Manga Classics Highlight: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer

Related imageGenre: Classic American Literature/Adventure/ Manga

Rating: 4/5

Book description (Goodreads): Chafed by the “sivilized” restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father’s brutality, 14 year-old Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century. Their peaceful existence ends abruptly, however, with the appearance of the King and the Duke, an incorrigible pair of con artists who take over the raft. After many difficulties, Huck and Jim escape their tormentors, and with the help of an imaginative rescue by Huck’s old friend Tom Sawyer, Jim gains his freedom. Manga Classics breathes new life into this American Classic with a faithful adaptation of Mark Twain’s masterpiece.

I am a pretty big advocate for the Manga Classics editions of timeless literature because they are effective for teaching and learning on a number of levels. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an American Classic by Mark Twain, and the manga edition helps readers visualize what the complex language is trying to portray in this tale. The art is exquisite, and this edition has an excellent forward that introduces the novel and some of the adaptations from the original text to the manga version and how some language may have been moved around a bit, but the aim is to keep it as authentic as possible to the original book to keep it as a core text that can be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. This book also talks about the different southern dialects that some of the characters express sin their language, which helps when trying to read some of the dialogue and to put the words with a voice that belongs to the early American South. The explanation of the adaptation from text to manga is interesting as it goes to explain the aim to try and keep the book as a single volume to fit with the other Manga Classics. It also has a map to follow as a visual string of events in the story as Huck makes his way down the Mississippi River.

There was only one thing I did not like about this book and it honestly has nothing to do with the book itself. It has to do with its publication. The Manga Classics edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is scheduled AFTER the release of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was annoying because a reader can read Tom Sawyer first and then go into the events of Huckleberry Finn almost as a sequel, even though the two novels do not have to necessarily be read in that order. It just makes more sense to do it that way in that at the beginning of Huck Finn, he is talking about his fortune that he acquired, a fortune gained through the events in Tom Sawyer. Other than that, a flawless and beautiful adaptation of the original novel by Mark Twain. DISCLAIMER: The book advertises lesson plans and goodies for teaching the Manga Classics edition through their website, but they only have lesson plans for their original three publications–Manga Classics, when will you update the lessons for us educators waiting to see what you do with it?! On another note, it should be easy for any educator to develop their own lesson plans around these editions as well–just be creative and know the CCSS!

 

Image result for manga classics huck finnGenre: Classic American Literature/Adventure/ Manga

Rating: 4/5

Book description (Goodreads): The rascal Tom Sawyer can’t stay out of trouble for a single minute! In this tale full of childhood mischief, adventure, and trouble, Tom turns the Mississippi town of St. Petersburg on its ear nearly every day – but there’s a darker side to this town as well. When his childish adventures take a deadly turn, Tom and his outcast friend, Huckleberry Finn, must find a way to rise to the challenge, or else…!

I read Tom Sawyer when I was in 8th grade and don’t remember it all that well. I remember the movie more (I have it but haven’t watched it in years), and I remember being extremely frightened of Injun Joe! This Manga Classics edition keeps that fear from the villain in a way that holds true to the original writing of the novel at well as using gorgeous art to show some of the frightening thing that Tom and Huck witness. Tom is just a boy who wants to do whatever, but he generally conforms to society like a good boy, even finding interest in a pretty girl. When he spends time with Huck Finn, people look down on him, especially because of Huck’s upbringing. The way in which this manga is written is much easier to access than its counterpart, Huckleberry Finn, and deals with a whole different slew of global issues such as honesty, helping others, and doing the right thing. One of the things I didn’t quite understand was why Huck Finn was published first, but it is irrelevant now that both are out. Even though Tom Sawyer chronologically comes first, Huck Finn appears to be a larger project to tackle when recreating these beautiful Manga Classics editions. Once again, a volume I can definitely see myself using in the classroom!

These two volumes are no disappointment and as always, I am looking forward to the next Manga Classics publications. This duo set is nice in that hey go together as a story, and if you place the covers together, they make a single image. I hope Manga Classics does more combos like this!

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Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 20

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’malley

Genre: Graphic Novel/New Adult

Rating: 4/5

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Done by the same author/artist as Scott Pilgrim, Seconds follows Katie, one of the founders of the restaurant Seconds. Now that she’s an established cook with her own brilliant recipes, she wants to open a second restaurant and call it Katie’s. When a co-worker talks about the house spirit, Katie is skeptical about how often said co-worker cleans the fire place  or leaves out clothes and bread. Katie comes face-to-face with this spirit and recognizes her from her co-worker’s drawings. But Katie is the only one who can see her! Then Katie finds some mushrooms that the house spirit claims as hers. With special instructions, Katie learns she can use the mushrooms to rewind time, changing her mistakes for the batter, but when she tries to change too many things and abuses the power, a creature of shadow appears and Katie must figure out the right think to do to fix her mistakes once and for all.

