Manga has been a worldwide phenomenon for decades. In Japan, manga is considered an art form. The beautiful stories have inspired generations of young people.
Thousands of manga exist, but only a handful stand out from the rest. These are the best of the best. They move readers, entertain fans, and keep you on the edge of your seat.
The manga on this list all have amazing artwork, captivating storylines, and entertainment value that puts them head and shoulders above the rest. Reading manga in Japanese is also a great way to learn Japanese too! If you want to learn Japanese, my highest recommendation is the online lessons at Japanesepod101. Or check out our list of the best books for learning Japanese.
*Updated October 2nd, 2020: You sent us your comments, and we listened! We read more manga, talked to manga lovers, and most importantly, listened to some of your recommendations. So let’s get right to it with the
2o 30 best manga of all time.
30. Fruits Basket (Natsuki Takaya, 1998 – 2006)
Life is tough for Tohru Honda. She’s only in high school but already lost her mother.
She went to live with her grandfather, but her relatives treated her poorly. To get away from the situation, she decided to live in a tent in the forest.
She struggles to get by until she moves in with the most popular guy in school – Yuki Sohma.
She discovers the Sohma household has a secret. The members of the family are cursed. They become a form of the Chinese Zodiac when they’re tired or embarrassed. Each family member transforms into an animal representing one of the Zodiac signs.
Fruits Basket is the story of a simple girl in a hard situation. The plot is beautifully paced, and the story is masterfully intelligent. It keeps the ambiance light-hearted while sinister things happen in the background.
You’ll enjoy the comic portrayal of everyday life, while the dark undertones create a sense of danger. You never know what you’ll get from each chapter.
Check out the first volume on Amazon here: Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1
29. Detective Conan (Gosho Aoyama, 1994 – Present)
High school aged detective Shinichi Kudo is a genius. He solves difficult crimes for the police.
A notorious criminal group, the Black Organization, tries an untested poison on Shinichi. Why? He almost caught several members of the organization red-handed after solving a crime.
Instead of killing him, the poison changes the high school detective back to a 6-year-old child. Unaware of who his assailants are, he disguises himself as an elementary school student. He must find out who attacked him, stop them, and get an antidote.
Detective Conan, also known as Case Closed, is underrated by many for being a shonen (boy’s) manga. Don’t let that deter you… the delightful animation and dark mystery keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Detective Conan is suitable for all ages. It’s comparable to Sherlock Holmes and the Agatha Christie mystery stories.
It’s not a mystery why Detective Conan is among the best of the best. He closes cases nobody else can. He’s Detective Conan!
Fans of all ages will enjoy this headstrong manga.
Check out the first volume on Amazon here: Case Closed, Vol. 1
28. Vinland Saga (Makoto Yukimura, 2005 – Present)
This is another epic historical manga about Vikings.
Yep, you read that right. This manga is set in 1013 AD Dane-controlled England. It’s about the growth of the main character, Thorfinn, a teenage warrior who is on a revenge quest for his slain father. But that’s just a small slice of this massive story pie. This manga is filled with grand themes like power struggles among royalty, loyalty to your crew, and all sorts of betrayal.
What elevates this title to a “must-read” status is how well-crafted each character is, considering this isn’t your typical Japanese story. Every character is dynamic; you see teenage boys grow into respectable or detestable characters throughout the series. It can be overly long and dragging at times, but the burst of action and intrigue weaved in the story will keep you up and reading until the wee hours of the night.
You can find the books on Amazon, starting with Book 1 here: Vinland Saga 1
27. Fairy Tail (Hiro Mashima, 2006 – 2017)
In the magical world of Earth-land, wizards form guilds. Guild membership sharpens a wizard’s skills and helps them find jobs.
Lucy Heartfilia wants to join the Fairy Tail Guild. This guild is infamous for its misadventures and crazy members.
Lucy joins the guild through the invitation of the fire dragon wizard Natsu Dragneel. He seeks his missing father — a dragon.
Lucy, Natsu, and the gang go on great escapades. They fight powerful wizards and save the world as they make the Fairy Tail Guild a legend.
Reviewed as the best new manga of 2006, Fairy Tail is adventure comedy at its finest. It features cute and funny art only Hiro Mashima could bring to life.
