Summary

  • There is a wide variety of manga that any fan should be reading.
  • Some must-read manga earn their status for their incredible art and inventive stories.
  • Other manga earn their status for how well they execute some of the most basic elements of the medium.



Over the years, manga has become increasingly accessible all around the world. In addition to more and more series being licensed, in general, it’s become easier than ever to read manga digitally thanks to the advent of manga platforms and apps, especially since many of them offer at least the latest chapters for free.

It’s never been easier to read manga legally than it is now, and as such, some manga are far more worth someone’s time than others. As with all media, opinions on manga are inherently subjective, but between various factors like a manga’s art style, its writing, and its overall creativity, some manga certainly end up having more appeal than others, and they’ve appropriately received widespread acclaim for it. Manga like that are among the best manga a person could read, and a few, in particular, are especially worth highlighting.



20 One Piece Is The Undisputed Modern King Of Shōnen Manga

Written & illustrated by Eiichiro Oda

Release Year

1997

Publisher

Viz Media

Where to Read Online

Viz, Manga Plus

One Piece is the first of Shonen Jump’s Big Three, as well as the series that gave birth to various ideas that would become common tropes in the genre. Following the journey of Monkey D. Luffy and his eclectic crew of pirates as they search for the titular legendary treasure, One Piece tells an epic saga defined by unique and unforgettable adventures, as well as iconic and complex characters with intricate backstories and developments.

A remake of the anime titled
The One Piece
produced by Wit Studios is in the works for a release on Netflix.


While there are various ways to enjoy this story, including a live-action adaptation whose continuation has been confirmed, the original is hard to beat.

Read on Manga Plus

19 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Lives Up to Its Name With Some of the Wildest Manga Action

Written & illustrated by Hirohiko Araki

Release Year

1987

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

Viz, Manga Plus


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a revolutionary manga that has only just recently received the credit it deserves outside of Japan. The series is a multigenerational epic following members of the Joestar family as they battle a wide range of supernatural threats. Though the series was always popular, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure didn’t see true success until its third part, Stardust Crusaders, and the introduction of Stands.

Despite the series’ conventional beginnings, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has grown into one of the wildest manga in publication. A great deal of that is due to the inventive powers of Stands, which can do everything from haunt peoples’ dreams, to stop time, to turning people into living bombs. What truly makes the series, though, is the art, as Hirohiko Araki’s realistic and dynamic artwork makes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure one of the best-looking manga of all time. All of this adds up to the series being wholly unique and worth a read for anyone curious.


Related

10 Shonen Manga With the Best Art

Manga, especially shonen manga, often lives and dies by its artwork, and these are the 10 shonen manga with the best art in the medium.

Read On Viz

Jojos Bizzare Adventure Franchise Poster

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Created by
Hirohiko Araki

Character(s)
Will A. Zeppeli , Jonathan Joestar , Giorno Giovanna , Jotaro Kujo , Joseph Joestar , Jolyne Cujoh , Johnny Joestar , Josuke Higashikata , Gyro Zeppeli

Video Game(s)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure , JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R

TV Show(s)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

18 Chainsaw Man Redefined What’s Possible In Shōnen Manga

Written & illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Release Year

2018

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

Viz, Manga Plus


Few shōnen manga have ever been as consistently shocking as Chainsaw Man. The series follows a young man named Denji who, after being dismembered by a gang, is resurrected as the titular Chainsaw Man. Conscripted into working for public safety by the mysterious Makima, Denji works alongside his roommates Aki and Power to fight devils.

A movie adaptation of the Reze arc, Chainsaw Man – The Movie: Reze Arc is in production from Studio Mappa.

Part of what makes the series so remarkable is how it twists classic shōnen tropes, as Chainsaw Man always deconstructs the most common clichés of its genre to make a much darker story than its contemporaries. Despite this darkness though, there is a spark of hope at the heart of the series that makes sure it never goes too far. Combine that with Denji being one of the most psychologically complex shōnen heroes, and it’s easy to see why Chainsaw Man is one of the best manga.


