Equivalent to comics in Japan, manga has long been one of their most prized exports. Today, we take a look at the best of them.
Anime-manga have been arguably the most popular cultural exports from the Land of the Rising Sun of all time. The manga universe and the manga culture are extremely present in the Japanese culture. The Japanese animation industry is massive, but it would not have existed without the manga industry in Japan. For the uninitiated, manga is published weekly, bi-weekly or monthly in magazines, usually in black and white ink. This keeps costs down and puts less creative pressure on the artists, creator and designer of manga (also called mangaka).
There are different types of manga or genres of Japanese manga. Among the most famous are: shonen and seinen.
Almost all manga are first published in serial form in magazines, and when they become popular, they are printed as paperback comics, known as manga. This article presents the top 15 manga.
- Mangaka: Fujisawa, Tohru
- Publisher: Shounen Magazine (weekly)
This is the inspiring story of a punk and a delinquent turned teacher. Eikichi Onizuka, a 22-year-old, led a hard life until he turned into a teacher, hence his name: the great teacher Onizuka.
Many obstacles stand in his way, such as uncooperative classmates, an exhausted principal, his own past demons, and his general unfitness to teach. But he doesn't give up just yet; he wants to be a truly great teacher and prove it to everyone.
14. Made in Abyss
- Mangaka: Tsukushi, Akihito
- Publisher: Web Comic Gamma
This is a Japanese manga series about a huge abyss, and the principle is much more interesting than it seems. The Abyss is a gigantic opening in the Earth, and nobody survives by going too deep inside. But brave cave explorers are trying to map this place.
The city known as Orth is located near the Abyss, and a young girl named Riko meets a robot named Regu (who has come from deep inside the Abyss). Riko is certain that her mother is alive at the bottom of the Abyss, so she decides to go there herself.
13. Monogatari Series: Season One
- Mangaka: Nisio, Isin (Story), Vofan (Designer)
- Publisher: Mephisto
This series is rich, dealing with personal dramas, ghosts, monsters and psychological scars. Koyomi Araragi comes face to face with a vampire, and Koyoko is also reborn as a vampire.
He soon gets involved with other monsters and supernatural beings, too, and all the while he is desperate to regain his humanity and wash his hands of the whole supernatural phenomenon. But that's easier said than done.
12. 20th Century Boys
- Mangaka: Urasawa, Naoki
- Publisher: Big Comic Spirits
Kenji Endo is an unassuming convenience store manager in the 1990s, and he is sure his life will never change. But he hears about the recent suicide of a childhood friend, and he soon realizes that a deadly cult led by a character named Friend might be involved.
In fact, Kenji believes that he and all his friends are being targeted, and that only these friends can save the world from certain doom. This manga explores the lives of these boys in the 1990s and 1960s to add narrative depth.
11. Solo Leveling
- Mangaka: Jang, Sung-rak and Chugong
- Publisher: Kakao
This manhwa (Korean comic book) is based on the web novel series of the same name by Chugong. It's a great choice for those who like "zero to hero" stories - weak protagonists are given power with each quest they conquer. The characters are straightforward, their goals and motivations are easy to understand, and they are very engaging.
The one factor that sets this manhwa apart is its art, which is one of the main reasons why it is so highly rated on MyAnimeList. Its art is breathtakingly beautiful, and it immediately draws its readers in.
10. Slam Dunk
- Mangaka: Inoue, Takehiko
- Publisher: Shounen Jump (weekly)
Sports anime have become very popular in the last five years, with Haikyuu and Kuroko no Basuke being two of the best known examples. However, one of the first sports anime about basketball, Slam Dunk, has its origins in its Japanese comic book.
The story revolves around Sakuragi Hanamichi, who is a typical sports manga main character (i.e. someone who is not interested in the game at first, but becomes deeply passionate about it later). It is a manga for beginners, so those who know nothing about basketball can go in with their eyes closed. The manga teaches everything there is to know about this sport. It is also sprinkled with enough drama, action and humor to keep you invested until the end.
9. Grand Blue
- Mangaka: Inoue, Kenki (story), Yoshioka, Kimitake (drawing)
- Publisher: good! Afternoon
It's a kind of sports manga series, but forget tennis, basketball or American soccer. This time it's about swimming, and the creators did a great job in making swimming really beautiful in black and white.
The main character is Iori Kitahara, who moves into his uncle's dive store (Grand Blue). He is quickly drawn into a wild and fun world of drunken partygoers, and while he joins the party, he hopes to make something of himself as well.
- Mangaka: Hara, Yasuhisa
- Publisher: Young Jump
Written by a Japanese mangaka, this story is actually set in ancient China. It is about the naive dream of young Shin, who wants nothing more than to become the greatest general in China. Unlike other shonens, Kingdom does not make Shin a magically OP character. His struggles, both physical and emotional, are extremely real and identifiable. The manga also focuses heavily on the internal and external political aspects of the various Chinese kingdoms involved, which is complemented by extremely detailed art.
Since the story takes place over a period of years, it also shows how many of its characters gradually grow and evolve into more mature human beings. This is a perfect read for shonen fans who are tired of the generic stories that flood the manga industry.
