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Best Manga Series List
About my Manga Series List
I have been reading manga for years and have encountered some truly excellent series. While the art style and the layout might take some time getting used to, the story usually draws you right in, and you are left wanting for more at the end of every chapter.
I have shared some of my all-time favorites below, and visitors to this page have contributed the rest by adding new entries and voting for their own favorites. Whether you are a new reader looking for an introduction into the manga world, or an experienced fan searching for more good series to read, this list of Japanese comic series should come in handy.
Manga is a truly wonderful medium which combines pictures and text to tell a story. You don't have to read manga in Japanese - many popular series are released in the West, and there also are some scanlation groups working on new manga as it comes out on Jump and other magazines. Needless to say, the official English release should always be supported, if it's available.
Top Manga List
If you're looking for a good manga series to read, give this list a try. The entries are sorted by visitor votes, although voting itself is unfortunately no longer available since this page was transferred from Squidoo to HubPages.
#1. One Piece
One Piece is a very popular shounen manga which follows the crew of Straw Hat Pirates lead by one Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy who gains supernatural powers after eating a Devil Fruit.
Bleach is one of the best-known shounen mangas with a successful anime adaptation. The protagonist is Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager with the ability to see ghosts. One day Ichigo gets involved in a fight between a Soul Reaper and a Hollow, and as a result becomes a Substitute Soul Reaper himself.
#3. FullMetal Alchemist
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who attempted to do the forbidden - resurrect a dead person. As a result, Edward lost one of his arms and legs, and Alphonse his entire body. Now the two seek the legendary Philosopher's Stone, which is the only thing that can restore their bodies.
#4. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is a dramatic and violent manga that follows Lucy, a member of the Diclonius race which have horns on their head and can control invisible "vectors". Lucy was abused by humans as a child, and as a result hates most of them. After running away from a high security facility, she is taken in by two humans, but that doesn't mean she can live peacefully. Lucy is still being hunted by humans and other Diclonii.
One of the most popular manga and anime franchises ever, it follows a young ninja Naruto Uzumaki on his road to becoming the strongest in his village, and earning the title of Hokage. Written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto.
#6. Hunter x Hunter
Hunters are tough fighters with special abilities, hired for doing the most dangerous and complicated jobs in the world. Earning a Hunter's license isn't easy, but 12-year-old Gon attempts to do so in order to meet his father, who is also a Hunter. Written by Togashi Yoshihiro.
A middle school girl Kagome Higurashi is transported from the present day into medieval Japan. She's attacked by a demon because of the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls she holds, and is forced to release the half-demon InuYasha. InuYasha protects her, but the Jewel is shattered, so Kagome and InuYasha travel Japan to collect its shards.
#8. Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball / DBZ is the legendary shonen manga that even people not interested in Japanese comics have heard about. In DB, protagonist Son Goku trains in martial arts and searches for the Dragon Balls which are said to grant any wish. Dragon Ball Z continues the story by adding an entirely new plot with the arrival of the Saiyans.
Monster is a seinen manga about a brilliant surgeon Kenzo Tenma, who risks his career and reputation to save a wounded boy over an influential politician. Soon afterward, mysterious murders start happening around Tenma, and he appears to be the main suspect.
#10. Death Note
Death Note features a fascinating battle of wits. On one side is Light Yagami: a high-school student who possesses the Death Note, a notebook which kills anyone who's name is written on it. On the other is L: the legendary detective who is trying to track this mysterious new killer.
#11. Soul Eater
Shibusen, or Death Weapon Meister Academy, pairs up weapons and wielders and trains them to protect the world from evil. Maka the scythe technicial and Soul the weapon are partners who are working on feeding Soul 99 evil human and 1 witch souls in order to turn him into the ultimate weapon - the Death Scythe.
An awesome action manga set in a dark fantasy version of the medieval Europe. Berserk follows a mercenary warrior Guts, also know as the Black Swordsman. He hunts Apostles of the God Hand, powerful beings who are the messengers of evil.
#13. Slam Dunk
A story about Hanamichi Sakuragi, a delinquent who starts playing basketball at the Shohoku school and realizes he really enjoys it. Hanamichi, along his other teammates, start training and aiming to win the name of the national champions for their school. This is one of the more realistic sports manga.
#14. Great Teacher Onizuka
This shounen series by Tohru Fujisawa is about the most badass teacher you have ever seen. Onizuka's methods might be unorthodox, but he is able to reach out to his students like no one else. After all, Onizuka is an incredibly strong fighter, and a former gang member who knows how to deal with difficult kids.
