I’ve been reading manga for more than half of my life. I’ve witnessed the growth, breakdown, rebuilding, and stabilization of the North American manga business. In the English-language market, we’ve now reached a point of balance. The most popular titles are released concurrently in English and Japanese, and publishers are taking chances by acquiring slightly better titles and iconic backlist series. As a result, we now have access to some of the best manga series.
I placed a broad audience when compiling this list. It examines a variety of genres and age groups, as well as what many consider to be the best manga of the year and the most well-known series of the 1970s. I am convinced that there is a manga for everyone. Hopefully, one of the titles below may pique your curiosity.
The Best Manga Modern Classics
The following selections are a decent place to start if you’re a beginner manga reader looking for an introduction to the medium in its current form. I chose these titles because 1) they’re done and 2) they allow you to interact with longstanding manga fans..
1. Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball
Journey to the West, a traditional Chinese tale, is the inspiration for Toriyama’s now-iconic manga. Son Goku is an extraterrestrial raised as a human who trains in martial arts and searches out the dragon balls, which can call a dragon that can grant any request.
2. Rumiko Takahashi’s Inuyasha
Rumiko Takahashi is arguably one of today’s most prominent female mangaka. Her filmography includes a number of notable works, including the gender-bending martial arts romance comedy Ranma 12. Kagome, a Japanese schoolgirl who falls into a well at her family’s shrine and is transported to the Sengoku era, is the protagonist of Inuyasha. There, she encounters Inuyasha, a half-dog demon, and a series of misadventures unfold…
3. Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto
What can be said about Naruto? This series about an orphaned youngster who dreams of being the best ninja in his town gave birth to an entire generation of manga lovers. This is the series for you if you enjoy smooth battles and cool ninja abilities. It’s also one of the most approachable manga series for newcomers.
4. Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist
When you ask a manga reader what their favourite series is, Fullmetal Alchemist is almost always among the top ten, and with good reason. The premise is deceptively simple: two brothers seek after the Philosopher’s Stone in order to restore their bodies after an attempt to resurrect their mother goes horribly wrong. But there’s a lot more to it than that. It not only explores the bond between brothers in the aftermath of a disaster, but it also includes some of the most amazing female characters you’ll ever see in a manga, as well as an engaging plot involving conspiracy, redemption, and sacrifice. This is, in my opinion, the ideal manga to offer someone to get them hooked on the medium, regardless of their previous reading tastes…
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5. Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata’s Death Note
Please disregard the terrible, whitewashed Netflix adaptation and instead read the original manga. A smart high school student acquires a notepad that allows him to assassinate anyone whose name and face he recognises. He intends to establish a utopian world free of crime with these newfound talents, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
6. Natsuki Takaya’s Fruit Basket
Tohru Honda, a high school student, is forced to live with the Sohma family after her mother is killed in a car accident. She uncovers a family secret in the process. Each member of the Sohma family is inhabited by a Chinese zodiac spirit who will turn into their animal form under certain circumstances. Tohru, being a sweetheart, decides to keep the finding a secret and then sets out to break the family curse.
7. Guardian of the Pretty Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon is one of the best manga about magical girls, and it holds the distinction of being the series that gave birth to the genre as we know it today. Usagi Tsukino, the protagonist, learns that she is Sailor Moon, a warrior meant to protect Earth from evil. Along the journey, she recruits other Sailor Scouts—warriors who are supposed to represent the solar system’s other planets—to assist her in her goal…
The Best Manga Currently Running Manga Series
Let’s imagine you want to enter into a still-unfinished series with a developing plot that allows you to hypothesize and discuss. These books will fulfill that urge.
8. Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia, the current “it” series, is a sincere Japanese take on the superhero genre. Izuku Midoriya is a typical kid who was born in a universe where everyone has abilities, shattering his ambitions to become a superhero. However, owing to an unforeseen turn of circumstances, he obtains his own set of superpowers. It turns out that his dream isn’t too far away after all.
9. Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan
With his post-apocalyptic vision of a fading human species beset by man-eating giants, Isayama seized the manga world by storm. The plot has developed since that first idea; it’s now full of conspiracies, a dubious investigation of oppression, and even more dubious analogies to real-life history, but those early volumes remain some of the best manga depictions of action-packed survival and adventure.
10. Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece
One Piece is one of our generation’s most important manga series. There is no more to say.
Without a doubt. Since its release in 1997, it has set records and topped Japanese bestseller charts. In a nutshell, the story revolves around a young child who aspires to be the pirate king. One Piece is a fascinating voyage full of funky special skills, humorous visual puns, and found family feels that urges everyone to pursue their ambitions…
11. Yusuke Murata and ONE’s One-Punch Man
Yusuke Murata’s art is based on One’s story. VIZ Media is a media company based in Japan. One-Punch Man is a semi-satirical take at the superhero genre that follows Saitama, a once-ordinary young man who trains to become a superhero. Unfortunately, he’s grown so powerful that he can now defeat anyone with a single punch. Saitama is experiencing existential ennui as a result of his lack of difficulties, even as he joins a superhero group to safeguard the world from monsters and supervillains.
Classic Manga Series with Influence
You’ve grown up reading the modern masterpieces that every manga lover is familiar with. You’re reading one of the best manga series of the year, according to several critics. Now you want to look into series that helped to establish the medium and influenced generations of manga artists.
12. Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy
Tezuka’s extensive portfolio affected the genre and pioneered many of the tropes we know today, earning him the title of “Father of Manga.” You can’t go wrong with any of his books, but I chose Astro Boy because it tells the now-famous story of a genius scientist who replaces his dead son with a robot.
13. Go Nagai’s cover for Devilman – The Classic Collection volume 1
Devilman was first published in the 1970s and has since generated a slew of spin-offs and anime adaptations, the most recent of which debuted on Netflix in January 2018. It’s the story of a good-hearted young man who obtains demon-like abilities and decides to utilize them to preserve humanity. Unfortunately, two factors complicate his chosen mission: the dilemma of whether humans are worth saving and his best buddy.
14. Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira
Most fans are familiar with the now-famous anime, but the film, like many other film adaptations, condenses thousands of pages into two hours, obliterating many nuances. The rivalry between biker gang leader Kaneda and his unpredictable telekinetic companion Tetsuo lies at the center of the manga. However, the novel as a whole examines politics, power, and corruption…
15. CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura
CLAMP has generated a lot of well-known series, however many of them are still unfinished. There is no shade.
(Well, maybe a smidgeon.) Cardcaptor Sakura is perhaps one of the most accessible magical girl series on their backlist. It follows Sakura, a little girl who unleashes a set of magical cards by accident and now must work to collect them and shut them away once more.
While Sailor Moon established the current magical girl genre, Cardcaptor Sakura solidified the cutesy look that has come to define it.
16. Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood volume 1
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, once considered an obscure series among English readers, has regained popularity thanks to Crunchyroll’s anime adaptation. The Joestar family’s bizarre lives are chronicled in this long-running series. It is a one-of-a-kind format, with each section concentrating on a different family member and taking place in a different period and place. Part 1 is about Jonathan Joestar and takes place in Victorian England, whereas Part 4 is about Josuke Higashikata and takes place in a tiny Japanese town. This is one of the most influential manga series in history, and you’ll spot references to it in countless manga and anime series if you read enough of it.
I’m going to organize manga titles by genre from now on. Each category has a variety of genre interpretations and executions in the hopes that you will find the greatest manga to read for you.
Best Manga Romance
17. Kazune Kawahara’s Best Romance Manga High School Debut Volume 1 cover
Haruna, a middle school softball standout, decides to focus on a different aim in high school: finding a boyfriend. One minor snag: she’s never been interested in romance, fashion, or make-up and has no idea how to pursue her dream. She is undeterred and seeks assistance from the most popular boy in school. He agrees to help, much to everyone’s amazement, but only on one condition: she must not fall in love with him. The premise may sound clichéd, but Haruna’s earnest, uncomplicated charm will win you over.
18. Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss
Yukari is a senior in high school who should be studying for her upcoming college entrance examinations. When she meets a bunch of fashion design students, her plans go awry, irrevocably altering her life. The novel Paradise Kiss is chock-full of beautiful couture, first loves, and the agony of growing up.
19. Aya Nakahara’s Love Com
High school may be a stressful time, especially if you do anything that goes against societal conventions. Risa stands taller than the ordinary Japanese woman, whereas Atsushi is shorter than the average Japanese man. As a result, their peers make fun of them and couple them up. Despite how annoying this is, the two put their disagreements aside to help each other win their respective love interests. However, things do not go according to plan.
20. Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club
Haruhi attends a top high school on a scholarship. She has no possibility of repaying a significant debt incurred as a result of an accident. But she might be able to get away with it because of her gender-ambiguous appearance, which allows her to pass for a boy. She now works as a member of the host club, entertaining female customers with tea and food. Despite its common premise, Ouran High School Host Club is distinguished by the way it parodies well-worn shoujo manga cliches…
Karuho Shiina’s Kimi ni Todoke
Sadako of The Ring’s original girl from the well, Sawako Kuronuma, has an amazing likeness to her. This causes her classmates to shun her and propagate stories about her. But it turns out that Sawako is merely a kind girl who wants to make new friends. When Kazehaya, the most popular boy in school, starts talking to her, her fantasy becomes a reality.
22. Kazune Kawahara and Aruko’s “My Love Story”
Takeo Goda is a muscular young guy who has had little luck in love, owing to the fact that every female he likes falls in love with his handsome best buddy, Makoto. That all changes when he meets Rinko, who falls in love with Takeo, much to everyone’s astonishment. My Love Story is beautiful and serious, with delightful spurts of sweet comedy, like Kawahara’s earlier work, High School Debut…
23. Skip the Beat: Yoshiki Nakamura is the author of this piece.
Kyoko Mogami traveled to Tokyo with a childhood buddy to support his dream of becoming an idol. Her hopes of marrying him one day are dashed, however, when she realizes he was only using her. This incites Kyoko’s rage, and she vows that one day she will be a larger star than him. This story of a woman scorned is elevated by two factors. During her so-called “adventure,” Kyoko first finds her own abilities. Second, her love interest isn’t a childhood pal who took advantage of her generosity.
Best Manga sports.
24. Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s Kuroko’s Basketball
Kuroko’s Basketball is the series that started the comeback of the sports genre. It’s about a bunch of talented middle school basketball players who had a falling out and now had to confront each other in high school.
Although basketball accuracy isn’t one of this series’ strong suits, if you’re looking for emotional, interpersonal drama, this one delivers in spades…
25. Haruichi Furudate, Haruichi Furudate, Haruichi Furudate
Shoyo Hinata is a volleyball player who hopes to be one of the best in the world. He has no intention of letting his diminutive stature hold him back from achieving his goals. When he joins high school, though, he re-acquaints himself with Tobio Kageyama, a superb volleyball player whom he had previously met during a single volleyball match in middle school. These once-rivals must now unite to become an unstoppable force if their school is to reclaim its former volleyball glory.
26. Yuji Terajima’s Ace of the Diamond volume1
Baseball is popular in Japan, and this comic depicts the sport’s emotional highs and lows. Eijun Sawamura, a left-handed pitcher, gets recruited by a Tokyo high school known for its strong baseball squad.
27. Yuki Seutsugu’s Chihayafuru
The wonderful thing about sports comics is that they aren’t just about what we consider “conventional” sports in English-speaking countries. Traditional strategy games are also featured in a few of them! Chihayafuru is a Japanese card game in which the heroine, Chihaya, demonstrates an unexpectedly natural talent for the game.
