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    Vili Maunula

    The following is moved from another thread, where Ugetsu asked:

    Ugetsu: Oh, and to change the subject completely – a question for all of you (especially Lawless) about anime and manga, etc….

    I have to buy a birthday present soon for my very precocious 12 year old nephew*. I have been buying him Studio Ghibli dvd’s for a couple of years now, and he loves them (and always bombards me with questions about Japanese mythology when I visit as a result). He’s an especially big fan of Princess Mononoke (as I am too). I think its time for him to go onto something a bit more hard core (in a manner of speaking) ­čÖä . Any suggestions?

    And while you are at it, there is also a birthday a few months away for his 16 year old sister (who prefers Spirited Away). Suggestions for her too would be welcome!

    *(example: When asked by someone what he wanted to be when he grew up, he answered ‘Nobel prize winning writer’. When asked why not the Nobel in Physics he said ‘my big brother already has that one sown up!’).

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    lawless

    I’m not sure what is meant by more hardcore – more violent? I haven’t seen anything more recent from Ghibli than Spirited Away. Going from anime to live action? If live action would do, I’d almost suggest Kurosawa, although the ones short enough to possibly appeal to a 12-year old might be too violent, or if his interests lie more in horror, perhaps a mild (if there are any) Japanese horror movie.

    When it comes to manga, there is a ton of it and a lot depends on his tastes. If he likes gothic, weird supernatural stuff, you might try Pet Shop of Horrors, where every purchase comes with a proviso that the new owners usually can’t live up to, with bad results. The art is beautiful and there is something of an overarching arc. The series comes in 10 volumes. There’s a sequel with 5 volumes so far in Japanese; it started coming out in English last year but I don’t know how many English volumes have been issued so far. The publishers try to keep up with the Japanese editions to minimize sales lost to scanlations (amateur translations using scanning technology). It is rated OT (16+), though, probably due to violence and the horror themes. It can be a rather dark read – my daughter has one volume (volume one, I think) and I found it depressing because most of the stories are sad. I read the last volume, though, and it isn’t as dark, so perhaps it gets lighter as it goes on.

    Another possibility along the same lines is the Earl Cain/Cain Saga/Godchild series. The Cain Saga is 4 or 5 books and Godchild, the sequel, is 8. The problem with this one, which is probably also rated OT, is that there is a heavy overlay of incest. The main character, Earl Cain, is the product of a relationship between his father and his father’s sister. It’s set in Victorian London, the artwork is stunning (although perhaps too elaborate for a boy – there’s lots of elaborate women’s outfits), and each chapter contains a mystery, usually a mystery involving poisons, about which Earl Cain is an expert. There is also a story arc having to do with Cain’s supposedly dead father (who is a total bastard), his almost equally evil half-brother, and the organization they are a part of. There’s also betrayal and other angst.

    If he’s more into action, try D. Greyman, whose main character is a cute 16-year old boy named Allan Walker who fights akusa (if I remember the name correctly), which are spirit-possessed bodies of dead loved ones who tempt you into infecting the world with more of their kind by trying to bring the dead person back to life. It’s been awhile since I read it so I don’t remember the details, but it’s both futuristic and backwards-looking (the outfits and settings are mostly from the past). It’s also got some humor so it’s not as dark as the others. I think it’s rated T (13 and up).

    Finally, if he doesn’t mind a puzzle that will wrack his brain, try any version of Death Note. There is an anime series (I don’t know how many discs, but probably no more than 4 or 5), two live-action movies covering the entire story, and a 12 volume manga from which it sprung. I’ve posted more about this elsewhere (short autobio, I think). There isi a supernatural element in that the source of the Death Notes (there are more than one travelling around) are shinigami, or death gods. The art is more like American comics than most manga. I believe this is rated OT (16+) as well, probably due to the dark theme and the nonstop serial murders that for the most part look like heart attacks. This is a series that keeps the adrenalin going as the reader wonders if Light, the perpetrator, is going to get caught or not and who on the investigating team will get found out and killed in the process.

    If his niece likes or doesn’t mind a film with a plot centered on unrequited love, I’d recommend Satoshi Kon’s anime Millennium Actress, which I’ve discussed elsewhere – I think in the Short Autobio thread.

