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Blog – Posted on Wednesday, Apr 28

The 75 Best Manga of All Time

The 75 Best Manga of All Time

Many Western readers understand the term “manga” to simply mean “Japanese comic books” — but in fact, manga has an incredibly rich history that stretches all the way back to the 12th century. While the Western literary canon was largely confined to prose-centric novels until the rise of comics in the 1930s, Japanese storytellers have been embracing the power of combining pictures and words for centuries.

With all that history to pull from, it’s no wonder the world of manga is such a varied literary landscape. From fantasy adventure to autobiographical comics to historical fiction to, yes, superheroes and monsters, manga has stories for readers of every genre and age.

But if you’re new to manga, the sheer number of stories available can feel overwhelming. That’s where we come in — we’ve taken this huge field and narrowed it down to the 75 best manga stories. There’s still an incredible amount of choice within our list, but with this guide in hand, you’ll be able to find the stories that suit your tastes, and get started with this incredible form of storytelling. Let’s get reading!

Beloved Classics

One Piece, Volume 1: Romance Dawn

1. One Piece (1997)

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💡 Status: Ongoing 

 Starting things off strong is the best-selling manga series of all time, One Piece. First published in July 1997, this long-standing, epic manga series follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy who accidentally eats a Devil Fruit and gives his body the properties of rubber. Together with a crew known as the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy bounces around the world in search of the famed “One Piece,” a treasure that will allow him to become the next King of the Pirates. With characters that include a skeletal musician, an anthropomorphized reindeer doctor (yes, really), and the usual assortment of thieves, liars, and warlords, One Piece embraces all the wild adventure and off-the-wall mania that only the best manga can deliver.

Naruto, Vol. 01: Uzumaki Naruto

2. Naruto (1999)

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💡 Status: Completed

Drawing from Chinese mythology and the history of ninja warriors of Japan, Naruto is the famous tale of one boy’s quest to become the heroic leader of his village. The series follows Naruto throughout his teenage years, as he learns the unusual truth of his birth and trains to become a ninja. Brimming with imagination, adventure, and, lest we forget, friendship, Naruto has become the go-to coming-of-age read that’s gripped the imaginations of more than 250 million fans around the world.

Vagabond, Vol. 1

3. Vagabond (1998)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Loosely based on the real life of a swordsman from the 1600s, Vagabond is a thrilling martial arts manga that’s been running since 1998 (but has been on a very extended hiatus since 2015). After escaping the Battle of Sekigahara, young Takezō and Matahachi seek shelter and swear to become “Invincible Under the Heavens.” Their plans are complicated, however, when their attackers track them down and the boys are separated. What follows is a daring, winding path for Takezō, as he sets out a journey that will ultimately lead him to become the famed sword master Miyamoto Musashi.

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Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1

4. Fullmetal Alchemist (2001)

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💡 Status: Completed

In the steampunk world of Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemy is a respected science, and the only things that are not allowed to be transmuted are humans and gold. This rule runs so deep that those who attempt to transmute humans not only lose a piece of themselves, but also face further punishment from the god-like being of Truth.

However, when Edward and Alphonse lose their mother, it’s worth the risk. Unfortunately, their daring efforts don’t go to plan, and soon Edward has lost an arm and Alphonse is a body-less spirit bound to a suit of armor. Together, the brothers set off on an arduous quest for the next solution: the philosopher’s stone…

Bleach, Volume 01

5. Bleach (2001)

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💡 Status: Completed

Everyone wonders about the afterlife, so it’s no surprise when fiction centers around questions of death and souls. In the world of Bleach, supernatural beings known as Soul Reapers transfer human souls from the world of the living to the Soul Society. But when a Reaper is injured while hunting a Hollow (a monstrous creature known to harm both ghosts and humans), she gives her Soul Reaping powers to a teenage boy who has the ability to  see ghosts. Now Kurosaki Ichigo has to juggle his new responsibilities with the world of high school — and, as expected, many haunting hijinks ensue.

Inuyasha, Volume 01

6. Inuyasha (1996)

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💡 Status: Completed

Manga legend Takahashi Rumiko knocked it out of the park with this epic, time-traveling, demon-fighting adventure. Expertly balancing fast-paced action and complex characters, imaginative fantasy and doses of horror, she tells the story of Kagome, a young girl who falls down a well and into feudal Japan — where she discovers that her destiny is linked to a dog-like half demon called Inuyasha, and a powerful jewel that she’s unknowingly brought into this world. The adventure that follows requires powerful magic, strange allies, and a strong heart, but Takahashi still manages to sprinkle the story with the touches of humor she’s known for.

Hunter x Hunter, Vol. 01

7. Hunter x Hunter (1998)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

In the dense and intricate world of Togashi Yoshihiro’s manga, Hunters are elite members of society capable of finding what’s hidden, from rare animal species to secret treasure hoards, unexplored frontiers to lawless individuals. When our hero Gon Freecs discovers that his father, whom he believed dead, is a world-renowned Hunter, he sets out to find him, leaving his home to take the rigorous Hunter Examination. What follows is a wild collection of tournament battles, training sequences, puzzles, trickery, and clever set-ups. And while the events of the series become increasingly strange (and increasingly violent), its characters remain so unpredictable and complex that the series could seemingly go on forever and still hold the reader’s interest. In his book Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson suggests that if Togashi’s ever looking for a career change, he should apply his dynamic creativity to game design.

Case Closed, Vol. 1

8. Detective Conan (1994)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Love the Sherlock Holmes books? Then Detective Conan might just be the manga for you. Meet Kudō Shinichi, aka Conan Edogawa: a high school prodigy detective turned elementary school child (it’s a long story) who solves crime with his Junior Detective club, aka his elementary school classmates. But Conan always has one eye on his ultimate goal, which is to unravel the mystery behind the Black Organization — the crime syndicate that forced him to ingest the experimental poison that turned him into a child. What makes Detective Conan perhaps even better than the Sherlock Holmes books is that its canon is still very much open. As of 2020, it’s the 24th longest running manga series with over 1000 chapters released in Japan — and there’s no planned end in sight!

Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom

9. Death Note (2003)

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💡 Status: Completed

What if you had the power to dispense ultimate justice upon anyone in the world — with seemingly no consequences or any way to trace it back to you?

That’s the precarious situation Light Yagami finds himself in in Death Note. Light is a teenager who finds a mysterious notebook that carries with it the power to kill anyone who’s name appears in its pages. His intentions are noble, as he sets off on a quest to rid the world of criminal activity, but, of course, things get complicated. Soon Light is being hunted by an elite police task force. Can he manage to keep his freedom, or will someone else’s idea of justice catch up with him first?

Fruits Basket Collector's Edition, Vol. 1

10. Fruits Basket (1998)

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💡 Status: Completed

This funny, heartwarming, and timeless story is about an orphan who finds her place among a family that embodies the animals of the Chinese zodiac. It’s also a story about isolation and acceptance. In short, Fruits Basket has everything you might want from a magical, contemporary comic. Following the life of Honda Tohru after the death of her family, Tohru ends up staying with a classmate and her family. It’s here that she learns — quite accidentally — that they turn into their zodiac animals when stressed, embarrassed, or hugged by someone of the opposite gender. Swearing to keep the family secret, Tohru sets out on a quest to break the curse, and ends up venturing into something far darker and deeper than she ever imagined possible.

New(er) Smash Hits

Jujutsu Kaisen, Vol. 1

11. Jujutsu Kaisen (2018)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Jujutsu Kaisen is one of the more recent entires in this list of the best manga, having just started its publication run in 2018. Which makes its explosive popularity all the more impressive: with over 45 million copies in circulation as of April 2021, Jujutsu Kaisen is already one of the best-selling manga series of all time. Its high-octane story revolves around a high-concept premise: Curses walk this Earth to bring harm to humanity, and only Jujutsu sorcerers can combat them. So what does Itadori Yūji, a mere high schooler in the Occult Research Club, have to do with it all? Nothing, of course — until the day he accidentally swallows the rotting finger of demon Sukuna Ryoumen, the “King of Curses”…

My Hero Academia, Vol. 1

12. My Hero Academia (2014)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Superheroes may be most famous among Western readers through the world of Marvel and DC, but My Hero Academia captures all the splashy fun of the genre in ways the US comics often fail to recognize. Set in a world where roughly 80% of the population has superpowers (or “Quirks”), the story follows Midoriya Izuku, one of the unlucky few who go without. Izuku still dreams of being a Hero, however, so when he is chosen to be successor to Japan’s greatest hero All Might, it’s a dream come true. All Might passes his Quirk down to Izuku, and the boy enrolls in an elite academy for heroes-in-training. This series has everything superhero fans could want, all wrapped up in one stakes-filled package.

One-Punch Man, Vol. 1

13. One-Punch Man (2009)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Lots of superheroes are strong, but only one has the strength to defeat any enemy with just one punch. You’d think, with such a powerful talent, One-Punch Man’s life as a hero would be set, right? 

Not so much. Unfortunately, as we learn through the pages of One-Punch Man, with great power sometimes comes incredibly great boredom: when no one is an actual threat, where’s the challenge? But when he scores surprisingly low on the entrance exam for the Hero Association, he may finally be faced with enough fresh challenges to bring some adventure back into his superhero days.

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

14. Attack on Titan (2009)

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💡 Status: Completed

It’s the year 845 and the remnants of mankind huddle inside a three-walled city, trapped by their fear of the giant humanoid Titans who lurk outside its boundaries. In stunning artwork, Hajime Isayama tells the story of a boy named Eren who lives on the outskirts of this city, under the shadow of Wall Maria. When that wall is breached and his mother is eaten, Eren decides to join the battle against the Titans by enlisting in the military — where he discovers a mysterious ability. A word of warning: this dark and sombre manga is not for those who get easily attached to characters, as the chances of them making it to the final pages are...slim.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol. 1

15. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2016)

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💡 Status: Completed

 Since its completion in May 2020, Demon Slayer has become one of the best-selling manga series of all time, with over 150 million copies in circulation. Set in Taisho-era Japan, it follows a young boy named Kamado Tanjirō as he sets out on a dangerous journey to destroy the demon who shattered his once peaceful life. If you enjoy a more traditional, heroic storyline, then this could be the manga for you — and you’d be in good company, as its battles, monsters, and the journey of its hero provided the blueprints for the hugely successful 2020 anime film of the same name.

The climber vol. 1 by Yoshio Nabeta, Jiro Nitta Shin-Ichi Sakamoto (2011-01-01)

16. Kokou No Hito (2007)

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💡 Status: Completed

Kokou No Hito means “solitary person” — which might give you a pretty good idea of what this award-winning manga is about. Loosely based on real-life mountain climber Buntarō Katō, Mori Buntarō is an introverted solo mountain climber whose biggest goal is to climb K2’s East Face (incidentally, one of the most difficult mountains in the world to summit). From Mori Buntarō’s first time climbing a school building to the iciest reaches of the tallest mountains in the world, this breathtaking manga takes you up on a fascinating coming-of-age journey into the sport of mountain climbing — all the while tackling serious issues such as depression, isolation, and the ever-constant fear of the unknown.

Generational Favorites

Astro Boy 1 & 2

17. Astro Boy (1952)

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💡 Status: Completed

Tezuka Osamu, the creator of Astro Boy, is like the Walt Disney of manga. First serialized in 1952, his legendary manga is known for popularizing the term “anime” and drawing attention to the shōnen genre. The adventures of Astro, the little android boy with human emotions, have extraordinary longevity, and only seem to be gaining relevance as we race towards the reality of humans and robots co-existing. Whether you come for the vintage experience or Astro’s atomic action, you’ll stay for the textured, surprisingly complex stories.