Fairy Tail’s in your face action gets you on the edge of your seat. You turn each page faster and faster. Fairy Tail shows you what a true shonen manga is and could be.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Fairy Tail 1
26. Doraemon (Fujiko Fujio, 1969 – 1996)
Nobita Nobi is your typical boy: he’s lazy, has poor grades, and gets bullied.
His descendants are tired of their lives. They blame him. They send a robot back in time to assist Nobita when he was younger… a blue cat robot missing his ears and afraid of mice named Doraemon.
Doraemon and Nobita work hard to get Nobita’s life together for the sake of his future… but will they?
Doraemon is one of the best-selling manga in Japan. It’s a cultural icon among the Japanese. The manga gets praise for its silly humor and simplistic (in a good way) art. Readers love the way the series portrays the olden days of Japan.
Doraemon is a favorite among readers of many ages. He’s among the most recognizable animated characters ever.
Funny, child-like, and kind, this manga is something a reader of any age will enjoy.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Doraemon: Gadget Cat from the Future, Vol. 1
25. Tokyo Ghoul (Sui Ishida, 2014 – 2018)
Emo died in the early 2010s. Before that, though, we get to see Tokyo Ghoul, the last hurrah of the genre. Well, not that they’re connected really, but the aesthetics are quite close – black clothes, colored eyes, and grotesque masks. Aside from these eccentricities, this manga is fantastic and spawned an anime adaptation with several seasons and several OVAs (original video animation or films). The storytelling is exciting and action-packed. Fast-paced and full of bloody violence, you’ll easily spend several hours bingeing on its initial chapters.
The story might’ve dragged on longer than it should, as it tried to shoehorn the protagonist into different roles just to keep the series going. Many manga titles suffered from this, and we can’t blame the artist if he’s trying to squeeze more out of a successful series like this one.
The complete box set is available on Amazon: Tokyo Ghoul Complete Box Set: Includes vols. 1-14 with premium
24. Fist of the North Star ( Buronson, 1983 – 1988)
The world has been devastated by nuclear war. Only 30% of mankind survived. In the post-apocalyptic world, only the strong survive since resources are scarce.
Kenshiro finds himself in a village while searching for clean water. He and an orphan girl named Rin wind up fighting a biker gang attacking the village.
Little does the gang know Kenshiro knows Hokuto Shinken. Hokuto Shinken is an ancient and deadly martial art used for assassinations.
After fending off the gang, Kenshiro goes on an odyssey, meeting more and more enemies as he goes.
Fist of the North Star is a masculine, macho manga. It’s packed with action and adventure; each page is a testosterone filled fight fest. The manga immerses the reader in each fight.
There’s little not to like about this martial arts adventure manga. The invigorating, bone-crushing action commands your attention. Your heart pounds with excitement as you read each chapter.
For more details on the first volume, check Amazon here: Fist of the North Star: Master Edition, Vol. 1
23. Rave Master (Hiro Mashima, 1999 – 2005)
The world is threatened by the Dark Bring stones. These stones give unparalleled magical abilities to their users.
The Raregroove Kingdom uses the Dark Bring stones in a war against the Kingdom of Symphonia. Symphonia uses five powerful Rave Stones to defend themselves.
During the battle, an explosion destroyed a tenth of the world. The explosion spread the Rave Stones and their guardian dog Plue around the world.
50 years later, Haru Glory, an energetic young man, finds Plue. Haru goes through a series of ordeals to find the missing stones and earn the title of Rave Master.
Rave Master is often called the elder brother of Fairy Tail. Fans love it for breaking out of its shonen manga shell after a slow start.
The beauty of this manga comes from the distinct maturity found throughout the scenes. Strong character development, robust plots, and tight-knit storylines make Rave Master a manga worth reading.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Rave Master, Vol. 1
22. Great Teacher Onizuka (Tohru Fujisawa, 1997 – 2002)
Bad boys don’t always get the girl. Eikichi Onizuka knows this first hand. He’s an ex-gangster with all the works, but he’s still a certified virgin.
He almost slept with a girl one day, but she left him for her teacher. This gives Eikichi an idea: teachers have power over girls… and he’s going to be one!
He goes to college and learns he’s a good guy after all. Eikichi falls in love with teaching. He sets out to do one thing: become the greatest teacher in the world. He wants to be a positive influence on his students.
