Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Arakawa, Horomu. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1. VIZ Media LLC. 2005 (first published Jan. 22, 2002). ISBN 1591169208

Reader’s Annotation: Two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, turned to alchemy to try and bring their mother back to life.  Instead, Edward lost his arm and leg and Alphonse lost his body and now must work with the government using his alchemist powers.

Plot Summary: In an effort to bring their mother back to life Edward and Alphonse dabbled in alchemy and Alphonse lost his body and is now encased in a suit of armor and Edward lost his arm and leg.  Edward is now a state alchemist, an agent of the military, and along his search for the Philosopher’s Stone he uses his powers against the corrupt.

Critical Evaluation

This volume follows the brothers on their search for the Philosopher’s Stone and actually contains three different adventures in which Edward and Alphonse end up saving the public from corrupt officials, scam artists and other bad guys.  While not quite as interesting for my tastes as InuYasha I can still see why this series is such a hit.  Alphonse seems to be such a sweet guy who has lost so much (his actual body) that you can’t help but feel for him.  Even though he is the younger brother he comes across as the more mature of the two.  Edward’s character took a little examination to figure out if I liked him or not.  In the first story it seems like he only helps expose a fraud for his own personal reasons. Another adventure in which he rescues the good guys seems to be because they insult his stature and he is reacting to their insults.  It was the mining town adventure that showed that he really does have a good heart when he helps a group of miners deal with a corrupt official.

There are still many questions about what exactly a state alchemist is supposed to be doing, Edward and Alphonse’s past and what exactly the Philosopher’s Stone can do but it definitely seems to be setting up to an interesting series.

About the author

Arakawa is a manga artist from Hokkaido, Japan and her Fullmetal Alchemist is the series she is most well known for.  It was an international hit and became an animated TV series as well.

In 2011 she began work on a new series, Silver Spoon, and it won the 5th Manga Taisho Award for Silver Spoon.

Genre

Manga

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Book talking idea

How would you like the power to transmute an item into some other sort of item? What would you do with this kind of power?

Reading level

Grade 9 and up

Challenge Issues

Violence.

I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights.

While there is killing, not much blood and gore is shown and most teens will see worse things on TV or at the movie theaters.

Why did I include this book?

This has been mentioned as a very popular manga series.

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InuYasha: Turning Back Time Vol. 1 by Rumiko Takahashi

Inuyasha Vol. 1

Takahashi, Rumiko. Inuyasha Vol. 1. VIZ Media LLC. 2003 (first published May 18, 1997). ISBN 1569319472

Reader’s Annotation: Modern day school girl, Kagome, and a half demon must join forces to recover the Jewel of Four Souls before a host of other demons can use it to destroy all of mankind.

Plot summary: Kagome, a modern day school girl, falls through an ancient well and finds herself back in feudal Japan.  It turns out she is the reincarnation of a woman who defeated the half demon Inuyasha.  When a host of demons try to steal the Jewel of Four Souls for their own nefarious purposes Kagome and Inuyasha must join forces to recover the shards that the Jewel has broken into.

Critical Evaluation

I can see why this series has been so popular to the point where the entire series was published again for the American market and it also spawned a tv series.  Kagome’s character could be irritating at times for being so naive and clueless and yet she shows amazing strength when she realizes the danger the world is in from these demons who want to possess the Jewel of Four Souls.  Inuyasha has enough snark mixed with a hint of inner goodness that makes the reader think he won’t turn out to be too bad of a character.

The action is almost nonstop and will keep the readers interested as the story moves from one battle to another.  During the moments between the fight scenes the arguing and snarkiness between Inuyasha and Kagome will keep the readers laughing.

About the author

Rumiko Takahashi’s works are popular world wide and Inuyasha, Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku as well as another popular series Ranma 1/2 were all translated and published in the United States.

Takahashi has won the Shogakukan Manga Award twice.  Once for Urusei Yatsura and again for InuYasha.

Genre

Manga

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Book talking idea

Talk about how would you like to go from an average school girl or boy and find out you are the reincarnation of a powerful being from feudal times who stopped a half-demon.

Reading level

Grade 9 and up

Challenge Issues

Violence, one instance of female nudity.

I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights.

If needed I would add a parental warning that there may be some cases of nudity throughout the series and there are instances of violence but it is up to the parents to filter their children’s reading if they choose to and it’s not the library’s duty.

Why did I include this book?

I was researching into which were the most popular manga series and this one came up several times and I also know it was made into a TV series.

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American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Yang, Gene Luen.  American Born Chinese. First Second.  2006. ISBN 1596431520

Reader’s Annotation: Three separate stories about a Chinese-American student, the Monkey King and Chin-Kee, Danny’s embarrassing cousin from China who visits annually all come together in the end unexpectedly.

