If you’re looking to read an amazing manga but don’t have time to read dozens of volumes, not to worry. There are some great short manga that still pack a punch in just a few volumes (or even just one). All of these manga are of between 1 – 5 volumes and include genres like sci-fi, horror, drama, romance, slice-of-life, or psychological manga. Without further ado, here are 20 of the best short manga series on the planet.
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20. Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams (Naoki Urasawa, 2017 – 2018)
Kamoda is a business owner who decides to get some money by messing with his taxes. He wants to use this extra cash to take his wife on a luxury cruise ship. Unfortunately, he’s caught and faces substantial losses. His wife leaves him and goes on a cruise with another man.
Kamoda is devastated, but he comes up with the idea of making masks which would be very profitable. Kamoda starts making masks and takes loans, but his plan fails, and he becomes bankrupt. However, Kamoda meets a mysterious man claiming he can change his life. Despite being hesitant, he agrees to work with him. What will this man do for Kamoda, and will it really change his life?
Mujirushi is a manga filled with mystery and dark humor. Its popularity rose so fast that the manga sold 114,489 copies by its third week. Read Mujirushi when looking for a short, crazy, fun psychological drama manga.
You can get this manga here on Amazon: Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams
19. Stargazing Dog (Takashi Murakami, 2008 – 2009)
Happie was a stray dog until he was found and adopted by a young girl named Miku. Happie has the perfect family. Miku plays with him, mommy feeds him delicious foods, and daddy takes him out on walks.
But as years pass, Miku moves out of the house, mommy files for a divorce, and leaves. With only Happie by his side, daddy takes his car and goes on a journey to the south. Happie has an unforgettable trip with daddy, but a tragedy awaits him.
You’ll truly enjoy this manga if you’re a dog lover. Stargazing Dog is a wholesome and emotional story told from the point of view of a dog. The story is simple, yet seeing the dog go through loneliness and hurt will make you want to cry, pick him up, and pet him.
Check out this manga on Amazon here: Stargazing Dog
18. Clover (Clamp, 1997 – 1999)
Clover is set in a futuristic world where the military held research to find children called “Clovers,” who have strong magical powers, such as summoning powerful objects and teleportation. The children’s abilities are classified by the number of clover leaves tattooed on them.
Sue is the only child found who’s a four-leaf clover. For national security, the government keeps her imprisoned with no human contact. Sue’s only wish is to visit the fairy garden, and this task is given to an ex-soldier, Kazuhiko. A man was considered the only one to be suitable for this job.
Although they’ve never met before, Sue seems to know Kazuhiko. Little do they know that these two are connected in a way they could never have imagined.
Clover is a shoujo manga with steampunk elements and a beautiful art style, as expected of manga artists like Clamp.
You can find the hardcover collector’s edition on this manga on Amazon: CLOVER (Hardcover Collector’s Edition)
17. She and Her Cat (Tsubasa Yamaguchi, 2016 – 2016)
Also known as Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko, this is a simple, slice-of-life manga of a working woman and her cat. On a rainy day, Miyu found Chobi in a box outside and adopted him. Miyu lives alone, and her only company is Chobi, whom she treats with lots of love, care, and food. The manga is told from Chobi’s point of view, in which he mostly talks about his love and admiration for Miyu.
Chobi’s day starts with seeing Miyu getting ready for work and ends with her petting him before going to sleep. On days when Miyu feels sad, Chobi is there for her. Although he doesn’t understand her problems, he still listens to them.
If you love cats, She and Her Cat will surely entertain you; plus, it’s a one-shot manga, so you can easily read this story in a day.
Get this manga on here on Amazon: She and Her Cat
16. In This Corner of the World (Fumiyo Kōno, 2007 – 2009)
In 1940s Japan, Hiroshima, lives a young and innocent 18-year-old girl, Suzu. Suzu works in her family business, and one day she receives a marriage proposal from a man in the navy who lives in the city of Kure. Suzu marries him, moves to Kure, and starts her life as a newlywed housewife.
Unfortunately, World War II starts, and Japan is losing against the US, putting the lives of the Japanese at risk and causing food shortages. Suzu is so young, yet she has to manage the household in such difficult conditions. She wonders when she can visit home again and worries about her family’s wellbeing. However, tragedy awaits Suzu as bombing by US air raids begins in city areas in Kure.
In This Corner of the World shows another side of the war in which innocent people are being affected by the conflicts. It is a very realistic and accurate depiction of Japan during World War II.
