Category Archives: Ask Manga Mom

Questions readers have asked about manga. Maybe one of the answers can help you.

Ask Manga Mom: The “Are These Safe?” Edition

A Mom writes:

Hello, I have learned that my daughter is getting on a site and reading manga when she is on the computer. She is almost 13, and I need to please know that the manga that she is reading is not sexually explicit. I just really want to know how far they go and I have a list for you. Legendary Kang Do Gekkano Kimi Innocent World Kindai Renai Mahou Sensei Wegima! The Prince Who Fell In Love Full Contact Psychic Academy Mucha Kucha Daisuki Prism Palette She was on some of these for many pages, and others just for one or two. Please let me know if there are specific ones she should not be reading. Thanks so very much. Mom.

Thanks for the question Mom! A cursory glance at the list of titles says that most of these are not officially licensed, but that these are scanlations, fan created scans that your daughter is reading. These have been a gray-area for a long time, but are not technically legal in the US. But, information about these titles can be found online.

Legendary Kang Do-Young – This is a Korean manhwa. It’s a romantic comedy about a boy and girl who both want to be the leader of their school, where for the boy, it’s love at first sight, but not for the girl.

Gekka no Kimi – This is a seven volume romantic comedy with supernatural and historical elements. The son of an Emperor want his father’s newest wife. He searches for a woman to replace her, ends up committing a terrible sin and is reborn 1000 years later, now afraid of women.

Innocent World – This is a one volume slice of life. All the students in a classroom are dealing with issues such as divorce, complexes and kissing, but they still manage to shine.

Kindai Renai – This is a collection of short stories that touch on romance, drama and the supernatural. These stories are on the older teen to mature side.

Mahou Sensei Negima! – This series is available in the US from Del Rey Manga/Kodansha. It’s a fantasy, action-adventure harem (one boy surrounded by lots of girls). Negi is the youngest graduate from magic academy and is sent to Japan to teach at an all-girls school. Much hilarity ensues.

The Prince Who Fell In Love – This is another collection of short stories. These are mostly drama and romance.

Full Contact – This is a six volume sports manga. A fifteen-year-old boy decides to train in karate after a girl who says she likes strong guys dumps him.

Psychic Academy – This is an eleven volume series that ha been licensed by Tokyopop, but is also out of print.  It is a supernatural action-adventure title. Ai Shiomi is the younger brother of Zero, “The Man Who Stopped the Demon Lord”. Now attending Psychic Academy, it is believed that he too is destined for greatness, a belief he doesn’t really share.

Mucha Kucha Daisuke – This is a 4 volume high school romance. Aoi’s parents are moving to Tokyo, and she has to got with them. A chance meeting with playboy-type Tokyoite Tsuyoshi results in a kiss that carries unexpected meaning for both of them.

Prism Palette – This is the first publication of popular mangaka Peach Pitt and is based on a ero-game. It’s a harem comedy about a boy who spends his days at school surrounded by beautiful girls.

Most of these titles are appropriate for a 13-year-old girl. There is no explicit content from what I can tell from the descriptions. A few of the titles might be a little old for her though. Gekka no Kimi might have some questionable content at the beginning. Kindai Renai was written for young adults and might be too mature for her, and Prism Palette was based on a dating sim game, so the manga probably reflects that in the art and characters. Mahou Sensei Negima! is a border line title with an Older Teen rating from Del Rey, but it’s more suggestive than anything actually happening. This is typical of harem manga, as much of the humor comes from the uncomfortable situations. The rest of the titles I think are fine. Keep in mind, I haven’t read any of them, and my standards as a parent might be different from yours. I wouldn’t object to my daughter reading most of these titles, only to the ones I mentioned here.

Depending on which titles your daughter spent a lot of time on, which she only gave a few pages should give you an idea of her reading habits. I see a definite trend toward the drama and romance that are found in most stories written for girls, with some action thrown in for variety. I would suggest discouraging the reading of licensed manga online from a questionable source, such as sites like Mangafox, which has continued to put up scanlations even after promising to take them all down. There are places online where manga can be read legally or for a modest price, such as Shonen Sunday from Viz. The manga there is free. NetComics has Korean manhwa of different genres and chapters only cost .10-.25 each. There is also promise of more on the way with Square Enix launching a new site soon as well a manga portal from 37 different publishers in the Spring of next year.