Akira, Vol. 1

18. Akira (1982)

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💡 Status: Completed

One of the first and best manga to ever be fully translated into English, Akira is a groundbreaking series that defined the cyberpunk genre in the manga landscape. Set twenty years after an explosion destroyed Tokyo, civilization has since rebuilt on an artificial island known as Neo-Tokyo. It’s here that the leader of a biker gang, a Colonel, a powerful revolutionary, and a group of psychic “espers” gather together to prevent further destruction of their home. The threat? A telekinetic individual named “Akira” — who may have already caused more devastation than the unlikely group of heroes had anticipated.

Dragon Ball, Vol. 1

19. Dragon Ball (1984)

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💡 Status: Completed

Loosely inspired by one of the Four Great Classical novels of Chinese Literature but with “a little more Kung Fu,” Dragon Ball is an epic, multiverse series that’s not to be missed. Centered on a boy named Son Gokū, the story follows him from childhood, as he trains in martial arts before finally setting off on a grand quest. The aim? Scour the world in search of mythical orbs known as “Dragon Balls,” which contain the power to summon a wish-granting dragon. Frankly, we think our wish would simply be for a dragon to ride around on, but hey, if that dragon wants to grant us extra wishes, we’re not going to complain! Truly, Dragon Ball brilliantly fulfils the wish to escape from the real world.

Fist of the North Star, Vol. 1

20. Fist of the North Star (1983)

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💡 Status: Completed

First published in the 1980s, Fist of the North Star is not only one of the best-selling manga series of all time, but also one of the most influential — this seminal title is known to have inspired and shaped many of the best manga in the shōnen genre. It’s an epochal, generation-defining masterwork, so if you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic settings, martial arts battles, heroic quests, and criminal gangs, or just want to know your manga history, don’t sleep on this one!

The Legend of Dororo and Hyakkimaru Vol. 1 (The Legend of Dororo and Hyakkimaru, 1)

21. Dororo (1969)

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💡 Status: Completed

Another classic by Tezuka Osamu, the Father of Manga, Dororo is an epic must-read for any fan of the manga medium. A long time ago, a man made a pact with 48 demons to help him rule the land. The demons’ price: his firstborn child, born disfigured, limbless, and without any facial features. When the child grows up into a young man, he learns the truth behind his curse — and, more importantly, that he must kill all of the 47 demons in order to reverse it. What follows is an unforgettable quest across Japan to regain his humanity, which includes meeting another young orphan thief along the way: Dororo.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 1

22. Sailor Moon (1991)

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💡 Status: Completed

If you want to dip your toe into some of the best manga, but epic heroic quests and horrifying post-apocalyptic worlds aren’t floating your boat, then check out this magical adventure book. Sailor Moon features schoolgirls, known as Sailor Scouts, fighting evil and enforcing justice — all in the name of the mysterious Moon Princess. The dynamic heroines of this fun shōjo series are credited with revitalizing the magical girl genre; its blockbusting success spawned many similar series, and influenced the development of TV shows like Winx Club, Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. So if you want a magical dose of 90s girl power, add Sailor Moon to your TBR.

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 1 - Japanese Cuisine

23. Oishinbo (1983)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

We’re spicing things up with this next entry, and throwing a cooking manga into the mixing bowl — and really, it’s hard to imagine a better pairing of comic books and cooking. The premise is two rival newspapers competing to create a menu that captures the essence of Japanese cuisine. But the battle is complicated (and made very funny) by the foodies in charge: the fearsome chef Kaibara Yūzan, and his son, Yamaoka Shirō, a reporter and the hero of the series. Though Yamaoka is an outright lazy reporter, in the kitchen he’s unstoppable, and the expertise he displays on Japanese cooking makes Oishinbo an enlightening read.

Ashita no Joe - Tome 01 (Ashita no Joe, 1) (French Edition)

24. Ashita no Joe (1968)

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💡 Status: Completed

When Joe Yabuki flees an orphanage for the Tokyo slums, he stumbles across Danpei Tange, a former boxing trainer who lightsa fiery passion for the sport within him. In and out of juvenile prison, through friendships and rivalries, Joe clings to boxing as he rises from the dust, fighting his way over every obstacle. First published in 1968, the inspirational story of Joe Yabuki especially touched a chord with Japanese audiences at the time, who were finally seeing their country prosper after a long period of postwar devastation. By capturing the zeitgeist — and inspiring another boxing classic, Hajime no Ippo Ashita no Joe has earned its rightful place among the best manga of all time.

Best Historical Manga

キングダム 1 [Kingdom 1]

25. Kingdom (2019)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

This historical fiction manga centers around the Warring States period of Chinese history. Centered around a war orphan, Kingdom tells the story of one boy’s rise from nothing on his quest to become the greatest general under the heavens. Featuring courtly intrigue and even a body double for the king, Kingdom contains no shortage of breathless action and drama as it draws readers deep into this fascinating time in China’s past.

Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1

26. Ooku: The Inner Chambers (2004)

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💡 Status: Completed

In an alternate history of Edo-period Japan, a strange plague called the Red Pox is killing off Japan’s men. Within eighty years, most of the male population is wiped out — and Japan has become a matriarchal society with a female shogun and a male harem. Sharply plotted, exquisitely drawn, and compellingly set up with a vibrant cast of characters and plenty of political intrigue to boot, Ooku: The Inner Chambers manages to deliver a thrilling story while challenging our assumptions about gender and how it can shape an entire society. And if “Early modern Japanese history, but make everything genderswapped” doesn’t intrigue you, we don’t know what will!

Vinland Saga 1

27. Vinland Saga (2005)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

A manga about Vikings? Sign us up! This unusual manga series takes inspiration from two separate pieces of history: King Cnut the Great’s rise to power, and the revenge of Thorfinn, a warrior serving with a group of mercenaries who killed his father. Full of sea battles, bloodthirsty warriors, and assassins, Vinland Saga is the perfect read if you’re feeling a little salty.