At first I didn’t like the art in this one as much as Scott Pilgrim, but it’s in color and it definitely grew on me. Katie is a girl in her early 20’s who is learning what it means to be a responsible adult, it just takes some extra tries to learn and get things right. It was a cute new adult journey that sends the message to think before we act, because you don’t always get a second chance.

 

your name. (Light Novel) by Makoto Shinkai

Genre: Young Adult/Japanese Light Novel/Anime

Rating: 4/5

Written as a novel before the final version of the animated film came out, your name. follows two young people, Mitsuha and Taki. Mitsuha live in the countryside by a lake in the mountains where her family still practices traditional shrine ceremonies. All she dreams of is living in Tokyo and being a boy instead of a girl. After screaming this out loud, Mitsuha dreams that she is a boy named Taki living in Tokyo. When things feel too real and gaps appear in her memory and her friends note all the strange things she did, Mitsuha learns that she and Taki are actually switching places and living each others lives for three or four days a week. At first, it’s annoying and they make a bunch of rules for each other to follow to keep their lives in line when they are themselves again, but when a beautiful comet passes over Earth, the two never switch again, and Taki aims to find out why.

Makoto Shinkai is an amazing storyteller, and out of his many films and books, this one is the best by far. It’s a coming of age story with romance and a quest to save hundreds of people. It’s heartwarming and full of mystery and allure from start to finish, the ending bringing me chills every time I read or watch it. This is a great read whether you have seen the film or not. I actually liked reading this first because it’s not only absolutely amazing, but having read it made the film easier to follow as well, considering it was a bit convoluted at first as to what was happening. An all-around amazing read that I recommend for any Shinkai fan as well as anyone looking for a well-written story. Not familiar with Shinkai’s works? This is definitely the one to read.

 

Behind the Scenes!! Vol. 1 by Bisco Hatori

Genre: Manga/Shoujo

Rating: 4/5

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New to college, Ranmaru is trying to find his place in things. When he is accidentally caught up in a zombie film shoot, Ryuji draws him in to become a part of the Art Squad. Ryuji recognizes Ranmaru’s craft, a great do-it-yourself type with a creative minds, and that’s just what the Art Squad needs. The Art Squad caters to the various film departments on campus, making costumes and sets that look amazing and can be shot well, but are actually cheap and don’t look like quality pieces off camera. Now Ranmaru must find out if this is what is right for him.

Plot-wise, much better than Bisco Hatori’s other work, Ouran High School Host Club, although I do love that series too. This has a new adult feel to it and features two male leads. Of course, some people don’t like certain members of the Art Squad and are trying to sabotage their sets. It turns out that even in college you sometimes can’t escape the high school drama! Bisco Hatori has a great, iconic art style and it’s neat to see another series by her that has potential. She also wrote Millennium Snow, a vampire series of three volumes, which the third was on hiatus for years, so we’ll see what happens with this series. I actually don’t know who I would recommend this manga to, though, because it doesn’t have a specific feel to it. It feels very generic, but open-ended enough to become something more unique. Also, it is in Viz’s Shojo category, which is more geared toward girls, and the recommended age group is teen.

 

That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime Vol. 1 by Fuse, Taiki Kawakami, Mitz Vah

Genre: Manga/Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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This book begins instantly with a business man names Satoru Mikami who dies defending a coworker. He is then reincarnated on another world as a slime monster, hence the title. As he beginning to learn more and more about his new body and its abilities, he learns that he can be quite the powerful creature. After befriending a dragon and ultimately absorbing the dragon, balance in the world shifts. With goblins, wolves, dwarves, and humans, Satoru–now Rimuru Tempest–helps those he can and is seen as a god through the abilities he gains that help others. But ultimately, he just wants to find the girl of his dreams. Would a human girl ever date a slime?

My friend ordered this by mistake, thinking it was the light novel, and gifted it to me instead of returning it since I tend to like monster fantasy types of manga. This was a funny read. I would recommend it to whose who enjoy both comedy and fantasy. It has some dark humor to it, but the humor is well-placed and it is overall a pretty silly and fun story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dove in and I’m not sure I will continue it, but this is something I would recommend to older teens, especially if they just need a bit of a pick-me-up in their day.