You can find volume 1 on Amazon here: In This Corner of the World Vol. 1
Or you can find the omnibus collection edition here: In this Corner of the World (Omnibus Collection)
15. I Had the Same Dream Again (Yoru Sumino, 2017 – 2018)
Nanoka Koyanagi is a brilliant elementary student who considers herself weird. She doesn’t do things she isn’t comfortable with, such as PE classes or interacting with her classmates. Instead, she spends time reading books. Nanoka’s teacher worries about her behavior and asks her to find the meaning of “happiness” for a class project.
Nanoka’s mostly home alone. Her only friends are her cat, an old lady whom she calls “grandma,” and Abazune-san, an adult. One day when both friends aren’t available, Nanoka goes to an abandoned building and sees a high schooler named Minami hurting herself.
Nanoka’s curiosity leads to her becoming friends with Minami. She starts meeting her daily with the hope of knowing her more and finding the meaning of happiness. What will Nanoka learn from the people around her? You’ll need to read it to find out.
You can find the complete manga collection edition on Amazon: I Had That Same Dream Again: The Complete Manga Collection
14. A Distant Neighborhood (Jiro Taniguchi, 1998 – 1999)
Hiroshi Nakahara is a 48-year-old salaryman with a wife and two daughters. He’s going on a business trip to Kyoto when he realizes he accidentally got on the wrong train and is on his way to his hometown, Kurayoshi. He returns to his town after 20 years and is surprised to see the significant changes there.
Hiroshi goes to the Genzen Temple to visit his mother’s grave. Still, after being there for a while, he suddenly feels his body being different. Soon, he realizes that he has gone back in time and is 14 years old, and he cannot find a way back but has all his memories retained. Hitoshi starts to relive his adolescence once again.
For years, Hitoshi had wondered why his father had suddenly left the family. But by spending time with his family again, Hitoshi begins to understand the reasons behind his father’s abandonment.
Find volume 1 of this manga here on Amazon: A Distant Neighborhood, Vol. 1
A hardcover edition can be found here: A Distant Neighborhood
13. Voices of a Distant Star (Makoto Shinkai, 2004 – 2005)
The earth is threatened by a group of aliens called “Tarsians.” To fight against them, the UN Space Army is created. Mikako Nagamine is a 15-year-old recruited into the army and sent to space to fight against them. She’s in love with her classmate Noboru, but he’s on the earth.
Mikako can only stay in contact with Noboru by sending him emails, which take days to reach him. As she goes further into the space, they take months and years. Mikako and Noboru yearn to see each other again but are starting to lose hope. Will their love bloom in this distance or fade away? Will they ever see each other again?
Voices of a Distant Star is a sweet, tragic story of lovers pulled apart by war. The manga has only one volume, but it has love, action, and a satisfying ending.
Check out this manga here on Amazon: Voices of a Distant Star
12. Astra Lost in Space (Kenta Shinohara, 2016 – 2017)
In 2063, humans have taken over the universe, and it’s easy to travel across space. Nine young students prepare themselves for a journey to the planet McPa unaccompanied by adults. But once they arrive on planet McPa, they are chased by a mysterious ball of lights which catches them and throws them into outer space.
The students are many light years away from home and have minimal resources left. Luckily, they find an old spaceship and realize their only way out is by using it. However, their journey won’t be easy, and they are yet to learn the surprisingly dark truth behind their cause of being sent on this trip.
Astra Lost in Space is a 5-volume sci-fi manga filled with plot twists that will make it impossible for you to put down.
You can find the first volume of this manga on Amazon here: Astra Lost in Space, Vol. 1
You can check out the other voulmes in this series here: Astra Lost in Space manga series
11. I Want To Eat Your Pancreas (Yoru Sumino, 2016 – 2017)
The plot is told from the perspective of an unnamed protagonist who found a diary in the hospital. After reading it, he finds out his popular classmate, Sakura Yamauchi, suffers from a painful illness affecting her pancreas. Sakura’s surprised to see his unsympathetic reaction to her news and becomes friends with him as he’s the only one who knows about her illness.
They become very close to each other, and for Sakura to enjoy her life’s last months, they start doing activities written on Sakura’s wish list.
They’re polar opposites, yet they’re the happiest around each other. However, this time ends soon, and Sakura leaves a diary for him to read. Reading this diary changes his life forever…
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, a heart-touching manga that will take you on an unforgettable journey in only 2 volumes.
