50 Essential Manga for Libraries

Timeless Classics and Popular Titles for Kids, Teens and Adults

Want to add manga to your library's collection, but don't know where to start? Or want to get your local library to stock more of what you want to read? This list of 50 essential manga for libraries include a mix of timeless, critically-acclaimed classics and some of the today's most popular titles for kids, teens and grown-up graphic novel readers, as selected by About.com readers. Librarian and author Robin Brenner also chimes in with her thoughts on why these titles deserve a spot on more library shelves.

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Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist

Author/Artist: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: VIZ Media
Compare Prices for Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1

Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric are alchemists who made the mistake of trying to push the limits of their craft a little too far, and it nearly cost them their lives and limbs. Recruited as a State Alchemist, Edward works with the military, which gives him the opportunity to travel around the country as he searches for the Philosopher's Stone that has the power to restore the brothers' bodies. However, there are many sinister and powerful people looking for it too.

This perennially popular 26-volume manga series offers a winning mix of action, drama, fantasy, horror and memorable characters that keeps fans coming back for more.

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Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya, a shojo manga series published by TokyoPop
Fruits Basket Volume 1. © Natsuki Takaya

Author/Artist: Natsuki Takaya
Publisher: TokyoPop
Compare prices for Fruits Basket Volume 1

When Tohru Honda moves in with the very rich and mysterious Sohma Family, she discovers the family secret almost immediately: several members of the clan are cursed to turn into one of the 12 zodiac animals when they're touched by the opposite sex.

A longtime fan favorite, Fruits Basket has all the elements that makes shojo fans swoon: Cute girls and beautiful boys, light-hearted romance, slapstick humor and addictive drama. It starts out light and fun, but it's in its later volumes that the true emotional depth and one-of-a-kind charm of this series really kicks in.

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Naruto Volume 1 Cover Artwork by Masashi Kishimoto
Naruto Volume 1. Masashi Kishimoto

Author/Artist: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Naruto Vol. 1

Naruto follows the adventures of a teen ninja-in-training, Naruto Uzumaki. Orphaned at birth, Naruto is a practical joker who’ll do anything for attention. His grades at the Ninja Academy suck, and he’s shunned by most of the adults. Naruto’s secret? His body is the living prison for the Nine-Tailed Fox Demon that almost destroyed his village 15 years ago.

At over 50 volumes and counting, Naruto remains one of the most popular manga and anime series in the world. The story took a darker turn after Volume 28, which started the "Shippuden" arc, where Naruto is three years older and the stakes are higher.

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Bleach Volume 1 by Tite Kubo, published by Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Bleach Volume 1. © Tite Kubo

Author/Artist: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Bleach Volume 1

Ichigo Kurosaki is a relatively normal high school boy who just happens to be able to see ghosts. But when he meets Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki, Ichigo gets sucked into a world where Soul Reapers with powerful spiritual weapons battle the undead, monstrous Hollows. As Ichigo's Soul Reaper abilities get stronger, so do his opponents, who are all out to see him dead.

Bleach starts out as a fairly simple story, but as Ichigo goes into the world of the Soul Society, he meets and fights a mind-boggling array of enemies, each stronger than the last. Can he survive his adventures in the world of the undead?

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Yotsuba&! Volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma, published by ADV Manga / Media Works Inc.
Yotsuba&! Volume 1. © Kiyohiko Azuma / MediaWorks Inc.

Author/Artist: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Yen Press
Compare prices for Yotsuba&! Vol. 1

Since Yotsuba moved into the neighborhood, this little green-haired girl immediately befriended her neighbors the Ayases and discovered the joys of things that are new to her, like air conditioning, swing sets and fireworks.

Robin Brenner: "This is one of those titles that is talked about in library circles, but it's tough to understand in terms of audience. Kids love it, teens love it, adults love it. Sometimes librarians aren't sure where it goes — it doesn't go automatically in a teen collection. Children's librarians don't see it reviewed, and adult librarians think it's too young for their collection. A good one to suggest."

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Vampire Knight

Vampire Knight Volume 1 by Matsuri Hino, published by Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Vampire Knight Volume 1. © Matsuri Hino / Hakusensha Inc.

Author/Artist: Matsuri Hino
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Vampire Knight Vol. 1

Yuki Cross attends the prestigious Cross Academy -- but she's one of the few students that knows of its dark secret. By day, the classes are for human students, but at night, the halls of Cross Academy are filled with teen vampires.

Vampires are hot, and Vampire Knight is the reigning queen of the shojo manga supernatural romances. Why? Well, Matsuri Hino's lovely artwork and hunky characters draw readers in, but its Vampire Knight's twisted drama, intricate/dysfunctional relationships between the characters and the swoon-worthy romance that makes it irresistable to goth girls and vampire lovers.

