Review: The Seven Deadly Sins

Review: The Seven Deadly Sins

Title: Seven Deadly Sins / Nanatsu no Tazai七つの大罪

Mangaka: Nakaba Suzuki 鈴木央

US Publisher: Kodansha USA

Status: Ongoing (chapters released on Crunchyroll)

Level: High School

Reader’s Advisory Tags: action, adventure, fantasy

Anime: Available through Netflix

Content Warnings: Some sexual humor, including the groping of an unconscious girl. This happens within the first chapter of the manga and happens CONSTANTLY. Also, general violence.

The Seven Deadly Sins is one of the most popular currently running manga (although it is nearing completion). Essentially, The Seven Deadly Sins is about a princess rallying a group of evil knights to help her take back her kingdom. It has a sort of parody element, often making fun of fantasy tropes. It’s well-plotted and there’s a lot of action. The characters are mostly interesting concepts, although the princess herself is a fairly stock character.

I have to be forthright and say, though, that I’m not a fan of The Seven Deadly Sins. Ultimately, it’s fine, and I wouldn’t mind making it available to students. It’s a typical weekly shōnen, with battles and humor. Except for one issue.

It also has a protagonist, Meliodas, who constantly sexually assaults and harasses another protagonist, Princess Elizabeth.

Kodansha USA

And it really is constant. I know a lot of people have this on their shelves, but I’ve been putting off buying it for this reason. It’s sold millions of copies, but in my personal opinion, there’s better manga out there. Also, the manga is easily accessed via Crunchyroll. I might get the first volume at some point, but we’re building our initial collection at the moment, and I have higher quality manga that I want to add and that students have requested. I would probably need a student to ask for it by name before I would buy it. Or maybe if I got it for free? This is one that I struggle with, because I’m pretty grossed out by the groping. It’s why I’ve never given it my personal attention.

So, should you buy it? Well, it’s up to you. If you’re getting constant requests, maybe. I’d suggest appending a disclaimer if you do add it to your collection. I do want you to know that there are so many other series out there which you may want to prioritize. If students are requesting the title, they are probably watching the anime, which has the same content. Ask them what draws them to it, and if you share my quibbles, let them know what’s making you hesitate.

Because I myself struggle with this title, I recommend this review of the series from someone who had the same issues as I did, but also found more to enjoy.

Next time, I’m going to review a shōjo title to honestly give myself a break from these shōnen titles! It’s one of my all-time favorites, Ouran High School Host Club.

Review: My Hero Academia

Review: My Hero Academia

Title: My Hero Academia / Boku no Hīrō Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア

Mangaka: Kōhei Horikoshi 堀越 耕平

First Volume ISBN: 9781421582696

US Publisher: Viz Media

Status: In Progress (Published weekly in Shonen Jump)

Level: All Ages! (Although some violence might be a bit much for younger elementary students).

Reader’s Advisory Tags: action, adventure, superheroes, school

Anime: Available through Funimation 

Content Warnings: Surprisingly, I haven’t been able to identify any besides a general advisory about violence!

My Hero Academia has surprised me. I haven’t read it until now because I’m generally not a fan of shonen, which I’ve talked about before. But there are a lot of positives in this Japanese take on a world of superheroes.

First off, some background on My Hero Academia. The story takes place in a world where almost everyone has “quirks” or superpowers. Izuku Midoriya, though, has no superpowers to speak of. He desperately wants to attend U.A. High School, a school for training new heroes. Izuku (later nicknamed “Deku”), though he has no quirk, has a selfless desire to help people. When All Might, the greatest hero of all, sees Deku running in to rescue another person despite his lack of powers, he decides to train him. He reveals that he can pass on his quirk to Deku. What follows is Deku’s journey to become a hero at U.A. High School.

What struck me about My Hero Academia was the focus on Deku’s desire to help others as his greatest strength. I also was struck by the treatment of Ochako. Female protagonists in shonen have a tendency to be reduced to love interests or sex objects, but Ochako is a fully fleshed out character with complex emotions and an interesting superpower. Later in the series, we see her and the other female heroes on an equal playing field with male heroes.

The superpowers are also wacky and interesting, which adds humor without having to resort to crudity or salaciousness. One character’s superpower is shooting a laser from his belly button. The costumes the students wear is equivalent to those of Marvel or DC. This is purposeful, as the world of the manga is seen as our world should people suddenly acquire powers, where costumes are designed to resemble those of popular comics.

At the moment, I haven’t read too much of My Hero Academia, but I wouldn’t be mad about reading more. I also think it’s a great addition to a school library. This is a title you can feel comfortable with buying. It has a strong moral code, good treatment of female characters, and an interesting premise. I was really heartened to read this and know that it had more to it than I expected to find.

Review: Naruto

Review: Naruto

Title:  Narutoナルト

Mangaka: Masashi Kishimoto 岸本 斉史

First Volume ISBN: 9781421539898

US Publisher: Viz Media

Status: Complete

Level: Middle and High School

Reader’s Advisory Tags: action, adventure, ninjas, school

Anime: Available through Crunchyroll 

Content Warnings: Some crude humor.

Naruto is probably a familiar title to any school librarian. It provokes a lot of questions: What is it? Why do kids like it? Why would a ninja wear orange? Are those headbands uncomfortable?

So, Naruto is a manga that ran for fifteen years in Shonen Jump about a young ninja named Uzumaki Naruto. Naruto’s driving ambition is to be the best possible ninja, while also dealing with the fact that he has a fox demon sealed inside of him. Naruto is teamed up with two other ninja students, Sakura and Sasuke and assigned to a sensei (teacher) Kakashi. The 72 volume manga follows the team as they juggle various trials and tribulations.

Kids like it because of the constant action and the various themes. Shōnen manga such as Naruto has a breakneck pace, and cliffhangers are par for the course. The stakes are constantly raised as the series progresses, as personal struggles and issues come to a head. Masculine identifying students really enjoy Naruto’s crass humor and straightforward attitude. He wants to be the best, lead his people, and master the tempestuous beast within him. It’s the perfect allegory for being a teenager.

I don’t know why a ninja would wear orange. I’ve read three volumes of this manga, and none of them explain it.

And the headbands, in my experience trying one on years ago, are very uncomfortable.

So, a few things about Naruto. The first is this: I really don’t care for it, personally. In complete honesty, most shōnen battle manga has never been something I liked. I’ve tried multiple times over the years to read or watch this story, and I just can’t get into it. Part of it is that the first female character you encounter, Sakura, spends much of the early part of the story being defined by her attraction to Sasuke.

From my understanding, Sakura does become more complex over the course of the series, but it’s always been a bit of a turn off for me. So much of her character has been entrenched in her romantic prospects. She even eschews her closest friend because they are love rivals for Sasuke, which I find completely ridiculous.

I have to say this manga is appropriate for middle and high school. It’s a popular title, and has themes that students relate to and can talk about. There’s nothing sexually explicit or inappropriate in the first view volumes. There are crude jokes and toilet humor, which is why I would hesitate to make it available in elementary schools. I have the 3-in-1 volume in my collection, and I will say that the paper quality is very low in that edition, and I will probably need to replace it within a year with the regular single editions. Whether you get the full collection is up to you. I personally am not sure that I need all 72 volumes, just because the popularity of Naruto is starting to wane a bit in favor of titles like Fairy Tail or My Hero Academia.

Speaking of My Hero Academia, I’m going to be tackling it after I return from a trip to my hometown. I’m going in fairly blind, and I really hope it catches my interest a little more than Naruto.