We often discuss popular manga genres such as comedy, shonen, romance, etc. But one beautiful genre we often forget about is friendship manga.
After reading tons of manga, I picked the very best friendship manga that you shouldn’t miss out on. Some are underrated gems that not many people know about.
In a couple of these titles, friendships start and later develop into love, while the other titles are of childhood friends growing up together. Either way, there is a good diversity of titles on this list, so you’ll be sure to find something you’ll love.
20. You and I (Kiichi Hotta, 2003 – 2022)
You and I, also known as Kimi to Boku, follows the daily lives of four high school boys, Shun Matsuoka, Kaname Tsukahara, and the twins, Yūta and Yūki Asaba. The four have been friends since kindergarten, and despite their different personalities, they enjoy spending time with each other.
As the story progresses, more characters are introduced, such as a transfer student named Chizuru Tachibana, who is half Japanese. The group manages to stick together daily, and their friendship grows stronger every day. This series will make you feel like a part of their group and show you that people with different personalities can still be friends.
If you can read Japanese, you can get the Japanese edition of volume 1 on Amazon: Kimi to Boku – You and Me – Vol. 1 (Japanese Edition)
19. Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea (Project-118, 2013 – 2016)
A long time ago, humans lived in the ocean and developed a layer on their skin called Ena, enabling them to live underwater. However, many humans wanted to live on the land, so they moved there. This caused a division between humans who lived on land or in the sea.
Nami Junior High School, located in the sea village called Shioshishio, is closed down, and four teenagers are forced to attend Mihama Junior High School on land. Can this group of friends survive in a completely different land?
The manga follows the struggles of Hikari, Manaka, Kaname, and Chisaki as they try to adjust to this new environment. It shows that having friends can help you cope with even the biggest changes. It’s a friendship manga with a fantasy genre, making it an interesting read.
For those of you who can read Japanese, you can find the Japanese edition of volume 1 on Amazon: Nagi no Asukara – Vol.1 Japanese Edition – (Dengeki Comics NEXT) Manga
18. Kiznaiver (Roji Karegishi, 2016 – 2017)
Kasuhira Agata is an anti-social teenager who has been bullied since childhood because he never feels physical pain. On his way to school, Agata encounters his strange classmate, Noriko Sonozaki. Sonozaki abducts Agata and six other classmates.
After everyone wakes up, Sonozaki explains they are in Sugomori city, a city for an experiment called the “Kizna System .”This experiment aims to connect people by making them share the same physical and emotional pain.
Agata and his classmates now become lab rats for this experiment. But how will they escape this experiment, and what will happen to them?
Initially, the group doesn’t get along with each other. But soon, they realize they are closely connected to each other and form strong bonds of friendship because the only way out is by working together. This series is emotional and has an exciting storyline.
For Japanese readers, you can find the Japanese edition of volume 1 on Amazon here: キズナイーバー (1) – Kiznaiver Japanese Edition
17. One Week Friends (Matcha Hazuki, 2012 – 2015)
Yūki Hase is a high school student with a “friendship crush” on his classmate, Kaori Fujiyama. Fujiyama always sits alone, has no friends, and shows a cold attitude towards everyone. But Hase feels there is more to her than the obvious.
One day, Hase finally talks to Fujiyama. She instantly rejects his friendliness, although she’s happy he spoke to her. Hase doesn’t give up and goes to eat lunch with her. She agrees to eat lunch with him daily but doesn’t agree to be called friends. Surprisingly, Fujiyama is friendly and talkative.
After having a wonderful week with each other, Fujiyama suddenly asks Hase to forget about her. She tells him that she loses her memories every Monday, which makes her forget her friends.
How will Hase handle this situation? There’s only one way to find out!
Find volume 1 of One Week Friends here on Amazon: One Week Friends, Vol. 1 (One Week Friends, 1)
You can find other volumes of this mana here: One Week Friends manga series
16. My Wife is Wagatsuma-san (Yoo Kuraishi, 2011 – 2014)
Hitoshi Aoshima is ar high school student with only two friends and mediocre grades. He desperately wishes to have a girlfriend and has eyes on the class’s most popular girl, Ai Wagatsuma.
One day, Hitoshi has a dream in which he’s married to Wagatsuma. He tries to get over it, but after a few more dreams, he realizes his dreams are actually time slips ten years into the future. Hitoshi is delighted but soon realizes his present actions can affect his future. What will Hitoshi do to ensure he’ll be married to Wagatsuma in the future?
Hitoshi uses his knowledge about his future to make the best decisions for himself and his friends, which shows his care for them. Also, this rom-com manga is much funnier thanks to Hitoshi’s goofy otaku friends laughing with him and making his school life much more enjoyable.
