Anime and Manga Suggestions for First-Time Viewers and Readers

Have your children shown an interest in anime or manga, but you aren’t sure what is appropriate? We’ve got anime recommendations for first-time viewers from Common Sense Media and manga recommendations for first-time readers from Brigid Alverson of Good Comics for Kids.

Anime Suggestions

There is so much great anime out there for kids, both television and film. But for kids just getting into anime (or their curious parents) the obvious question is where to begin. We rounded up some family-friendly choices to get you started.

The Secret World of Arrietty (G) was released by Disney in 2010. The film, based on The Borrowers, follows the story of the 4-inch-tall Clock family, living anonymously in a (regular-sized) family residence. But life changes when a human boy discovers Arrietty.

In My Neighbor Totoro (G), two girls move to the country to live with their sick mother, and have colorful, visually stunning adventures with spirits living in the nearby forest.

Common Sense Media rated the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender (available on DVD) highly for ages 8 and older, calling the series “a fine pick for grade-schoolers.” The epic martial arts tale has a lot of action, along with a rich plot and well-developed fantasy material to back it up.

CSM highly recommends the series The Legend of Korra on Nickelodeon for kids 8 and older, praising the show’s strong heroine and positive messages. A sequel series to Avatar, the show follows Korra as she tries to follow her mentor’s teachings, and combines action and humor in a way that should appeal to all viewers.

For more selections, and ratings, visit Common Sense Media at

Manga Recommendations

Brigid Alverson, head editor of Good Comics for Kids, published by the School Library Journal, shares her suggestions for

Yotsuba&! is everybody’s favorite all-ages manga. It’s the story of a 5-year-old girl who is simply curious about everything and frequently misunderstands things in humorous ways. The stories are short and self-contained, and the art is wonderful; this is that rare book that both kids and adults can enjoy.

Chi’s Sweet Home is a manga that is very accessible to non-Japanese readers because it is not only flipped (so it reads left to right) but also printed in color. It’s about a curious, mischievous cat and the family she lives with, and the manga is broken up into very short stories.

Chikyu Misaki is a charming three-volume series about two girls who find a Loch Ness monster-type creature that turns into a little boy, and a rich girl who is kidnapped by bumbling criminals. It’s a lot like a children’s adventure movie, although there is a bit of nonsexual nudity and a few adult references. It’s out of print but readily available on Amazon (and, most likely, through your local library).

Hikaru no Go is a typical shonen battle manga, except the battles are games of Go, a traditional Japanese board game. Hikaru, an ordinary middle-school boy, finds an old Go board and unlocks the ghost of an ancient Go master who guides him through a series of tournaments. This book is exceptionally well written, and the art is fantastic.

Sugar Sugar Rune tells the story of two witches, Vanilla and Chocolat, who are on a quest to see who can collect the most hearts and thus become queen of the witch world.

Kitchen Princess is a very typical shojo manga: It’s about a sweet girl who is surrounded by guys and makes everything better with her sweetness. In this case, Najika, the heroine, is an excellent cook, so this is sort of a foodie manga for tweens.

Twin Spica is a great story about a young girl who goes to astronaut school. She has all sorts of entanglements: Her father designed rockets, her mother was killed in an accident when a rocket fell to earth, and her closest friend is the ghost of the astronaut who was killed in that accident (who always wears a lion’s head). It’s beautifully drawn and a classic kids’ story of the plucky heroine who is determined to succeed.

For older readers (12 and older) I would also recommend Arisa, a school mystery by the creator of Kitchen Princess; Alice in the Country of Hearts, a manga that starts with Lewis Carroll’s classic and makes it even crazier; Cross Game, a story about baseball…and love; One Piece, a pirate adventure story; and Fairy Tail, a wacky action manga.


Main image: Midtown Comics, which has four retail locations in Manhattan, as well as an online store, sells everything from comic books, anime, and manga to movies and action figures.