Lyga, B., & Doran, C. (2011). Manga man. Boston, MS: Houghton Mifflin.
Plot Summary: This graphic novel tells the story of what happens when Ryoko is pulled out of his manga world and into a comic book world. While he is waiting for a machine that can sen him back to his world to be finished he begins attending high school and dating the most popular girl in school Marissa. He teaches Marissa about the space in between the panels and shows her how their worlds are alike. Marissa’s ex does not like this and challenges Ryoko to a fight. Due to the differences in fighting styles in the two worlds Ryoko almost kills him and gets expelled from school. He comes back to apologize to Marissa and gets shot by another classmate. He moves between the panels to get away from the situation and Marissa goes to his house to find him. When she finds out the machine is working she thinks he went back to his own world and tries to follow him. It is then revealed Ryoko was just in the other room cleaning up. The machine was destroyed when Marissa tried to follow him so she did not make it to his world instead she becomes a manga character in the comic book world at the end of the book.
Critical Evaluation: The book takes place over a fairly short period of time so there is not as much opportunity for character development. The one character who does have some character development is Marrisa who goes from simply being curious about Ryoko to falling in love with him. During this time she also learns that her “real world” is another form of manga which is hard for her to accept at first but she soon embraces it. She fully embraces Ryoko’s manga weirdness that others mock from fairly early on in the story. In the book the majority of the characters dislike the ways Ryoko shows emotion and call him out for being weird and messy. For example when Ryoko is in a bad mood he gets a storm cloud by his head, or when he moves quickly he creates speed lines which then fall to the ground when he stops moving. These differences add a lot of humor to the plot and the illustrations.
Reader’s Annotation: This book tells the story of Ryoko a manga teen in a comic book world.
Author Information: Barry Lyga has written several books for teens in multiple genres. His first novel was The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl which is very popular with teens as is its sequel. He previously worked in the comic book industry which has inspired his work. The illustrator Colleen Doran has worked on many famous comic book characters and with famous writers including Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. She has also written her own books.
Curriculum Ties: This would be a really interesting book to use in an art class to discuss different illustration styles.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Why can Ryoko see the space between the panels?
2) Are you more familiar with manga or western style comic art, and how did you like the combination of the two in this book?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed on Barnes and Noble as being for readers age 12. This seems a little young to me as the characters are all in high school and a lot of the plot revolves around teenage issues so I think the interest level is more for teens age 14-18.
Challenge Issues: The book features a brief depiction of a drunk teenager at a party at the start of the book. There is also a romantic scene that involves nudity but it stops before the characters actually have sex and there are no actual genitals depicted. They are blurred as is often done in Anime. Some people may still object to this especially for younger readers but the book is really well reviewed and this is a very minor part of the story. The book has also won awards including the Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year for 2011.
Why is it included?: I originally was not going to use this book for my blog assignment I read it fun after we had an inspiring guest speaker for this class talk about graphic novels. Once I read it I decided I had to include it for this assignment and bumped one of the books I has been planing on using.