Check out volume 1 on this series on Amazon here: My Wife is Wagatsuma-san Vol. 1
You can get other volumes of this series here: My Wife is Wagatsuma-san manga series
15. Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends (Yomi Hirasaka, 2010 – 2021)
Kodaka Hasegawa recently transferred to St. Chronica’s Academy but struggled to make friends due to his intimidating appearance. One day, Hasegawa finds Yozara Mikazuki talking to her imaginary friend, “Tomo.”
Hasegawa realizes there are people who lack social skills like him who want friends.
Hence, he forms the “Neighbours Club,” a club for members facing similar issues who wish to improve their social skills. One after another, cute girls with “interesting” personalities and lousy communication skills join the club. Will the Neighbours Club members finally learn how to make friends?
This is one of my favorite friendship manga out there because it focuses on how difficult it is for some people to make friends. But finding people who understand you can help you develop everlasting friendships. For them, you’d even be willing to make huge sacrifices.
Check out volume 1 on Amazon here: Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 1
Other volumes of this series can be found here: Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends manga series
14. Daily Lives of High School Boys (Yasunobu Yamauchi, 2009 – 2012)
What’s better than cute boys doing cute things together?
Daily Lives of High School Boys revolves around three ordinary Sanada North High School students. Yoshitake Tanaka, Tadakuni, and Hidenori Tabata spend every single day together doing foolish things.
The boys do typical teenagers’ activities, such as trying on skirts, sharing ghost stories and having discussions about love, or simply fighting. They do nothing out of the ordinary together yet have so much fun.
If you’re looking for a slice-of-life friendship manga with loads of comedy and a simple storyline, this is the one for you. Once you read a few chapters, you’ll be hooked. This manga made me want to relive my high school years so I could make more memories with my best friends.
You can get volume 1 of Daily Lives of High School Boys on Amazon here: The Daily Lives of High School Boys 1
You can get other volumes of this series here: Daily Lives of High School Boys manga series
13. Girl Friends (Milk Morinaga, 2006 – 2010)
Mari Kumakara is a simple, anti-social girl who excels in academics. One day, Akko Ōhashi suddenly begins talking to her, and soon, the two become inseparable best friends.
Mari and Akko help each other bring the best out of themselves. Maro helps Akko in her studies while Akko teaches Mari to become more fashionable and social. Thanks to Akko, Mari makes more friends and becomes happier than ever.
However, Mari begins to experience things she never had before. She feels different whenever Akko touches her, and seeing her with someone else hurts her. Could Mari’s feelings towards Akko be more than just friends?
Girl Friends is a manga that represents the realistic situation of struggling to cope with the feelings developing for a friend. It portrays the fear of losing your friend versus wanting to be with her romantically.
Get volume 1 of the complete collection of this manga here on Amazon: Girl Friends: The Complete Collection 1
You can find other volumes of this manga here: Girl Friends manga series
12. Honey and Clover (Chica Umino, 2000 – 2006)
Honey and Clover revolves around the daily lives of five college students living together in an old house. They struggle to manage their finances while also learning more about adulthood. The protagonist, Takemoto, must learn to grow up alongside his friends Mayama and Morita.
One day, an art professor’s beautiful cousin, Hagumi Hanamoto, arrives. Takemoto and Morita instantly fall in love with her. While Ayumi (another friend of the group), a pottery master, falls in love with Takumi, who instead loves Rika Harada, an older woman. With a love triangle and so much unrequited love, which character will get the person they love?
Honey and Clover is a manga that shows the friendship of these five students as they grow older and try to understand themselves. It’s not your cliché slice-of-life manga because it depicts a much more realistic side of friendships.
Check out volume 1 of Honey and Clover on Amazon here: Honey and Clover, Vol. 1
You can find other volumes in this series here: Honey and Clover manga series
11. Rainbow Days (Minami Mizuno, 2012 – 2017)
Rainbow Days revolves around the daily lives of four high school boys. Each character has a unique personality. There’s Natsuki Hashiba, a hopeless romantic; Tomoya Matsunaga, a ladies’ man; Keiichi Katakura, a sadist; and Tsuyoshi Naoe, a brainy otaku.
They mostly spend time with each other, fooling around. His ex-girlfriend dumps Natsuki, and he’s sadly spending his Christmas sitting alone outside. He encounters a beautiful girl who gives him some tissues and instantly falls in love with her.
Luckily, she goes to the same school as him. However, Natsuki’s confused after he finds her sleeping in the math teacher’s office. What’s her relationship with him? How long can Natsuki control his feelings for her?
Rainbow Days is the simplest friendship manga out there. There is no complex plot or drama, only four high school boys chilling together, but it works very well.