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Death Note

Death Note volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata
Cover artwork of Death Note volume 1. Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Artist: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Shonen Jump Advanced / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Death Note Vol. 1

Light Yagami is one of the brightest students at his school — but he's also very bored. That changes when he finds a black "Death Note" notebook. Light then meets Ryuk, a grim reaper who explains that when a name of a person is written in the Death Note, that person dies instantly. Light uses his powers to kill criminals, but his killing streak doesn't go unnoticed and soon he's matching wits with L, an eccentric super-sleuth.

Death Note packs in a lot of action and supernatural suspense in 12 volumes; so much that a 13th "how to read" companion volume was published to help fans sort things out.

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Nana Volume 1 by Ai Yazawa from Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
Nana Volume 1. © 1999 by Yazawa Manga Seisakusho / SHUEISHA Inc.

Author/Artist: Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Nana Vol. 1

Two young women named Nana meet on a train to Tokyo: Nana Komatsu is eager to live a glamorous city girl's life. Nana Osaki is a rock star on the rise. How their destinies intertwine make Nana an addictive drama that rises above the rest.

Robin Brenner: "There was a problem in the library world when its rating suddenly jumped to M (mature) as most libraries had started collecting the series in their teen collections. This series demonstrates the need for an adult collection. There's no reason libraries shouldn't own this series, but if they don't because there's no adult section, it's time to start requesting that they build one."

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Chi's Sweet Home

Chi's Sweet Home Volume 1 by Konami Konata, from Vertical
Chi's Sweet Home Volume 1. © Konami Konata

Author/Artist: Kanata Konami
Publisher: Vertical
Compare prices for Chi's Sweet Home Vol. 1

An adorable kitten gets separated from her family, and gets adopted by a young boy and his parents. Chi the kitten soon wins the hearts of this young family, but there's just one problem: they live in an apartment that strictly forbids pets.

Robin Brenner: "Chi's Sweet Home isn't in too many libraries' collections yet — but it's a new title, so this makes some sense. Also, as it's a title aimed at younger readers, librarians who work with kids have been one of the hardest groups to market to in libraries. It's getting better, but Chi definitely needs help to make it on to librarians' radar."

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Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama, a shonen manga published by VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Dragon Ball Volume 1, VIZ Big edition. © Akira Toriyama

Author/Artist: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Dragon Ball Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition)

Son Goku is on a quest to find seven magical "dragon balls." Legend has it that the person who finds all seven balls will be granted a wish. But with so many other people after the dragon balls, Goku's quest won't be easy.

Robin Brenner: "Dragon Ball gets a bit of a bad rap in libraries (it's been challenged numerous times, most frequently by readers who are unnerved by the nudity and dirty old man character in the opening pages.) Nonetheless, it's very popular, and as long as you place it in the right collection for your community (teen collections seem to keep it with little fanfare), it's a strong bet."

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Akira Volume 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo from Dark Horse Manga / Kodansha
Akira Volume 1. © Katsuhiro Otomo / MASH Room / Akira Committee

Author/Artist: Katsuhiro Otomo
Publisher: Kodansha America
Compare prices for Akira Vol. 1

In a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, a gang of biker punks live on the edge, looking for the next thrill. But they're playing with fire, as they learn that the destruction of Tokyo has its roots in a government experiment gone wrong and a mysterious boy named Akira.

Considered to be the one of the first cross-over hits of anime and manga in America, Akira continues to be a benchmark that few manga titles have dared to surpass. Otomo's artwork is stunning and the sci-fi action is epic in scale; it astounds readers even years after its debut in the 1982. Now that Kodansha is re-releasing it, there's no reason to not have Akira in libraries.

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One Piece

One Piece Vol. 1
One Piece Vol. 1. © Eiichiro Oda

Author/Artist: Eiichiro Oda
Publisher: Shonen Jump VIZ Media
Compare prices for One Piece: East Blue Vol. 1, 2 & 3

While growing up in a small town, Monkey D. Luffy dreams of being pirate and sailing the high seas. But after taking a bite of the gum-gum fruit, he's able to stretch his limbs and do amazing feats. The downside to these cool powers? He'll sink like a stone if he ever falls into water. But that doesn't stop Luffy from setting sail for adventure and finding crew members who join him on his quest to find treasure and raise a little heck along the way.

Robin Brenner: "This is another no-brainer, really, like Bleach or Naruto. It's consistently popular and a great comedy adventure series."