Great Teacher Onizuka, or GTO, has spun many adaptations. The series has a cult following.
Dumb, brazen, and funny, GTO is a breath of fresh air in a manga industry saturated by cute stories. It plays on the idea of a person doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.
The detailed art dazzles the reader, and the stories follow pop culture trends. GTO is the perfect mix of humor and social commentary.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Vol. 1
21. My Hero Academia (Kōhei Horikoshi, 2014 – Present)
When long-running shounen titles like Naruto and Bleach ended, it was challenging to find something that could fill the void that they left behind. You can start reading a new title, but it just doesn’t feel the same after one or two chapters. When Jump introduced My Hero Academia, many sighed in relief as it was one of the successors of these awesome titles.
In a world where humans with superpowers are rampant, many of them banded together and started working for the people. But before they’re considered full-fledged heroes, they need to get educated first, and that’s what we see in the earlier chapters. We get to see each of the heroes grow and see who will have the potential to become the next hope of humanity after the beloved All Might, Japan’s greatest hero.
You can find the 15 book set on Amazon here: My Hero Academia Series(Vol 1-15) Collection 15 Books Set
20. Astro Boy (Osamu Tezuka, 1952 – 1968)
In a future where robots and humans live side by side, Dr. Tenma makes his best creation yet — a human analog android named Astro.
He creates Astro to help him grieve the loss of his son. Astro was made in his dead son’s image.
Dr. Tenma tries his best to love Astro. He can’t. He just can’t fill the emptiness in his heart.
Astro gets sold to a circus and made to perform. While performing, the new head of the Ministry of Science, Dr. Ochanomizu, finds Astro and takes him into his care. The doctor discovers something amazing about the robotic boy: he can learn emotions.
He’s also incredibly powerful. Astro becomes the shining light of good as he fights crime and destroys evil.
Astro Boy is penned by the father of manga and anime, Osamu Tezuka. It’s a perfect manga for younger kids. The dark stories often take a lighter turn.
The manga is a masterpiece of social and moral commentary. Complex and heartwarming yet easy to read, the manga’s age doesn’t take anything away from the beautiful story of Astro Boy.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Astro Boy Omnibus Volume 1
19. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (Koyoharu Gotōge, 2016 – 2020)
A relatively new entrant to this best-of list, Demon Slayer took the world by storm, even competing with the perennial top grosser One Piece in sales volume. The story is gripping and will keep you hooked for hours if you choose to binge read. The art is unique and pleasing to the eyes, especially since this was set a few decades in the past, where most of Japan was still very rural. From the first few chapters, you might assume that this manga is your typical “shounen,” or a series that caters to teenage boys.
But as the story progresses, you’ll come to realize that this isn’t your typical Naruto or Bleach story. Death is very real and apparent, with prominent characters dying instead of being seemingly invincible.
Death and violence are the dominant themes, but they are tastefully integrated into the story, so it’s not just some gratuitous gorefest. Oh, and unlike most shounen titles where the story gets stretched for years and years until it gets boring and saturated, Demon Slayer stopped while they’re on top. The series was recently concluded, with all the loose ends being properly tied.
A 12 book set can be found on Amazon here: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol-1-12 Books Collection Set
18. Hajime no Ippo (George Morikawa, 1989 – present)
Ippo Makunochi is a young pacifist. He wants to be left alone.
He works hard helping his mom with their boating business. Unfortunately, his school has bullies and they torment him every day.
The bullying goes way too far one day. Pro boxer Mamoru Takamura finds the barely conscious Ippo on the ground. He takes Ippo to his gym to heal.
As Ippo comes to, Takamura tells him to take out his frustrations on a punching bag. Ippo sends the bag flying — with one punch. He decides he wants to learn how to box, but it’s not easy to learn. It takes hard work.
Higime no Ippo is one of the longest running manga series. The character-driven writing humanizes each character to a whole new level.
Hajime no Ippo has had many anime adaptations. All are well-liked for the characters and pacing.
Hajime no Ippo is the best sports manga ever. The stories are action-packed, scintillating, and engrossing. All elements push the limits. The manga boasts chapter after satisfying chapter of well-crafted plotlines. Only a handful of sports mangas can even come close.
