In Japan, kids are introduced to comics almost as soon as they can read. In this respect, American kids are a little behind the curve, but Canadian publisher Udon Entertainment is looking to turn this situation around with their new Udon Kids imprint. First up at bat? Ninja Baseball Kyuma, a fun sports adventure story geared to introduce young readers to the joys of manga.
When I posted my first trends to watch list in late 2007, I groused about the lack of kid-friendly manga. It's a little over a year later, and what a difference a few months make. Del Rey Manga, VIZ and now Udon are making a concerted effort to publish manga that's especially geared for the pre-teen set in 2009.
Udon Entertainment announced their new Udon Kids imprint in December 2008, and have four new titles queued up for release over the next four months. Ninja Baseball Kyuma! by Shunshin Maeda is the only shonen manga release of the batch, but hopefully it's not the last.
Kyuma is the last of his clan, but that doesn't stop this pint-sized ninja from continuing his intensive training regime at his mountain retreat. When he finally gets an assignment, it's not what he expects. He must replace his sword and shuriken with bat and glove to help an underdog little league team break its losing streak. Kyuma's strong and fast -- but how far will that take him when he doesn't know what baseball is, much less how to play the game?
Check out my review of Ninja Baseball Kyuma! Volume 1, and see if this rookie has got what it takes to win over the pre-teen set, or if it strikes out on its first time at bat. You can also check out a 9-page preview of Ninja Baseball Kyuma, to get a taste of this kid-friendly comic before it hits the stores in April 2009.
Image credit: © Shunshin Maeda