#15. Fairy Tail
Probably the best shounen manga to come out in recent years, Fairy Tail is a story about a wizard guild of the same name. The protagonists of the manga are Lucy Heartfilia and Natsu Dragneel, both members of the Fairy Tail guild.
A manga about writing manga, Bakuman tells the story of artist Moritaka Mashiro and writer Akito Takagi as they strive to become professional mangaka. Starting out in high-school, the two meet a lot of new rivals and friends, improving their style and storytelling as the result, and aiming for #1 on the Jump magazine.
#17. Vampire Knight
Vampire Knight is a shojo manga that centers around Cross Academy, a school that is attended by both humans and vampires. Yuuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the two guardians who's purpose it is to ensure that the Day and Night Classes coexist peacefully.
A cyberpunk manga that became a cult classic following the release of an animated movie of the same name. It is year 2038, and the government, religious sects, and street gangs clash in Neo-Tokyo. A young psychic Tetsuo releases Akira, a boy with immense powers, from cryogenic sleep, starting an all-out war for control of Akira.
#19. 20th Century Boys
A top-rated mystery manga series with sci-fi and conspiracy elements. Kenji, a young convenience store owner, discovers a cult led by a man who calls himself "Friend" which aims to destroy the world. Surprisingly, the answer to stopping them is hidden in Kenji's childhood. He recruits some of his childhood friends and attempts to stop the cult.
#20. Detective Conan
Detective Conan (known as Case Closed in the US) is a long-running detective / comedy manga about a prodigy detective Shinichi Kudo (aka Jimmy Kudo). During one of his investigations he is attacked by the members of the Black Organization and given experimental poison. The poison has an unexpected effect of turning him into a 6-year-old child. Shinichi names himself Conan Edogawa and continues his investigations as a child detective.
#21. Vinland Saga
Thorfinn's father was killed by Askellad and now he is working for his sworn enemy to look for a chance of revenge. But why does Askellad accept him? A historical manga set in Scandinavia, which features the Vikings' life and their relationship with other kingdoms/factions.
#22. Rurouni Kenshin
The classic samurai manga series by by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The story takes place during the second half of the 19th century in Japan, and follows Himura Kenshin, a former assassin. Kenshin is now a peaceful wanderer and offers aid for those in need.
#23. Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
Tsunayoshi Sawada is a wimpy high school student who suddenly finds out he's an heir to a powerful mafia family. A hitman is sent to train Tsuna into a man worthy of becoming the 10th generation boss of the Vongola Famiglia.
#24. Hajime no Ippo
Makunouchi Ippo is a 16-year-old high-school student who is often bullied despite being quite strong physically. One day he is saved from bullies by a boxer Takamura Mamoru. Ippo asks Takamura to train him in boxing, and that's how his journey to becoming a champion starts.
#25. Fist of the North Star
A martial arts manga set in a post-apocalyptic world where violent gangs have all the power, and law no longer exists. The main character is Kenshiro, a warrior who uses a fearsome martial art known as Hokuto Shinken. Kenshiro protects the weak from thugs and fights against other martial arts users.
This is a feel-good manga that follows Yotsuba Koiwai, an energetic five-year-old girl, on her daily adventures discovering new things and getting into all sorts of trouble. It is a funny and uplifting series which you can count on to put you in a good mood.
#27. Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
Many people call this the best shoujo manga. It is a funny and cute story about a female student council president who also works at a maid cafe. When a popular boy from her school finds out, she's in trouble!
#28. Skip Beat!
A shoujo manga by Yoshiki Nakamura, Skip Beat! follows the journey of Kyoko Mogami, a 16-year-old girl, to becoming a top pop idol. Initially, Kyoko has no interest in showbiz and works to support her friend, Shotaro Fuwa, in his dreams to become a musician. However, Sho merely uses Kyoko as a maid, and treats her with disdain. Kyoko wows revenge on him by becoming a star herself.
#29. Nodame Cantabile
Shinichi Chiaki is a top student at the Momogaoka College of Music. He is a talented piano and violin player, and a stuck-up perfectionist. Megumi Noda, a piano player in the same school, is the very opposite: messy, laid back, and playful. Shinichi is dismayed when he finds out that Nodame moved in to the apartment next to his, but eventually these two very different people start growing closer.
#30. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
A well-known fantasy manga by Shinobu Ohtaka, Magi depicts a magical recreation of the Old World, with several nations and kingdoms struggling for power, and an evil cult aiming to destroy everything. The story follows a young Magi named Aladdin who travels the world, as well as his many companions and other characters.
