Kodansha Comics Gift Guide
Are you looking for the perfect gift for your manga loving friends and family? It can be hard to choose in a sea of series, but this year we’ve got you covered with curated selections for everyone on your list!
Part V: Growing Up with Manga
There’s a certain type of manga craving we’ve come to notice from fans and friends alike. It’s not the desire for a tearjerker, per se, but it definitely involves wanting to connect deeply to feelings both positive and negative. It seems dismissive to call them “fans of the feels,” but that’s part of why people always return to moving and challenging stories about growing up. Here are some our best coming of age stories, from the painstakingly familiar to the paranormal.
Straight Up – Coming of age stories that hit hard, realistically
A Silent Voice (Age 13+)
What it’s about: Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can't hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target. But Shoya and his friends go so far that Shoko is forced to leave school, and Shoya carries the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?
Why is it good? It’s rare to find a manga that we can wholeheartedly say everyone should read, but A Silent Voice is one of them. This isn’t just a great coming of age story, it’s a masterwork on friendship, forgiveness, and the different paths people take to find genuine human connection. Yoshitoki Oima also handles the issues of disabilities and the effects of bullying – for both sides – with nuance and insight. A Silent Voice has won the hearts of readers, libraries, and was even nominated for an Eisner award, so rest assured that you’re giving the gift of a moving and unforgettable experience.
A Silent Voice is complete in 7 volumes, available from Kodansha Comics!
Say I Love You. (Age 16+)
What it’s about: High school loner Mei Tachibana doesn’t trust others, and thinks she doesn’t need friends after a childhood betrayal. Popular and handsome Yamato Kurosawa has more attention than he knows what to do with. When Yamato takes notice of the blunt and individualistic Mei, these two very different people realize they may be able to understand each other.
Why is it good? For the person on your list who’s an expert in the romance genre, Say I Love You. is the perfect choice to give them something fresh. “Outcast meets school prince” is a pretty common setup in shojo manga, but what sets Kanae Hazuki’s series apart is the rawness that makes the characters seem like people you could know. Mei is an endearing protagonist, aloof and biting but with an empathy for others than shines through. The journey she and her loved ones takes through high school and college is a treat for anyone looking for humor, compassion, and honesty in their romance manga.
Say I Love You. 1-16 are available from Kodansha Comics.
Your Lie in April (Age 13+)
What it’s about: Kosei Arima was a piano prodigy until his cruel taskmaster of a mother died suddenly, changing his life forever. Kosei’s lives in a monotonous, colorless world until he meets Kaori Miyazono, a violinist with an unorthodox style. Can she bring Kosei back to music, and back to life?
Why is it good? If you DO have someone who enjoys a good tearjerker (or just needs some catharsis), look no further. Perhaps you’ve heard of this series by its nickname, Your Cry in April. It can be heart-wrenching, but Kosei’s journey to rediscover his passion for music and life has plenty of uplifting moments. The universal appeal of love and loss also make Your Lie in April a great choice for newer manga readers. As a bonus, if you have a musician in your life, each volume includes information on the classical music referenced in the story!
Your Lie in April 1-10 are available from Kodansha Comics. The final volume is coming in January!
With a Twist – Coming of age stories that hit hard, realistically and metaphorically
Happiness (Age 16+)
What it’s about: First-year high schooler Makoto Ozaki’s life is a series of humiliations and disappointment. But one night, a pale, thin girl knocks him to the ground in an alley and offers him a choice. Afterwards, Ozaki is consumed by a terrible thirst. Now he must deal with two horrors: the truth of his awful craving and high school itself.
Why is it good? Happiness is a tour de force that fits a few specific manga needs: your vampire friend, your friend who devours anything Shuzo Oshimi writes, and your friend looking for “not just another high school manga.” This could very well be the same person all at once. Fans of Oshimi-sensei know to expect cringingly compelling portrayals of adolescence like in his earlier Flowers of Evil, and that’s out in full force here. But Happiness also stands as an excellent entry in the vampire canon. What’s most impressive is that the series seamlessly blends both together in a thrilling story that makes it hard to choose which is scariest: vampirism or being a teen.
Happiness 1-2 are available from Kodansha Comics, with volume 3 coming in January!
Interviews with Monster Girls (Age 13+)
What it’s about: In the not too distant future, humans live alongside demi-humans, and Biology teacher Tetsuo Takahashi has always wanted to meet and learn about them. He gets his chance when he ends up with four “demis” in his own school, including a vampire, a dullahan, and a succubus!
Why is it good? To oversimplify things, Interviews with Monster Girls is almost the lighthearted flipside of Happiness. Each “demi,” from lively vampire Hikari to shy dullahan Kyoko, has issues unique to their supernatural makeup, but they’re also going through the ups and downs of normal high school life. The series tackles both sides with humor and heart, making it a charming mix of slice of life and “everything you ever wanted to know about monster girls but were afraid to ask.” And if you know a lot of manga fans, trust me, you have at least one monster girl lover in your circle!
Interviews with Monster Girls 1 is available from Kodansha Comics. Look out for volume 2 in January!
That wraps it up for our gift guide series, and we hope you have plenty of ideas for what to wrap up for your loved ones. All of us at Kodansha Comics wish you a happy and safe holiday, and thank you for helping us make 2016 a great year to read manga!