You should read these manga

I love all sorts of comics, but I’d be lying if I said the types of comics I read are evenly distributed. In other words, I read a lot of manga. A lot. Simply due to its accessibility, I suppose.

Reading manga is often a hit-or-miss occupation, though. I’ve read some incredible manga. I’ve read some god-awful manga. I’ve read some manga in-between.

What I’d like to share are the manga that I actually liked. There’s a great deal of them, though, so I arranged them by category. And of course, taste is subjective, so these are only comics I think are particularly good– perhaps not everyone will like them.

Shōnen manga

There are tons and tons of shōnen (少年) manga, or manga for young boys. It’s to be expected– judging from the success of Shōnen Jump and its manga (such as One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto) internationally, shōnen manga possess a huge demographic for authors to tap into. Though technically for “boys,” older audiences, and girls, enjoy these manga as well.

Here’s a couple I happen to like:

Yankee-kun to Megane-chan

Popular in Japan, this manga follows the exploits of an ex-delinquent, Hana Adachi, as she decides to become a normal high school student with the help of current delinquent Shinagawa Daichi. It feels like the good ol’ shōnen manga formula: school life, delinquents fighting, a school council– except its great humor and hilarious cast makes it much more.

Shibatora

A manga about a baby-faced cop who works to help delinquent children. The protagonist, Shibata Taketora, will seem clumsy and naive at first– but there’s a whole lot of bad ass underneath that childish exterior. Somehow I was charmed by the art and story in this manga.

The World God Only Knows

The premise of this manga sounds idiotic: it’s about a kid obsessed with dating simulation games, Keima Katsuragi. He is coerced into a contract with a devil, who tells him that runaway spirits have hidden themselves in girls’ hearts. In order to release them, Keima must use his talents in the real world and get these girls to fall in love with him. Sounds stupid? It’s not. The first several chapters are simply amusing as we laugh at Keima’s antics– but midway through the series, it picks up and begins developing a plot of its own. The World God Only Knows has become wildly popular in Japan– perhaps because of its wry sense of humor and unabashed parodying of clichéd romance tropes.

Shōjo manga

I’m a girl too, yeah. I admit that I’ve read a shameful amount of shōjo (少女) manga, or manga for girls. Expect fluffy romances, hot guys, and flowery panels filled with tearful girls. A lot of shōjo manga drives me nuts– more often than not, the protagonist is some airheaded, ditzy, weak-willed girl. Once in a while, though, you’ll hit one that’s genuinely cute. Here’s a pair I happen to like:

Men’s Kou

What do you get when you put a whole bunch of good-looking boys in an all-male boarding school? All sorts of yaoi and shōnen-ai, or… Men’s Kou. This manga follows a bunch of friends living in an all-boy’s school, all of whom are unsurprisingly frustrated by the lack of girls. It starts out clichéd, but turns out surprisingly grounded and charming. One story in particular really grabbed me– but I’ll spoil nothing. Men’s Kou has potential, though perhaps it’s not perfect.

Honey and Clover

A slice-of-life manga, Honey and Clover depicts the lives of five friends studying at an art college in Tokyo. It follows them as they experience love, heartbreak, and the age-old question of trying to find out what to do with their lives. The friendship between the cast is both hilarious and touching. Honey and Clover won the Kodansha Manga Award in 2003.

Seinen/Josei manga

Simply manga categorized as more mature, seinen (青年漫画) manga are aimed at older males and josei (女性漫画) manga are aimed at older women. Readers range from teens to the middle-aged, and seinen and josei manga cover a wide spectrum of topics, styles, and themes. This makes them hard to categorize– so what I put here is simply manga with more explicit content.

Dokuhime

In a distant land, children are raised from birth to resist poisons– to the extent that the poisons penetrate their bodies so much that even a touch can bring instant death. These “Poison Princesses” are sent to various empires as an assassination tool. Lycoris, one such poison princess, struggles to unravel the mysteries beneath the strange kingdom she is sent to. The manga may seem a little confusing the first read-through, but it only makes you want to figure out the mysteries even more.