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Cardcaptor Sakura

Card Captor Sakura Volume 1 by CLAMP, published by Dark Horse Manga
Card Captor Sakura Volume 1. © CLAMP

Author/Artist: CLAMP
Publisher: Dark Horse
Compare prices for Card Captor Sakura Omnibus Vol. 1

Fourth grader Sakura Kinomoto finds and opens a mysterious book and accidentally releases a set of magical cards onto the world. Sakura must now find and defeat the Clow Cards to seal them away once more.

Robin Brenner: "It has always been a strong circulator, and continues to be even as our poor volumes have gotten more and more battered. It's definitely a good time to let your local librarians know about the series with the Dark Horse omnibus editions coming out -- they'll be an easy sell to libraries with the good value, and the high quality of presentation and binding that Dark Horse always achieves."

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InuYasha Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition)
InuYasha Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition). © Rumiko Takahashi

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Compare prices for InuYasha Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition)

Kagome is a modern teen who has modern problems, like studying for her exams and her crush on a cute classmate. When Kagome falls down a well, she ends up in feudal Japan and meets a half-demon/half-human boy named InuYasha. Kagome looks like the priestess who sealed InuYasha's powers, and she discovers that she's got powers of her own. She's going to need them, as Kagome and InuYasha look for a mystical jewel that bestows great powers upon demons.

Besides the manga, InuYasha is a popular and long-running anime series. VIZ has begun re-releasing the manga in omnibus editions to make them easier to collect.

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Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama, published by VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Dragon Ball Z Volume 1, VIZ Big edition. © Akira Toriyama

Author/Artist: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Dragon Ball Z Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition)

In this sequel to Dragon Ball, Son Goku has grown up and now has a son of his own. But fate won't let this legendary fighter live a quiet life. Goku finds out that he is from a race of aliens called Saiyans. Goku was originally sent to Earth to conquer the planet, a mission that he forgot because he lost his memory when he first arrived. Now the Saiyans want to complete Goku's original mission — but they'll have to get past Goku and his friends first.

A super-charged fighting manga that set the tone for many similar series, Dragon Ball Z is a shonen manga classic for the ages.

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Ouran High School Host Club

Ouran High School Host Club Vol. 1
Ouran High School Host Club Vol. 1. Ouran High School Host Club © Bisco Hatori 2002/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Author/Artist: Bisco Hatori
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Ouran High School Host Club Vol. 1

Haruhi Fujioka attends the ritzy Ouran Academy — but unlike her very rich classmates, Haruhi is there on scholarship and lives modestly. When Haruhi accidentally breaks an expensive vase, she gets recruited by the Ouran High School Host Club, a group of very rich and very cute boys who run a lounge where they flatter and flirt with Ouran High girls for a fee. With her short hair and boyish good looks, Haruhi dresses up as a guy and becomes a "host" to pay back her almost insurmountable debt.

Ouran is a popular "reverse harem" series that serves up a mix of cute guys, romance and comedy that shojo manga fans adore.

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A Drifting Life

A Drifting Life
A Drifting Life. © Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Author/Artist: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Compare prices for A Drifting Life

A Drifting Life is a one-of-a-kind graphic novel memoir by a comics creator who had a front row seat during manga's formative years. From his early days as a school boy cartoonist who becomes overwhelmed with giddiness upon meeting Osamu Tezuka to his trail-blazing days as a leading artist in the gekiga, or "dramatic pictures" movement, Yoshihiro Tatsumi weaves post-WWII Japanese history with his personal recollections of manga legends like Takao Saito (Golgo 13) and Masahiko Matsumoto (Cigarette Girl).

A Drifting Life was mentioned on almost every comic critic's top 10 list for 2009 and won two Eisner Awards in 2010.

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Buddha Vol. 1
Buddha Vol. 1. © Tezuka Productions

Author/Artist: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical
Compare prices for Buddha Vol. 1

Osamu Tezuka, the "god of manga" took on an ambitious task: to depict the life of prince-turned-priest Gautama Buddha in graphic novel form. In eight volumes, Tezuka shows Buddha's birth and childhood as a privileged Indian prince, his spiritual awakening when he discovers the suffering in the world outside the palace walls, and his struggles to reach enlightenment and to share his learnings with the world.

Tezuka's Buddha is much more than just a dry historical biography — Tezuka includes fictional characters whose struggles bring to life the principles of Buddha's teachings. A cross-over title that will appeal to even non-manga readers.

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A Drunken Dream and Other Stories

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. © Moto Hagio

Author/Artist: Moto Hagio
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Compare prices for A Drunken Dream

A misunderstood free spirit. A girl who is rejected by her mother. A couple whose love ends in tragedy each time they're reincarnated. A family haunted by the death of a child. A pair of conjoined twins with an unusual love-hate relationship. This is just a sampling of the characters in ten moving and memorable shojo stories collected in Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream.