    There are tons of shojo (girls) manga. I’ll try to come up with some, but there’s such a variety that just knowing she likes Spirited Away isn’t enough to nail anything other than possibly art style. Does she like contemporary stuff? Relationships? Supernatural? Gothic? (There’s at least one decent current series with cute guys and vampires. No, it’s nothing like Twilight.) Comedy? Romance? Mystery? Something heavier?

    How edgy/sexual can they be? There are manga which are generally rated OT (16+) that contain incest (Angel Sanctuary), rape (Hot Gimmick), sexual situations (too many to name) and child abuse (Loveless, which also includes violence and hints of pedophilia, although all actual pedophilia is set in the past – one main character’s sensei seduced him when he was twelve), for starters.

    Shojo also includes boy’s love, the milder version of yaoi, including my own beloved Gravitation (12 volumes, rated OT, but it’s clear, without being graphic, that the main characters have what we could charitably – or vulgarly – term buttsex; also includes past and present male rape, both integral to the plot) plus gender bending comedy such as Hana Kimi and Ouran High School Host Club.

    You could start her on Fruits Basket, which is a combination romance/angst/comedy/fantasy and supernatural manga with a school setting about a family under a curse (they transform into respective members of the Chinese zodiac, plus the outcast cat, when hugged by members of the opposite sex who are not themselves members of the Zodiac) that the main character, an optimistic, hard-working orphan named Tohru Honda gets to know, love, and want to rescue. There’s gender bending (a young woman who presents herself as a man, guys who dress like and look like women) but everyone is actually heterosexual despite the gender bending, there’s a lot of heart-warming wisdom about life, the characters are cute and/or pretty (although some of them are hard to distinguish from each other sometimes), and the story is well-plotted, although it gets rather angsty in the middle. It’s a long series, though; 22 of the 23 total volumes are available in English; the last one should be out soon. While I’m fonder of Gravitation, Fruits Basket is a better manga, and it might be a safer choice, as it is rated T (13+).

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    Ugetsu

    Thanks lawless, thats a fantastic list, thank you for going to so much trouble.

    By ‘hard core’, I simply meant a bit more challenging than the mainstream Japanese animation (not that I meant that as a slight on Studio Ghibli, I’m a big fan). He is pretty mature for his age, but I wouldn’t want to show him some of the more adult themed stuff, my sister would never forgive me as she would be answering endless questions about it for weeks after.

    I was a bit vague about both their ‘likes’ as to be honest, I’m not sure! Kids that age change so much over the course of a few months anyway.

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    Vili Maunula

    I’m far from being an expert in anime or manga, and maybe it is perhaps too obvious a suggestion, but have you considered Akira? It was huge at some point or another, and while the animation is not Ghibli level, I thought that it was quite ok.

    Continuing with perhaps obvious but nevertheless unmentioned suggestions, how about Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence? I think you can get them in a nice double feature pack with loads of extras these days. Although, to be honest, I never quite managed to figure out if there was a plot somewhere in there in the midst of all that pompous one-liner philosophising. ­čść But it’s an interesting pair of films, nevertheless, and perhaps something that a 12-year-old might like. I don’t know.

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    Jeremy

    I dont really care for anime or manga, but I really liked Full Metal Alchemist.

    The main characters fit within your cousin age group, and the story is rather well done, and should be easy for him to relate to.

    It too has a wider mixture of various stylizing in anime, while being solid throughout.

    Also the Samurai 7 isnt all too bad if you give a chance, and actually does a decent job of following the movie, although can drag a bit when it leaves the movie’s story line. The only problem is it references a lot of old Japanese fables, and uses some out dated words(especially honorifics and statements of peasant worth to the elites) and , that are poorly translated to English subtitles and dubbing. Often just ignored leaving some episodes confusing. I had to find a Japanese fan site to explain a few things, however such a thing doesn’t kill the series.

    My absolute favorite anime is Furi Kuri, but it doesn’t exactly have a real story line and most of the entertainment value can be lost if your not on par with both American and Japanese pop culture, and the clashes between them in Japan. It however is only 6 episodes long, but does more in those 6 then most other series.

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