Check out the massive 109 volume set on Amazon: Hajime No Ippo: The Fighting! 1-109 Volume set (Weekly Shonen Magazine KC comics) Japanese Edition
17. Bleach (Kubo Tite, 2001 – 2016)
The supernatural has always been a part of Ichigo Kurosaki’s life. He can see ghosts. Even so, he’s a brash and impulsive guy.
His abilities allow him to meet Rukia Kuchiki, a Shinigami (Soul Reaper). Rukia assists dead souls on their way to Soul Society (the afterlife).
Ichigo sees what he isn’t supposed to see: Rukia defending him from Hollows. Hollows are lost souls in monstrous forms. They harm the living and the dead alike.
Rukia gets wounded and gives Ichigo her powers to allow him to fight in her place. Ichigo goes from your average hot-tempered guy to heroic protector of souls. Ichigo is now tasked with hunting down Hollows and making sure they don’t cause trouble.
Bleach is very popular among manga readers. It’s known for good action sequences, smooth story flow, and strong art. Bleach was one of the best-selling manga and anime of the 2000’s. It consistently makes many top manga lists.
The stories have strong character development. Bleach focuses on major and minor plot points with superb attention.
Bleach brings exhilarating action comparable to a summer blockbuster film. Each volume explodes with page-turning power.
Buy the first 3 volumes on Amazon: Bleach (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1: Includes vols. 1, 2 & 3
16. Rurouni Kenshin (Nobuhiro Watsuki, 1994 – 1999)
At the end of the Edo era, an assassin known as Hitokiri Battousai has earned infamy. He has legendary fighting abilities, and he’s a cold-blooded murderer.
It’s now the early years of the Meiji Era in Tokyo. The old ways have been cast aside and samurai are displaced.
A wanderer finds kendo (Japanese fencing) instructor Kaoru Kamiya in a pickle. A murderer, using her family’s sword style, claims he’s Battousai and attacks her.
The wanderer defeats the murderer. He states that he, the dirty wanderer with a cross-shaped scar on his face, is the real Battousai of the legend. Over the course of the series, he casts off his old, evil ways and becomes a great hero.
Rurouni Kenshin gets acclaim for its flowing story and beautiful art. The story appeals to both men and women. Kenshin belongs among the top manga heroes of all time. The supporting characters mesh well, and the subplots are tight.
Rurouni Kenshin is a samurai romance. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves good stories, great villains, and fantastic characters.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Vol. 1
15. 20th Century Boys (Naoki Urasawa, 1999 – 2006)
This is perhaps the “sleeper” title of this list because it’s not as popular as the other ones, but start reading it, and you end up getting sucked into its world.
Imagine this: You and your childhood friends write a diary of sorts in your secret hideout, detailing imaginary encounters with evil forces and how you all saved the day. There are aliens, giant robots, and many other imaginary creatures that your creative minds conceived. Flash forward 20 years and a wave of catastrophic events swept the world. These events follow or recreate the same stories that you wrote in your book.
Without delving much into the details, it’s safe to say that 20th Century Boys upped the ante in terms of storytelling. The story itself spanned several decades, from the 70s up to the imagined 2010s, which was a quick peek into the future as it ran until 2006. One thing that was troubling was how the villains used a virus to strike fear around the world. What if…
You can check out the first volume on Amazon here: 20th Century Boys: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1
14. Attack on Titan (Hajime Isayama, 2009 – Present)
You might think that Attack on Titan was a fairly new title, but its been running for more than a decade now. It’s probably because the anime’s latest season ended recently, and the story is still fresh in our memories. With 3 seasons under its belt, it’s safe to stay that it was successful. This is all thanks to the great storytelling of the manga.
On the surface, this title’s formula is simple: gigantic man-eating titans attack, the main characters struggle, but in the end, they take down the powerful brute.
However, if you look at the story closely, many intricate details will pleasantly surprise you. There’s the power struggle amongst royalties, genocide, exploring and discovering the unknown, and much more. The secret behind the titans has been buried deep within the story; you won’t get any satisfying explanations until the very end.