 

Le Chevalier d’Eon Vol. 1 by Tou Ubukata and Kiriko Yumeji

Genre: Historical Horror/Action

Rating: 4/5

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d’Eon de Beaumont appears to be a slacker to the regular police force, but he secretly works for the king of France himself. Why is d’Eon so viable to the king? Murder seems to be happening across France, and it has to do with poets using the blood of virgins, because virgin blood brings out true poetry. d’Eon’s sister was one of the victims, and now whenever one of these “poets” appears, his sister emerges through his body, a physical transformation, to take vengeance for her own murder as well as to save or redeem the next victims.

I used to have the anime and after reading the manga, the anime is very bland. The manga is set up ell and the story is also nicely written. The art is nice and there are good action scenes and gore. It also has its moments of humor to ease the tensions of the seriousness of events in the story. While I read the first three volumes and liked them, I don’t think it was good enough to be invested for the rest of the story. Maybe if I find a good deal in price somewhere, I will continue, but this particular series doesn’t fit in well with my “quality” collection.

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 18

Intense, Volume 1: Night on the Red Road by Kyungha Yi

Genre: Manhwa (Korean Comics)/Boys Love

Rating: 4/5

Image result for intense  night on the red road Intense is a Korean boys love graphic novel series featuring main character Jiwoon Kang. Orphaned by the mafia, yet still tangled up with the warring gangs, Jiwoon is sent to the red light district in a shady-enough-as-it-is town, meant to keep the peace as needed. There he is offered housing with Soohan, a local young man. While Jiwoon is a very quiet person himself–having seen his own father murdered in front of him, he is interested in the fact that Soohan actually talks less than he does, something he never imagined could be a possibility. It turns out Soohan is a mute, hence the lack of vocalization. When Jiwoon kisses Soohan in a moment of vulnerability, their already non-existent relationship may never even blossom.

When my husband bought this for me as a gift, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I dived in and figured “Oh, it’s just another gang violence series,” but when Jiwoon shows feelings for Soohan, I was like, “Wait, what?!” Only then did I turn to the back to find the genre “Boys Love” printed there. I enjoy boys love, but this definitely doesn’t have the feeling of a BL such as Love Stage or The World’s Greatest First Love. There is some mafia conflict in this first volume, and just enough to keep me wanting to read. One of the few first volumes where I feel like I really need to read the second one to decide whether I want to stay committed to the series or not. Also, the art is fantastic. An overall enjoyable manga.

 

Hellgate London by Arvid Nelson and J.M

Genre: Manga/Horror/Action

Rating: 3/5

Image result for hellgate london mangaThis manga series serves as the prequel to the video game of the same name. John Fowler, among others, unburies a human skeleton that may be worth something to the finder. Upon closer inspection, the remains have found to be buried in a peculiar way, a way that related to demons. After seeing some kind of spirit, the spirit of the remains and John’s ancestor, Isaac, he is called upon by the Templars, an organization committed to ridding the world of demons. When John himself must take on a demon arm with his own flesh, he finds that he doesn’t seem to belong anywhere. The only way to find his place is to take up his ancestor’s sword and fight the onslaught of demons that is to come.

Having never played the original game may have perhaps hindered my true appreciation of this manga, but it was still somewhat interesting. I find the art to be average and the story to be relatively cliche in the way it forms the call to action for the main character and its use of demons, a very common evil entity across genres. There are also basic ancestral inheritances that are very common among many genres as well, making this series not very unique and non-innovative in the grand scheme of available manga out in the world.

 

Black Clover by Yuki Tabata

Genre: Manga/Action

Rating: 4/5

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Black Clover follows the story of Asta, a young boy who wants to become the greatest mage of them all: the Wizard King! The only problem is, no matter how much he tries and trains, he has no magic power. How can Asta become the Wizard King without any magic? When his friend and rival, Yuno, obtains the legendary Grimoire with a four leaf clover, others see him potentially predestined to become the Wizard King. Meanwhile, Asta’s Grimoire doesn’t arrive (I mean, you have to be a magic user to get a Grimoire). That is, until he is in the midst of battle against another magic user, and a Grimoire(?) presents itself to Asta, albeit a charred, mottled looking book. With the power of anti-magic, Asta might be able to participate in the magic games to be selected by a guild, and thus develop his skills and follow his heart and dream to become the Wizard King through his sheer force of will and determination.

