B4U: Manga For All Ages

Note:  Individual volumes don’t have titles; they are just numbered

Yotsuba&Yotsuba&! By Kiyohiko Azuma
Genre:  Comedy, Slice of Life
Publication Date:  March 2003
Publisher:  Yen Press

What’s Yotsuba&! About:
Hello! This is Koiwai Yotsuba, Yotsuba Koiwai…um, YOTSUBA! Yotsuba moved with Daddy to a new house from our old house waaaaaaay over there! And moving’s fun ‘cos people wave! (Ohhhh!!) And Yotsuba met these nice people next door and made friends to play with (one of ’em acted like one of those bad strangers Daddy told Yotsuba not to go with, but it was okay in the end). I hope we get to play a lot. And eat ice cream! And-and-and…oh yeah! You should come play with Yotsuba too!

Our Thoughts:  If you like the silly, imaginative things that preschoolers can come up with, then you will love this manga.  This is a story, in the loosest since of the word (remember that it is from the perspective of a five or six year-old) about a young girl and all the weird adventures that she goes on.  She never meets a stranger and everyone becomes an instant friend (except Yanda, Yanda the jerk!) in this cute series.  Most of the stories center around her, her father, and their neighbors.  This manga is very family friendly with Yotsuba being adopted from another country by her father.  It is legitimately one of the funniest mangas that we have ever read.


PretearPretear by Kaori Naruse
Genre: Magical girl, Romance, Comedy
Publication Date:  May 30, 2000
Publisher:  ADV Manga

What’s Pretear about:
Himeno is a high school freshman who’s having trouble adjusting to the lifestyle of the very rich. Her father Kaoru is a one-time famous author of young girls’ novels. One of his greatest fans was Natsue, a wealthy woman who liked Kaoru so much that she snatched him up from the rundown apartment and married him! But Himeno’s life is far from rosy. Her dad tends to take the side of Natsue rather than her, and Natsue’s two daughters from a previous marriage aren’t very fond of their new stepsister. One day, Himeno takes a shortcut to school and meets a young boy. When she takes the boy’s hand, she’s transported to a fantasy world that lies on the brink of extinction. And the one person that can stop it is the girl called “Pretear.”

Our Thoughts:  This magical manga series is loosely based after the fairy-tale snow white.  It is the story of a young girl who has to come to terms with her father’s recent marriage (?) all the while also learning that the world is in danger and she may very well be the only one that can save it.  We liked that this heroine has both moments of strength and weakness (which is more true to life) and wants to get to know and love her step-sisters (when she is not butting heads with the wind knight, Hayate.)   The seven knights (sounds familiar) adored her and took care of her like seven loving brothers (well, six anyway since one ends up her love interest.)  Like all good mangas, this one has an anime adaptation; but if you look into this be warned that they swear in it – they don’t in the manga.  We liked the plot in both manga and anime (there are some differences) though we felt the ending in the manga was a little rushed.  (They were trying to fit a well developed story into four volumes, and the anime could have stood to loose a few episodes.)  Despite this, it is a series that is well worth reading, and we love and reread it regularly.


Happy Happy CloverHappy Happy Clover by Tatsuyama Sayuri
Genre:  Comedy, Fantasy, Slice of Life
Publication Date:  August 2005
Publisher:  Viz Media

What’s Happy Happy Clover about:
Clover the Bunny and her fluffy friends are always getting into mischief in mysterious Mikazuki Forest!
More Fun Than Vegetables!
Clover uncovers the secret of a haunted spring, meets a big bad fox, fights mean humans who want to cut down all the trees in her forest home–and gets lost in the dark! Scary!

Our Thoughts:  This adorable shojo manga is about chibi animals living a civilized life in the forest.  We enjoyed the adorable adventures the characters went on.  (It is so absolutely cute that it can stand to be called adorable twice.)  This manga is specifically aimed toward children, and doesn’t contain very much romance.  As far as romance goes, we take what we’re given in this series but some of us believe that it should have been different.  There is not much more to say about this series; it is cute and funny (guffawing will decidedly over take you regularly while reading.)  This manga is what you would expect if it were drawn from the perspective of a happy-go-lucky unicorn (some of us have a thing for unicorns if you can’t tell.)