Plot Summary: At first the three story lines seem so separate.  The first follows Jin Wang who moves to a town where he is the only Chinese-American student in his class and has to deal with the stereotypes and bullying from his fellow students.  The second story is about the legendary Monkey King who is snubbed because he is a monkey and his efforts to show his superiority to everyone else. The third story follows Danny who has to endure the annual visit of his cousin Chin-Kee who embodies every negative Chinese stereotype possible.

Critical Evaluation

This was an amusing read though be forewarned that there are several moments where you will cringe at the horrible stereotypes portrayed.  The stories do move along quickly and I did thoroughly enjoy it.  As the three stories come together in a surprising way the moral is that you should be comfortable with who you are despite what others may say.  When you start trying to change yourself to fit in that is when things start going wrong and it is hard to find true happiness.

I would have liked to see a little bit more of the Monkey King’s story.  His turn of heart seemed to come very suddenly and I wanted to see what happened after he became a disciple.  His part in the story seemed a little random to me but still I am glad that I read this book.

About the author

Gene Yang has won multiple awards for his graphic novels and comics. His father emigrated from Taiwan and his mother from Hong Kong and strongly instilled a sense of their Asian culture in him.  He started off as a computer engineer but in 1996 he began to self-publish his own comics.

Yang published American Born Chinese in 2006 which became the first graphic novel to be chosen as a finalist for the National Book Award and was also the first graphic novel to win the Michael L. Printz Award in 2007.

Genre

Graphic Novel

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Book talking idea

Embrace who you are and your differences.

Monkey King’s journey to impress those around him.

Reading level

Ages 12 and up.

Challenge Issues

Ethnic stereotypes, mild sexual references

I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights.  This book has received several highly rated reviews from notable sources such as School Library Journal and Booklist so I would have those reviews on hand.

Why did I include this book?

After hearing about it during the genre presentations it piqued my curiosity so I had to check it out and thought it would be a great addition.

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Vampire Academy A Graphic Novel

Vampire Academy A Graphic Novel

Based on The #1 International Bestselling series by Richelle Mead. Adapted by Leigh Dragoon. Illustrated by Emma Vieceli.  The Book of Blood and Shadow. Razorbill 2011. ISBN 1595144293

Reader’s Annotation: Lissa, a Moroi (vampire) princess and Rose, a dhampir (half human/half Moroi) are best friends and Rose just happens to also be Lissa’s personal body-guard. Can she protect Lissa from the evil Strigoi who want to destroy Lissa?

Plot Summary: Based off of Mead’s bestselling vampire series this graphic novels follows Lissa and Rose’s return to St. Vladimir’s Academy after being on the run for two years.  Most do not know that in addition to the traditional Moroi abilities Lissa also has the ability to heal others and this makes her a valuable asset to many including those her want her for their own purposes.  Can Rose keep Lissa safe when she is facing her own struggles being back at the academy?

Critical Evaluation

The graphic novel version of Vampire Academy was well done.  Each of the characters personalities were well portrayed and the story line followed the original very nicely.  Considering the length of the original book and the length of the graphic novel Dragoon did a great job pulling out the relevant scenes and adding the detail needed to help carry the reader through the story with little confusion.  The only part of the story line that I felt suffered were the romantic interests as it was harder to see how the relationships were growing.  Readers who have not read the original book will still enjoy this adaptation and be eager to read the sequel.

About the author

Richelle Mead is the author of urban fantasy books for both adults and young adults.  Her young adult series, Vampire Academy, is a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 30 languages.  She has also begun a spin off series called Bloodlines that follows some of the Vampire Academy crew out on their own adventures.

Mead keeps busy with her multitude of series, her baby and a busy touring schedule.  She is also quote active in various social media outlets.  If you follow her blog or follow her on Twitter you will hear many amusing anecdotes about her neighbors who she believes are ex-KGB spies.

Genre

Paranormal

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

The relationship between the Moroi and dhampirs. Is it fair? Are there any real life similarities?

Reading level

Grades 9 and up.

Challenge Issues

The story is about vampires and does feature some of the characters having sex.  I would point out that the story is geared towards older teens and nothing graphic is shown other than the hint of a naked bosom.

Why did I include this book?

The Vampire Academy series is one of my favorites and judging by its sales and the audience Mead draws on her tours it’s apparent she is popular with teens as well.  I was curious to find out how well the graphic novel stuck to the original story and if it could be carried out in this format.  Graphic novels based off of regular books seems to be quite popular.

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