Collected for the first time in a gorgeous hardcover edition, A Drunken Dream offers a rare glimpse into the work of one of Japan's most distinctive and influential creators in shojo manga, and heck, manga, period. Worth recommending to both older teen and adult readers alike.

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Barefoot Gen

Barefoot Gen Vol. 1
Barefoot Gen Vol. 1. © Keiji Nakazawa

Author/Artist: Keiji Nakazawa
Publisher: Last Gasp
Compare prices for Barefoot Gen Vol. 1

6-year old Gen Nakaoka and his family struggle to make ends meet during World War II. While the rationing has forced his family to make do with less, Gen tries to make the best of things. But when the U.S. military drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Gen finds that his world has been turned into hell on earth.

Barefoot Gen is author Keiji Nakazawa's semi-autobiographical eye-witness account of the bombing of Hiroshima and the effect that it had on its citizens even years after. Last Gasp recently released the last two books in this historical and harrowing 12-volume series, making now a good time to complete your collection.

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Black Butler

Black Butler Volume 1 by Yana Toboso, published by Yen Press
Black Butler Volume 1. © Yana Toboso / SQUARE ENIX

Author/Artist: Yana Toboso
Publisher: Yen Press
Compare prices for Black Butler Vol. 1

Despite his youth, Ciel Phantomhive is the head of the very rich and powerful Phantomhive family. Attending to his every wish is his butler Sebastian, a cool, dark and handsome manservant. No request is too big and no crisis is too vexing for Sebastian to handle; he seems perfect — maybe too perfect?

Gorgeously Goth and sumptuously drawn with just a dash of wicked dark humor, Black Butler is a fan favorite that consistently appears in the New York Times Graphic Books Manga Top 10 bestseller lists. A popular current pick that readers will request and check out again and again.

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Skip Beat

Skip Beat! Volume 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura, a shojo manga published by Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Skip Beat! Volume 1. © Yoshiki Nakamura 2002 / HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Author/Artist: Yoshiki Nakamura
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Skip Beat! Vol. 1

Kyoko Mogami followed her boyfriend Sho Fuwa to Tokyo, and spent her days toiling at two jobs just so Sho could pursue his career as a rock singer. But when Kyoko discovers that Sho has just been using her as a maid, her fury knows no bounds. Kyoko vows to beat Sho at his own game by getting into show business herself. After a rocky start, Kyoko gets cast in commercials and TV shows. While she's not a superstar yet, she finds that revenge is taking a backseat to her passion for acting.

Funny, romantic and eccentric, Skip Beat! is a quirky shojo manga series with a heroine who is about more than just looking for love.

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Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh
Azumanga Daioh. Kiyohiko Azuma © YOTUBA SUTAZIO

Author/Artist: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Yen Press
Compare Prices for Azumanga Daioh! Omnibus Edition

Before Yotsuba&! stole everyone's hearts, Kiyohiko Azuma created the quirky school girls of Azumanga Daioh. Largely told in four-panel (yonkoma) format, Azumanga Daioh follows six girls as they go through four years of high school.

Through four volumes, fans laughed with petite prodigy Chiyo, tall and reserved Sakaki, hyper-active Tomo, spacey Osaka, sporty Kagura and easily-aggravated Koyomi, not to mention their odd but loveable teachers. Yen Press collected all of the volumes in an omnibus edition of Azumanga Daioh with new translations, so now it's easier than ever to add this series to your library's collection.

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. © 1983 Nibariki Co., Ltd.

Author/Artist:Hayao Miyazaki
Publisher: VIZ Media
Compare prices for Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Vol. 1

Anime director Hayao Miyazaki is well-known for movies that express ecological themes in endearing and engaging ways. One of his first creations was Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, an epic fantasy tale set in a world that has been devastated by an ecological disaster. Nausicaä is a sky-soaring princess who's out to discover the secrets behind her world's decay and find a reason for the planet to heal itself again.

This seven-volume fantasy epic is sure to entrance teens and adults alike, especially those already familiar with Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

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Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa, from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Volume 1. © 2004 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI, Tezuka Productions All rights reserved.

Author/Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Media
Compare Prices for Pluto Vol. 1

Based on a classic Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot on Earth," Pluto is a bold, inventive remix of Osamu Tezuka's tale as seen through the eyes of a minor character. Gesicht is a German detective who's trying to find out who has been killing robots and humans, all the while knowing that super-robot Atom may be targeted next.

Complete in eight volumes, Pluto has been nominated for the Eisner Awards and the Harvey Awards in 2010, and was included in numerous comics critics' top 10 lists for 2009. Overall, Pluto is a thought-provoking and touching sci-fi series for teens and adults that readers will recommend to their friends too.