7. Oyasumi Punpun
- Mangaka: Asano, Inio
- Publisher: Big Comic Spirits
Punpun is strange. It's not often you encounter nihilistic undertones in Japanese manga, where every character is morally repugnant to the point that it's impossible to like them for who they are. The story itself is intensely disturbing, as it deals with serious issues such as domestic violence, abuse, suicide and rape.
The plot revolves around the life of 11-year-old Punpun Onodera, an innocent and idealistic child, whose life changes when he meets Aiko Tanaka. We witness Punpun's growth and his growing disillusionment with his life and everyone in it. Especially as he realizes that the people he once idolized were nothing more than extremely flawed human beings.
- Mangaka: Inoue, Takehiko and Yoshikawa, Eiji
- Publisher: Morning
This historical seinen has everything you could ask for: suspense, drama, action, lots of beautifully drawn fight scenes and even some emotional confrontations.
Vagabond follows the life of Japanese teenager Musashi Miyamoto, whose goal goes from becoming Japan's most famous swordsman to realizing the importance of choosing his battles, as well as the value of bonding with others. Keep in mind that this manga is not to everyone's taste. There is a lot of blood and gore in this series, and everything is drawn in great detail.
5. One Piece
- Mangaka: Oda, Eiichiro
- Publisher: Shonen Jump (weekly)
One Piece really needs no introduction. It is the favorite childhood anime of millions of children around the world, and that's because it follows a rather simplistic story. Monkey D. Luffy is on a quest to find the One Piece, a great treasure that is buried in the Grand Line ocean.
As in almost all shonen adventure stories, our protagonist starts out as an awkward young man who makes some strange friends along the way. Some stay, some leave, and just like the anime, the manga is filled with filler chapters. Fun fact: One Piece is often ranked with Bleach and Naruto as one of the Big Three Shonen, meaning the three most popular shonen series that ever existed.
- Mangaka: Big Comic Original
- Publisher: Young Animal
One word encompasses everything about Monster manga: "brilliant". This seinen is not a traditional manga, it is in fact the opposite. The story revolves around the moral and ethical dilemmas of Dr. Kenzou Tenma, who chooses to save a child's life over the mayor's. However, people around him start getting murdered and all fingers point to the little boy.
The story of the manga relies heavily on the characters and their interactions, as well as their monologues. While the art is mediocre at best, its compelling story, twists and thrills more than make up for its lack of aesthetics.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist
- Mangaka: Arakawa, Hiromu
- Publisher: Shonen Gangan
It is somehow impossible not to know the existence of the Fullmetal series. The anime was a hit, and its reboot was an even bigger hit. Their massive popularity continues to draw more and more fans to their manga. The manga follows the adventures of two alchemist brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are in search of the wizard school. They want this magical stone to grant them their deepest desire: that their deceased mother comes back to life.
The characters in the manga are colorful, the world-building is well done, the humor is wacky, and there are enough thrills to keep readers captivated until the end.
2. JoJo No Kimyou Na Bouken Part 7: Steel Ball Run
- Mangaka: Araki, Hirohiko
- Publisher: Ultra Jump
Even if an anime fan has not watched or read Jojo, he is certainly aware of all the Jojo memes that are constantly circulating on the Internet. The setting of the manga is the Old, Old West, which is a breath of fresh air in the world of manga where the stories take place either in Japanese schools or in imaginary countries in some alternate dimensions. This manga focuses on Johnny Joestar's victory in a race and the introduction of his nemesis, Gyro Zeppeli.
As the name suggests, this is not the first manga in the Jojo series, but it is the most popular, especially because of its detailed art and vibrant humor.
Mangaka: Miura, Kentarou
Publisher: Young Animal
The Berserk anime and manga franchises, with millions of copies sold, have had their share of drama. However, we will only focus on the manga.
The protagonist of our seinen is Guts, an ideal young boy who is betrayed by his sensei, someone he once loved and respected. He is now bloodthirsty, and things are made more difficult for him because of the constant misfortunes that he continues to face. However, his monstrous strength and resilience are what keep him afloat.
Fans of action and/or sci-fi will love this one, but getting through the first few volumes can be a real headache, as the art is dated and the plot moves very slowly. But it's definitely worth the wait.
Editor's favorite: Naruto
- Mangaka: Masashi Kishimoto
- Publisher: Shūeisha
Naruto isn't as sprawling as a long-running anime series like One Piece, but getting into the ninja world at this point is always a daunting task.
This series based on Masashi Kishimoto's manga of the same name, follows a young ninja named Naruto Uzumaki in a world built around the mystical control of innate elemental abilities. The story of his learning of these arts takes enough time for many young fans of the series to grow old along with him.
The series is divided into two distinct storylines: Original Naruto, which follows the young ninja in training during his childhood, and Naruto: Shippuden, which picks up his exploits as a teenager. Although one might think that this makes the series easier to digest, the two series total 720 episodes between them. To give you a better idea of the scale, Toonami, Adult Swim's anime block, began airing all 500 episodes of Shippuden on a weekly basis in 2014. The series is scheduled to end in 2024.
Before you get discouraged by the huge pile of ninja-related homework, let yourself be guided through the series' universe. It's hard to find a story that takes 720 episodes to complete, but that doesn't mean that the final story Naruto tells isn't worth the investment.
We would like to remind you that the order of this top is not final, the order in which they are placed is not ranked from best to worst! This is only a brief top of the mangas that the Japan-Clothing team could see or review!