Black Butler, Vol. 1

28. Black Butler (2006)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

This next manga transports the reader to Victorian-era London, where we meet Ciel Phantomhive, the thirteen-year-old and newly-orphaned Earl of Phantomhive manor — and his demonic butler, Sebastian. While working as the head of the ‘Queen’s Watchdog’, investigating mysterious and dangerous threats to the crown, Ciel enlists the help of Sebastian in taking revenge on those who brought down the House of Phantomhive — but making a deal with a demon comes at a price. Black Butler is that perfect blend of supernatural, action, mystery, and comedy, making for a well-rounded and multifaceted manga.

Rurouni Kenshin (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1: Includes vols. 1, 2 & 3 (1)

29. Rurouni Kenshin (1994)

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💡 Status: Completed

Our final historical manga — but unlike many others, this one doesn’t center on someone striving for great heights of achievement, but instead on a quest for atonement. Set in the 1800s, Himura Kenshin is a former assassin who, after his battle days, vows to never take another life. With that goal in mind, he proceeds to redefine himself as a swordsman, wandering the countryside offering protection for those who need it. Rurouni Kenshin is a realistic, somber story in the midst of a genre so often centered around glorifying combat. It’s an important tale demonstrating that there is much more to strength than brute force.

Best Suspense, Thriller, and Horror Manga

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 (1)

30. Tokyo Ghoul (2011)

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💡 Status: Completed

It’s never fun to discover that somebody’s only into you for your body. But when Ken Kanuki realizes the beautiful Rize is only interested in eating his body, things turn sour pretty quickly. After a narrow escape and a lifesaving operation, Ken is forced to live as the first half-ghoul, half-human hybrid in a world where anthropoid ghouls sit at the top of the food chain. Ken’s struggle to exist in the space between two worlds is captured evocatively in this title’s sharp yet subtle art. But make no mistake, this action-packed manga is also dark, grotesque, and violent — definitely not for the faint of heart.

Parasyte 1

31. Parasyte (1988)

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💡 Status: Completed

Horror and science fiction melded into one terrifyingly original manga, Parasyte might be one of the most underrated mangas out there. It starts the night of — what else? — an alien invasion, as a flood of tiny parasites arrive on Earth to subsume the brains of its inhabitants. But 17-year-old Izumi Shinichi is semi-fortunate. He wakes up in the middle of the invasion, preventing his parasite (named Migi) from squirming its way up towards his brain. Instead, it takes over his arm — which means they both reside within the same body. Thus begins a worldwide battle between aliens and humans that manages to be both action-packed and philosophical at once. And, lest we forget, there’s also a lot of horror.

I Am a Hero Omnibus, Volume 1

32. I Am a Hero (2015)

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💡 Status: Completed

I Am a Hero is a realistic and terrifying survival horror story. It begins with Suzuki Hideo, a down-on-his-luck manga artist (meta!), who resents working as an assistant to another artist, suspects he’s his girlfriend’s second choice, and sees himself as the supporting character in his own life. All in all, the real world pales in comparison to his wildly imaginative dreams, hallucinations, and fantasies — that is until an outbreak of disease spreads through Osaka, turning people into zombies. Armed only with a shotgun, Hideo has to step into the leading role he's always desired, but in a struggle to stay alive.

Uzumaki

33. Uzumaki (1998)

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💡 Status: Completed

Spirals are one of the most common shapes in nature. From seashells to tornados to galaxies, spirals are found everywhere in all manner of sizes. There’s a certain visual and mathematical comfort to spirals — but what if they suddenly turned sinister? This is the idea behind Itō Junji’s horror manga, Uzumaki. Set in a town cursed by a supernatural force that uses spirals against people, this story creeps into the back of your mind and finds terror in the everyday. If you’re looking for a chilling story that will haunt your dreams and turn ordinary shadows into monsters, you’d do well to pick up this volume.

The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

34. The Promised Neverland (2016)

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💡 Status: Completed

It’s the year 2045, 1000 years after humans and demons agreed to live peacefully in two “separate” worlds — on the condition that mankind obey one request. Central to this agreement is Grace Field House orphanage, where Emma, Norman, and Ray lead an idyllic life. The house’s walls have always protected them from the outside world, but when dark secrets start to seep through the cracks, the children are thrown on a terrifying adventure. Don’t let Demizu Posuka’s adorable artwork fool you: this masterful suspense story is horrifically chilling and utterly heartrending.

Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Volume 1: Herr Dr. Tenma

35. Monster (1994)

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💡 Status: Completed

Do you like hospital dramas? What about stories about serial killers? If this intriguing juxtaposition made you sit up and take notice, boy have we got the best manga for you! Following the life of Dr. Tenma Kenzo, Monster is a love story (sort of) about a brilliant brain surgeon who discovers he’s become involved with a serial killer. Full of mystery, hidden pasts, and gorgeous, clear illustrations, Monster delves deep into the human psyche, revealing both the horror and hope at the core of humanity.

Devilman: The Classic Collection Vol. 1

36. Devilman (1972)

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💡 Status: Completed

A darker take on manga’s superhero tropes, Nagai Gō’s Devilman is for readers who aren’t sensitive to gore. Exploring the theme of using evil to fight evil, Nagai tells (in nightmarish art) the story of Fudō Akira, a highschooler who learns that Earth is about to be invaded by demons, and that the only way to destroy them is to absorb their demonic powers and fight them on their own terms. Nagai’s splatterfest of horror and brutal fight scenes also harbors a major plot twist, so maybe don’t read this one when you’re winding down for bed.

Best Fantasy and Supernatural Manga

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 1

37. Natsume's Book of Friends (2005)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Natsume Takashi may be fifteen years old, but he doesn’t have normal fifteen-year-old concerns, like how to be popular or how to ask out that girl in class he likes. No, no, Natsume has a much bigger problem on his hands: he can see youkai, or ghosts. What’s more, he’s constantly haunted by them — and all because of some “Book of Friends” that his deceased grandmother gave him! Thought-provoking, quirky, and beautiful, Natsume’s Book of Friends is an underrated gem of a manga that follows Natsume as he attempts to release the spirits bound by his grandmother's contract.