You can find the complete manga collection edition on Amazon here: I Want to Eat Your Pancreas: The Complete Manga Collection
10. Paradise Kiss (Ai Yazawa, 1999 – 2003)
Yukari Hayasaka is a senior high school student focused on doing well in academics so she can have a promising future. However, she doesn’t do what she wishes and instead listens to the decisions her parents make for her.
Yukari’s life hits a turning point when she’s suddenly approached by three eccentric-looking fashion university students asking her to model for their brand, Parakiss. At first, Yukari rejects their offer, thinking she doesn’t have time for such things. But when she’s requested by the group’s leader, George Koizumi, to model for them, it becomes difficult for her not to accept their offer.
Can Yukari manage her studies and modeling while developing feelings for the group’s attractive and mysterious leader, George?
In only five volumes, prepare to see loads of drama, fantastic character designs, and story development in Paradise Kiss.
Volume 1 of this manga can be found on Amazon: Paradise Kiss Vol 1
A 20th Anniversary Edition that combines the original 3-volume release can be found here: Paradise Kiss: 20th Anniversary Edition
You can check out the other volumes in this series here: Paradise Kiss manga series
9. Another (Yukito Ayatsuji, 2010 – 2011)
In 1972, a student named Misaki at Yomiyama North Middle School suddenly died. The whole class felt devastated by her sudden death and pretended she was still there. Surprisingly, Misaki was seen in the class’s graduation photo.
Jump to 1998. A student named Kōichi Sakakibara transferred to the same class that Misaki was in and began feeling a strange aura. It was as if everyone was hiding something. He sees a girl named “Misaki Mei” in the class, but everyone pretends as if she’s non-existent. When Koichi tries to discover the mysteries of the class, a trail of horrifying deaths happens among their classmates and relatives.
Can Kōichi save his classmates from deaths caused by an unseen entity?
Another is a horror and mystery manga with a great plot. I warn you, though, that the manga has many gruesome scenes, which even caused it to get banned in China.
Check out volume 1 of this manga here on Amazon: Another – Manga
8. The God’s Lie (Kaori Ozaki, 2013 – 2013)
Natsuru Nanao is a sixth grader who dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. Nanao once rejected a popular girl in class; since then, no girl has talked to him again. He’s surprised to see when his quiet classmate, Rio Suzumura, talks to him.
One day, Nanao sees Rio coming back from a supermarket with her younger brother. When he visits her home, he’s surprised that the two siblings live alone in a rundown house, and Rio takes care of the house by herself. Nanao lies to his mother and spends his summer living with Rio and her brother.
However, dark secrets about Rio will change Nanao’s life forever. His carefree, innocent childhood will end when he learns the harsh reality of life.
The God’s Lie is a five-chapter manga (one volume) that at first seems like a slice-of-life story, but the plot takes a turn that will shock you.
Find this amazing manga on Amazon here: The Gods Lie
7. Our Happy Time (Mizu Sahara, Aka Sumomo Yumeka, 2008 – 2008)
Also known as Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan follows the story of Juri Mutō, a depressed adult with no desire to live. After her third suicide attempt, her aunt, a nun, takes her to meet Yu, a prisoner sentenced to death.
Yū has been charged with murdering three people. He has also attempted suicide multiple times while in jail. He refuses any visitors and dislikes religious people as he considers them hypocrites. However, Juri starts visiting Yū every week, and they begin to feel happiness they never did before.
However, how long can their happiness last with Yū on death row?
Our Happy Time is a 1-volume manga. The characters are well-written, and the plot sheds light on a rarely discussed topic. It is a must-read manga.
If you can read Japanese, the Japanese edition can be found on Amazon: Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (Our Happy Time): Japanese Edition
6. Solanin (Inio Asano, 2005 – 2006)
This manga follows two main characters; Meiko, a woman working in an office with no real goals for her future, and Taneda, Meiko’s boyfriend, who barely makes any money as an illustrator. They live together, with Meiko paying most of the bills. They both hate the rut that they are in but find it difficult to change.
However, one day, they decide that enough is enough. Meiko decides to quit her job while Taneda chooses to put all of his energy into the dream-his band. While they are free from their routine, they face an uncertain future. However, when things start to look up, something very unexpected happens that changes the lives of Meiko, Taneda, and their friends…
Check out this short manga series to discover what happened and how everyone’s lives changed forever.
Check out this manga on Amazon here: Solanin
5. Uzumaki (Junji Ito, 1998 – 1999)
Also known as “Spiral,” this manga is as creepy as it gets. Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend Shuichi Saito live in the small town of Kuzouru-cho.