Read on Viz

Chainsaw Man Anime Poster

Chainsaw Man

Cast
Ryan Colt Levy , Fairouz Ai , Sarah Wiedenheft , Suzie Yeung , Reagan Murdock

Release Date
October 11, 2022

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu

Writers
Tatsuki Fujimoto

17 #DRCL Midnight Children Reimagines Dracula with Wild Success

Written & Illustrated by Shin’ichi Sakamoto

Best Manga to Read Now #DRCL Midnight Children

Release Year

2021

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

VIZ Media (Browser Only)


Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the most famous works of English literature ever, so a manga adaptation may raise some eyebrows. However, the presentation of #DRCL Midnight Children is near-flawless, thanks to Sakamoto’s hauntingly beautiful and equally horrifying artwork. It adds a satisfyingly original twist to the original Dracula story, staying faithful to the setting while also feeling unique, especially with its focus on Mina Murray and the ensemble cast.

Literary scholars have previously discussed
Dracula’s
themes and how they are closely associated with the Cholera epidemic originating in the Ganges delta in India. However,
#DRCL: Midnight Children
directly discusses these themes, while also incorporating other cultural elements of the time, creating an authentic, erudite presentation of a classic story.

The story feels eerily like a moody period piece but spares no visual expense to convey shocking and visceral horror as Dracula’s threat looms large. #DRCL is also compelling because it explores gender through Mina and Lucy’s eyes as they navigate this increasingly nightmarish plot. It doesn’t hurt that the series is released in elegant hardcover volumes that’d easily fit in a bookshelf stealthily alongside Jane Austen books.


16 Blue Box Is A Sports Romance With Serious Heart

Written & illustrated by Kouji Miura

Taiki and Chinatsu from Blue Box sitting with a basketball and a badminton racket.

Release Year

2021

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

Viz, Manga Plus

Romance has always been an important genre for manga, and few modern romances are as heartfelt and sweet as Blue Box. The series follows a young badminton player named Taiki as he falls for the basketball player he trains alongside every morning, Chinatsu. Though Taiki was content to just admire Chinatsu from afar, their relationship changes when she moves in with his family for a time.

Sports titles like
Slam Dunk
and
Captain Tsubasa
have always been popular in Japan, but have been finally seeing their day in Western markets with recent hits like
Blue Box
,
Blue Lock
, and
Haikyu!!
.


With Blue Box receiving an anime adaptation soon, it’s clear that Shōnen Jump has a great deal of confidence in the relatively new series. What makes it work so well is the chemistry between Taiki and Chinatsu. Their deep characterization makes them one of the most believable couples in romance manga history.

Read on Viz

15 Vinland Saga Is The Best Historical Fiction Manga

Written & illustrated by Makoto Yukimura

Release Year

2005

Publisher

Kodansha

Where to Read Online

K Manga


While historical titles may be common in the medium, very few choose to portray the complicated life of Vikings, which allows Vinland Saga to stand out through its premise, alone. However, Vinland Saga certainly has a lot more aspects worthy of recommendation beyond the unique theme, such as the complex characters, intricate yet brutal story, and incredibly detailed art style.

Fans of
Vinland Saga
may want to read Makoto Yukimura’s previous manga,
Planetes
.

The events revolve around Thorfinn, whose life is redefined by the death of his father, a great Viking warrior. Joining the mercenary crew of the ones who killed his family, he initially seeks nothing but power and revenge, though his motivations and goals change as he grows up into one of the best pacifist characters in the medium.

Read on K Manga


14 Land Of The Lustrous is a Triumph In Fantasy Action

Written & illustrated by Haruko Ichikawa

Land of the Lustrous Manga art featuring the two Diamonds and Phos, making a series facial expression.

Release Year

2012

Publisher

Kodansha

Where to Read Online

K Manga


Land of the Lustrous is a truly peerless title, telling a unique story set in a world unlike any other. The central characters are anthropomorphized gems known as the Lustruous, who, under the guidance of the mysterious yet powerful Kongou-sensei, have to defend themselves from the countless assaults of the Lunarians, a species of moon inhabitants who seek to use their crystalline bodies as weapons and decorations.

Though Land of the Lustrous initially appears to be an innocent story relying on the creativity of its premise, Land of the Lustrous slowly but surely reveals itself to be much darker and more impactful than any reader could expect, and with its incredibly unique and all-around gorgeous art style, it’s more than worth anyone’s time.

Read on K Manga

13 Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Is The Manga That Redefines Romcoms

Written & illustrated by Aka Akasaka

Kaguya-sama Love Is War Manga


Release Year

2015

Publisher

Viz Media

Where to Read Online

Viz

When it comes to romance manga, there are few that are better to read than Kaguya-sama: Love is War. The story follows the titular Kaguya, as well as Miyuki, two top students at an elite high school who, despite being in love with each other, are too proud to admit it, instead attempting to convince the other to confess first. The mix of psychological mind games with romcom antics makes Kaguya-sama: Love is War one of the most unique manga to come out in the past decade, and overall, it’s one experience that no reader will regret giving a chance.

