It's been a long time, since I've had a manga on Bookworm for Kids...a very long time. Which is too bad, since I always enjoy a good manga as do my kids. When I stumbled across this one, I was intrigued at the idea behind it: a team who designed life on Earth.
Now, this isn't a 'new' manga but has been around for a few years. However, it's being re-released and is definitely worth a peek for STEM fans or those who love to learn more about rare animals...or ones they think they know so well.
HEAVEN'S DESIGN TEAM
Illustrated by Tarako
Kodansha Comics Digital-First!
*content appropriate for Young Adult/Upper Middle Grade audiences (a couple references to procreation of several animal species, but in connection with original characteristics of 'odd' speicies)
In heaven’s Animal Design Department, designers create a variety of new animals daily while contending with the unreasonable requests of their client: God. Funny, interesting, and full of useful information, this series answers questions such as, “Why can’t unicorns exist?”, “What makes an animal taste delicious?”, “What’s the most powerful creature in the ocean?”, and, “Bird versus snake: who would win?” You won’t believe it’s a manga series when you read up on the featured animals in the included encyclopedia entries. Heavenly Design Team will make your next trip to the zoo or aquarium 100 times more fun!
* traditional manga form
* nicely done illustrations/graphics
* characters with very individual personalities
* offers true and little known facts about animals
The cover caught my attention on this one, and then the surmise. While many mangas I've read so far hit the usual fiction genre, this one actually does more than that and slides into the STEM direction.
Heaven's Design Team is a team of designers sub-contracted by the Creator to design the creatures destined to dwell on Earth. The team is given general attributes, which a creature should meet, and then, they're given free reign. Their ideas are then either accepted or not. It creates a humorous scene as each one tries to create the best creature they can, and is convinced that their design is amazing. The back and forth is silly as are some of the ideas.
The characters are somewhat cliche, in so far that you have certain tropes, which each one settles into very firmly, but this is also what makes the humor roll by with ease. The humor is not indecent, nor is the subject matter. These designers are very concentrated on their tasks, and none of it ever enters side drama or such. This manga really rotates around the designs and personalities in the 'office' as they discuss their options. The only questionable moments, which makes this for Upper Middle Grade or, probably more fitting, young adult is the occasional discussion of reproductive parts of several animals. And while this manga does use that for humor, at these times, it by no means gets 'dirty'. Rather this aspect is mentioned because these animals really do have a strange attribute in real life, which makes them worth mentioning.
One of my favorite things about this manga isn't the illustrations, humor and creatures they characters are working with (although this is fun to read!), but rather the information and true life facts offered at the end of each chapter. Three animals are chosen from the chapter and presented in detail with very factual information and interesting tidbits. I and my kids definitely learned quite a bit, and it was this twist which won me over.