Oyasumi Punpun

A surrealist manga by the acclaimed Inio Asano, Oyasumi Punpun follows the life of a normal kid depicted as a cartoony little bird. It shows the down-and-gritty realities of life as Punpun copes with his dysfunctional family, unrequited love, and becoming an adult. Oyasumi Punpun is both bizarre and realistic, introducing some of the most believable characters I have ever met, and a degree of darkness and cynicism I’ve never seen in a slice-of-life manga. The art, as in any of Asano’s work, is absolutely incredible.

Franken Fran

Fran Madaraki is a surgeon of prodigious talent: she can save the dying, put human heads on animal bodies, give her patients superhuman strength… any change you desire, she can perform. But the results of these surgeries usually backfire– especially since Fran rarely thinks about the consequences. Franken Fran is disgusting, horrifying, revolting– for the weak of stomach, avoid this one. Those who do read it, however, will find it chock full of enough black humor and irony to balance the bloody content.

Specialty manga

Specialty manga are manga that center around a particular, very specific topic. Yakitate!! Japan, for instance, is a manga entirely about people baking bread. Kami no Shizuku is about wine-tasting. A popular one, Hikaru no Go, is about kids playing the Japanese game of go. Naturally, though, you can find rich plots and character development in these manga as well.

Bartender

Bartender is about Ryu Sasakura, a genius bartender who is aiming to reach the “Glass of God.” This manga lacks a continuous plot; rather, it is divided into one-or-two chapter arcs about each customer Sasakura serves. Each has their own problem, and, with the guidance of the protagonist’s drinks, can usually decide on a course of action. The stories are gentle and touching, nothing intense– suitable for a manga about a soul-soothing bartender. It also makes me wish I was 21, so I could go out and try all these cocktails.

Team Medical Dragon

Another manga about a genius surgeon, except this one focuses on the Japanese medical system. It follows Dr. Asada Ryutaro and his medical team as they struggle to save lives within a maze of medical malpractice, power politics, and corruption. The team aims for the top to try to reform the failing healthcare system. While sometimes the manga comes off as unrealistic, it is nonetheless an interesting account of modern healthcare issues. There’s some sexual content and nudity in this one, though– be warned!

Bambino!

Bambino! is not only about cooking, it’s about Italian cooking. Follow Ban Shogo, a feisty young man working in an Italian restaurant in Tokyo. The manga focuses on his character development as he goes from dishwasher to full-fledged chef. Ban’s drive and stubbornness make the story, and the lavishly illustrated pasta makes me hungry, to boot.

Webtoons

A rising genre lately seems to be “webtoons,” or Korean webcomics. While these technically aren’t “manga” (manga implies Japanese origin) some webtoons are extremely high-quality and definitely worth a read. Warning: Webtoons, as they are read online, take advantage of the “infinite canvas”— in other words, they’re not formatted page-by-page but instead in one long infinitely-scrolling comic. If you can get over the vertigo, you’ll find some awesome stuff.

Melo Holic

Melo Holic starts out as the seeming love story of a cynical teacher with the ability to read minds. It quickly turns into a mystery/suspense toon, though, leaving you hanging on the edge. It’s already been completed, so you’ll be able to read it in one go.

KissWood

I’ve read a lot of comics, but this one definitely ranks among the best I’ve ever read. KissWood is about an old man living in a concrete city, until a fire engulfs his house and throws him into a coma. He finds himself transported to an alternate universe where trees dominate the landscape, a seeming utopia at first. As he tries to find a way back home, however, he begins to discover the cruel realities beneath his new world. The plot is fascinating, unpredictable, and well-thought-out, and the characters are memorable and unique. The art, too, is gorgeously rendered– the color definitely makes all the difference. If you read any of the comics in this post, I’d say go for this one. But perhaps that’s just me.

Pardon the particularly long rant! I just really like manga. Sadly, this could be even longer– there are just too many great comics in the world!

