by Hiromu Arakawa (2002-10)
update: Whew! Finally finished the series. The last few books encompass the Final Battle so they are basically 90% cartoon fighting and explosions, but nothing graphic and good triumphs in the end. The coda is very well done, sweet and heartfelt without being corny. I've found a lot of manga too creepy, too YA, but the stars here are younger boys and they are working to save family and country while taking responsibility for their actions.
original post: Manga, so it took a bit to not turn the pages the wrong way, and get my eyes to focus on the correct corner to start reading -- read a lot of pages in the first 2 books multiple times... to add to my confusion, the library only had 4 of 6 books and one we're missing is #1!
All that aside, cool story, connectible characters (although Al is quite enigmatic until the flashback in book 5 literally fleshes him out), and several instances of life lessons (family, maturity, responsibility) thrown in to add some redeemable qualities. Battles and humor but literary devices as well, def recommendable for 10+ boys... maybe some of the plot will be hard to connect/understand, but there is so much in the sub-plots it's not a big issue.
Then again, it might have something to do with skipping a few books in the series...