A Guide to the "M - Mature Age 18+" Content Rating in Manga Comics

Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe, published by Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
© Rei Hiroe

Manga is an increasingly more popular style of comic book. Manga is a style of comic book primarily written and drawn in Japan. Just like western comics, there are all types of manga. Readers can find all kinds of stories told in the pages of many great manga titles. There are manga's for every age group as well which means that not every manga is child appropriate. Some manga titles can be known for their racy storylines and explicit images. There are many manga titles that are not suitable for younger children but how can a parent tell which is which? Thankfully there is a rating system in place which can help parents determine when their children are ready for certain titles. Parents should do their own research and not rely solely on ratings to decide what reading material is appropriate for their child.      

M Rating

Equivalent to an "NC-17" movie rating, the "M – Mature, Age 18+" rating means that you can expect to see adult themes, strong language, intense violence and/or explicit sexuality in the story and artwork. These themes are common in many manga titles. Sexual norms in Japanese media can differ from those many Westerners are used to. Parents should keep that in mind when deciding what titles are good for their child. Most publishers will shrink-wrap "M"-rated graphic novels and include a content advisory label prominently on its cover. However, parents shouldn't rely solely on the cover to alert them to the content of mangas. As the saying goes you should judge a book, or a manga, by its cover. 

M Rating and Teens

It's common for teenagers to push boundaries and seek out media with content that's too advanced for them. As parents well know just because a teen wants to read or watch something doesn't mean it's a good idea. It's normal for parents to want to ensure that the media their children consume won't have any negative effects on them.

While it's probably safe to say that teens should wait until they're out of high school before picking up an M rated manga it's up to every parent to decide what their teen is ready for. Every child matures at a different pace. Where some teens may be ready for the mature content of an m rated manga at seventeen other's may want to leave that title on the shelves for a few more years. Parents should also remember that each Manga is different and they should review each one before deciding on whether it's appropriate for their teen. 

Examples of M Rated Manga

Examples of manga for Mature – Age 18+ readers include:

  • Tenjo Tenghe by Oh Great! (VIZ Media)
  • Gantz by Hiroya Oku (Dark Horse)
  • High School of the Dead by Daisuke Sato and Shouji Sato (Yen Press)