21st Century Boys: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1 (20th Century Boys: The Perfect Edition)

38. 21st Century Boys (1999)

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💡 Status: Completed

We all came up with elaborate stories of make-believe when we were children — but how many of us have had those stories haunt us by starting to play out in real life as adults? Unfortunately for Kenji, that’s exactly what’s happening in 20th Century Boys. As a boy, Kenji and his friends wrote down an imagined future in their “Book of Prophecy,” a future where villains attempt to destroy the world and the four boys become heroes. Now, Kenji is watching news events break that eerily resemble what he remembers from childhood — and if Kenji and the others can’t figure out who else knew about the Book of Prophecy before it’s too late, destruction may be inevitable.

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1

39. Akatsuki no Yona (2009)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Legend goes that the nation of Kouka was once founded by the Crimson Dragon God, who successfully saved the land from the brink of extinction alongside four other Dragon warriors. Legend also goes that the Crimson Dragon King died soon afterward, and the remaining four Dragon warriors split out in grief to walk separate paths thereafter. 

Fast forward two millennia and Princess Yona of Kouka is on the run from her own castle after an uprising led by her cousin Su-Won, who murdered her pacifist father in cold blood. To seek help, she must venture across the land in search of the Crimson Dragon King and four Dragon warriors who supposedly brought Kouka back from ruin the first time. But can she really pin all of her hopes on a potentially fictitious legend?

Berserk Deluxe Edition Volume 1

40. Berserk (1989)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Set in a medieval-Europe-like world, Berserk is a classic high fantasy story centered around a pair of mercenaries named Guts and Griffith. Guts, a fierce warrior, meets Griffith when he defeats Guts in combat, forcing him to join his mercenary group. The story that unfolds is one of daring adventure, mysterious pendants, immortal creatures, and seduced princesses — to name just a few of the dramatic situations Guts and Griffith get into. If you’re tired of the same old epic fantasies, but still want to be swept up in the familiar trappings of the genre, Berserk has got you covered.

Made in Abyss Vol. 1 (Made in Abyss, 1)

41. Made in Abyss (2012)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Do you like the plundering adventures of Indiana Jones, but wish they had more steampunky magic, and humanoid robots? Us, too! Or at least we do now that we know about Made in Abyss, an adventure manga following the exploits of Riko and her robot companion, Reg. Riko lives near a giant hole in the ground. Known as the Abyss, this seemingly endless pit harbors artifacts of a civilization long gone. But descending the pit is treacherous, and not just because of the physical danger: the abyss seems to contain a curse, and the deeper you go, the more it affects you. However, when Riko discovers a message from her mother, claiming to be waiting for her at the bottom of the Abyss, heading down is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

Yu Yu Hakusho, Volume 1: Goodbye, Material World!

42. Yu Yu Hakusho (1991)

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💡 Status: Completed

If a story about an underworld detective sounds intriguing to you, you’re not alone. This hugely popular manga series has earned itself many devoted fans for its tales of Urameshi Yūsuke — a 14-year-old delinquent who’s given the chance to turn his life around after sacrificing himself to save a young boy. Transported to the underworld, but not ready to pass on just yet, he’s told that if he wants to regain his life, he must work as a Spirit Detective to thwart evil presences on Earth. Fans have noted that partway through the series this eclectic manga shifts from the early detective stories to a martial arts tournament arc — so despite the premise, if you’re a fan of high-action battle scenes, this is still a great one to add to your list!

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1

43. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1982)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the atmosphere has turned toxic, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind follows a young princess attempting to stop a war between her two kingdoms — and prevent a further environmental disaster at the same time. It’s a lot to handle, but Nausicaä is more than up for the challenge. Having already explored the Sea of Corruption on her jet-powered glider, Nausicaä steps up to take on her role as a military chief when her father is too ill to continue. The threats she and her people face are enormous, but Nausicaä takes on the challenge with strength and courage, uncovering the deeper reasons for these disasters and meeting her obstacles head-on. It’s a powerful reminder of our own strength, and the importance of protecting our world.

Rave Master, Vol. 01

44. Rave Master (1999)

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💡 Status: Completed

Also known as The Groove Adventure Rave, Rave Master was the first serialised manga by Mashima Hiro, now acclaimed for his popular manga Fairy Tail. Following a teenager on a quest to find all five pieces of the dark and powerful Rave stone, and defeat a criminal group known as Demon Card, Rave Master has everything you’d expect from a (rather massive) epic shōnen manga. But it’s the intricate worldbuilding, multi-layered characters, and the refreshing artwork that truly take on a life of their own as this manga grows, that really set Rave Master apart from others in the genre.

Mushi Shi Vol. 1

45. Mushishi (1999)

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💡 Status: Completed

Mushishi is an episodic manga at the centre of which is Ginko — a young man capable of conferring with ancient spirits known as Mushi. Dwelling in the darkness behind our eyelids and feasting on silence, these deadly creatures emerged from the primordial ooze, and now haunt mankind. To learn more about the Mushi, Ginko travels around Japan helping those plagued by their presence. Mushishi’s cult following doesn’t stick around for hauntings and exorcisms, however, but for this manga’s calm and meditative way of exploring the most human of concerns.

Claymore, Vol. 1: Silver-eyed Slayer

46. Claymore (2001)

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💡 Status: Completed

In a sinister, medieval fantasy world plagued by humanoid shape-shifters who feed on human flesh, humanity’s only line of defense is a new breed of female warriors known as Claymores. Half-human, half-monster, these silver-eyed slayers possess superhuman strength but are condemned to a dangerous and lonely existence. The villagers who live under their protection have only a loathsome regard for the warriors, knowing that between trying battles and arduous journeys they are constantly struggling to resist their monster blood and maintain their humanity. This complex dimension to the characters in Claymore elevates it beyond other combat-heavy mangas and earns it a spot on our list of the best manga.

