While there wasn't a whole lot of manga geared toward readers 12 and younger in 2008, it looks like there'll be a lot more to choose from in 2009. In the meantime, it seems like a video game or TV show tie-in is key for this crowd, as The Legend of Zelda took the top slot, followed by Akira Toriyama's COWA! and the cute sci-fi comedy, Suihelibe!
Author & Artist: Akira Himekawa
Publisher: VIZ Kids / VIZ Media
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Nintendo's elfin hero Link jumps out of the video screen and into the manga world with Akira Himekawa's adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When forces of evil invade his town, Link discovers that he has a heroic destiny to fulfill. There is a princess to save, an evil overlord to defeat, and friends and foes to meet along the way.
Publisher: Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media
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From the creator of Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump comes COWA!, a one-shot story featuring monster kids. Paifu is a half-vampire, half-were koala boy who lives and plays with his pal Jose the ghost in their hometown of Batwing Ridge. But when a deadly monster flu hits the town, it's up to Paifu and his pals Jose and ex-sumo wrestler Mr. Maruyama to get medicine from the Witch of Horned Owl mountain to save their sick friends and family members.
Tetsu loves nature and animals, so naturally, he tries to join his junior high biology club. But when he finds out that the student council is planning on discontinuing the club, he makes a deal: if Tetsu can recruit at least three new members, the club will continue. It all seems simple enough, until a flying saucer crashes into Tetsu's classroom, and out pops Lan, a cute alien girl who's looking for some escaped extra-terrestrial critters that are hiding out in the neighborhood.
On her first day at the ice rink, Maya not only manages to skate with ease, she pulls off a double axel, a miraculous feat for a novice ice skater. A coach sees her natural knack for the sport and invites Maya to train to become a competitive ice skater. Trouble is, her coach recruits Shun to become Maya's skating partner, and this handsome but stand-offish skater seems more annoyed than pleased by the situation.
While not exactly a manga title, Dayan's Birthday is a Japanese children's tale about a mischievous cat that captures the spirit, if not the panels of manga stories. After attending a friend's birthday party, Dayan thinks that he'd like a birthday party too. Trouble is, he doesn't know his birthday, much less what a birthday is. Dayan figures he'll try to get a birthday from the local trio of witches, but he doesn't take into account what the witches will want from him in return.
Author & Artist: Shigekatsu Ihara
Publisher: VIZ Kids / VIZ Media
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The ever-popular pocket monsters, a.k.a. Pokemon are back, and this time the adventures focus on a new trainer, Hareta. Raised by wild Pokemon, Hareta has a unique kinship with these magical critters. After being recruited by Professor Rowan, and capturing and taming his first Pokemon companion, Hareta sets off on a quest with the professor and his assistant Mitsumi to find Dialga, a legendary Pokemon that can control time.
Her friends tease her about it, but Kaya loves her stuffed dolls dearly. One day, she discovers that her toys love her just as much... maybe much more than she expects as her plushies Purple and Grey are transformed into very cute young men. As Kaya tries to hide her stuffed pals' new abilities, she encounters a few not-so-nice toys, and a toymaker who is dying to figure out her secret for bringing toys to life.
Koi, Ai and Ren are super-cute cupids-in-training, who are determined to graduate to become full-fledged angels of love. They practice their archery and matchmaking skills every day, but these newbie kewpies tend to forget some of the most basic rules of the game: Don't fraternize with your match-making targets, and don't get into trouble.
9. 9th place: Disney Fairies: Vidia and the Fairy Crown
Best known as Peter Pan's mini magical companion, Tinkerbell takes center-stage in this new story set in the land of fairies. But all is not flowers and sweetness in Pixie Hollow. Vidia, a disgruntled fairy with a goth streak is accused of stealing the fairy queen's crown. It's up to Tinkerbell and her fairy pals to help get to the bottom of the mystery to try to clear Vidia's name.
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
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Based on the Cartoon Network series, Bakugan Battle Brawlers offers a different take on card game adventures. One day, magical cards dropped down from the sky into the hands of kids all over the world. Soon enough, the kids discovered that the cards contained monsters that they could train and command to do battle with other card holders -- that game the kids called Bakugan. As the stakes get higher, Dan and his friends realize that Bakugan may be more than just a game.