. I know they had Fruits Baskets. I’ll have to check and see if they have No Game No Life too.
I love this post!!!! My 10 year old is heavily into Nintendo, both new and retro games. We’re even ordering games from Japan just to get versions of games that weren’t released here in the U.S. I keep telling him he needs to learn Japanese 😉
Getting around to my point… we love anime! He isn’t into Manga yet but he’s just getting into Anime. My hubs and I have some from before him so I introduced him to My Neighbor Totoro and he liked it! He loves Yo Kai Watch and he understands that we have to wait for it to be translated before we get our episodes. It definitely took me a while to get used to their emotions 🙂
I’m excited to see your 14 year old’s path to level designer… I hope my son is right behind yours!!!
My son would be horrendously jealous that you order games from Japan that you can’t get here. Don’t you need to have a Japanese game system to play them?
I can give you lots of online resources for game platform designing classes and stuff like that if you’re interested. For instance, my son has done several through Youth Digital and really enjoyed them.
I want to read more manga. Death Note has been on my list for awhile now so I’m happy to hear you enjoyed those for the most part. The only manga I’ve read was Young Miss Holmes (Sherlock Holmes’ niece). My library only had one, so it was either the first two casebooks, or the first four. I forget. I do want to read on though!
I haven’t watched any anime, but thanks for sharing what you and your kids have seen. I’ll have to look into some.
I’ve had fun trying something new with the manga and anime!
I’m not sure I’d really be into anime, but I wouldn’t trying some manga. I do enjoy graphic novels. You have me wanting to try Death Note now. I just saw it mentioned on another blog too, and that does sound like it could be a fun story, and the art looks nice. If I do ever try any manga, I’ll be sure to let you know 😀 Glad you’re enjoying the ones you’ve been reading/watching!
I think Death Note has been making some rounds around the blogging world because one or two of us read it and then others pick it up as well. 🙂
I think it is so great that you connected with your son with anime and manga and encourage him to learn about what he is passionate about. Plus you enjoyed it so that is great!
Yes, it’s been a great way for us to hang out together!
I am not really into anime or manga. The closest I could get to being able to relate is that my little kids like to watch Five Nights at Freddy’s and Five Nights at Pinkie’s, which are both horror games. My daughter has taken to drawing all the characters. I know I may get flack for what I let them watch/play, but some battles I choose not to fight. They like what they like.
I think whatever gets kids interested in arts is good. I love that you are so encouraging to your son and share his interest.
Yeah, sometimes you really do need to pick your battles. My son enjoys drawing characters too – he’s getting pretty good at it!
I love My Neighbor Totoro! All of Hayao Miyazaki’s films are absolutely gorgeous. I would definitely recommend giving Spirited Away a shot. It’s one of my favorites of his.
I haven’t watched much anime. Back in High School I used to just watch whatever they played on Cartoon Network at night. So a lot of Wolf’s Rain, Cowboy BeeBop, Inuyasha, Full Metal Alchemist, Case Closed and Blood+. Out of those, Inuyasha and Case Closed were my favorites. I would recommend checking either of those out.
My favorite Hayao Miyazaki film is Kiki’s Delivery Service! I love Jiji. I own two pairs of Jiji socks and a small Jiji beanie. He sits in my car right next to my Miyazaki Smut/Dust ball. I own MOST of Miyazaki’s films.
I fell in love with Gunslinger Girl. It’s violent, but the idea of using children as trained assassins drew me in for some weird reason.
I hadn’t heard of Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’m getting so many great recommendations here! Thanks!
Thanks for all the recommendations! I definitely planned on watching Spirited Away, but I hadn’t heard of Case Closed or Inuyasha – I’ll check those out!
I remember going through a similar phase as your son of being obsessed with all things Japanese (although, he is taking a lot further than me so he seems committed to this (maybe try and get him to expand his career dreams beyond Nintendo, though). I read a lot more girly manga so I can’t really suggest anything there unless you want to read over the top romantic drama (which I adored, honestly, if you want a hit of pure fluff read any romance manga it’s like eating cotton candy, it’s all sugar).
For anime suggestions I would recommend any Studio Ghibli film (that’s who made My Neighbour Totoro) as they address moral questions, especially about nature and things like that. I love Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle (you could always watch that and read the book and compare the two, I liked both). For TV series, though, I liked Ouran High School Host Club, it’s way more about the objectification of men and it was fun. Quite girly, though. Still fun.
I actually picked up the first Ouran High School manga at the library the other day. I agree that it’s fun – I’ll have to check out the anime now too.
I recommend the anime I’m watching Michiko & Hatchin. It’s about a mother who escaped from jail and “kidnapped” her daughter so they can the biological father. The only manga I read was Deadman Wonderland which is very violent, but it was good.
Hadn’t heard of Michiko & Hatchin – I’ll definitely check that one out!
I love anime and manga! You might try your local library, I know mine has a manga section. As far as recommendations, my favorites are in no particular order:
Fushigi Yuugi (anime and manga both)(favorite of all time)
Utena (anime, haven’t read the manga)
Ouran High School Host Club (anime and manga both)
Fruits Basket (anime and manga both)
Saber Marionette J (I’ve only seen a few episodes of this so far)
The Sea Prince and the Fire Child (anime movie, Romeo and Juliet like)
Inuyasha (anime, haven’t read the manga)
Ranma 1/2 (anime, haven’t read the manga)
I actually like the later seasons of Sailor Moon, but I have to watch it in Japanese with subtitles because the english voice actresses grate on my nerves. But I do tend to watch all anime in Japanese because they have better voices.
We just joined a new library near our homeschool co-op and they have a HUGE manga section. I actually ended up checking out the first Ouran High School Host Club manga last week and I really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be continuing the series. Thanks so much for all of these recommendations – I’ll look for them!
I’ve been looking to get into more Manga and Anime so while I don’t have many recommendations for you, I appreciate seeing how you did with what you tried out! I grew up on Sailor Moon and actually loved it BUT it does take a bit for the series to grow into it’s own. Me and my school bff just thought it was funny and exciting XD
I WILL recommend Avatar: the Last Airbender though. It’s mature and doesn’t diminish women in ANY way. Kids tend to love it but tons of adult friends (including me and the bf) ADORE it for the morality, action and humor. The animated series is a work of art BUT they’ve released lots of manga books too which read like a direct continuation of the series ♥
What can I say… Welcome to a new world, and have a safe journey in the manga jungle!
One Piece, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter…
So many manga I want to say 😀
It was that good! When I woke up the next morning, I immediately picked the book back up and finished it.