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20 thoughts on “You should read these manga

      • I KNOW IT’S SO COOL, RIGHT? I was always so jealous of seeing those really smooth bartenders/sommeliers in manga/anime.
        TEAM MEDICAL DRAGON IS GOOD; have you read Saijou no Meii (by the same mangaka who did Yakitate Japan)? It’s similar and also VERY GOOD, though not as mature (definitely more of a shounen style than seinen, and more unrealistic)
        And I also recently started reading webcomics, but I don’t know many. It’s totally it’s own category; I like the style a lot!

        • YEAAAHHH!! David Kang recommended me Saijou no Meii, and I LOVE IT TOO.
          YESSS WEBCOMICS! OMG. WHAT WEBCOMICS ARE YOU READING. I LOVE WEBCOMICS. They are indeed their own thing– I mean, anyone in any country in any style can make them, so they can go all over the place! Oooooh… I’d say, if you’re interested, look up Lackadaisy and The Phoenix Requiem! Those two are pretty good and well-loved among the internets.

  1. I started reading Yankee-kun to Megane-chan and now I can’t stop! I blame you, and you only 😛
    I love recommendation posts like this! It lets me read manga that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own, so thanks for that 🙂

    • It’s no problem! I loooove writing recommendation posts– it’s so awesome when you can share a good manga with someone else! And I know what you mean– The first time I read Yankee-kun to Megane-chan I got so hooked I read it twice 😛

  2. 😀 I love your descriptions! I don’t usually read manga, but I know a gazillion people who do–so next time I find myself with some extra time on my hands, I’ll check out your recommendations.

  3. Not saying that that list is long (it is), but it would be nice of you (you better do it) to tell me which (don’t screw this up) manga out of these (just pick one) you like the most (I’m still wait-SHUT UP!!). I’m sorry; sometimes my evil self just starts sticking random parentheses with annoying comments inside blogs, but don’t worry, I told him off. Which manga should I read first?

    • KissWood! Beautiful art with an unusual, haunting story, and an unconventional protagonist. It also started my current addiction to Korean webtoons. I highly recommend it!

      • Only read the first two chapters, of KissWood, but it is great. It is much slower and calm than what I usually read. It is also nice to see some colors, but these colors are beautiful. It seems to silently praise itself for its artwork; praise that should be conducted of course, as it is a very unusual design and uses its artwork more than most manga. Well, just about all manga technically, since it is not actually manga. As manga is Japanese and KissWood is Korean, but I found it on a manga website, so I guess it almost might as well be, except for the whole in color thing.
        Summary: So, thank you for recommending such a great series, I’ll be sure to check out some of those other ones when I finish KissWood. (There are only 34 chapters, unfortunately). But I did get you on Gravity Falls, so I guess it works both ways. HAHAHA! Time to watch One Piece!

        • I know… KissWood is regrettably short! I’m really glad you like it– I was hesitant to recommend it because it’s a little different than what you’d expect! Especially the format, since webtoons are supposed to be infinitely scrolling.
          And if you ever get sick of KissWood, One Piece is always the way to go!

      • aaaaahhhhhh. Yeah. So, I read your comment, find KissWood on your post and look: you had already said that you would recommend KissWood over the others. Ah, so I basically asked a question that could have its answer with a little more reading (of the post). (Sound effect: very loud sticking-tongue-out-and-blowing noise that signifies stupidity.) Oh, well don’t mind me. I’m just going to go read some more KissWood (Chapter 4, baby).

  4. WARNING!! WARNING!! WARNING!! WARNING!! WARNING!! WARNING!! WARNING!!
    SPOILERS ABOUT MELO HOLIC AHEAD!! PLEASE DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE READ MELO HOLIC, BUT SERIOUSLY, READ IT. THEN, COME BACK AND READ THIS!