There is a season 1, part 1 manga box set on Amazon: Attack on Titan Season 1 Part 1 Manga Box Set
13. Naruto (Masashi Kishimoto, 1999 – 2014)
Uzumaki Naruto lives in the Ninja Village of the Hidden Leaf. He’s a mischievous orphan with no good qualities. He’s troublesome, hyperactive, and dumb. A bad student who nobody likes, he has only one dream in life… to become the village leader (the Hokage) someday.
Naruto doesn’t know a nine-tailed fox demon lives inside him. The fox is a relentless being of pure energy that devastated the village 12 years ago. The monster was sealed inside him by his dead father, The Fourth Hokage, to protect the village. His father hoped Naruto would someday become a hero who leads the village.
Naruto is on a quest to fulfill his dreams. He wants to prove to everyone he’s capable of becoming Hokage.
Naruto has been a household name for the past decade. It’s the 3rd bestselling manga in history.
The Naruto character is magically annoying… yet likable at the same time. The stories are well crafted, and the art is topnotch. The fights can get unbelievably absorbing.
The manga is filled to the brim with characters, but each one has a purpose. They come alive in every frame. Naruto’s balanced plot and action hook the reader until the end.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Naruto, Vol. 1: Uzumaki Naruto
12. Slam Dunk (Takehiko Inoue, 1990 – 1996)
Hanamichi Sakuragi is a bad guy and a gang leader. He resolves everything with his fists and is unpopular with women.
One day he meets Haruko Akagi, a beautiful young girl. She asks him if he plays basketball since he’s extremely tall. Trying to impress Haruko, he pretends to be a basketball genius. He tries to perform the coolest move in basketball: the slam dunk. He fails miserably.
After a string of wild events, Hanamichi decides to join his school’s ailing basketball team. He works hard at developing his skills. He tries to learn to play basketball and become the great player Haruko would love.
Slam Dunk is the most influential sports manga in history. It’s inspired a generation of Japanese youth to play basketball.
Slam Dunk is still popular in Japan. Inoue’s art is a modern marvel with its consistency and realism. The graphics show how much each character – hero or antagonist — loves basketball.
For the love of the game and the girl, Slam Dunk is a once in a generation manga. Everyone should read it.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Slam Dunk, Vol. 1
11. Monster (Naoki Urasawa, 1994 – 2001)
Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a benevolent doctor and brain surgeon. He’s tired of the political bias towards certain classes of people in the hospital where he works.
In the wake of a massacre, he tries to change how things work. He takes care of fraternal twins Anna and Johan. Johan has a gunshot wound to his head. The bullet was meant for the mayor of the town. Johan is saved but the mayor dies.
Tenma is vilified by his co-workers. They wanted him to save the mayor before saving the young, low-status Johan. Everyone who antagonizes Dr. Tenma in the hospital gets murdered one by one, and the kids are nowhere to be found.
The Police think he’s the killer, but they have no evidence. Who is the cold-blooded killer?
Who is this… monster?
Monster is masterful suspense thriller that keeps you guessing. The manga is a top shelf crime-suspense experience. Every scene is a glut of misinformation. You can never tell what might happen next.
The art is cinematic and calculated. Every stroke of the brush is meticulous, and the expressions are never exaggerated. Each page is perfection itself. The character’s expressions show each emotion subtly, without overdoing it.
Scenic perfection: These two words describe Monster’s art better than any other phrase could.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Monster, Vol. 1: The Perfect Edition
10. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure ( Hirohiko Araki, 1987 – present)
The Joestar family has always been destined for greatness.
Something odd happens once in several generations. A family member discovers a secret gift for the supernatural; they have powers that decide the fate of the world.
Starting with Jonathan Joestar, each successor learns of a looming evil. Only the chosen Joestar and his companions have the ability to thwart the evil. The world needs someone to save them and a Joestar will always be there to fight. Evil will never win… not while a Joestar is alive!
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is the epitome of a macho manga. Injected with lots of testosterone, JoJo’s art is of a quality you’ve never seen before. Crisp, earth-shattering action gives fans something to relish.
The manga is considered an essential element of any top 10 manga list. The macho characters and plots endear Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure to its fans.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 1–Phantom Blood, Vol. 1
9. Vagabond (Takehiko Inoue, 1998 – Present)
If you loved Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) and craved more epic swordfights, Vagabond’s got you covered. It rightfully claims a spot on this list because of how expansive the story was. From sometime after the Battle of Sekigahara, to more than a decade later, we see wandering sword master Musashi Miyamoto’s story unfold.
