Penny asked me for ideas on manga to give fifth grade girls who don’t like manga with fantasy elements. They want to read realistic stories with drama and romance about high schoolers and college students. They’ve already read and mostly hated Sugar Princess: Skating to Win.
This is tricky because fifth graders are going to be too old to enjoy all-ages titles but Penny needs to stay away from manga with sexual situations. Penny’s girls like Red String and Harlequin manga. I’m going to try to list a few titles below, and if any of my readers have advice or other suggestions for Penny, please add your thoughts in the comments.
When I first got this question I thought of the Shojo Beat line. While some of the titles have the fantasy elements that Penny’s girls won’t like, I think there are a few titles from that imprint that might be worth considering. I’m guessing that Penny will want to preview all of these titles before passing them on to her class – I’ve read early volumes of most of these manga, but I can’t comment on whether or not there’s more sexual content by the end of the series.
High School Debut – This has more of an emphasis on comedy than drama, as enthusiastic Haruna and cynical Yoh start to date. Still, the realistic setting and emphasis on relationships might appeal to these fifth graders. This is one of my favorite recent manga series.
Love*Com – A tall girl and a short boy have an antagonistic relationship that makes their classmates think they are training to become a comedy team. Will love develop between them despite their height difference? Risa and Atsushi are really funny together as their relationship progresses, yet there is also plenty of angst as Risa discovers her feelings for Atsushi before he figures out his feelings for her. I’ve read the first 4 or 5 volumes of this, so I’m not sure about recent plot developments.
Monkey High – Slightly more serious than the other two series I’ve mentioned so far, Monkey High is the story of a stereotypical cool girl who ends up going to a new school and finding a boyfriend who looks and acts like a monkey! I’ve only read the first two volumes of this series, but the commentary on high school life might be enjoyed by fifth graders who want to read about characters who are older than them.
Most of the titles I can think of from Tokyopop are either too mature or have fantasy elements, but here are a couple possibilities:
Zig Zag – A boy settles into a new life at his school’s dorm. I’ve only read the first volume of this series.
VB Rose – I haven’t read this at all, but the storyline about a girl forced to make her older sister’s wedding dress might be interesting, and it doesn’t seem like it has any fantasy elements.
If you have any more suggestions for Penny, please let her know in the comments for this post!
I’ve been getting a ton of suggestions from my twitter peeps:
Hikaru No Go – Doesn’t have the romance angle, but has plenty of action.
Prince of Tennis – Sports manga with cute guys.
Crimson Hero – The trials and tribulations of a high school volleyball player. Plenty of romance and angst in this title.
Baby and Me – An older brother struggles to raise his younger brother after his mother’s death.
Gals! – Adventures of girls who love to shop and take on bad guys.
Hitohira – Slice of life title.
Mixed Vegetables – Amusing if they like cooking manga.
Happy Happy Clover – Manga about cute bunnies.
Wild Ones – A girl moves in with a yakuza clan.