Cardcaptor Sakura Collector's Edition 1

47. Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)

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💡 Status: Completed

When elementary schooler Sakura finds a mysterious book in her basement, she can’t resist peeking inside. Little does she know, the book is enchanted, and opening it releases a set of magical cards into the world. When the guardian of the cards Cerberus tasks her with sealing them back up before they cause chaos, Sakura sets out on a wild adventure. A joyous romp, this children’s manga is definitely on the cutesy side, but if you’re looking for a slice of sunshine it’s well worth checking out.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1—Phantom Blood, Vol. 1

48. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (1987)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

If you need a lot of reading material, then check out Shueisha’s largest ongoing manga series, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Considered one of the best manga series out there, it's divided into eight story arcs, each following a member of the Joestar family. Continuity comes in the form of creative battles with supernatural beings, and a generational conflict stemming from a rivalry between Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando — a satanic villian that you’ll love to hate. The series has received a lot of praise, often for its outstanding artwork and iconic character poses, but also for the careful building of suspense and tension. One thing's for sure: this shōnen manga will definitely put some hair on your chest.

Sports Manga

Slam Dunk, Vol. 1

49. Slam Dunk (1990)

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💡 Status: Completed

Slam Dunk is so universally acclaimed that today, it's generally elevated out of the "great sports manga" category and into the all-time best manga tier. So what's so good about it? Pretty much everything, from the epic drama to the thrilling art. A teenage delinquent who constantly strikes out with girls, Sakuragi Hanamichi seems like the least likely candidate for his school’s basketball team — especially when his fiftieth crush rejects him in favor of a basketball player. However, the girl he’s set his sights on now encourages him to sign up, and soon Hanamichi discovers a love for the game that runs far deeper than a desire to impress someone else. Full of rivalry and triumph, Slam Dunk is, well, a Slam Dunk for sports fans and young adult readers alike.

Haikyu!!, Vol. 1

50. Haikyu!! (2012)

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💡 Status: Completed

Hinata Shōyō is out to prove you don’t have to be tall to be the best at volleyball. After all, who needs long legs when you can fly? Certainly not “The Little Giant'', Karasuno High School’s star player, and not Hinatu, either. Inspired by his new idol, Hinata starts building his school’s volleyball team from the ground up — his eyes on the prize of winning Nationals. At every twist and turn Hinata is a refreshingly optimistic protagonist, and the cast of characters Furudate Haruichi builds around him is incredibly easy to love. So be warned: once you start this series, you’ll invest in it mind, body, and soul.

Kuroko's Basketball, Vol. 1: Includes vols. 1 & 2 (1)

51. Kuroko's Basketball (2008)

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💡 Status: Completed

Kuroko’s Basketball is another compelling sports manga that does an incredible job of creating engaging characters with real depth. It tells the story of the Seirin High School basketball team — in particular, its two star players, Kagami Taiga and Kuroko Tetsuya. When Kagami discovers that the mysterious Kuroko was the “Phantom Sixth Member” of the unbeatable (but disbanded) junior-high team dubbed the “Generation of Miracles”, they team up to take Seirin High to the top — which means taking on Kuroko’s old teammates, one by one. Get ready to be utterly gripped.

Real, Vol. 1

52. Real (1999)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

If you wanted more after Slam Dunk, Real is the manga for you. Inoue Takehiko, the celebrated creator of some of the best manga like Slam Dunk and Vagabond, returns to the basketball scene with this great manga — which is arguably even more accomplished than Slam Dunk in terms of realism, maturity, and sheer emotional depth. It follows the story of Nomiya Tomomi, a former basketball captain riddled with guilt after ruining a young girl’s life in a traffic accident; Togawa Kiyoharu, a wheelchair-bound ex-sprinter; and Takahashi Hisanobu, a basketball prodigy-turned-paraplegic who is suddenly (and permanently) unable to move from the chest down. 

This mismatched cast of marginalized characters are bound by one simple thing: a wish to play basketball, despite a world that pushes them away from it. But basketball is for everyone, and for readers, the same is true: Real is for everyone.

The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1

53. The Prince of Tennis (1999)

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💡 Status: Completed

Published in 1999, Prince of Tennis is one of the original sports mangas that started the sports manga craze in Japan. More than two decades later, it’s a whole franchise that’s been adapted into every format possible, from musicals to video games to anime — but the manga remains the best place to start. Our hero is middle schooler Echizen Ryōma, who, instead of being terrible at tennis, as most protagonists in sports dramas are, is already a prodigy. But so are most of the opponents that he faces at Seishun Academy, so he’ll need all of his superpower techniques — and his found family of teammates — to help bring home the National Middle School Tennis Championship.

Grand Blue Dreaming 1

54. Grand Blue (2014)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Sometimes you just need a story about sun, surf, and summertime. Set on the Izu Peninsula, Grand Blue follows college-bound Kitahara Iori, a young man living above his uncle’s diving shop. He’s excited to explore the ocean off the peninsula’s coast, but soon discovers that the local diving club is much more interested in partying than actually getting in the water. Despite their differences, Iori ends up getting swept up in their world, discovering new sides of himself along the way.

Ace of the Diamond Vol. 1

55. Ace of the Diamond (2006)

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💡 Status: Completed

As you may have realized, if there’s a sport, there’s (probably) a manga about it. And when the sport in question is baseball — one of the biggest sports in Japan — that statement is triply true, as baseball mangas are a dime a dozen. But if you want to head straight for the best one, Ace of Diamond is a hit-and-run bet that’s universally loved for its high-spirited, gripping story. It centers around Eijun Sawamura, a rural boy who dreams of making it in the big leagues as a baseball pitcher. And though that opportunity still seems far away, everything changes when he’s scouted by Seidou High School to join their prestigious (and very competitive) baseball team.