Oh, and it’s not your typical sword fighting series. There are no special power-ups and no exaggerated moves named from mythical creatures, just plain brutal violence. We see the protagonist take on established sword schools and other sword masters from Japan. In his travels, we witness how he overcomes hurdles and how he manages to beat seemingly unbeatable foes. It is an epic retelling of a real person’s life.
You can get volume 1 on Amazon here: Vagabond, Vol. 1 (VIZBIG Edition)
8. Death Note (Tsugumi Ohba, 2003 – 2006)
It’s impossible to come up with a best-of list without including or even mulling about adding Death Note. Be it the anime or the manga version, this story is just too good not to mention. It’s a battle between good and evil, but with the lines between them blurred or even erased.
Since you’re here reading this list, it’s highly likely that you’ve watched the 30-plus anime episodes or the 8 live-action movies it spawned. It’s a very successful series, and it’s all thanks to its well-written and well-received manga.
It’s undeniable that the main strength of Death Note is its characters. Light Yagami and L are deep, well-thought-out characters that are very dynamic and unpredictable. You, the reader, will still be surprised even when the story gives you an omniscient perspective. You can already tell the bad guys from the good guys, but there will be times where you’ll find yourself surprised with your mouth wide open.
You can find the complete box set here on Amazon: Death Note Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-13 with Premium: Volumes 1 – 13
7. Fullmetal Alchemist (Hiromu Arakawa, 2001 – 2010)
Edward and his brother Alphonse are the main characters in this amazing manga. They work for the state as alchemists. Both were badly injured in an experiment gone wrong. Edward lost two limbs, and Alphonse became trapped in armor. They try to put their dark past behind them until they have the power to reverse it.
Edward and his brother investigate various problems for the state. This leads them into a web of government conspiracies and secret organizations.
The duo pushes the limits of their ability to solve the mysteries behind alchemy. They long to make themselves normal again.
Fullmetal Alchemist is a dark science fantasy story. It deals with real-world issues like war, genocide, and government corruption. It’s a shonen manga to the core.
Even so, it’s praised for the strong female characters and smart action sequences. The occasional light-hearted drama scenes add a nice change of pace.
The manga matures with its audience. Fans have raved over Fullmetal Alchemist for years.
FMA treats its audience as smart. It offers fantastic, cleverly thought out adventure on every page.
Buy the 27 volume set on Amazon here: Fullmetal Alchemist Box Set
6. Hunter x Hunter (Yoshihiro Togashi, 1998 – present)
Gon Freecss enjoys a wonderful childhood on a quiet island.
One day he meets a stranger who tells him his dead father is actually alive. His father is a world-class, top-level Hunter.
Hunters are privileged people in the world. They achieve great things through their adventures. Gon Freecss leaves his peaceful island, determined to find his father. He dives into the mysterious world of Hunters.
Armed with a fishing rod, good friends, and bottomless determination, he goes on an endless adventure. He must become a Hunter and find the father he never had.
Hunter x Hunter has been continuously praised for its characters and intricate plot. A lot happens at the same time, but Hunter x Hunter never loses track.
It’s filled with an assortment of crazy people in unusual situations. Missing one small detail leaves an empty spot in your heart… a tingling sensation you missed something.
The story imparts strong moral values. You’ll smile with satisfaction after every chapter you read.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Hunter x Hunter, Vol. 1
5. Berserk (Kentaro Miura, 1989 – present)
In a world of chaos, bloodshed, and unending warfare, Guts is sick of it all. He’s been raised by an abusive mercenary, and now goes out on his own.
He becomes a wandering mercenary in the medieval countryside. He’s forcibly recruited by Griffith, the leader of the Bank of the Hawk mercenary group.
His fate changes once their team fights Nosferatu Zodd. Zodd defeats both him and Griffith. Zodd warns Guts his friendship with Griffith will be the source of his death. But will it?
Berserk is a dark fantasy action adventure manga. It’s acclaimed for the action-filled frames and the unrelenting story of sadness and war.
It explores the concepts of hate and crushing despair. The reader sympathizes with the characters, however contemptuous they may be.
