B4U: Manga 101

When my daughter wanted to start reading manga, it was a bit overwhelming.  I remember looking at the rather large shelves of manga books in the teen section at our local library and not knowing where to begin.  I picked up one book, looked at the cover, and thought it looked really cute and had good potential.  Then read the about and found out it featured a lesbian searching for romance.  Picked up another one and the topic was domination.  At that point I decided to slowly walk away and ask for help.  I talked to my friends (known here as B4U) and learned some of the basics of manga.  Since that time, we’ve found many fun and entertaining mangas for my daughter that do not contain content that we are uncomfortable with her reading at her age and maturity level.  To help other new readers of this genre find appropriate books, B4U is sharing with us some basic guidelines for mangas.  On a side note, my daughter ended up loving manga and it is by far her genre of choice.–Melissa

We have told you about how we look for books, and all those guidelines apply to mangas also.  That said, we have learned some other facts that are manga specific that we would like to share with you.

First like the comics code (which you should be very careful about because its lines are getting blurrier every year) here in America there is a guide for mangas.  This can be found on the back “or front?” of the manga in a little box.  It will vary depending on the country you buy it from, but these are the basics.

Guidelines for Manga:
A = all, E = everyone – This means anyone can read it.  There will be nothing inappropriate even for children.

T 13+ = For 13 year and older –  Equivalent of PG to PG 13.  We include anything that says 7+ or 8+ in this group.  This will have deeper content.  May have action up to violence, social problems to deal with that are real, partial nudity, etc.  I would look at each individual book because we have had a series that was one rating, change midway and not go back.

OT 16+ = For older teens – Equivalent of definite PG 13 to R.  There could be a possibility of language, nudity, implied sexual content or discussion, violence, realistic social problems.  We have seen this but we don’t have a list for this because we stay away from these for the most part.

There are ratings higher than this, but we have not seen or dealt with them.  Just be aware they are out there.

Lastly, here are terms that we have learned over the years that you may come across when looking at reviews, descriptions, discussions, fanfic, etc.  These may also help you determine if a series is appropriate for your children.

Shoujo – Aimed toward girls ages 10-18, focuses on romance and feelings. The one aimed at older teens and woman is called Josei.  Bishoujo and bishounen (bishi) just means the people are drawn very very pretty.

Shounen – Aimed toward boys 10-18, focuses on action (watch out for unrealistic body proportions, just like in American comics.)  The one aimed at older teens and men is called Seinen.

Hentai – Male and Female romance, this is not a comment on the content of the manga just that the main couple are straight.

Harem (or reverse harem)– Male and/or Female with multiple love interests of opposite sex.  Does not mean that he/she will get with all of them.  They are just all trying for the main characters attention.  They are generally unhealthy relationships so we stay away.  (If the main character never sways from their love interest, then we do not consider it a harem.)

Yaoi – Male and Male romance.  There is a soft version called Shounenai. We stay away from these.

Yuri – Female and Female romance.  There is a soft version called Shoujoai.  These too we stay away from.

Ecchi – Porn, stay away!!

Final Thoughts:  We hope that this will help you.  Mangas are a very enjoyable form of entertainment, but like everything in this world you should be “as wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).  Don’t avoid it because it is unknown.  You will be missing a chance to learn about another culture, and that would be a shame.


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