Best Romance Manga

Love★Com, Vol. 1

56. Love Com (2001)

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💡 Status: Completed

Everyone loves an “odd couple,” and the odd couple in Love Com is especially loveable. In this manga from Nakahara Aya, a tall girl, Risa, and a short boy, Atsuhi, are constantly picked on by their classmates and treated as a comedy duo. Though they initially clash, the two decide to unite against their bullies and secure their respective love interests. But when love unexpectedly blossoms between them, they must decide whether it’s worth standing up to the derision of their classmates to be true to their hearts.

Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1

57. Ouran High School Host Club (2002)

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💡 Status: Completed

When scholarship student Haruhi breaks an $80,000 dollar vase belonging to the mysterious Host Club —  a group of six ultra wealthy boys who spend their time entertaining clients — the club’s members give Haruhi the chance to work off her debt by running errands for them. But there’s one slight hiccup — they haven’t realized she’s a girl, and the club is strictly boys only. A self-aware take on manga that parodies fan culture and subverts tropes, Ouran High School Host Club’s winks to the audience only serve to endear it to them further.

Love Hina Omnibus 1

58. Love Hina (1998)

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💡 Status: Completed

An incredibly popular shōnen comedy released around the turn of the millenium, Love Hina is about a boy called Urashima Keitarō and a girl called — well, we don’t know yet because Keitarō’s clean forgotten her name. Which is a problem, because he needs to find her in order to fulfill a childhood promise: to enter the University of Tokyo together. If that sounds a bit too academic for you, don’t worry: it’s a comedy after all, and it truly delivers on that front, with plenty of hilarious misunderstandings, awkward encounters, and accidental romantic mix-ups galore.

My Love Story!!, Vol. 1

59. My Love Story (2011)

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💡 Status: Completed

Gentle giant Takeo has always been an underdog when it comes to love, constantly in the shadow of his handsome and charming best friend, Sunakawa Makoto. So when he crosses paths with Yamato Rinko, and instantly falls in love, he assumes he doesn’t stand a chance. But things might just be looking up for Takeo in this hilarious romantic comedy. Will Rinko fall for his heart of gold?

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Vol. 1

60. Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (2011)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Breaking news: Sakura Chiyo has a crush on classmate Nozaki Umetarou! What should she do next? Obsess over him? Check. Gossip about him incessantly with her friends? Check. Confess her eternal love to him? Check. Find out that he’s actually a renowned shōjo mangaka and then somehow get hired as his assistant? Check — now just wait a minute… In this hilarious, laugh-out-loud manga that’s charmed its way onto the Oricon bestsellers list, every single romantic trope you’ve ever encountered in a manga is fair game for some good-natured parodying. Does Chiyo ever get her man? Not yet, if Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun has anything to say about it!

Skip·Beat!, (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1: Includes vols. 1, 2 & 3 (1)

61. Skip Beat! (2002)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

If you think this is your regular shōjo manga, as its cover might suggest, think again. Skip Beat! is at heart a revenge tale. And the villain in question is rising pop star Fuwa Shoutarou, who treats his childhood friend Mogami Kyōko like trash, even while Kyōko works multiple menial jobs in Tokyo to support his burgeoning career. When Kyōko discovers that her crush simply thinks of her as a free maid, she is understandably furious and vows revenge by beating him at his own game: showbiz. Skip Beat! may be one of the funniest revenge stories you’ll ever read, and you’ll find yourself cheering Kyōko on as she climbs to the summit of the entertainment industry to take her future into her own hands.

Paradise Kiss, Vol. 1

62. Paradise Kiss (1999)

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💡 Status: Completed

Apparently, makeovers aren’t the reserve of 90’s rom-coms: in Paradise Kiss, the studious Yukari is swept up into a world of glamor after being “kidnapped” by a group of fashion design students and turned into their muse. The collective, who dub themselves Paradise Kiss, introduce Yukari to their fast-paced lifestyle and affairs of the heart, as she forms a complex relationship with the charming but emotionally unavailable George. A compelling manga with a bittersweet ending, you’ll wish this slim volume went on forever.

Nana, Vol. 1

63. Nana (2000)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

Nana refers to its two titular characters: Komatsu Nana and Ōsaki Nana. But their names might be the only thing they have in common. Komatsu Nana is naïve, flighty, and obsessed with falling in love, while Osaki Nana is the proud lead vocalist of a punk rock band. But when the two Nanas meet by chance on a train ride to Tokyo in this beautifully rendered manga, their lives take a turn — and an unbreakable friendship is formed.

Slice-Of-Life Manga

A Silent Voice, Vol. 1

64. Koe no Katachi (2013)

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💡 Status: Completed

Of course, manga isn’t all rom-coms and cheery endings. At its best, it's a powerful medium for tackling societal issues — and Koe no Katachi is a moving example of this. Koe no Katachi is about many things, but at its core it’s a story about teen bullying and its consequences. Ishida Shōya is a sixth-grader, and the ringleader when it comes to bullying Nishimiya Shōko, a deaf girl in her class. Years afterward, can Ishida take steps to make amends — or is it too late?

Goodnight Punpun Omnibus, Vol. 1

65. Goodnight Punpun (2007)

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💡 Status: Completed

Following the titular Onodera Punpun, Goodnight Punpun spans nearly twenty years of an ordinary boy’s life. However, don’t let the “safe” premise or the charming representation of Punpun and his family as cartoon birds fool you: this is no cozy, feel-good comic. Purposefully designed to push the limits of what the best manga can deliver, Punpun’s story deals with such heavy topics as depression, social isolation, and death. It’s not all dark, however — you’ll find a real and raw balance within Punpun’s pages, framed by an utterly unique art style that brings readers immediately into a world at once relatable and entirely its own.

A Journal Of My Father

66. Chichi no Koyomi (1994)

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💡 Status: Completed

Taniguchi Jirō is a revered master in the world of manga, known for his graceful aesthetic and quietly meaningful storytelling. And Chichi No Koyomi is no exception. Translated as My Father’s Journal, Chichi No Koyomi tells the simple story of a son returning to his hometown for the first time in 15 years for his estranged father’s funeral. The simple beauty of the story that follows is Taniguchi at his best, and a towering testament to the transformative power of the medium. 