28. Takehiko Inoue’s Real
Takehiko Inoue’s other basketball series, Slam Dunk, is arguably better known. Real is a mature look at the sport told through the eyes of a wheelchair basketball player. It examines persons who are socially excluded in various ways and offers a realistic perspective on physical disability and psychological damage.
Best Manga Historical Series
Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story
A Bride’s Story, set in late-nineteenth-century Central Asia, opens with the introduction of a young woman who travels from a remote village to marry a young man eight years her junior. The narrative widens to other young women and the men they eventually marry as we discover more about her and her new husband’s family.
This is one for historical fiction fans, with stunning art and meticulously researched cultural aspects.
Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal
Despite the historical importance of medieval samurai manga such as Lone Wolf and Cub and Lady Snowblood, the genre fell out of favor in the manga medium for nearly two decades. This began to alter in the early 1990s when a number of samurai manga were released. Blade of the Immortal offers an anachronistic approach to the genre, combining formal samurai culture’s classical aesthetic with modern clothes and speaking habits. The result is a stunning, brutally violent series about a young woman’s search for vengeance against the man who murdered her parents.
Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond volume 1
Vagabond is Inoue’s first step into the mediaeval samurai genre, despite his reputation for sports manga. The life of Miyamoto Musashi is romanticized in this series. There’s a reason why his name seems familiar. He’s the historical Japanese swordsman who penned The Book of the Five Rings.
Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers
A strange disease wipes off the majority of the male population in an alternate history of medieval Japan.
As a result, a matriarchal society emerges, in which women assume the role of shogun, and their harem, the Ooku, is made up of attractive males. If you’re familiar with Japanese history, particularly the Tokugawa Shogunate, you’ll find this speculative take on historical events fascinating.
Best Manga Thriller And Horror Series
Monster by Naoki Urasawa is a Thriller and Horror Manga.
Naoki Urasawa has written a number of series that are worthy of inclusion on any top manga list. The monster was chosen because it contradicts the stereotype that all manga features superpowers, supernatural elements, or the end of the world. Instead, it follows a great brain surgeon who, when offered the option of saving two lives, opts to operate on a little kid who grows up to become a serial killer.
Gangsta is a gritty urban crime drama with speculative aspects that follows a pair of “handymen” who execute errands across a metropolis, ranging from drug trafficking to gang elimination. However, the city in which they live and work is rife with hidden conflicts between gangs, regular citizens, and the heirs of genetically modified super soldiers from a previous war. As you can expect, the disagreement quickly boils over, resulting in dramatic and fatal consequences.
Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero
A list of manga would be incomplete without a Japanese spin on the zombie survival story. Here, a manga artist assistant goes about his daily routine, considering himself as a supporting character in his own story. When a plague turns people into zombie-like monsters, he is shaken out of his boring life—or maybe not. He now has no choice but to take charge of his own fate and do whatever he can to stay alive.
Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul
The sequel to Tokyo Ghoul. Readers will be taken on a dark and winding ride in Tokyo Ghoul: re. It follows Ken Kaneki, a college student who goes on a date with a gorgeous woman who turns out to be a monster. Only a bizarre accident rescues him from certain death, but when he wakes up, he realises he’s transformed into a half-monster. This series explores into the psychological problems that occur between humanity and the monstrous in the same way that Devilman does, but it comes to a different conclusion.
Junji Ito’s Uzumaki
Junji Ito is without a doubt one of the greatest horror masters, but deciding which of his works is the best manga in the genre can be difficult. But when we talk about Junji Ito, we can’t avoid mentioning Uzumaki.
The citizens of a tiny village cursed by a curse involving spirals (the “uzumaki” of the title) are the focus of this manga. What makes Ito so great as a horror writer is how effectively he employs atmosphere and psychological worries to create unease and disquiet in his audience.