Read on Viz

12 Real is Takehiko Inoue’s Darker Take On Basketball Manga

Written & illustrated by Takehiko Inoue

Takehiko Inoue's Real


Release Year

1999

Publisher

Viz Media

Where to Read Online

Unavailable

Created by Takehiko Inoue, the genius behind famous titles such as Slam Dunk and Vagabond, Takehiko Inoue’s Real is a title that, while it may not have received as much attention or critical acclaim as its older siblings, should not be overlooked either. The story follows three main characters, all of whom are struggling with their own personal issues. One of them is a former star athlete who ended up disabled due to a disease, and another one also had his life redefined after becoming paralyzed due to a traffic accident.


While it’s definitely not Takehiko Inoue’s first basketball manga, Real stands out from other sports manga for its darker storytelling and realistic depiction of sports, specifically the physical and mental toll it can have on a person. It’s an incredibly unique sort of sports manga, and any fans of the genre would be remiss to pass it up.

Purchase on Viz

Written by Aka Akasaka & Illustrated by Mengo Yokoyari

Ai from Oshi no Ko

Release Year

2020

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

Manga Plus


Few seinen series have had the instant success enjoyed by Oshi no Ko, selling over 15 million copies in almost four years since its 2020 debut. The series initially plays like a typical reincarnation story, only to evolve into a scathing, sometimes uncomfortable examination of pop culture in Japan. Young doctor Gorou reincarnates as Aqua Hoshino, the son of his favorite idol, Ai Hoshino; he soon sees the dark side of this industry, fueling a dark obsession as he seeks revenge on his birth father.

The series initially plays like a typical reincarnation story, only to evolve into a scathing, sometimes uncomfortable examination of pop culture in Japan.

Not only is Oshi no Ko an acclaimed manga, but it’s got a strong anime imprint with a viral adaptation underway, with its second season adapting the beloved 2.5D Stage Play Arc. The series sometimes dives into uncomfortable territory, including issues of mental health, stalking, violence, and murder. But it’s also an endearing tale with a fantastic supporting cast of characters.


10 Yotsuba&! Is The Peak Of Slice-Of-Life Manga

Written & illustrated by Kiyohiko Azuma

Yotsuba& full color art work of Yotsuba kneeling and looking forward

Release Year

2003

Publisher

Yen Press

Where to Read Online

Unavailable

As a slow-paced work with a gentle atmosphere typical of iyashikei titles, Yotsuba&! may not have a particularly intricate setting or story, but that hasn’t stopped it from being one of the medium’s best comedy titles.


Revolving around the titular Yotsuba Koiwai, this manga is an honest and nostalgic exploration of the curious minds of innocent children who see every unknown as a new opportunity to have fun. Given that Yotsuba has recently moved to a new place, her world is full of new things to discover, taking readers along on her journey and reminding them of simpler times, that many may have forgotten due to their fast-paced environments.

Purchase on Amazon

9 Naruto Is One of the Most Beloved Manga in the World

Written & Illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto

naruto poster with Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke in fighting poses

Release Year

1999

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

VIZ, Manga Plus


Many popular shonen fighting manga focus too much on the protagonist, and while Naruto Uzumaki is certainly compelling, the Naruto series features a stellar ensemble spanning a world of ninjas. Naruto’s journey begins as a young genin as he has dreams of becoming the Hokage, ruler of Konohagakure, his home village. However, he must first deal with the circumstances of his birth and his status as an outcast while defeating powerful enemies who wish to control the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed within him.

Many popular shonen fighting manga focus too much on the protagonist, and while Naruto Uzumaki is certainly compelling, the
Naruto
series features a stellar ensemble spanning a world of ninjas.


Naruto is a monolith as one of the shonen “Big Three”, alongside One Piece and Bleach. It’s sold 250 million copies, being one of the best-selling manga ever, and is beloved by readers worldwide. It has even had several sequel series, with its latest story, Boruto: Two Blue Vortex, taking the next generation of Konoha’s ninjas on adventures of their own. The series is so beloved that some of Naruto’s most profound quotes can be carried by its viewers for life.

