Category: graphic novels

5 Fantasy Mangas To Pique Your Interest

I have been reading manga since I was a wee child, and I have always gravitated towards the serializations based in the fantasy genre. So naturally, I had to create a list of series for readers to go and check out. For those who might not be familiar, manga is a term used to refer to Japanese comics or visual novels. It has gradually gained in popularity in America, and now there are massive conventions where individuals can dress as their favorite characters and interact with fellow fans.

Here are five fantasy mangas that will most definitely pique your interest.

 

1. “The ancient magus’ bride”

image via amazon

Kore Yamazaki‘s series The Ancient Magus’ Bride follows the young protagonist Chise. From a young age, Chise has been able to see spirits and creatures that no one else has. After her father’s abandonment and her mother’s death, Chise is moved from relative to relative until she ultimately decides to put herself up for auction. She is purchased by Elias, a mage who is centuries years old and definitely not human. He takes her on as his apprentice, and in doing so, Chise begins to come into contact with other mythical beings straight out of folklore based in the British Isles. She meets a Leanan Sidhe, the faerie king and queen, and even the cat king–to name but a few. She grows as a mage and an individual, and while Elias acts as her magic teacher, she acts as the teacher who gives him an idea of why humans act the way they do. Please be aware that the reason that this series is called The Ancient Magus Bride is because mages and their apprentices, due to their lifespans, will often get married, and this implication is attached to Elias’s and Chise’s relationship. While I do enjoy this series for the plot and the magical lore, I won’t dismiss that the implications can make others uncomfortable.

2. “The Girl from the other side: Siúil A Rún”

image via amazon

The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil A Rún, by Nagabe, follows a young girl and her guardian in a world populated by monsters. The young girl is one of the only surviving beings who hasn’t been infected by a curse, whereas her guardian suffers from said curse. This curse is spread via touch, which makes it extremely hard for the child’s guardian to protect her from the beings who have gone insane due to the curse. All the same, the child’s guardian is intent on keeping her safe and trying to reunite her with her family who, hopefully, have not been cursed as well.

3. “yona of the dawn”

image via pinterest

Written by Mizuho Kasanagi, Yona of the Dawn, also known as Akatsuki no Yona, follows the young princess Yona. After her father, the emperor, was brutally murdered in a coup, Yona and her guardian Hak flee the royal palace. They discover that Yona is the reincarnation of a king who once had four dragon warriors in his service. These same dragon warriors have also reincarnated in order to protect the king in the king’s following life. Each warrior possesses a physical attribute that is meant to match that of their dragon predecessor. For example, one warrior has the eyes of a dragon, and another has the physical strength of one, so his hand looks like a dragon’s claw. Yona begins to gather these warriors together in order to reclaim her father’s throne, and as she does so, she learns how to fight and hold her own in battle as well. Yet this same series provides an interesting nuance: due to her father’s pacifism, his people have suffered throughout the years. Under the guidance of the new emperor (the one who murdered Yona’s father), the land begins to flourish. So this then begs the question: how will Yona handle this knowledge? Will she fight for the throne, or will she relinquish her claim to it?

 

4. “Black clover”

image via black clover wiki

Black Clover, by Yûki Tabata, is a current serialization that has gained some serious popularity. This series follows Asta, a young man who wants to become the next wizard king… the only problem is that he doesn’t actually have any magical ability. Unlike his brother figure Yuno, who is a verified magical prodigy, Asta cannot even perform the most basic magical spells. In a world where magic is the norm, Asta is an enigma, and he isn’t in a position where he can even expect to pursue his dream. However, Asta comes into possession of a grimoire that possesses powerful anti-magical abilities. So in a world where magic is the norm, Asta now has the power to basically counteract the abilities of his peers, giving him a leg up and also putting him on equal footing with Yuno, his rival and the possessor of the first wizard king’s grimoire.

5. “Mushishi”

image via goodreads

Mushishi, by Yuki Urushibara, follows Ginko, a man who pursues rumors about beings known as Mushi appearing. The mushi, as described within the series itself, are creatures that can take on various forms: such as plants, fungus, and even more. They simply wish to exist. This series is largely episodic, with Ginko traveling from place to place and interacting with people and mushi alike. Given that the mushi can take on essentially any form, each adventure and story is unique and ingenious in its own way.

Featured image via mocah.org

 

 

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5 Books Inspired By Japanese Mythology and Folklore

My exposure to Japanese mythology and folklore actually began when I was in grade school. I started to read and excessive amount of manga, and through that, I took an interest in the folklore and mythos that inspired said stories. I still love the legends and stories, so this has definitely been an article long in the making.