The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, Part 1

67. Chi's Sweet Home (2010)

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💡 Status: Completed

Meet Chi. Chi is not your typical protagonist for a number of reasons. First of all, she has the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen. Second of all, she loves milk. Third of all, she’s not housebroken yet and will chase after all of the bouncy balls she sees. Fourth of all, Chi is a cat, as you might have already guessed — and Chi’s Sweet Home is the story of her adoption by a young boy, Youhei, and his kind family. We’ll be straight with you: there’s not too much plot here beyond a super cute cat doing cat things. That said, you are guaranteed to exclaim “Kawaii!” multiple times in every chapter. So if you’re a cat lover (as many in Japan are), we suggest you drop everything and go pick up this manga immediately.

LGBTQ+ Manga

My Brother's Husband, Volume 1

68. My Brother's Husband (2014)

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💡 Status: Completed

You’ll see this manga fervently recommended all over the place, and for very good reason: it’s not only one of the best manga out there, but also one of the most incredible family dramas released in any medium in recent years. It takes place in a quiet Tokyo suburb. Yaichi’s existence has been simple: he works in Tokyo and raises his young daughter Kana. But this father and daughter’s suburban existences are completely upended one day by the appearance of a big Canadian man named Mike Flanagan, who tells Yaichi two shattering pieces of news: 1. He’s the husband of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin Ryoji, and 2. Ryoji is dead. What follows is an unforgettably heartwarming and heartbreaking story about family, that tackles homophobia, forgiveness, prejudice, and gay culture in a country that can still be very much closeted.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

69. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (2016)

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💡 Status: Completed

Nagata Kabi will have you sobbing in a heap one minute and crying with laughter the next as she depicts in bold, expressive artwork the moving story of her burgeoning sexuality and struggles with mental health. Though the artist’s solution to her need for human contact is a little out-of-the-box (she hires a female sex worker), My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness has resonated with a huge number of people struggling, but learning, to love themselves. If you came here looking for some fresh, modern manga, don’t miss out on this entertaining read that’s become a LGBTQ+ classic!

I Hear the Sunspot: Limit Volume 1

70. I Hear the Sunspot (2013)

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💡 Status: Completed

Yuki Fumino’s first manga I Hear the Sunspot generated a huge amount of buzz upon its publication in 2014 — and the Boys’ Love project has now made her one of the most watched up-and-coming mangaka in the community. The ongoing series follows college student Kōhei Sugihara as he struggles to integrate into life on campus, withdrawing more and more from the other students because of a hearing impairment. His walls come down, however, when he meets Taichi, an outspoken and cheerful new friend who teaches Kohei to open his heart.

What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 1

71. What Did You Eat Yesterday? (2007)

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💡 Status: Ongoing

This cult classic manga is a cosy slice of life served with a delicious helping of comfort food. What Did You Eat Yesterday? follows the lives of Shiro and Kenji, a middle-aged gay couple living in Tokyo. Chronicling domestic dramas and workplace comedy with warmth and humor, it’s interspersed with scenes of foodie Shiro cooking recipes related to the plot — which have even been turned into a companion cookbook! Deftly touching on big issues like LGBTQ+ rights with great delicacy, this unassuming portrait of domesticity will have you hoping Shiro and Kenji invite you to stay a little longer.

Love Me for Who I Am, Vol. 1

72. Love Me for Who I Am (2018)

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💡 Status: Completed

Don’t be fooled by its cover: Love Me For Who I Am is a sensitive and sweet exploration of LGBTQ issues — and one of the few manga to feature a protagonist who is explicitly nonbinary. That protagonist is Mogumo, a high schooler who desperately wishes to find other people like them. So when a fellow classmate, Iwaoka Tetsu, offers Mogumo the chance to work at a café run by a staff that is queer, trans, and gender non-conforming, Mogumo seizes it. With a heartfelt story and a delightful cast of characters to match, Love Me For Who I Am bravely pushes the envelope and explores gender presentation in a hyper-binary society.

The Bride Was a Boy

73. The Bride Was a Boy (2018)

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💡 Status: Completed 

This adorable autobiographical comic follows the life of Chii, a woman who was assigned male at birth. In The Bride Was a Boy, readers get treated to a refreshingly happy story as this trans woman comes to terms with her gender, comes out to her supportive friends and family, and ultimately finds happiness with a man she loves deeply. Everything about this manga is sweet and uplifting, providing a loving story even as it educates on the basic issues trans people face on a daily basis.

Our Dining Table

74. Our Dining Table (2019)

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💡 Status: Completed

This delicate and heartwarming manga is the kind of love story you can devour in just an hour — but what a great way to spend one. With a gentle and tender touch, Ori Mita tells the story of Yutaka, a salaryman and incredible cook who struggles to eat in company, and Minoru, a shy university student. They meet by chance in a park, when Minoru’s lively little brother Tane shares Yutaka’s onigiri. Minoru asks him over for some cooking lessons, and gradually the two characters bond over shared losses, heartaches, and food. Around the dining table, they remember how to cherish the small joys of life.

The Heart of Thomas

75. The Heart of Thomas (1974)

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💡 Status: Completed

At a boarding school for boys in Germany, sometime in the late 20th century, fourteen-year-old Thomas Werner sends a letter to a classmate confessing his love, before falling from a pedestrian bridge to his untimely death. These are the events that begin Hagio Moto’s beautiful, whirlwind manga, which follows the lives of three boys: Juli, wracked with guilt over Thomas’ death; Oskar, who harbors a secret love for his friend; and Erich, Thomas’ mysterious doppelganger. A complex yet compelling story that floats off the page, The Heart of Thomas can be found on any list of the best manga.

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Interested in more tales of heroics? Check out our list of the 100 Best Adventure Books. Or, if the love stories were more your speed, we’ve got you covered there, too, with our list of the best romance novels!

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