I hope this helps!

Ask Manga Mom: The Raw Edition

Labo asks:

I’ve been wondering for a while now, but you say that you are learning Japanese characters to read more Japanese manga not yet translated for the public audience and I was wondering, that is you achieve that goal exactly how or where would you get the Japanese manga to put your skills to use. Seeing as few internet sites like Jbox.com offer a limited selection that are usually popular series, that have their own animes already.

Well Labo, I’m fortunate to live in an area of the US where I’m 45 minutes more or less to several Japanese bookstores, including, but not limited to, Kinokuniya and used bookstore Book Off. But as you note, their selection will be mostly for newer titles, and used bookstores inventory is always fluctuating. So to find some specific titles, I will have to go online.

There are several online bookstores, the most obvious being Amazon.co.jp, the Japanese arm of Amazon.com. A query of the hive mind that is Twitter got me several other suggestions. Kinokuniya also has an online book store. It has stores in both the US and Japan. The Japanese store probably has a better selection.  BK1 is an online store that sells manga, cds and dvds and is located in Japan.  Yesasia came up as an option as well, as did Yahoo Actions using a proxy, but those can get expensive. I used one once, and that was just to replace a CD that had been stolen from my brother, and I couldn’t get it anywhere else. I wouldn’t recommend those. Ebay can also be a source, but like used bookstores, the selection is hit or miss. beNippon seems to be a new online store that has lots of Japanese manga, though I don’t know anyone who’s tried it.

Another option that will be growing (hopefully) is reading manga online, in Japanese. CDJapan has an e-book rental section that allows you to read manga online, all in Japanese. I think this would be the ideal version for me. I just don’t have room for more manga! They already have quite a selection in all demographics, and even one title I really want to read! And it’s just a $1.00 for 48 hours for 1 volume. Now that’s a deal!

Ask Manga Mom: The Library Edition

Gareth writes:

Hi, I am a library assistant from the UK (Liverpool), and I would be very happy if you could answer a quick question for me.

I had a couple of ten-year olds playing in the library yesterday, and one of them, a young girl, said she only reads comics. My question is, is all ages Manga suitable for a 10-year-old, or if not could you perhaps recommend some graphic novels and comics for 10 year olds.

Having read the recent Carol L. Tilley study finding that comics have no disadvantage compared to traditional prose, I am really keen to develop Manga and graphic novel resources especially for younger children.

Continue reading Ask Manga Mom: The Library Edition

Ask Manga Mom: The Taboo Edition

Static writes:

Is Taboo considered a genre that should be used as a general description for manga sites that contained taboo typed manga books?

Also, could you give me a perfect but brief (short) definition of the “TABOO” that I cold use to describe the genre if it were to be used as a general – common – genre type.

This isn’t  my area of expertise, but I thought I’d weigh in anyway.  A taboo is a strong social prohibition on activities or customs that are considered sacred or forbidden.  The term comes from Polynesia where it’s context was religious.  Most taboos have a religious connotations, they can affect dietary restrictions, sexual activities and/or relations, bodily functions, exposure of body parts or offensive language.  Taboos are not universal, but many cultures may share some, such as cannibalism and incest.  Taboos can change over time, as a society or culture changes.

Continue reading Ask Manga Mom: The Taboo Edition

Ask Manga Mom: The “Just Say No” Edition

This question came in from Kyle just this week:

where can i download manga directly and for free xcept for (stoptazmo & animea)….. where can i download pig bride manhwa & captive heart for free????
pls. help me

Um…no Kyle.  Just….no.

Pig Bride and Captive Hearts are licensed titles in the US.  If you can not find scanalations to download, that is a good thing.  If you want to read these titles you need to either buy the books, or borrow them from a friend or the library.  Many public and even school libraries are adding and building up collections of manga and graphic novels.  The value of these books is finally being recognized, not just for stories, but because they also help encourage reading.  If your local library doesn’t have the books you want, ask about inter-library loan.  Get your friends to ask too.  The more interest librarians see in a type of book, the more likely they are to add them.

If you want to read manga online, then check out Viz’s Shonen Sunday website, where new chapters of mang are put up weekly.  Or you can read some new titles straight from Japan with Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump, which has some old favorites as well as new titles.  The more we show these sites to be successful, the more likely it will be that we get manga online legitimately.