When Shuichi starts going to high school in a different city, he realizes that there is something abnormal and evil about his city. Soon, his father becomes obsessed with spirals, so much so that he dies from it.
Following his father’s death, every town resident starts becoming obsessed or paranoid from spirals. This leads to strange activities happening to them, eventually leading to death. Saito and Kirie realize their only chance of survival is by escaping from Kuzouru-cho. However, is it possible to escape from this strong curse capable of taking the lives of many?
Uzumaki is one of the most classic horror manga ever written. The plot line is exciting, and the art style is so scary that it’ll make you feel chills down your spine.
Check out volume 1 of this haunting manga here on Amazon: Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror, Vol. 1
A deluxe, 3-in-1 edition of this manga can be found here: Uzumaki (3-in-1 Deluxe Edition)
4. Anohana (Mari Okada, 2012 – 2013)
Six childhood friends become distant after Menma, one of their group members, suddenly dies. Five years later, Jintan lives as a recluse and doesn’t even go to high school. One day, Menma appears to him. She tells him she cannot move on to the afterlife until her wish is granted.
However, Menma doesn’t remember her wish, so all her friends must get back together and think about it. However, their friends are hesitant to meet with Jintan and consider him stuck in the past. With his friends being doubtful of Jintan’s claims, can Menma’s wish get fulfilled?
While their friends act strong and pretend to have moved on, they internally struggle and blame themselves for Menma’s death. Their motive is to help Menma move to the afterlife, but is Menma’s motive to help them move on in life too?
If you can read Japanese, you can find the Japanese edition of volume 1 of this manga here: あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。(Anohana): Japanese Edition
3. Onani Master Kurosawa (Ise Katsura, 2007 – 2008)
Also known as Masturbation Master Kurosawa, it revolves around Kakeru Kurosawa, a middle school student who considers himself better than everyone else in the class. Kurosawa is an antisocial student who, during his breaks, masturbates in one of the girl’s bathrooms while thinking of girls in his class.
Aya Kitahara is a shy girl in his class who is often bullied. One day, Kurosawa avenges one of the bullies by secretively blowing his “load” all over their gym clothes.
Kurosawa thinks nothing of it until he’s approached by Aya, telling him that she knows his secret. She will not tell anyone if he continues to take revenge on her bullies.
Kurosawa has no choice but to do what she says. But how long can Kurosawa harass girls without anyone knowing?
This manga isn’t ecchi, but it is for mature audiences.
For all of you Japanese readers, you can get the Japanese edition of volume 1 here on Amazon Japan: オナニーマスター黒沢（1）(Onani Master Kurosawa): Japanese Edition
2. I Sold My Life for Ten Thousand Yen Per Year (Shōichi Taguchi, 2016 – 2017)
Kusonoki is a 19-year-old struggling to meet ends with only his part-time job. He learns of a place that buys the remaining years of your life. After finding this place to be real, he sells the 30 remaining years of his life for 300,000 yen. He keeps only three months to live so he can enjoy the money.
The next day, a girl named Miyagi shows up at his apartment, telling him that she has to be with him as an observer for the next three months according to the company’s rules.
Kusonoki has been lonely, which makes him not care about his life. But as he spends time with Miyagi, he finds the meaning of happiness and understands the value of time. Will Miyagi bring a change in his life’s last months which he couldn’t even have had in 30 years?
After reading this 3-volume manga, you’ll question the value of your life.
If you can read and understand Japanese, you can find the Japanese edition of volume 1 on Amazon Japan: 寿命を買い取ってもらった。一年につき、一万円で。 1 (I Sold My Life for Ten Thousand Yen Per Year): Japanese Edition
1. All You Need is Kill (Ryōsuke Takeuchi, 2014 – 2014)
Mysterious beings called “Mimics” are dangerous species that have taken over the earth, putting humans in danger. A special task force, United Defence Force, fights against them using mecha suits.
Keiji Kiriya is a military soldier who has his first battle against the Mimics but brutally dies on the battlefield. Surprisingly, Keiji wakes up and realizes it is the day before the battle. He eventually learns that he is in a time loop. Whenever he dies, he wakes up the day before the battle.
Death is no longer an escape for Keiji. Can Keiji find a way to turn the tables and survive the battle?
All You Need is Kill is a splendid short manga because it takes you on a rollercoaster ride filled with plot twists, action, and emotions in only 2 volumes.
Check out the first volume here on Amazon: All You Need Is Kill (manga)
The second volume can be found here: All You Need Is Kill, Vol. 2