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Lone Wolf and Cub

Cover artwork from Lone Wolf & Cub volume 1 graphic novel
Lone Wolf & Cub Volume 1. Kazuo Koike / Goseki Kojima

Author: Kazuo Koike
Artist: Goseki Kojima
Publisher: Dark Horse
Compare prices for Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1

Former executioner to the Shogun Itto Ogami was framed for treason, but rather than live in unwarranted disgrace, Ogami and his infant son Daigoro take to the assassin's road. Father and son travel the countryside in search of vengeance, and mete out their own brand of justice along the way.

Considered one of the finest examples of cinematic storytelling in graphic novels, Lone Wolf and Cub is the winner of numerous awards in Japan and the U.S., including the Eisner Award. Dark Horse has collected Lone Wolf and Cub in 28 volumes, making this classic samurai epic accessible to all.

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Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin Volume 1 by Nobuhiro Watsuki, published by Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Rurouni Kenshin Volume 1 - VIZ Big Edition. © 1994 Nobuhiro Watsuki / SHUEISHA, Inc.

Author/Artist: Nobuhiro Watsuki
Publisher: VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition)

Rurouni Kenshin is set in the early years of the Meiji Era, a time when Western culture and ideas were first widely introduced to Japanese society after years of isolation from the world. The story focuses on Himura Kenshin, a wandering swordsman who was once a deadly assassin. Now that he has turned away from that life, Kenshin is looking to make amends for the people he has killed by offering protection to anyone who asks for his assistance.

Also known as Samurai X, Rurouni Kenshin was also adapted as an anime series and as a feature-length movie.

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Black Jack

Black Jack Volume 1 by Osamu Tezuka, a medical manga graphic novel published by Vertical Inc.
Black Jack Volume 1. © Tezuka Productions

Author/Artist: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical
Compare prices for Black Jack Vol. 1

Black Jack is a skilled but unlicensed surgeon who is reknown for his talent with a scalpel. For reasons known only to him,  Black Jack heals the innocent and the wicked but charges a steep fee for his services. But as his patients find out, Black Jack plays by his own rules.

Robin Brenner: "This is a title that I fear slipped under the radar. Unlike other Tezuka titles that are only a few volumes long, Black Jack is a 13+ volumes series, which makes it harder for libraries to collect. It did make the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list in 2009, so it has some cache with librarians, but it's not an automatic purchase like Naruto or Bleach."

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Case Closed

Case Closed Vol. 1
Case Closed Vol. 1. MEITANTEI CONAN © Gosho AOYAMA/Shogakukan Inc.

Author/Artist: Gosho Aoyama
Publisher: Shonen Sunday / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Case Closed Vol. 1

17-year old Jimmy Kudo is a brilliant sleuth who has solved crimes that have stumped pros twice his age. Jimmy's detective work has earned him some enemies, including one who goes as far as to poison him.  But due to a freak side effect, he's turned into a 7-year old boy with all of his grown-up memories and deductive skills intact.

Case Closed a.k.a. Detective Conan is hugely popular with kids and teens in Japan. However, due to some grisly death scenes in its pages (it is a murder mystery series after all), it's an OT-Older Teen rated title in the U.S., which is a shame since tweens and younger teens would love this too.

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Fushigi Yugi

Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play Volume 1 by Yuu Watase from VIZ Big / VIZ Media
Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play VIZ Big Volume 1. © Yuu WATASE / Shogakukan Inc.

Author/Artist: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Fushigi Yugi Vol. 1 (VIZ Big Edition)

Best friends Miaka and Yui find a mysterious book in the library. When they flip through its pages, they are sucked into the fantasy world of The Universe of the Four Gods. Through a twist of cruel fate, Miaka and Yui are both chosen to be priestesses of rival clans of celestial warriors, each competing to fulfill a quest that will give them three wishes.

Robin Brenner: "When this series first came out, it was super popular. I remember many requests to purchase it. While it's still popular, it's not ragingly popular. However, with those shiny new VIZ Big editions, it's a good time to invest in this classic."

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Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no Go Vol. 1
Hikaru no Go Vol. 1. HIKARU-NO GO © 1998 by Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.

Author: Yumi Hotta
Artist: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Hikaru no Go Vol. 1

When Hikaru finds an old Go board at his grandfather's house, he's intrigued enough to learn to play the game. But to his surprise, the board is haunted by Fujiwara-no-Sai, a Japanese nobleman and legendary Go player from the Heian era. With Sai by his side, Hikaru learns how to play Go and comes to love it enough to want to play in the pro leagues someday.

Readers learn about the rules, strategy and gameplay of Go through Hikaru's experiences. In Japan, Hikaru no Go inspired a new generation of kids to take up the game, and on a smaller scale, it's had the same effect on U.S. readers.

