Author/Artist: Hiromu Arakawa
Publisher: VIZ Media
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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.
Author/Artist: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
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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.
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?
Author/Artist: Matsuri Hino
Publisher: Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
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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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”