Shugo Chara! by Peach-Pit
As a voracious consumer of manga, it takes a very special work to get on my list of immediate recommendations. But nothing breaks out of its frilly pink coating better than Shugo Chara!
The work’s title is in reference to its assortment of teeny sidekicks – the Guardian Characters that special children with especially powerful dreams hatch out of exceptionally patterned eggs – birthed forth from within a lucky child’s heart.
Now, I know that all sounds real silly, but follow me on this one! This setup allows for tons of gorgeous and gooey magical warrior transformations, and with main character Amu’s three Guardian Eggs, there’s plenty of new and different ways to approach the problem at hand. And, with up to six other friends and their Shugo Chara fighting at her side, Amu’s story rarely ever falls into the magical girl pitfall of same enemies, same transformations, same battles resolved the same way every chapter.
Additionally, there’s a bit more maturity on display here than in many other manga featuring twelve-year-old protagonists. Amu and each one of her precious and unique friends have to face down some insecurity or find a way to redouble their efforts when things aren’t going their way. It’s a manga that takes the problems of children very seriously, and in doing so, forges a stronger connection to its audience.
Also, every single panel looks like it could melt you with sweetness if you licked it, so read, don’t eat, this manga!