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Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell. © Masamune Shirow / KODANSHA

Author/Artist: Masamune Shirow
Publisher: Kodansha America
Compare prices for Ghost in the Shell Vol. 1

In the 21st century of Ghost in the Shell, machines are an integral part of everyday life, to the point where cybernetic components enhance the abilities of humans to create a new breed of superhuman beings. But where there are machines, there are hackers; including one who seeks to take control of the man/machine interface.

A classic of manga/anime sci-fi, Ghost in the Shell was recently re-released in a large-format omnibus edition by Kodansha, which has made it easier than ever to add this grown-up graphic novel to library collections once more.

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Alice 19th

Alice 19th Vol. 1
Alice 19th Vol. 1. © Yuu Watase

Author/Artist: Yuu Watase
Publisher: VIZ Media
Compare prices for Alice 19th Vol. 1

Alice Seno is a quiet and shy 15-year old girl who has lived in the shadow of her confident and accomplished older sister Mayura. One day, while walking to school, Alice rescues a white rabbit from harm, and finds out from the rabbit that she is destined to become a Lotis Master, one who can enter the hearts of others through the power of words. Like her namesake, Alice find herself going down a proverbial rabbit hole of fantasy, mystery and danger.

Alice 19th is by Yuu Watase, the creator of Fushigi Yugi. Watase's books have a great mix of humor, fantasy, action and heart-rending drama that has earned her the love of fans all over the world.

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Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa from VIZ Media
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Volume 1. © Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts. With the cooperation of Takashi NAGASAKI

Author/Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Signature/ VIZ Media
Compare prices for Monster Vol. 1

Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant Japanese neurosurgeon based in Düsseldorf, Germany has the skills to save lives. His life turns upside down on the day he finds out that a boy he operated on nine years ago has grown up to be a murderer.

The anime adaption of Monster was featured on the SyFy channel. This 18-volume manga series also earned numerous Eisner Award nominations, and is well worth recommending to readers who appreciate smart, multi-layered suspense stories.

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Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth Omnibus by CLAMP, published by Dark Horse Manga
Magic Knight Rayearth. © CLAMP

Author/Artist: CLAMP
Publisher: Dark Horse
Compare prices for Magic Knight Rayearth Vol. 1

Hikaru, Umi and Fuu are teens who meet while on a class trip to Tokyo Tower. The girls witness a blinding flash of light, and are summoned to the magical world of Cephiro. A sorcerer explains to them that they must help rescue the Princess Emeraude, the one person who maintains the magical reality of Cephiro. The girls are bestowed with powers of fire, air and water and embark on their quest. But all is not as it seems.

Magic Knight Rayearth was one of the first shojo manga series to hit big with U.S. readers. Now that Dark Horse is re-releasing this series in omnibus editions, a new generation of readers can discover it for themselves.

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Blade of the Immortal

Blade of the Immortal Vol. 1
Blade of the Immortal Vol. 1. © Hiroaki Samura

Author/Artist: Hiroaki Samura
Publisher: Dark Horse
Compare prices for Blade of the Immortal Vol. 1

Manji is a samurai who lives with an unusual blessing and a curse: he cannot be killed or wounded in a swordfight. Thanks to an encounter with an 800-year old nun, Manji is kept alive by mystical creatures who can heal his every wound and even reattach his severed limbs. So to make amends for killing over 100 men, Manji vows to use his abilities and make amends by killing 1,000 evil men.

This long-running samurai action series has a lot to offer to older teens and grown-up readers: dramatic action scenes, moving historical drama and Samura's beautifully rendered artwork.

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Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno, published by Last Gasp / Futabasha
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. © Fumiyo Kouno / Futabasha

Author/Artist: Fumiyo Kouno
Publisher: Last Gasp
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Separated by a generation, two young women reflect on the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima. Minami is a seamstress who lives in Hiroshima's post-war slums. It's ten years after the bomb, but she's haunted by what she's lost and what she thinks she can never have: true love and happiness. Nanami is Minami's niece. Her modern middle-class life is far removed from Minami's post-war poverty, but Nanami tries to understand lingering prejudices against bomb survivors, even generations after the war.

Last Gasp re-released this award-winning graphic novel in hardcover making it a must-have for libaries.

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Sugar Sugar Rune

Sugar Sugar Rune Volume 1 by Moyoco Anno, published by Del Rey Manga / Kodansha
Sugar Sugar Rune Volume 1. © Moyoco Anno / Kodansha

Author/Artist: Moyoco Anno
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
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Chocolat Meilleure and Vanilla Mieux are two little girl witches. Chocolat and Vanilla are best friends, but things get complicated when they are chosen to compete against each other to become the next Queen of the Magical World. The competition is simple: each girl must win the hearts of human boys; the girl who collects the most hearts will win the title. But as each girl learns, love is complicated, and it's even more complicated when your friend is your rival.