Ask Manga Mom: Manga as Literature

Nikkita asks:

I am Nikkita Bechdel and a senior at Bald Eagle Area high School in Central Pennsylvania. For the final in my Advanced Placement English class, I must write a research paper on any topic relating to literature. I chose to prove the literacy value of manga. I am having difficulties finding sources on sections such as why Japan considers it literature. If you could please help me, it would mean a lot to me.

Wow, this is a tough one.  A bit of a lofty goal, but a worthwhile one.   When I was in Jr. College, I did a sociology study on anime fans, so I can relate on the difficulty in finding sources.

There hasn’t been a lot of analysis of manga in english, but there are a few books you can look at that may have the information you’re looking for.

These books should give you a good foundation for your paper.  You should be able to find these books at a library or use interlibrary loan to get them.  The amazon links have the ISBN numbers.

I invite the much more knowledgable mangasphere to weigh in other books or links that might help Nikkita out.  If you know of something that might be a good resource, please post it in the comments.

Ask Manga Mom: Romance Complex

Stacymay asks:

Do manga have to have a complex plot? If someone is trying to write a romance manga, does there have to be fantasy and stuff in it or can it just be a love story?

Thanks! That’s a great question!

When looking at shojo or romance manga, there does seem to be a lot of fantasy themed stories.  But they aren’t all like that.  There are plenty of titles that are based in reality.  Nana, Sand Chronicles, and Honey and Clover for older readers and Monkey High and High School Debut for teens are some examples.  A well written love story is a perfect theme for a manga.

As for how complex the plot is, well, that up to the writer and the plot.  A story can have several twists and turns to keep the reader engaged, but if there are too many, the story can become too confusing.  A frustrated reader will not continue reading the story.  It’s best to keep the story relatively simple with just a twist or turn here and there to keep the reader interested enough to read the end.

Keep those questions coming!

Ask Manga Mom: Drawing Manga Edition

Trinity writes:

How can we make a manga online?

And is there any deccent free things that teaches you how to draw at your best?

Thanks for the question Trinity!  It’s not exactly my area of expertise, but I’ll do my best.

To get your manga online, you first need to make it digital, so that means that you either drawn it and scan it in, or you draw it on the computer.  Let’s assume it’s already in files on your computer.  Now, where do you upload it?  Well, if you have your own website, you can post it there.  But if you don’t, there are plenty of places you can go to get it online.  Tokyopop.com is free, and lets its users post their own manga that is easily searched on the site.  Drunkduck.com is a webcomic community that provides free hosting as well.  Virtual Hosting also has a resource guide for starting a webcomic that includes hosting.  These are some good places to start.

A google search for manga tutorials brings up tons of sites with tutorials to improve you drawing.  Two of the top results come from good resources and are free: Manga Tutorials and Manga Universtiy.  Sites like deviantART are good places to upload your art and get feedback from fellow artists and fans.

Of course, nothing beats plain old practice.  Just make sure to draw something everyday.  It keeps you in practice and improves your skills.  And don’t be afraid of copying from your favorite manga-ka (for practice).  Many famous manga-ka started by copying  from their favorites and getting the basics down before evolving it into their own style.

Ask Manga Mom – Peach Fuzz Edition

Jay Karlson writes:

First, a comment: THANK YOU for adding an “All Ages” section. My 8 year old daughter loves Manga, but they can get really dirty.

Would she like “Peach Fuzz”? She already has read Sugar Princess and Cardcaptor Sakura. She LOVED Suihilibe.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks for the words of encouragement Jay!  I found it frustrating trying to find appropriate manga for my girls, so I decided to make the page myself!  Though I do have to update it for all the new titles coming out lately.  But, that’s a good thing!


Peach Fuzz, one of the first OEL manga Tokyopop published, is definitely written for a girl about your daughter’s age.  Amanda, the lead character is in the 4th grade.  Her new pet, Peach the ferret, thinks she is a princess, royalty among ferrets.  Most of the conflicts come from Amanda and Peach learning to get along and live with each other.  I think it’s definitely something an 8 year old girl would like, and a parent would have no problem with their daughter reading.