You can check out volume 1 of Rainbow Days here on Amazon: Rainbow Days, Vol. 1
10. Laid-Back Camp (Afro, 2015 – Present)
Rin Shima is a high school girl who loves camping all alone. One day, she’s enjoying camping at Mount Fuji when she comes across Nadeshiko Kagamihara, who is unable to back home as it’s gotten dark. Rin gives her ramen and calls her sister to pick her up.
Surprisingly, Nadeshiko goes to the same high school as her, and she encourages Rin to join the school’s Outdoor Activities Club. Rin has always camped alone. But when she starts camping with her classmates, including Nadeshiko, Aoi Inuyama, and Chiaki Ogaki, she realizes how fun camping is with friends.
Together, the girls go camping all across the country, enjoying ramen, marshmallows, and the warmth of a campfire.
The Laid-Back Camp manga is exquisitely drawn so that you can see the beautiful scenery through the eyes of the characters. It’s a wholesome story based around friends going camping and sharing wonderful times together.
Check out the first volume on Amazon here: Laid-Back Camp, Vol. 1
You can find other volumes in this series here: Laid-Back Camp manga series
9. Your Lie in April (Naoshi Arakawa, 2011 – 2015)
Kōsei Arima was a piano prodigy. His mom rigorously trained him, so he became an amazing pianist at a very young age, winning all competitions and getting the highest scores.
However, after his mother’s sudden death, Arima cannot perform at all. He leaves his musical career and starts living without even touching a piano. He has no one except his two childhood friends.
One day, Arima meets Kaori Miyazono, a young girl who plays the violin without any care for scores or winning. She truly enjoys music, and spending time with her makes Arima’s love for music return. Will Miyazono be the one to bring Arima back to living his life and playing the piano?
While this series is a romance manga, it also focuses a lot on friendships. The only reason Arima could survive after his mother’s death was that his friends’ always looked after him.
Check out volume 1 of this manga here on Amazon: Your Lie in April 1
Other volumes of this manga can be found here: Your Lie in April manga series
8. ReLIFE (Sō Yayoi, 2013 – 2018)
Arata Kaizaki is a 27-year-old who works part-time at a supermarket. Despite being a college graduate, Kaizaki could not land a job and struggled to meet his expenses.
Fortunately, he’s been given a job opportunity by the ReLIFE company. But before he’s hired, he must go through the company’s experiment. He has to take a pill that will make him look 10 years younger, and he must go back to high school for a year.
The job may seem simple at first. However, surviving in high school while having the brain of a 27-year-old won’t be an easy task. What will be the result of this experiment? Can this one year turn Kaizaki’s life upside down?
ReLIFE sends a profound message about having a successful career and, more importantly, making genuine friends.
If you are studying Japanese, you can find the Japanese edition of volume on Amazon here: ReLIFE Japanese Edition (アース・スター コミックス)
7. Orange (Ichigo Takano, 2012 – 2022)
Naho Takamiya, a high schooler, receives a letter from her future self one day, 10 years in the future. She first believes it’s a prank, but the similarity of the written events proves it’s true.
According to the letter, the 26-year-old Naho is full of regrets and wants her younger self to take specific actions to prevent these regrets from happening. She instructs Naho to avoid the new transfer student, Kakeru.
Naho is told that Kakeru won’t be with us in the future, and she must prevent that from happening by making different choices. However, will changing the future be that simple?
Orange is a very emotional manga focusing on life’s dark realities. It emphasizes always being there for your friends and keeping a check on their mental health. Otherwise, you can lose your precious friends and will regret it forever.
You can get volume 1 of the complete collection on Amazon here: orange: The Complete Collection 1
You can find volume 2 here: orange: The Complete Collection 2
6. Bakuman (Tsugumi Ohba, 2008 – 2012)
Moritaka Mashiro is a talented artist but chooses to lead an ordinary life instead. He considers being a mangaka (manga artist) to be too risky. One day, his classmate Akito Takagi asks Mashiro to make a manga with him.
Moritaka declines at first. But the same night, Akito takes him to Miho’s home, a classmate Moritaka has a crush on. Moritaka learns Miho aspires to be a voice actress, and accidentally, Moritaka asks her to marry him once they both achieve their dreams.
Surprisingly, Miho agrees to marry him, which makes Marotaka determined to become a top mangaka. But in the competitive career of manga with high chances of failure, can Moritaka fulfill his dreams?
Moritaka and Akito experience ups and downs throughout their career, yet they make lovely memories. They are always there for each other, which makes them develop a strong bond of friendship.
Find volume 1 of Bakuman on Amazon here: Bakuman., Vol. 1
You can check out the complete box set with volumes 1-20 here: Bakuman. Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-20 with Premium
You can find other individual volumes of this series here: Bakuman manga series
5. Naruto (Masashi Kishimoto, 1999 – 2014)
Naruto Uzumaki is a naughty child who spends time causing trouble for others in Konohagakure. He seems like an ordinary, goofy child, but deep down, he’s very lonely. He’s an orphan shunned by the whole village because a demon called the “nine-tailed fox” is sealed inside him.