Berserk is not your usual manga. Reading the story makes you feel like a wrecking ball just crashed straight into your heart.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Berserk, Vol. 1
4. Yu Yu Hakusho (Yoshihiro Togashi, 1990 – 1994)
Yu Yu Hakusho, or as the rest of the world knows it, Ghost Fighter, is easily one of the top manga titles ever. True, most people became acquainted with the series because of the hit anime version, but this success could easily be attributed to how well the source material was written. Anime was easier to export westward back in the 90s, so aside from a handful of untranslated volumes brought in by collectors, the manga mostly stayed in Japan.
But that doesn’t mean it didn’t do well in the local market. It sold over 50 million copies in Japan alone, winning many prestigious awards producing tons of merchandise.
Who would ever forget the protagonist Yusuke, who died and got resurrected as an underworld detective? He’s tasked with investigating supernatural happenings in the human world and got sucked into a battle royale tournament against demons in the underworld. This paved the way for the tournament genre in manga and anime, with many copycats following suit in the succeeding years.
You can find volume 1 on Amazon: YuYu Hakusho, Vol. 1
3. Dragon Ball (Akira Toriyama, 1984 – 1995)
The Dragon balls are seven golden balls that have the ability to grant a wish. They summon Shenron, the wish dragon. Teenage girl Bulma is on a quest to find them all. Accompanied by a monkey-tailed boy named Son Goku, they go on adventures around the world.
Goku undergoes a relentless training regimen under the legendary Master Roshi. His goal is to fight in the Tenkaichi Budokai Martial Arts Tournament. As Goku gets stronger, more evil comes his way. Eventually, he and his friends must save the earth from invaders from outer space.
Dragon Ball is one of the most, if not the most, beloved manga of all time. Still read decades after its run, it’s the most influential manga of all time.
Dragon Ball is humorous in tone… but the plot can get sinister. The action entices young boys everywhere.
Dragon Ball is an icon. It’s an enduring story that became an epic franchise. Ask any anime fan what Dragon Ball is and they’ll tell you tales of their childhood.
Check out the first volume on Amazon: Dragon Ball, Vol. 1
2. One Piece (Eiichiro Oda, 1997 – present)
Gol D. Roger, the king of the pirates, has been caught. He’s about to be executed. In his final moments, he challenges his fellow pirates to find a treasure he hid, the One Piece. The pirate who finds it will become the king of all pirates.
Two decades have passed. The plucky nitwit Monkey D. Luffy sails the oceans and searches for the treasure. He ate a fruit that gives him the ability to stretch like rubber. Luffy assembles a team of misfits, and together they seek the legendary One Piece.
One Piece is the bestselling manga in history; its popularity is through the roof. Readers of all demographics and genders love the story. Even non-manga fans follow One Piece with cult-like enthusiasm.
One Piece offers simple, yet enjoyable art, endearing characters, and a balance of action and adventure. There’s heavy development of all the characters, including the extras. Each chapter is a page-turner.
It can get monotonous at times, but you won’t be bored for long. One Piece is one of the best.
Check out the first 3 volume set on Amazon: One Piece: East Blue 1-2-3
Or the first 23 volume set here: One Piece Box Set: East Blue and Baroque Works, Volumes 1-23
1. AKIRA (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1982 – 1990)
Even if you have already watched the anime version of Akira, the manga is still worth reading. It is excellent and, without a doubt, deserves to be at the top of this list. How good is it? It’s one of the first manga ever to be completely translated into English and was picked up and published by Marvel Comics.
Yup. THAT Marvel Comics.
Iron Man. Captain America, Hulk, Shotaro Kaneda.
Kidding aside, AKIRA left an everlasting mark on those who’ve read or watched the series. The dark and gritty reimagining of Tokyo, the secretive government agencies, the biker gangs, and many other elements serve as a spice that kept the story fresh for its more than half a decade run. The characters, exaggerated as they are during those times, still have depth and dynamism. The antagonists’ evolution from a whiny powerless brat to a force of nature is amazing. Some story arcs tend to be long or dragging, but it’s packed with enough action to sustain your interest until the end.
A hardcover, 35th anniversary box set is can be found on Amazon: Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set
What is Your Favorite Manga?
Have we missed any manga you think we should include on the list? If so, what did you like about them? Let us know in the comments.