Hollow FieldsHollow Fields by Madeleine Rosca
Genre:  Action/Adventure, Steampunk
Publication Date:  2007
Publisher:  Seven Seas Entertainment

What’s Hollow Fields about:
Little Lucy Snow was supposed to attend a prestigious elementary school; however, a macabre twist of fate finds her enrolled instead at Miss Weaver’s Academy for the Scientifically Gifted and Ethically Unfettered, also known as Hollow Fields. Located on the outskirts of Nullsville and run by the insidious Engineers, the grim boarding school dedicates itself to raising the next generation of mad scientists and evil geniuses!

Classes include Live Taxidermy, Cross-Species Body Part Transplantation, and Killer Robot Construction. For her own survival, Lucy must master her lessons quickly―at the end of each week, the student with the lowest grades is sent to the old windmill for detention . . . and so far, no child has ever returned.

Our Thoughts:  This is the only manga on this list, though rated a/e, that we would not suggest just anyone read.  We would recommend it more for older children though it doesn’t have any violence or other criteria that would move it to an older rating.  It also is the only manga that is not written by a Japanese author (which we thought was interesting and wanted to share.)  You follow along with a girl who was sent to the wrong school because she was given bad directions and suddenly finds herself studying along side children who are the decedents of mad scientist.  Though she is a regular person, she proves herself to be extremely intelligent and fully capable of handling all her classes.  She is not the only cute character in this series; you will unquestionably get your fix.  Claude, who is the male lead, was a favorite of ours, and we liked their relationship which mainly consisted of them sticking by each other through everything despite their assurance that they didn’t like each other at all (they are eleven years old after all.)  The other children at the school who, as we mentioned before, were descended from villains didn’t all strive to be bad guys.  The villains however were pretty heinous, though there was one villain that was endearing because of his unbelievable honesty.  It is a very well written trilogy that was so popular that a fourth volume is scheduled to come out soon so be on the look out for it.


Leave it to PetLeave it to PET by Kenji Sonishi
Genre:  Comedy
Publication Date:  March 2004
Publisher:  Viz Media

What’s Leave it to PET about:
When Noboru recycled a plastic bottle, he never thought he’d get a devoted PET in return!

Nine-year-old Noboru does the responsible thing and recycles a plastic bottle. But little does he know that the bottle is about to come back to life as PET, a robot with a mission: to pay Noboru back for recycling him! The only problem is that PET’s sense of “”helping”” isn’t quite in touch with reality. Combining the visual appeal of manga with the episodic comedy of web comics, Leave it to PET!’s adorable characters deliver wacky humor in bite-sized installments!
Nine-year-old Noboru does the responsible thing and recycles a plastic bottle. But little does he know that the bottle is about to come back to life as PET, a robot with a mission: to pay Noboru back for recycling him! The only problem is that PET’s sense of “”helping”” isn’t quite in touch with reality. Combining the visual appeal of manga with the episodic comedy of web comics, Leave it to PET!’s adorable characters deliver wacky humor in bite-sized installments!

Our Thoughts:  This is a cute, funny story about a soda can robot who meets a little boy and then they precede to have silly adventures.  One of the things that we found very interesting about this particular manga is the knowledge of the Japanese recycling system that we learned.  It was very fascinating.  This is one of the few mangas that are genuinely for children that we have found, and it is immensely bubbly and cutesy.  We really liked the various robots that are supposed to help the children but end up making a bigger mess that the children will need to in turn help them solve and teach the robots their own lessons.  We think both boys and girls will enjoy this goofy manga.


Final Thoughs:  We hope that you enjoy these selections.  They are some of the first mangas that we read on line before it became so difficult.  It is still possible to read some online legally (the ones that we feel are safe should charge you a subscription otherwise we would be leery) and is an excellent way to view a manga before you buy it to see if it is one that you’ll want.  Some mangas are most definitely more difficult to find in English than your average comic and are not always guaranteed to be published in English so we would recommend doing your research to make sure all volumes are available before (or at the very least scheduled for release before) you begin to collect them.


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