Manga recommendations for those looking to venture into the world of Japanese comics.
Disclaimer: these are just the essentials based on my opinion/experience in reading manga over the years. These may very well not appeal to you, but they’re definitely worthy of being the first manga you dig into.
For you manga/anime vets: Hey guuuuys…I’m sure most of you have read these, so this list may not be for you, but there’s nothing wrong with rereading incase it’s been a while.
Before I go any further, there are some terms the newcomer should remember while choosing their reads in the future:
Shōnen (sho-u-nen): Manga typically geared toward young boys/men. Usually involves a lot of action, and dynamic line art. Shōnen means boy/young boy in Japanese.
Shōjo (sho-u-jo): Manga that’s aimed at young girls/women. Shōjo Is Japanese for girl/young girl. Usually has a story related to romance, and the line are is a lot more soft and fluid than Shōnen manga. They also tend to use a lot of floral patterns for toning…(blergh)..moving on..
Josei: Manga for grown women. Tends to have more adult subject matter, the genre may vary. Josei translates to woman.
Seinen: Manga for grown men. Same as Josei, except for men. Seinen translates to young man.
Also bare in mind that manga is not read in the same way you’d read western comics. They are read from right to left, top to bottom, as opposed to left to right, top to bottom. This is because Japanese books are typically read from right to left.
I tend lean more toward Shōnen/seinen manga, but I’m not totally against reading something from the other categories. In fact, some of the best manga I’ve read are each from different categories. I haven’t even listed them all…there are a few other categories that house the more…sinful and..raunchy desires that lay dorment in people’s hearts… but no need to go over those now. Let’s get on with this list, shall we.
1. Inuyasha (1996)
Ahh, one of the classics. Old, but gold. Inuyasha is one of the most well known series to date, taking both Japan and the west by storm in its prime. It’s the story of a half demon(Inuyasha) who crosses paths with a human girl(Kagome)who has made her way into his time period from her own after falling into a well. It’s a thrilling adventure with a humble, yet engaging plot, and it’s rich with many imaginative characters, and strange creatures. The panels are pretty easy to read through, in comparison to the panels of today’s more detailed shonen series, and the art is fluid and consistant; a not so common characteristic of Shōnen works. It’s 558 chapters long, so definitely take your time with this one.
2. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (2016)
This is the sequel to the word renowned manga, Naruto. Honestly, I was going to put Naruto on this list however it’s 710 chapters long, and how Boruto is written allows people to jump into the franchise now, instead of feeling pressured to play catch-up. Boruto is a young ninja in training who is spoiled and extremely self confident. He detests the fact that his father values his job over time with his family, leading him to do anything he can to get his fathers attention, and one day surpass him. This may definitely spark your interest about the Naruto universe, and make reading this manga’s predecessor a lot more enjoyable. Panel clarity is good with this manga, though there are a lot of details, they don’t make anything unnecessarily confusing. The artist (Mikio Ikemoto) tends to not use a lot of techniques other manga artists use (lines for shading, excessive movement lines), and places his lines sparingly; thus there is a lot less clutter. The manga is only 6 chapters in as of today, and chapters are released monthly – plenty of time to dig in.
3. Death Note (2003)
This manga almost ruined my life in 6th grade. A fellow classmate of mine wrote my name in his “Death Note” .. it was the first replica I’d see in reality, and I was petrafied. I hissed and spat at him.. I went absolutely insane! … Until of course nothing happened… 😡
Death Note is the story of a high school senior who stumbles across a note book with “Death Note” written on the cover. He laughs it off as a joke, only to find out later that this notebook is no laughing matter. It is one of the most highly acclaimed manga, and though it is not the most popular, it has a fan base wider than most, having pulled people into reading it who may have never given manga a chance.
This manga has had a number of adaptations done: 3 movies, a tv drama, and an anime have already been released. A new movie sequel is due this month, and it`s also receiveing a western Netflix exclusive adaptation sometime next year. The story is tragic and twisted, yet engaging. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, and believe me, it will definitely make you question your morality…
The artist(Takeshi Obata)incorperates realism in his art while still maintaining the feel of a manga through his characters, resulting in beautiful detailed and engaging panels that are also exceptionally clear. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest illustrators of modern times. This manga is 48 chapters of beautiful eye candy with an amazing story.
4. The Promised Neverland (2016)
THIS manga is just pure goodness. After releasing its first chapter on August 1st of this year, this manga is already causing quite a bit of buzz. I’m not even going to give a quick synopsis on this one – the crux of the story plot is exposed within the first chapter, and I don’t want to spoil how it’s presented. I will say however that this manga has had me hooked since chapter 1 and I’m always itching for the next. Though this manga uses a more interactive panel layout, it’s not terribly hard to navigate your eyes through the pages. It’s currently 10 chapters in – easy catch-up.
Each of these titles (while they are all Shōnen) have unique plots, character development and settings.I honestly believe they are a great way to start your journey, and to explore the diversity in manga – both through art, and story. 😉