Sugar Sugar Rune is a fun and engaging magical girl story for tweens that is more about friendship than solely being a story about young love.

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20th Century Boys

20th Century Boys Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa, a seinen manga series from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
20th Century Boys Volume 1. © 2000 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts; With the cooperation of Takashi NAGASAKI. All rights reserved.

Author/Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
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Kenji is a rock musician whose dreams of stardom have faded away as he's settled into a mundane life as a convenience store manager. But when a childhood friend dies under mysterious circumstances, Kenji suspects that a strange cult is behind it all.

Robin Brenner: "It is, to me, a great crime that this series isn't owned in more libraries. Urasawa is a creator whose work should be automatically collected. I also think that libraries still have a lot of work to do in catching up with ordering adult-appeal titles, and 20th Century Boys is a casualty of that problem. Go forth and clamor for this title!"

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Moyasimon Volume 1 by Ishikawa Masayuki, published by Del Rey Manga
Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture Volume 1. © Ishikawa Masayuki / KODANSHA

Author/Artist: Masayuki Ishikawa
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
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Tadayasu Sawaki has an unusual ability: he can see microscopic bacteria as cute little airborne critters that can talk to him. While it's a quirky talent that he'd rather hide, seeing bacteria comes in handy as Tadayasu enrolls at an agricultural college. There, he meets a professor who is fascinated by fermentation and classmates who are into brewing sake.

Robin Brenner: "This one is another potential sleeper hit — it's oddball enough to put off anyone who's not quite yet used to the wacky world of manga imagination, but it's also traditional enough to engage once you get into the floating, adorable bacteria."

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Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1 by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki, published by VIZ Signature Manga
Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1. OISHINBO A LA CARTE © Tetsu KARIYA, Akira HANASAKI / Shogakukan Inc.

Author: Tetsu Kariya
Artist: Akira Hanasaki
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare Prices for Oishinbo Vol. 1: Japanese Cuisine

Dueling father and son gourmets Yuizan Kaibara and Shiro Yamaoka challenge each other's cooking skills and peerless palates as they trade insults (and culinary tidbits) about some of Japan's most popular dishes.

Robin Brenner: "This is a series that needs a lot of help! It appeals to a lot of readers, and could branch out to foodies and cookbook aficionados. This seven-volume series is great fun for anyone interested in Japanese cuisine, and it could do a lot to defy expectations about what manga is for many new readers. So YES, ask for this! It's only seven volumes, we can afford it!"

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Astro Boy

Astro Boy Volumes 1 and 2 (omnibus edition) by Osamu Tezuka, published by Dark Horse
Astro Boy Volumes 1 & 2. © Tezuka Productions

Author/Artist: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Dark Horse
Compare prices for Astro Boy Vol. 1 & 2

When Dr. Tenma loses his only son Tobio to a traffic accident, he vows to bring him back to life as an atomic-powered robot. While Tenma eventually rejects his robot creation as his son, Atom goes on to use his super-strength become a hero to the world.

Astro Boy is one of Osamu Tezuka's most famous and beloved characters. While these stories are over 50 years old, many of them have been adapted as animated films and reinterpreted for new generations. While it's not the latest manga sensation, Astro Boy is an important part of manga history that deserves a spot in every library.

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Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Volume 1 by Koji Kumeta from Del Rey Manga
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Volume 1. © Koji Kumeta, KODANSHA Ltd.

Author/Artist: Koji Kumeta
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Compare prices for Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei Vol. 1

Nozomu Itoshiki is an emo educator who is constantly in despair. When his latest attempt to commit suicide is thwarted by his exceptionally cheerful student Kafuka, Itoshiki discovers that his class is filled with girls who are even more neurotic than he is.

Robin Brenner: "This is one that needs help if folks want to see it in their library. It's a tough sell to a casual reader who's not 1) already into manga, and 2) willing to engage with the in-jokes that make it funny. I purchased it for my library, but it's not a crazy circulator, so I'll likely get other more popular titles before I keep going with this one."

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Kimi ni Todoke

Kimi Ni Todoke Volume 1 by Karuho Shiina from Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
Kimi Ni Todoke Volume 1. © 2005 Karuho Shiina / SHUEISHA Inc.

Author/Artist: Karuho Shiina
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
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Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine... for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the ghost girl from The Ring. But Sawako isn't scary — she's just shy. So when one of the most popular boys in school befriends her, can this change how people see her?

Robin Brenner: "Of all the shojo series out there, this one is likely being lost in the shuffle of more recognizable names. I hate to say it but Japanese titles sometimes befuddles folks. Even if it is recommended verbally, it's harder to spell, so it gets confusing for librarians to track down a title."