I actually really enjoyed this book. It is a newer series (2015) but very reminiscent of Hiro Mashima’s works (Fairy Tail and Rave Master). It has the hero’s journey vibe with aspiring (non-magic user) Asta, who wants to be the Wizard King. He has the same feel of Haru Glory (Rave Master) seeking the Rave Stones, or Fairy Tail aiming to be the top magic guild. It is a shounen book to reflect the quest for greatness and features an underdog hero. The art is fun and the ending has me wanting to see how Asta will progress and if he will succeed!

 

Heaven!! by Shizuru Seino

Genre: Manga/Romance/Comedy

Rating: 3/5

Image result for heaven!! vol 1 seino Heaven is about a girl named Rinne who can see and exorcise ghosts, removing them from possessing others and helping them pass on. When Rinne almost becomes a ghost herself, school punk Uzaki saves her just in time. With his spirit knocked out of his body, a god decides to take over Uzaki’s physical form! Since a god is different than a spirit, smarter, Rinne has more trouble exercising him from Uzaki’s body. Meanwhile, Uzaki’s spirit is thrust into a stuffed pink monkey until Rinne is able to get him back into his own body. And of course, Rinne begins falling for…someone?! Is it the god within Uzaki’s body, or is she actually finding attachment to Uzaki himself? And will she ever be done exercising spirits from where they don’t belong?

Overall, a cute story, but seems very cliche. An imminent love triangle potentially presents itself, and the generic high school setting and heroine with medium powers is a bit overdone among the Japanese genres. If you like the whole high school romance, but with a ghostly twist, there are numerous other volumes that have a better story (some only slightly so and some much more), although occasionally dealing with demons rather than ghosts/spirits. *cough cough* Yu Yu Hakusho is great. Gaba Kawa is similar, with demons rather than ghosts.

 

The Titan’s Curse (Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan, Robert Venditti, Attila Futaki, and Greg Guilhaumond

Genre: Young Adult/Graphic Novel/Mythology

Rating: 4/5

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Once again the Percy Jackson adaptations blow me away. With this third installment, we follow Percy as he aims to save Anabeth from Atlas. When a prophesy calls for five heroes, saying that one will not make it, Percy is excluded because The Hunters of Artemis, who are likewise seeking to find Artemis, who has gone missing, don’t want a boy to go with them. When Nico finds Percy thinking about following, he encourages it, wanting Percy to keep his sister safe. Percy ultimately ends up joining the group, but cannot keep his promise. The heroes come across a number of trials as they try to avoid some ominous undead soldiers. Percy is also able to call upon the pegasi, having the ability to communicate with horses. That sure comes in handy when Percy wants to  get some quick, reliable transportation for him and his friends. With Thalia ultimately joining the Hunters of Artemis, it would appear that Percy is still the demi-god of prophesy who will either save or destroy Olympus when he turns sixteen…that is until a certain someone is claimed by one of the big three…again!

I really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series and like the accessibility of the graphic novels. The art is a bit funky (it took me forever to realize which one was Thalia), but the story adaptation is excellent and an enjoyable way to get the story all over again without having to take the time to read the whole novel. At present this is the most current one (no word of the last two becoming graphic novels yet—please let me know if I am wrong), but I would love to have the refresher and brevity of the last two novels in the series without spending the time to reread them because, let’s face it, there are too many books and too little time!

Evergreen-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Manga/Romance/Drama

Rating: 4/5

I am beginning to like Seven Seas’ North American branch more and more, as they tend to publish more mature manga and manga of a variety that you do not see as much with other NA publishers, like Viz. I first picked up Evergreen because it had attractive art, the story sounded unique (and in a sense, it is), and there are only four volumes, which makes it easy to collect, keep, and reread.

In this manga, Manga Club captain Hotaka was born with a congenital heart disease that prevents him from doing a lot of activities that other students normally do. The physical scar on his chest has left him to be somewhat insecure about his physical appearance. Everyday he admires swim-team member Awaya Niki, both beautiful and talented. His view from the club window can only do so much though.

When Hotaka has a private appointment to fulfill his PE requirements with the teacher, he swims in the pool and Niki saves him, noticing his scar in the process. Now that he is up close and personal with her, he decides to develop their friendship. Someone begins a rumor that Niki must only be acting like Hotaka’s friend to get close to the class hunk (and womanizer), Soga. Eventually, Hotaka learns the truth, that Niki has been admiring his Manga Club stories for a long time, and she has been collecting every issue. Oddly enough, Hotaka’s own personal story is similar to Niki’s, so she feels that she can relate to him.