Don’t forget to share this article with your manga loving friends. Also, share it with your friends who don’t know much about manga. They just might fall in love with the coolest, most entertaining form of art you can hold in your hands. They’ll thank you for it.
Bruh, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is in the top tens?! Now that’s a Bruh moment guys! 😀
Hoo boy, lot’s of toxicity in these comments. I would like to apologize on behalf of my fellow manga enjoyers here and say that we are not always this annoying it’s just sometimes get a little too attached to our favorites and have trouble understanding that is someone else’s OPINION (albeit a well researched one, I’d say), and just because they disagree does not mean they should shit on it. Guess that’s just part of the internet though… 🙁
Have a great day.
This might be the worst list I have ever had the displeasure of reading. Its like a 14 year old who’s only been watching anime / reading manga for 6 months wrote this. Fairy tale? Naruto above jojo and hxh? No vagabond or akira? This post has taken years off of my lifespan and ruined my day. 0/10
Well I thought that this a wonderful list. These are the “greatest hits” of Japanese Manga. The most commercially and critically successful. What is wrong with that? At least the author tried to be objective instead of doing something idiotic like putting Vagabond at N0. 1 or something, when One piece and Akira have orders of magnitude greater influence.
Whaaaaat! This is a fucked up list Berserk should be no. 1 ALL DAY
Hunter x Hunter is the GOAT, followed by Fullmetal Alchemist and Dragon Ball. One Piece is overrated, being the most selling manga of all time doesn’t make it the best at all. Naruto being above Hunter x Hunter is a joke, and Bleach appearing but not Yu Yu Hakusho makes me want to puke on this list. Saint Seiya and Ashita no Joe deserves a place here, and Hajime No Ippo is awesome.
One Piece the best, HxH and Death Note is good too
I agree. If not because of Hiatus X Hiatus, Hunter x Hunter is the greatest manga of all time. It’s unlike any other manga where the main protagonist always has the spotlight. In HxH, there are more interesting and powerful characters than Gon (the main character). Kurapika for example had more highlight than Gon so far.
Saint Seiya should easily make this list. Childhood wouldn’t be the same without it. Still love it. Wish it could have continued. Netflix tried to revamp it recently but not to the expectation it deserves. Still cross in fingers
Yes. JoJo bizarre adventure should take the first place. And if you consider the anime then its a masterpiece go watch it now
Someone who still considers that shingeki no kyojin is a simple gore story of titans
WAIT! The list is dumb. It left out Boku No Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)!
well MHA isnt super good things like slam dunk being mentiond and naruto ranked over beserk fam.
I think that sailor moon should have been in this list it has an amazing and heart warming story that keeps you on the edge of you seat as well as the beautiful art in the manga I think should at least be in the top 5 >:(
Because it left Boku no Hero Academia ? It sounds ironic
… BHA is decent but nowhere near legend status yet. To put it here would be overrating it. The list is kind of shit tho
No Akira? No Mugen No Juunin? No Ghost in the frigging Shell? No Vagabond?
Even a bot would have got this right.
only slight disapproval of the Rave Master and GTO on this list, the rest of the list are good
On Piece first…ok was a joke! it shouldn’t even be in the list
One Piece for most popular manga of all the time in the west? Really?
There´s nothing to do but to laugh. Where TF is Akira and Death Note? Was this list made by a child?
Yeah, Where TF is DEATH NOTE?
Bleach in the list but not Yu Yu Hakusho!!??? Invalid list.
You definitely missed out One punch man. One of the best mangas in my opinion
If you guys think these whole manga is a garbage then you doesn’t have any taste, and this is the best manga of its own years active.
This may be a list of the most popular mangas of all time, but popularity rarely mean quality. This list is been written by a baboon.
What the f*** is Death Note and Kaiji?!?
No Tokyo Ghoul? Okay then
To be fair Tokyo ghoul isn’t that good
Where the heck is Death Note and Hellsing
really? not GANTS on the list?
So there is Ippo but no Ashita no Joe . Makes perfect sense
The fact that Akira isn’t on this list kind of undermines the whole thing. I’m a big believer in allowing for taste, but for god’s sake. It’s AKIRA. it would be like having a best comic books of all time and not mentioning Watchmen.
But what if you’re OLDER than 15?