Naruto wishes to gain acceptance by the village, for which he dreams of becoming the village’s Hokage one day. Can Naruto achieve his dream even though he’s terrible at academics and the whole village is against him?
Friendship is an essential theme throughout this manga because so much of the character development stems from the friendships Naruto and the character Sasuke develop. From the start, the manga emphasizes that nothing is more important than your friends, not even your own life.
Check out volume 1 of this legendary manga here on Amazon: Naruto, Vol. 1: Uzumaki Naruto
You can find other volumes and editions of this manga here: Naruto manga series
4. Natsume’s Book of Friends (Yuki Midorikawa, 2005 – Present)
Takashi Natsume is an orphan who frequently moves to different relatives’ houses. Ever since he was born, he saw spirits called “yōkai.” No one else can see the yōkai, so they cannot understand him. Due to this, everyone finds him creepy, and Natsume has always been alone.
The yōkai harmed him before. However, they started chasing and threatening him ever since he moved to a new place where his grandma previously lived. After meeting a spirit called “Madara,” Natsume found out that his grandmother, Reiko, could see yōkai too. She would defeat these spirits and make them her followers after they wrote her name in the Book of Friends.
The spirits have now come back to get their names back from The Book of Friends. With Madara as his bodyguard, Natsume decides to free all the yōkai in the book. Will Natsume’s plan succeed?
Find volume 1 of this epic series on Amazon here: Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 1
You can check out other volumes on this manga here: Natsume’s Book of Friends manga series
3. Nana (Ai Yazawa, 2000 – 2009 On Hiatus)
Nana Komatsu’s only motive in life is to get a boyfriend. After many failed love affairs, Komatsu continues to chase love. When she was 20 years old, she moved to Tokyo with the desire to reunite with her boyfriend.
Nana Osaki is another girl whose primary focus is her music career. She falls in love with a member of her music band, and she chooses her career over him. However, when she turns 20, she also goes to Tokyo to become a top vocalist.
Sharing the same name, fate brings them together as they start sharing an apartment. The friendship between Komatsu and Osaki is praise-worthy because despite being polar opposites, they become best friends and help each other survive through the most challenging times in their lives.
Check out volume 1 of this manga series here on Amazon: Nana, Volume 1
Other volumes in this series can be seen here: Nana manga series
2. One Piece (Eiichiro Oda, 1997 – Present)
Gol D. Roger was a legendary Pirate King. He revealed moments before his execution that he has gathered the world’s greatest treasure, One Piece, and he’s hidden it in a place only the worthy ones can reach. His last words started the era of the grand age of pirates, where many people became pirates to search for the legendary One Piece.
Twenty years later, Luffy D. Monkey, a young man with a rubber body, starts his journey as a pirate on a small boat. His goal is to find One Piece and become the Pirate King.
Can Luffy find One Piece despite being a pirate that can’t even swim?
From the very first chapter, the manga emphasizes the importance of friendship. While One Piece is filled with fights and adventure, it revolves around the concept that sometimes friends are the most valuable treasure of them all.
Check out the first volume of this manga that started it all here on Amazon: One Piece, Vol. 1: Romance Dawn
An edition with the first three volumes (volumes 1-3) can be found here: One Piece: East Blue 1-2-3
A box set with volumes 1-23 can be found here: One Piece Box Set: East Blue and Baroque Works, Volumes 1-23 (One Piece Box Sets)
You can check out other volumes and sets of this series here: One Piece manga series
1. Anohana (Mari Okada, 2012 – 2013)
Also known as “We still do not know the name of a flower that I saw that day.” A group of six childhood friends grow apart after one of the friends, nicknamed “Menma,” dies. Five years later, the group’s leader, Jintan, struggles to move on. He drops out of high school and starts living like a hermit.
One day, Menma’s spirit comes to Jintan and tells him that she cannot move on to the afterlife unless her wish is fulfilled. She does not remember her wish, but if the whole group gathers again, they might be able to solve this mystery.
Jintan is not on good terms with his childhood friends, but will he be successful in fulfilling Menma’s wish?
Although the four other friends seem to have moved on, they are also internally struggling with the trauma of losing their friends. Together, they help each other reach closure.
Anohana is one of the most heart-touching manga ever made. The characters are very realistic and capture the complexity of human emotions. It is a must-read for any fan of friendship manga.
If you can read Japanese, you can check out the Japaense edition of this manga on Amazon: We still do not know the name of a flower that I saw that day 1 (Japanese Edition)