    Well, I finished Melo Holic, and that was some CRAZY manga, or Korean comic to be precise. The real antogonist being Ji Eun’s 2nd personality. WHAT?!?! She has a split personality?!? No one could have ever guessed that! Except, FOR ME!! HAHAHA!! Okay, seriously, I did not predict that. However, I did sense that there was something mentally wrong with her.
    It was not great evidence, and it is actually slightly contradicting of the split personality thing. But when Ji Eun is in her home, she will sometimes start to hear thoughts conflicting with what she really wants. Such as the time when they went on one of their first dates and Yoo Eun Ho ramdomly walked up to the man with a hoodie that was not Kim Sun Ho (speaking of Kim Sun Ho, I had so many times thought that he was the hoodie, but I kept disproving myself) and Ji Eun ended up leaving Eun Ho, who was fighting with the guy with a grey hoodie. When she went back home, she had a conversation with herself about whether Eun Ho loved her. The voice in her head sounded intent on not letting her be happy with Eun Ho, and she had one of these conversations with herself again later in the series.
    This actually has nothing to do with her sadistic, murdering, drama-writing personality. This is because she had no idea of her second personality, but she was clearly conscious and in her main personality when she was talking to herself about Eun Ho. It is also very interesting that her second personality had full knowledge of her main personality, as this is extremely unlikely (more likely than not, neither personality knows of the other).
    HOWEVER, the craziest part is the fact that I had learned about people who are mentally insane, psychopaths, split personalities, ect. in my intro to psychology class earlier the VERY DAY THAT I GOT TO THE PART WHEN YOU LEARN OF THE SPLIT PERSONALITY!!!! That was the first and ONLY time we will talk about such topics in detail. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we only learned about all of those things within an hour and half long lecture, BUT STILL!!!!!! This made me even MORE surprised to see the main antagonist, as I JUST learned about how random people with this problem can be.

    In the end, that comic, or Korean webtoon was FANTASTIC!!!! ANOTHER GREAT BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION BY VY!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Time for One Piece and maybe some High School of the Dead too. Ever read HSotD? Wait, what? Almost forgot, how do you think Melo Holic ended? Since they sort of left it up to the reader, but many people are very sure of how they think it ended. I am pretty sure, myself that she ended up waking up and she got to live happily with Eun Ho, but that may just be my optimistic self. And, ‘nother random question: How do you like Gravity Falls? I personally, LOVE IT! Almost, as much as I love One Piece. OK, I’m leaving to watch One Piece NOW!

    DANG IT!This is random, but you being a bio/chem/science nerd (this is good, trust me) means that you have a 41 out of 42 chance of liking this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhtgINeaJWg&feature=plcp. Apparently, you could be my 50th cousin!!! HAHA! But, seriously, this guy is all about crazy science with math numbers and tells about some CRAZY truths. Vsauce is his username and you, along with everyone else, should subscribe. HE IS THE NEW BILL NYE!! But, seriously, he actually had Bill Nye on one of his videos. Yeah, he’s that good.(But, really, I’m going for One Piece RIGHT NOW!!) And as always, thanks for reading.

    • Thank YOU for reading! And I just watched the vsauce video, and it was FANTASTIC! You’re right– as a nerdy science major, I appreciated it. A billion atoms in my body belonged to Buddha? I’ll take it! Vsauce just got another subscriber!
      And I am so glad you enjoyed Melo Holic! You know how excited I am that someone’s actually reading my recommendations? SO EXCITED!! I’ve heard of High School of the Dead, but have never seen it! Is it good? My friend watched it, and said it was a highly sexualized horror zombie manga. Not quite the same as One Piece, I’m sure!
      And finally, I LOVE GRAVITY FALLS. That is all.

      • Vsauce, oh good good. Ahhh, uhh. Let’s see here, uh. Well, as you can see I often type EXACTLY what I would say in real life. Oh, and uh, High School of the Dead. Yeah, well, I mean, could you really call it “highly” sexualized? Like, it’s sexualized without a doubt, but do to the presence of ecchi and hentai, could one call it “highly” sexualized? We should dive into to see if it deserves that adverb describing that adjective. Well, let’s start at the beginning.

        Back, back in the beginning of the universe and reality and stuff. Time, it was being twisted and turned and formed into a presence. That, with which presence it could- wait, too far.