Best Manga Supernatural and Fantasy Series
Yoshihiro Togashi’s YuYu Hakusho
Togashi is well-known these days for his frequent hiatuses on his current series, HunterxHunter. However, before that, there was this narrative about an adolescent delinquent who dies while saving a child but is given a second shot at life by performing good things at the behest of the spirit realm. Bonus interesting fact: Togashi is married to Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi!. I’m a sucker for a cute manga artist duo.
Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi
An episodic series about Ginko, a man who travels from place to place investigating mystical creatures known as Mushi and assisting those who are afflicted by them. This deceptively quiet manga will captivate you with its compelling, human-centered storyline.
Yana Toboso’s Black Butler
Black Butler is set in Victorian England and chronicles the storey of Ciel, the last surviving member of the Phantomhive family, who have traditionally served as the royal family’s guard dogs in the shadows. However, the manga’s main plot centres around Ciel’s agreement with a demon who has taken on the identity of Sebastian Michaelis, his butler.
Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist
Orphaned twins. A powerful exorcist reared Rin and Yukio Okumura. However, on the day their adoptive father passes away, Rin learns a startling discovery: he is Satan’s son. Rin now wants to become an exorcist and vanquish Satan himself—but will he be able to do it because he’s half-demon?
Matsuri Hino’s Vampire Knight
Where have all my vampire fans gone? I’m sure you’re out there somewhere. This manga is dedicated to you.
Yuki Cross has no recollection of her existence before a Pureblood vampire saved her from a rogue vampire attack. As a result, she grew up believing that humans and vampires may live side by side in harmony.
But it turns out that her faith, and even her trust, were misplaced.
Yuki Midorikawa’s Natsume’s Book of Friends
Takashi Natsume has the ability to see spirits, which has caused him to have a solitary upbringing. When his grandmother passes away, he finds a book with the names of all the spirits she defeated and tied to her will.
As a result, Natsume decides to return the names to their original owners. Just like you do.
Norihiro Yagi’s Claymore
There are a lot of series in the shonen manga genre with mostly male characters. Claymore defies tradition by telling a fantasy tale about a gang of half-demon female fighters who defend the general public against a broad demonic menace.
Mizuho Kusanagi’s Yona of the Dawn
The story begins with the protected Princess Yona in a fantasy world greatly influenced by Korean culture. Her innocence is shattered when her father is murdered by Soo-Won, a childhood friend whom she had wanted to marry one day. Yona almost makes it out alive with the help of her other childhood buddy and protector, Son Hak. Outside the castle, she learns of the chaos that engulfed the kingdom during her father’s reign.
Yona now seeks redemption and the salvation of her realm and her people.
Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki’s contemporary manga Oishinbo
Manga, contrary to popular belief in the English-speaking world, can be about anything. By chronicling the adventures of a culinary journalist, Oishinbo exhibits this. The English-language edition is more akin to a best-of collection, with each volume containing stories organized by theme.
Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband
My Brother’s Husband is one of the best manga to display slice-of-life stories, which is a prominent manga genre. When a single father is visited by the Canadian spouse of his dead estranged twin, the story begins. This insightful examination of the reality encountered by LGBTQ persons in Japanese society has received several honors, and even a brief reading of a few chapters will demonstrate why.
Yoshitoki Oima’s A Silent Voice
A Silence Voice is an excellent example of manga’s willingness to tackle challenging issues.
It depicts a former delinquent who tries to atone for his past transgressions by befriending a deaf girl whom he mistreated in elementary school.
Yotsuba?! Kiyohiko Azuma (Kiyohiko Azuma)
This adorable comic follows an active adopted little girl as she learns about normal, daily things in another slice-of-life storey.
Kanata Konami’s Chi’s Sweet Home
Remember when Neko Atsume took the cell phone game market by storm a few years ago? With this cute comic about a kitten who is adopted by a little boy and his family, you may revisit simpler times. Do you want to read more manga? If the notion of jumping into a series gives you the creeps, here are some stand-alone manga volumes to try. Or perhaps you’re interested in the most recent finest new manga? For more manga recommendations, have a look at all of our lists!