If you’re still not sure though, you and she can go here to read the first three chapters of the first volume.  The Tokyopop Manga Viewer is easy to use, and it’s free.  You don’t have to join the website to use it.

Thanks for the question.  I hope this helps!


New Viz Chapter Books

I guess Viz has faith in their chapter books line. In the Naruto line, they already have 4 books out with more scheduled for release. And honestly, as reading material for young ages 5-8, the books haven’t been bad. They have stayed true to the manga, adding embellishments that are appropriate for young ages and uses panels from the manga for illustrations. I know this probably irks older readers who don’t like to see their favorite stories “dumbed down”, but with Naruto, and now this new series I’ve found, I don’t think it’s bad, especially as a parent.


As I was searching Amazon for links for my previous post, I found this listingDragon Ball (the first, actually good, half of the series) is getting made into Chapter books.  It’s not scheduled until August 2009, and there were at least 3 more set to follow this one.  Those didn’t have any cover pictures though.

While Dragon Ball Z got all the hype, Dragon Ball, the part of the series that made it popular in the first place hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.  The manga started here in the US when Viz was publishing floppy comics, before the graphic novels became popular.  This last year Dragon Ball has returned through the VizBIG compilations, but it’s got a Teen rating.  A little overly conservative in my opinion.  So I think it’s good to see it coming out for the audience that should read it most; young kids.  Dragon Ball follows Goku’s adventures when he’s young, and I think will appeal to the young audiences much more.  And there’s an actual story to follow in Dragon Ball, so the pages wouldn’t be filled with POW! BAM! SPLURT! as Dragon Ball Z would, no doubt.

Dragon Ball is a classic in every since of the word, and I applaud Viz for making this one available to the proper audience, even if it has to be in an altered form.

Get Over Yourself

You know, I am really getting tired of these parents “outraged” by things they find in their kids’ rooms and feel the need to blame someone else for it.  The latest is, of course, the man in Oregon who found his 12 year old son had checked out some mature rated manga from a public library.

My question about all this, as a parent myself, is this; why is he blaming the library and not his son?  In the news report, he said he went to the library to find answers and demanded that the library “enforce” the adult section.  Why didn’t he ask his son why he checked them out?  Just like he said, it plainly says on the cover “Mature 18+“.  Surely if the kid can read the manga, he can read the age rating.

This kid knew full well what he was getting, and this father is just pathetic for taking out on the library.  It is not the library’s job to police the books it checks out.  The library did exactly what it was supposed to; it put mature rated books in the adult section.  That the kid was smart enough to either ask or look for it is not the library’s responsibility.  It’s the parents.  And this “father” is being a terrible parent if he thinks that blaming the library will get him anywhere.  Going to an attorney will only make him a laughing stock.  He is perfectly in his right to keep his kid from reading the manga, but he is NOT when he tries to force a library to do it for him.  He’s got the title of Father.  He should try acting like one.

Of course, the Fox news report is just some of the worse sensationalist crap ever.  But that’s to be expected of Fox.  Now, did they actually look at the books before they claimed they contained “animated pictures of young women and girls in bondage, being raped and abused” or did they just pull up some old news stories and cut and paste?  That kind of manga comes from Icarus, not Tokyopop (sorry Simon).

This kind of idiocy and base journalism really just pisses me off!  Take some responsibility for yourself and your kids!  If my daughter brought home some YAOI books from the library at age 12, SHE would be the one facing the consequences, not the library.  Because that’s what a responsible parent does.  They teach their kids to be responsible, not to go find someone else to blame.

All Ages Manga Page

I’ve added a new page to help parents (or anyone else interested) in finding all ages manga from all the manga publishers available.  Publishers don’t make it very obvious which of their books are for everyone.  Sometimes I had to dig two or three pages deep to find it.  So, I decided to make this page so that there’s all in one place.  Keep checking the page, as I will update it as I find more new manga. I’ll also let you know of any updates here.  So click the link above, or check the Pages in the sidebar or on top the site.

Viz will have a lot coming out in 2009, which is nice to here.  It would be nice to see publishers like Del Rey and Yen Press, get some more books out.  Broccoli Books and Netcomics surprised me with their selection.  Netcomics even has some BL they rate as for all ages.  I don’t know if I want to start the kids on that…  Go Comi was another surprise, as they had no All Ages books at all.