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Arts & Culture

Shonen Recommendations for Young Readers

Although one of the easiest places to find shonen manga is in Shonen Jump magazine, only some of the stories being serialized are great for middle schoolers. One of the best of them is Hikaru no Go , written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Eisner nominee Takeshi Obata. Published by VIZ, it's the story of Hikaru, who finds an ancient Go board that is haunted by the spirit of Sai, a Go master whose greatest wish is to play the "Divine Move." Under Sai's tutelage, Hikaru learns to play the game, eventually becoming skilled enough to turn pro. Although the premise sounds dry (a comic about a board game?), there is plenty of drama and the Go tournaments are particularly tense as Hikaru moves closer and closer to challenging Akira, a boy Hikaru's age who is already a professional Go player.

Also published by VIZ is Kekkaishi , by Yellow Tanabe. Although rated T, this series starts out as a light and funny adventure series about fourteen-year-old Yoshimori, a boy who is not terribly keen on the idea of being the next kekkaishi, or barrier master, in charge of protecting the burial site of a feudal lord and his mysterious invincible power. Working alongside his next door neighbor and nemesis, Tokine, Yoshimore must gain enough strength to defeat the demon organization that is trying to capture the mysterious power buried at the site. As any good quest story does, the series gets darker as it progresses, and the story line becomes more complicated. But with only mild language and minimal fan service, it remains a great transitional story for tweens who are ready to move on to more sophisticated material.

Other shonen titles to look for:
Beet the Vandel Buster , by Riku Sanjo and Koji Inada (VIZ)
Gon , by Masashi Tanaka (CMX)
Harlem Beat , by Yuriko Nishiyama (Tokyopop) - this one is out of print, so visit your local library!
Kingdom Hearts , by Shiro Amano (Tokyopop)
Prince of Tennis , by Takeshi Konomi (VIZ)