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Twin Spica

Twin Spica Volume 1 by Kou Yaginuma, from Vertical
Twin Spica Volume 1. © Kou Yaginuma / MEDIA FACTORY

Author/Artist: Kou Yaginuma
Publisher: VIZ Signature / Vertical
Compare prices for Twin Spica Vol. 1

At age 13, Asumi is an aspiring astronaut who has just won a spot at an exclusive space academy. But passing the written exam is only the first of many trials ahead of her. Asumi is not only small for her age, but she also must win the trust of her competitive classmates, and overcome her own fears, borne from a tragic event from her childhood.

Robin Brenner: "This is a relatively new title, so the fact that several libraries already have it in its collections is decent. Still, recommendations will always help boost this number."

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Genshiken Volume 1 by Kio Shimoku from Del Rey Manga
Genshiken Volume 1. © 20002 Kio Shimoku / KODANSHA LTD. All rights reserved.

Author/Artist: Kio Shimoku
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Compare prices for Genshiken Vol. 1

When college freshman Kanji Sasahara decides to join "The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture" (a.k.a. Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyūkai or Genshiken for short), he finds himself immersed in the strange and wondeful world of otaku culture, or the superfans who are obsessed with manga, anime, video games, toys and cosplay.

In the pages of Genshiken, readers are taken on an insider's tour of modern otaku culture. From the world's most intense fan-run comics festival Comiket (called "Comicfest" here) to the streets of Akihabara and beyond, Kio Shimoku gives readers a hilarious look inside the lives of some quirky but loveable otaku.

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Kekkaishi Volume 1 by Yellow Tanabe, a shonen manga series published by VIZ Media
Kekkaishi Volume 1. © Yellow TANABE / Shogakukan Inc.

Author/Artist: Yellow Tanabe
Publisher: Shonen Sunday / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Kekkaishi Vol. 1

By day, Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura are childhood friends, neighbors and classmates. But by night, they're kekkaishi or barrier masters, who must fight against supernatural creatures who are attracted to their school, which just happens to be built above a sacred site that makes demons more powerful.

Kekkaishi offers something a bit different than most shonen manga: funny and likeable characters who interact with each other in interesting ways, other than just endless fights against ever-more-powerful opponents. The Kekkaishi anime series is now airing on Cartoon Network, which only adds to its appeal with readers.

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Kitchen Princess

Kitchen Princess Volume 1 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi from Del Rey Manga
Kitchen Princess Volume 1. © Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi / KODANSHA LTD. All rights reserved.

Author: Miyuki Kobayashi
Artist: Natsumi Ando
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Compare prices for Kitchen Princess Vol. 1

Najika is an orphan who loves to cook. When she leaves her home in rural Hokkaido to attend the exclusive Seika Academy, she has but one thing on her mind: she wants to find the "Flan Prince" of her childhood, a boy who cheered her up by giving her a cup of custard flan. Najika finds that her "prince" is one of her classmates — but can she find the right recipe to win his heart?

Kitchen Princess is a sweet and satisfying shojo manga story filled with fantasy, romance, drama and tasty recipes that even beginners can try to create culinary magic in their kitchen.

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Flower of Life

Flower of Life Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga, published by DMP
Flower of Life Volume 1. © Fumi Yoshinaga / SHINSHOKAN 2004

Author/Artist: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Compare prices for Flower of Life Vol. 1

Harutaro Hanazono is a happy-go-lucky high school student who's the new kid in class. He missed a year of school due to a bout with leukemia, but he's too upbeat to dwell on the past. As he settles in, he finds that his class is full of interesting characters, including an aspiring comics creator, a super otaku and his "kind of gay" homeroom teacher.

Robin Brenner: "I'll never quite understand why this Yoshinaga series is not collected by more libraries, although the long gap between Volume 3 and Volume 4 may have to do with why Volume 4 is not nearly as represented, even in libraries that have volume 3."

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A Distant Neighborhood

Author/Artist: Jiro Taniguchi
Publisher: Fanfare-Ponent Mon
Compare prices for A Distant Neighborhood Vol. 1

Middle-aged salaryman Hiroshi Nakahara accidentally takes a train ride back to his old hometown to visit his mother’s grave. Then for reasons he can’t explain, Hiroshi is transported back in time, and discovers that he’s an 8th grader again, but with all of his adult memories intact. Can he, or should he try to change the decisions he made before? But more importantly, can he find his way back to the present day, or is he stuck in the past?

This Eisner Award-nominated story is complete in two volumes, so its easy to collect. It's also a satisfying mid-life crisis manga for older teens and grown-ups alike.