For some reason, Niki begins avoiding Hotaka, not wanting to communicate. Hotaka had high hopes and finds this reaction to be very strange. Perhaps they are both afraid to admit their feelings for each other.

When they do finally admit their feelings to each other and begin dating, Niki has a major revelation from her past about who Hotaka is, and it changes their relationship for the rest of their lives.

Overall this was an enjoyable read, but not something I am overly excited to recommend to random passersby. Fans of manga in general might enjoy this one, but the ending didn’t settle well with me and the story was interesting, but also felt a bit wasted. I did give it a higher rating because it did have unique qualities to draw a reader in, and the art was nice. The potential of the story dropped in the last volume though. The twist was extremely interesting, but also a let-down as a reader.

Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe-Should You Read It?

Image result for edgar allan poe manga classicsGenre: Manga/Short Story/Horror

Rating: 5/5

This was an absolutely fantastic release for October, 2017. Not only was it released during the fun, spooky month of the year, but I personally was teaching “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven” to my 8th grade class, both of which are artfully illustrated in this Manga Classics Edition.

I am a huge advocate of using manga and graphic novels in the classroom because I believe that they make complex texts more accessible for below grade level readers as well as English learners, which is important when aiming to keep an entire class on the same level of comprehension and understanding, starting with each individual student’s reading and learning level.

This Manga Classics edition is somewhat unique in that it is their first edition that is short stories rather than a novel (although The Jungle Book Manga Classics Edition did have some of the other short works of Kipling). This volume contains “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Raven,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” all of which are drawn by a different artist. At the end of most of the short stories is a page of interesting facts about the manuscript, the publishing history, and Poe as it relates to each specific story, such as the fact that Poe was paid $10 for his manuscript of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” nearly $300 in the 2017 economy.

Each story is unique and cryptically drawn, adding a whole new context to each story, which can be good, but also not so good. For example, reading the manga version of “The Tell-Tale Heart” after reading the short story was very different; the meaning, to me, was changed based on the way the story is depicted in the manga. Where in the short story it is unclear and debatable whether or not the narrator is insane or intentionally a murderer, the manga depicts from the beginning that the narrator is telling the story to someone resembling a psychiatrist from the beginning, which would make sense in that the narrator addresses “you” often, and yet we the reader do not know who the “you” is. Either way, the manga version, as all Manga Classics editions do, use the actual text from the original literature, although it might be moved around to justify pacing in manga, or may be shortened, it is still legitimate text written by the author, meaning students can cite thorough textual evidence even from the manga version of the story.

If you do choose to pick this manga up, I would highly suggest reading the short stories first and making your own inferences and speculations about the text before seeing a visual representation, because that could change the way a reader understands the text. It was also fun to read the story first and develop my own imagery in my head and compare that image to that of the manga.

Out of all the manga classics, this one is definitely one of my favorites (and I have them all), within the top three. I would suggest this for English teachers and English learners alike when studying Poe, or anyone who is a manga lover; yes, read this book!

A Centaur’s Life-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Monster Girl/Manga

Rating: 3.5/5

This review will feature instances and portrayal’s from the first four volumes, since reading one may not give a well enough idea of whether one might want to continue the series or not. Monster girl fans (especially centaur fans) will enjoy this one because the main character is a centaur and there are a number of other monster girl races featured in this series.

While this series does not seem to have an overarching plot (although it seems to have some interesting political and historical context that gets sprinkled in a bit in each volume) in the first four volumes, it does feature what a centaur’s life is like. Who do they hang out with, how do they get dressed, how to they bathe or use the toilet, what kinds of worries do they have when dating? These are all questions answered by this manga.

One of the more mature content things I enjoyed was that the very first chapter, Hime, the main centaur girl, gets a love confession by a creature of another race, and her concern is that her female parts are that of a horse, so all her friends compared…This was a hilarious and fun opening, but the rest did not match up from there onward. Within the first four volumes, we get to see what it is like for a centaur in PE and sports, to visit a mermaid school, go swimming, visit family, dress, eat, and get a haircut!

At the end of volume three, a new race is introduced, and interesting race called Antarcticans that have human legs and arms, but are otherwise serpentine in appearance. This is where the politics of the show get interesting. In the community, there are a number of speculations about Antarcticans, but no one knows what is true and what is not because no one has actually seen one in person, until one transfers to Hime’s school. Hime finds this creature to be frightening based off of a horror movie she saw as a child, but she learns that Antarcticans can be just like everyone else. I personally find this race to be interesting and might continue reading just to see the interactions between Hime and her friends and this race.