#31. Attack on Titan
Sometimes referred to by its Japanese name Shingeki no Kyojin, this popular dark fantasy manga follows a young man named Eren Yeager, as well as his companions, who live in a post-apocalyptic world. Humanity has been nearly wiped out by enormous Titans, and now live in the last city surrounded by huge walls. Eren dreams of venturing outside and reclaiming the world for humans.
#32. To Love-Ru
A popular harem manga which is also adapted into an anime of the same name. To Love-Ru's protagonist is your everyday high-school student, Yuuki Rito. He has a crush on his beautiful classmate Sairenji Haruna, but is too shy to confess. One day, a mysterious nude girl Lala appears in his bathroom. It turns out she's an alien princess, and she wants to marry Rito in order to stay on Earth!
#33. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
One millennium has passed since an apocalypse which ravaged Earth and nearly wiped out the human race. Most of the planet is covered by a toxic mold and inhabited by giant insects. Humans can only survive in a few small regions. Princess Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind fights for tolerance and understanding among the countries which are battling over the world's remaining natural resources.
#34. Barefoot Gen
A shocking story about a 6-year-old boy who witnesses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. By depicting Gen's daily life prior to the bombing, the manga paints a picture of Japan during the World War II.
A drama / romance / slice of life manga by Harold Sakuishi. Yukio (nicknamed Koyuki) is a regular high-school student who joins Beck, a band led by a prodigious guitar player Ryusuke. Along with other band members, they strive for recognition. The manga is adapted into an anime called BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad.
A beautiful and melancholic series by Yuki Urushibara, aimed at older readers (seinen). Mushi are primal creatures, far simpler than animals and plants, living around us and unseen by most humans. Ginko is one of the few who can perceive Mushi, and he travels Japan helping people suffering from problems caused by Mushi.
High school students Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato die in a train accident, and wake up in a weird apartment with a huge black sphere in it. When the "Gantz" sphere opens, they are given futuristic gadgets and weapons, and tasked to hunt various aliens on Earth. If they complete enough missions successfully, they will be able to return to their everyday lives.
Chobits is a romantic comedy / sci-fi / ecchi manga by CLAMP. Hideki Motosuwa discovers a female android (a human-shaped robot, called "persocom" in the manga) lying in a trash heap. He brings her home and teaches her to speak, since "Chi" (the first sound she uttered) seems to have lost her memories. It is later revealed that Chi might be one of the Chobits, the legendary persocoms rumored to actually possess free will.
#39. Onegai Teacher
Also known as Please Teacher, this comedy / romance manga is centered around Kei Kusanagi, a teenager suffering from a weird disease which causes him to go into a "standstill" state when under emotional distress, and his high school friends. One day, he witnesses a beautiful alien woman materializing on Earth.
#40. Rozen Maiden
A young shut-in (aka hikikomori) Sakurada Jun encounters a magical, living doll, and gets drawn into a battle between these dolls to become a real girl. Thanks to his new companion, Jun is slowly drawn out of his shell.
#41. Shugo Chara!
A popular shoujo series about Hinamori Amu, a shy girl who one day decides to reinvent herself and finds three eggs which hatch into Guardian Characters on her bed. These magical beings allow Amu to transform and gain special powers.
#42. Ultra Maniac
Another shoujo series by Wataru Yoshizumi, this romantic comedy follows the adventures of middle-schooler Ayu Tateishi, and her friend Nina Sakura, who turns out to have been hiding a big secret.
Know other amazing manga that weren't listed here? Feel free to share them in the comments!
Buy Manga in English
Here are some of the best manga which are licensed in English and available on Amazon. Reading printed volumes rather than unofficial scanlations supports the authors.
A millennium after an apocalyptic war that nearly destroyed all human civilization, princess Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind becomes involved in a war between two countries fighting for habitable land. Story and art by Hayao Miyazaki.
A harrowing account of the author's first-person experience of the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath, told through the eyes of a 6-year-old boy.
A fictionalized version of the life of the most famous Japanese swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. This is his journey from a young, violent brute to the famed Sword Saint.
Master swordsman Guts seeks vengeance against the man who branded him as an unholy sacrifice, and sanctuary from the demonic forces that persue himself and his woman.
Kenji discovers a cult led by a mysterious "Friend" which aims to destroy the world. The key to stopping them is in Kenji's and his friends' childhood memories.