Here are five stories inspired by Japanese mythology and folklore.

 

1. “Tales of moonlight and Rain”

image via goodreads

Tales of Moonlight and Rain, written by Ueda Akinari, was originally published back in 1776. This is a collection of nine gothic stories that, according to Goodreads: “alludes to the belief that mysterious beings appear on cloudy, rainy nights and in mornings with a lingering moon.” And that is absolutely all I need to pull me into this book. These stories features creatures straight from Japanese lore: demons, goblins, a revenant, and an array of ghosts. These stories pulls from both Japanese and Chinese lore to create beautifully eerie tales the one is sure to take an immense amount of interest in.

 

2. “shadow of the fox”

image via goodreads

 

The Shadow of the Fox is the first book in Julie Kagawa‘s Shadow of the Fox series. This story follows Yumeko, a girl who is half kitsune and half human. The word kitsune translates to fox, and it is believed in Japanese lore that foxes can transform into people. Kitsunes are known for being mischievious creatures, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Yumeko also embodies this trait. Yumeko has been raised by monks for the entirety of her life, but when those monks are killed, she must flee with the relic that they guarded whilst alive. She meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai, and they form an alliance in order to find the second half of the relic that Yumeko fled with. While they are searching, they are also pursued by an army of demons. This book was published by Teen Harlequin, so there will likely be some raunchy elements in this book.

 

3. “empress of all seasons”

image via goodreads

 

Empress of All Seasons, by Emiko Jean, follows Mari. Mari has been training for her entire life to become the empress of Honoku. Mari has a secret: she is a yōkai who can transform into a terrifying monster. If her true identity is discovered, her life will be forfeit. She teams up with Taro, the prince who does not wish to take the throne, and Akira, a half-yōkai. These three individuals will decide the fate of the nation of Honoku. It should be noted that this book does contain themes of sexual violence and abuse.

 

4. “red winter”

image via goodreads

 

Annette Marie‘s Red Winter is the first book of a trilogy. This story follows Emi, a kamigakari (a being who can host a spirit). In Emi’s case, she has spent her entire life preparing to host a goddess within her, uniting her mind, body, and soul with the deity. In all her time preparing, she had never once doubted herself or questioned her fate. Shiro is a yōkai, and the enemy of the goddess that Emi will soon merge with. He is put into a difficult situation when Emi saves his life, because until his debt is repaid, he must do as Emi asks of him. It is also Shiro who will place her in a situation where Emi begins to question her fate for the first time.

 

5. “Inuyasha: turning back time”

image via goodreads

 

This series is a classic, and I couldn’t write up this list without including it. Inuyasha: Turning Back Time was written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. This is a manga series that follows the adventures of Kagome, a young girl raised by her father and mother–who both maintain a shrine in contemporary Japan. Within the shrine itself is well that Kagome takes to transport herself from contemporary Japan to feudal Japan. Upon doing this for the first time, she learns that she is the reincarnation of a priestess named Kikyo. She meets Inuyasha, a half-demon/yōkai who, up until she freed him from his enchanted slumber. Together, Inuyasha and Kagome must travel across feudal Japan with their traveling party in search of a magical jewel’s fragments. When these shards are brought back together, the jewel will grant its wearer their heart’s desires. While there are moments where this manga can be raunchy, it is considered a classic. It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Featured image via Wallpaper Access

 


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New Award for the New Kid

The John Newbery Medal, popularly known as the Newbery, is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It’s awarded to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”, and for the first time ever, the recipient was a graphic novel. 

image via harper collins

Jerry Craft’s New Kid, which is about an African-American boy adjusting to a new middle school, took away the Newbery this time. 

 

image via an unlikely story

Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written in verse by Kwame Alexander, won both the Caldecott Medal (given to picture books) and a Newbery Honor. 

 

image via ALBUQUERQUE Journal

Only a few years ago, librarians were debating whether a graphic novel would qualify to win a Newbery Medal, because the prize description says, in part:

“The committee is to make its decision primarily on the text. Other components of a book, such as illustrations, overall design of the book, etc. may be considered when they make the book less effective.”

It’s great to see unconventional books take away prizes which are normally stringent with their distribution, and when the representative authors are discussing relevant issues alongside immense talent, it makes it all the more inspiring to see them win.

 

 

Even though it’s been mentioned that the description seemed to weigh against graphic novels, New Kid apparently was judged to have both the text and illustrations work together to tell the incredible story of young Jordan and won the hearts of the judges to eventually claim the well deserved title.

featured image collage via befunky


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