8 Dragon Ball is One of the Most Important Manga of All Time

Written & illustrated by Akira Toriyama


Release Year

1984

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

Viz, Manga Plus

When it comes to shōnen Manga, few can claim to have the same influence as Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. From tournament arcs, to powerful transformations, to befriending rivals, if a popular shōnen trope wasn’t started by Dragon Ball, then it was at least perfected by it. Given its high degree of influence and mythic status though, it’s tempting to wonder how well the manga can stack up against its contemporaries.

While
Dragon Ball Super
does have its share of problems, any fan of the original
Dragon Ball
should give
Super
a read, as it is a consistently fun ride.


Luckily for fans, Dragon Ball is just as fresh in the modern day as it was back in 1984. Though there are definitely some dated jokes and the plotting isn’t always as elegant as a modern series, the series’ dynamic action makes it an incredibly satisfying read. Dragon Ball’s funniest moments also help set the franchise apart from many of its more serious-minded successors.

Read On Manga Plus

7 Spy x Family Blends Action and Comedy Perfectly

Written & Illustrated by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family among the best manga to read


Release Year

2019

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

VIZ, Manga Plus

Spy x Family is possibly the most beloved ongoing manga series from the digital Shonen Jump+ imprint, and for a good reason. Tatsuya Endo has crafted an elegant and intricate Cold War-inspired world where Agent Twilight, undercover as Ostanian Loid Forger, must infiltrate Ostanian high society and broker peace between them and Westalis. But Loid’s not alone, as his family and cover stories boast unique secret gifts, with his wife Yor being an assassin, adopted daughter Anya being a telepath, and dog Bond having the power of precognition.

Spy x Family
has sold over 35 million copies as of March 2024, with a critically acclaimed anime adaptation and successful film adaptation,
Spy x Family Code: White.


The adventures of the Forger family are perfect comfort food for readers who want cozy manga that can also pull off tense action and heartbreaking drama. Anya Forger alone is iconic enough to carry the franchise before memorable arcs and worldbuilding are even considered. With the biweekly series recently celebrating chapter #100’s release, there’s no sign of slowing down.

Written & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

FMA-Edward-Alphonse


Release Year

2001

Publisher

Shueisha

Where to Read Online

Unavailable

Fullmetal Alchemist is still one of the best manga of all time, even more than a decade and a half after it ended. What’s immediately evident about the series is how ahead of its time it was. Crafting manga over long stretches of time is a notoriously difficult task, leading many mangaka to falter with plot points that feel poorly thought out. In contrast, Fullmetal Alchemist creator Hiromu Arakawa’s plotting is tight and makes the series’ events feel inevitable in a way few other manga can capture.

After
Fullmetal Alchemist
ended, Arakawa took a break from the fantastic to work on the farming manga
Silver Spoon
.


Even beyond its incredible plot though, Fullmetal Alchemist is full of some of the greatest heroes in shonen history. Few manga have a cast as memorable as Fullmetal Alchemist, and that alone is enough to earn it a high rank among the best manga.

Purchase on Viz

5 20th Century Boys is Naoki Urasawa’s Incredible Sci-Fi Hit

Written & illustrated by Naoki Urasawa

20th Century Boys Manga

Release Year

1999

Publisher

Viz Media

Where to Read Online

Unavailable


Created by Naoki Urasawa of Monster and Pluto fame, 20th Century Boys is another attempt at exploring the combination of drama and mystery, this time with a sci-fi twist. The story follows Kenji Endo who, following the sudden suicide of one of his childhood friends, seeks to reunite with more of his old friends, discovering a mysterious cult in the process and getting caught up in more than he bargained for.

Naoki Urasawa is also famous for creating the manga
Pluto.

While the grandiose theme of saving the world is a staple of the medium, 20th Century Boys take on saving the world is certainly one of the best and most memorable ones.

Purchase on Viz


4 Vagabond Is Takehiko Inoue’s Greatest Manga

Written & illustrated by Takehiko Inoue

Release Year

1998

Publisher

Viz Media

Where to Read Online

Unavailable

Vagabond is an award-winning title that is often counted among the best manga without an anime adaptation. Inspired by the real life of the renowned “Sword Saint” Miyamoto Musashi, Vagabond aims to retell his story from a new angle.