        Really, High School of the Dead contributes to the modern Western stereotype of anime and manga. It’s about a bunch of high schoolers who live through the first few days of a zombie outbreak. The series has no “sex” whatsoever, and no one is ever close to having sex. Which means that if the author so pleased, that their could be absolutely no reference to sex at all.
        Of course, there lies the problem (if sexualized comics are a problem (and looking at what sexualized “ANYTHING” has done for society, I would say they are)). Sex references are EVERYWHERE, and few are actually said aloud (manga/ anime have a tendency to do this (of course, you would already know that)). They take the form of images, instead, but unlike One Piece (which is not without its sex references), they are constant. Every time a girl moves, her breasts jiggle, often unrealistically. And the series is sure to use just about every time it can to show you such. Then, out of nowhere, there’s this bath scene where all the girls are in a steamy (the steam is overdone) bathroom, and big surprise they are naked (I don’t need to explain how wrong this can be made, and depending on how sick- I mean, imaginative, your mind is, you can predict what they might do (they don’t go lesbo, so stop dreaming you sick boys!). Besides, for the bath scene the series manages to, every time it thinks it can, show one of the main three girls’ butt or chest. This can be unsettling if the viewer is not used to this type of thing, but most manga/anime people have already seen this kind of thing.

        As a series, itself, it is not bad. It is good that nobody (any of the main characters ever die ’cause of something stupid that another main character did. They are never at each other’s throats or trying to get rid of each other. They are simply trying to survive, in a zombie world. If that sounds like the kind of thing that you may like, then I suggest a try. I only watched it ’cause a friend recommended it. The sex stuff is overlookable if you attempt to do so, and has some good action and interesting outcomes. Watch it, maybe, but if you really want something to watch… ehhh.., hold on, I need to think of something good, uhh, internet tell me something.

        (Elfen Lied.) Ah, thanks internet. I know I already said something about Elfen Lied, but it really is quite good. And it has the extreme distinction of being a horror-romance. Nudity is much more prevalent than in HSotD; however, Elfen Lied’s nudity is in a horrific/disturbing way. Never sexually, not even a little. In fact, while nudity is often in the series, its graphic blood and gore is MUCH worse. I would personally recommend it, but ONLY if you think you are able to take some of the most horrific scenes that exist in comics and television (at least out of the successfully done horrific scenes). There are websites dedicated to telling of how it is a good romance, but FAR TOO bloody. I recommended it to a friend, and he said that he was unsure if he would finish the series due to the violence. The show/manga will make you sad and dislike life (it did this to me (the only thing that brought me back was One Piece)). Unlike stuff like the Walking Dead and the ten thousand bad horror movies, you do not expect the blood and violence. There is no warning. It is cold and horrific, but, if you’re willing to see a type of manga/anime that is unlike ANY other, with a great romance, then please try Elfen Lied.

        • I believe my friend who watched High School of the Dead is also pretty new to manga and anime. I understand perfectly what you mean, though– isn’t there a word for that type of manga? “Ecchi,” right? As one who’s read Love Hina/Negima, I know EXACTLY what you mean by the overjiggling breasts/bath scene deal. (How does every series manage to fit in a bath scene? Every time!)

          I should also mention that I finally finished watching Gravity Falls over Thanksgiving break. IT WAS AMAZING! AHHH! I can’t even believe how good it was, especially since it’s a Disney animated show! But the humor was spot-on, and there were definitely jokes aimed for older people (like the reference to John Wilkes Booth and Larry King in the wax figure episode) but none of it is inappropriate! How can a kids’ show be that witty? HOW? So basically I loved it and it was awesome and I can’t wait for the next season so we can unravel more of the town’s secrets. SO GOOD!

          Therefore I’ve concluded that you give good recommendations and I should take them. Next on my list, then, will definitely be Elfen Lied. Romance + violence + horror? Sounds like a interesting combo!

          THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME TO WATCH GRAVITY FALLS! Best. Decision. EVER!

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