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Manga: Tips for A Great Library Collection

by on November 25, 2012

Manga, or Japanese comics, are extremely popular.  The New York Times bestseller list even includes a manga category.  In an effort to keep up with this trend, most libraries are now including manga as a part of the collection.  For a librarian who is unfamiliar with manga, and its accompanying art form anime (Japanese cartoons), purchasing titles for the library can be difficult. This article is meant to help any librarian who needs to start a manga collection, or wants to update his or her library’s collection with some new and popular titles.  Each title is followed by its suggested age rating (T) for teens 13 and older (OT) for older teens 16 and older.

Core Collection
If your library does not have a manga collection already, and you would like to start one, there are some core titles that should be included.  Naruto (T), Bleach(T), and Dragon Ball Z(T) (all published by Viz Media) are all Shonen manga which is aimed at males and often includes action and fighting.  These series have had anime broadcast on Cartoon Network, so most patrons will be familiar with them.  Shoujo, or manga aimed at females, usually includes romance mixed in with comedy or adventure.  Some core Shoujo titles to include in a library collection are:  Sailor Moon (T), Skip Beat (T), and Vampire Knight (OT).

Expanding Your Manga Selection
If you already have a manga collection developed here are some titles that I suggest you add to your collection.

  • Blue Exorcist (OT) is a series that has supernatural elements, and deals with demons (a popular theme in manga).  This is an action series that has been very popular at my library.
  • Fairy Tail (T) is another supernatural series, this one is centered on a teenage wizard.  Fairy Tail has been extremely popular with teen boys at the Benton Harbor (Mich.) Public Library.
  • Bakuman (T) is a Shonen title about a boy who loves to draw manga; it’s an alternative to the large amount of fighting or battle manga titles out there.
  • Soul Eater (OT) is another popular Shonen series.  This series focuses on students at the Meister Academy who are all working on making their living weapons (humans who can transform into weapon form) into the ultimate fighting weapon for Death himself.
  • Arisa (T) is a Shoujo series that centers around two sisters, trying to unlock a mystery within their school.
  • Vernomia (T) is another action science fiction series that appeals to fans of Fairy Tail.
  • Ouran High School Host Club (T) is a gender-bending shoujo series that includes lots of humor.

NonTraditional Manga
Manga is traditionally Japanese, but more American authors are getting involved in the genre.  Yen Press has published manga versions of many popular series.  These series include James Patterson’s Maximum Ride (T) and other series, Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak (T), Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices (OT), and Gail Garriger’s Soulless (OT) series.  The Cirque Du Freak and Maximum Ride series have been especially popular at my library.  The Scott Pilgrim(T) series, written by Brian Lee O’Malley, is also published in graphic novel format similar to manga (although it isn’t read backwards).  This is humorous series with a movie tie-in that helps increase its popularity. Another great way to find out what manga to add to your collection is by asking your patrons.  I’ve gotten many valuable suggestions from my patrons.