All-in-all, this series was okay (thus far). I am on the fence about continuing it though. As much of a monster girl fan as I am,  this series is cute and interesting to see different monster girl races, but the lack of an overarching story, or perhaps just the small hints of a major plot, are not enough to keep me reading. I would say at least give volume one a shot if this is your type of thing, that way you can see for yourself if it is worth the investment. The art is great, though, and Hime is such a cute character!

A Silent Voice-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Manga/Young Adult/Coming-of-Age

Rating: 4/5

This is a fantastic series that shows how rough bullying can be, what it can do to other people, oneself, and what it means to be a good human being. The back of each volume contains the following summation of the series:

“A very powerful story about being different and the consequences of childhood bullying…Read it.” –Anime News Network

“The word heartwarming was made for manga like this.” –Manga Bookshelf

Basically, this is an excellent read that highlights what being different means, the struggle that some families have when they have a member with some kind of disability, and what it means to be a true friend.

The first volume begins with Shoya, a bully who is reunited after six years with Shoko, a girl he bullied so horribly in grade school that she had to switch schools (again). While the main girth of the series follows the events of their senior year in high school, the first volume follows Shoya and Shoko. When Shoko enters Shoya’s class for the first time, she introduces herself with her notebook, explaining that she is deaf and that she would like to get to know her classmates through writing in her notebook.

Things seem okay at first, but Shoya makes a statement by yelling at Shoko, who sits in front of him, just a general yell to test if she really cannot hear. Some of his classmates find this rude and appalling, but as time passes, Shoko’s classmates, and even her teacher, begin to bully her. One girl is tired of Shoko asking what the teacher said (through writing), and begins to brush Shoko off as an annoyance. In choir, Shoko is off key, considering she can’t hear her own voice. This causes even more bullying, as students begin to write terrible things about her on the board in her homeroom. When a teacher offers to teach sign language for Shoko’s sake, nobody cares, except one girl, who becomes bullied because of her interest in sign language.

Shoya, following the lead of bullying that his groups of friends have evoked, eventually rips out Shoko’s hearing aid and destroys it. When school officials question the class, everyone points their fingers at Shoya, his friends and even the teacher who told him to stop the bullying but snickered at his own students remarks, all pointed their fingers at Shoya, not taking their own blame.

Shoya is neglected by who he thought were his friends, becoming the bullied in the same way as Shoko. After Shoko transfers schools again, Shoya enters high school with no friends, and blocking out everyone’s faces with a conscious X, as they are not important and do not matter to him.

Now, reunited with Shoko, who runs at first sight of Shoya, he aims to apologize and repair the wrongs he had done many years ago. He has Shoko’s special communication notebook, which was thrown in the water six years prior, and returns it to her. When she moves on with her life, Shoya aims to find out more about Shoko and wants to learn what it means to be true friends.

When Shoya somewhat grudgingly comes to the aid of a likewise ostracized classmate, they become friends, and discuss what it means to be able to call someone a friend. He also meets Shoko’s sister, Yuzuru, a girl who has chosen to look an act like a boy to defend Shoko from being bullied. Yuzuru does not approve of Shoya’s friendship or aim to make amends for what he did in the past. When she learns that Shoya learned sign language over the years so that he could better communicate when he met Shoko again, Yuzuru eases off, but only after she posts an article that puts Shoya in a bad situation at school.

Eventually, Shoya and Shoko reunite with some of the people from grade school, including those who were likewise bullies, as well as defenders, and together, they learn what friendship truly means.

This series has a great deal of drama, which demonstrates the human feelings we all have when we are harmed or choose to harm others, as well as the effects of bullying and how it can affect our mental state over time. This series was excellently written, powerful, and the beautiful art adds to the height of the reading experience. As an educator, I would recommend this to anyone and everyone in that it demonstrates how differences make us unique and shows how wrong and serious bullying can be.

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On a side note, the movie was recently released in Japan and will be showing for a select time in select theaters in the U.S. October 2017. The art of the movie and the vibrancy of the setting and colors makes it look amazing, and I am hoping the movie will convey the same message that the manga does, even though it will have to take out a number of chapters/scenes for the sake of time. I will also be looking for this as an English Blu-ray release…eventually!