Miyamoto Musashi starts out as a brash and aggressive man who only cares about proving himself as a samurai, but as the story progresses, he evolves into a more thoughtful and contemplative person who shows that there’s more to being a warrior than just fighting. With Vagabond‘s incredible writing, and especially its gorgeous artwork, it easily stands out as Takehiko Inoue’s greatest work, and it’s hard to see it as anything other than one of the greatest manga of all time.

Purchase on Viz

3 Given Sets the Gold Standard for BL Drama

Written & Illustrated by Natsuki Kizu

Best Manga to Read Now Given

Release Year

2013

Publisher

SuBLime

Where to Read Online

sublimemanga.com


Boys’ Love, also referred to as Yaoi or BL, is a highly niche sector of the manga world. Still, perhaps its most beloved example is Given, which follows the formation of the eponymous band and the relationships of its members. Mafuyu Sato ties them together as their wounded, bleeding heart, where he adjusts to high school life and coping with tragedy, ultimately falling in love with Given’s lead guitarist, Ritsuka Uenoyama. The series is thoughtful, achingly romantic, and makes poignant use of music as a storytelling device.

The band’s name, Given, was inspired by Mafuyu after they performed his song live. However, previously, they were known as The Seasons, an instrumental band.

Mafuyu Sato is reasonably considered among the most complicated protagonists in anime, for good reason. The anime adaptation is also incredibly worthwhile, with the performances of Mafuyu’s written songs being an undeniable highlight. However, above all else, it features wonderful blossoming love between Mafuyu and Ritsuka, but also fellow bandmates Haruki and Akihiko.


Given (2019)

Given (2019)

Given (2019) is an anime series that follows the journey of four musicians navigating their personal struggles and relationships while forming a rock band. The story centers on high school student Ritsuka Uenoyama and his introduction to the world of music and romance through his bandmate, Mafuyu Sato. Directed by Hikaru Yamaguchi, the series explores themes of love, loss, and the transformative power of music.

Cast
Shogo Yano , Yuma Uchida , Masatomo Nakazawa , Takuya Eguchi , Fumiya Imai

Release Date
July 12, 2019

Seasons
1

2 Goodnight Punpun is The Darkest Coming-Of-Age Story In Manga

Written & illustrated by Inio Asano

Goodnight Punpun Manga

Release Year

2007

Publisher

Viz Media

Where to Read Online

Viz


While coming-of-age stories may not be uncommon, there is nothing quite like Goodnight Punpun, which takes the classic formula and innovates upon it by boldly incorporating elements that others would shy away from, telling a grim, yet realistic story. Punpun is but a normal boy experiencing the various trials of growing up, including but not limited to his perspective of his parents, love, and himself, trials which are displayed and explored in an honest and powerful manner.

Goodnight Punpun
creator Inio Asano’s
Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction
is set to receive a pair of anime movie adaptations debuting in March and April of 2024.

Inio Asano has explored dark themes in manga like Downfall, but rarely does those more grim elements hit as hard as they do in Goodnight Punpun. Known for its depiction of human relationships and the complexities of life, often visualized in surreal ways, Goodnight Punpun is one of the weirdest and darkest manga a person can read, and that’s worked to make it one of the greatest stories of modern manga.


Read on Viz

1 Berserk is The Greatest Manga of All Time

Written & Illustrated By Kentaro Miura, Continued By Kouji Mori & Studio Gaga

Release Year

1989

Publisher

Dark Horse

Where to Read Online

Unavailable

Created by Kentaro Miura and then taken over by his childhood friend, Kouji Mori, following the author’s death, Berserk is an award-winning title that garnered a lot of attention with its dark themes and shocking twists. The story revolves around protagonist Guts, a former mercenary known as the “Black Swordsman” now marked for death, who struggles to live and protect what he cares for despite his cruel and merciless fate.


Though it has received multiple anime adaptations as well, they vary significantly in terms of quality, and anime-only watchers have missed plenty of memorable
Berserk
scenes that are yet to be adapted.

Between the gorgeous artwork and the moving plot, there’s no doubt that Berserk is one of the best manga a person can read, if not the best.

Purchase From Dark Horse

Berserk Franchise Poster

Berserk

Created by
Kentaro Miura , Kouji Mori

First Film
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1: The Egg of the King

Character(s)
Guts , Griffith , Casca , Judeau , Pippin , Corkus , Rickert , Gaston (Berserk) , Puck (Berserk) , Farnese de Vandimion , Serpico , Isidro , Schierke

Video Game(s)
Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage

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