In case you were wondering, the world of manga is – indeed – filled with various amazing stories. The action genre, along with its subgenres, is well-known in the West and is not one of those inherently Japanese genres (like isekai or Japanese cyberpunk), but Japanese works tend to give it a somewhat specific touch. If you like such stories, we have a list of the 30 best action manga you need to read.
1. Dragon Ball
Original Run: December 3, 1984 – June 5, 1995
Number of Volumes: 42
This anime tells the story of Son Goku, a little boy who is very good at martial arts, and who has a mysterious monkey tail. He meets a young woman named Bulma, and the two go together in search of the Dragon Balls (seven magic crystal balls which allow, if they are united, to invoke the dragon Shenron, then offering to grant the wish of the one who pronounces a specific formula in front of him).
Along the way, they meet many adversaries (most of them being competitors in the quest for the famous balls, often with selfish or even evil intentions), some of whom later become allies, such as Yamcha or Ten Chin Han.
Original Run: August 1989 – present
Number of Volumes: 41
Berserk tells the story of the meeting of Guts and Griffith, leader of the Falcon Troop, a band of mercenaries in the pay of the kingdom of Midland. From this meeting will be born an ambiguous friendship, but nevertheless efficient: the presence of Guts, a warrior with the disproportionate sword, will quickly prove essential to the ambition of the young Griffith, swashbuckler and outstanding tactician.
The anime is thus the account of the rise and fall of the Falcon Troop, and of the relation between Guts and Griffith, particularly complex, between the relation of interest (Griffith uses the force of Guts), mutual respect ( both see each other as soldiers), and deep affection (each inexplicably needs the other’s presence).
3. Attack on Titan
Original Run: September 9, 2009 – April 9, 2021
Number of Volumes: 34
The plot of Attack on Titan revolves around the young Eren Jäger, his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackermann and his best friend Armin Arlert, who live together with the rest of humanity in cities that are protected by huge walls from the attacks of the so-called Titans, gigantic humanoid beings who devour people for no apparent reason.
The walls that promised peace have existed for 107 years. But one day the Titans break through the outermost Wall Maria and the people are pushed back further. Eren’s mother dies and he and many other people flee behind the second wall, Wall Rose. Eren swears when his mother dies that he will wipe out the Titans.
Original Run: June 6, 2001 – October 4, 2014
Number of Volumes: 27
Claymores are half-human, half-demon warriors called upon by villagers to protect themselves from monsters such as demons. Feared and dreaded, they are distinguished by their silver eyes and the gigantic sword they carry on their backs, hence their names by humans of “silver-eyed witches” or “Claymore” (the name of the type of sword they use). Claire is one of them.
Called to a village to eliminate the demons that attack and devour the population, she kills the penultimate member, who has become a monster, of an already decimated family. The last survivor, Raki, finding himself alone, then decides to follow her in her bloodthirsty adventures, as a cook. He will gradually discover the secrets and the tragic destiny of these singular women.
Original Run: January 26, 2006 – present
Number of Volumes: 64
In China, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, the story follows young Shin on his journey to fulfilling his dream of becoming a Great General under the heavens. In this ancestral China, Shin is originally from the State of Qin, which has been plagued by many upheavals both inside the kingdom and outside.
Indeed, the story takes place during the Warring States period, when China was divided between seven kingdoms: Qin, Zhao, Han, Wei, Chu, Yan, and Qi. Through Shin’s story, we also follow the story of Ei Sei, the man who would later be known as Qin Shi Huang, the unifier of China.
6. Fist of the North Star
Original Run: September 13, 1983 – August 8, 1988
Number of Volumes: 27
The story takes place in the 1990s (which was then a relatively near future), in a land ravaged by a nuclear war, which has resulted in the evaporation of most of the seas and oceans, as well as the destruction of much of the vegetation.
During the introduction of the series’ plot, one can read “199X”, that is to say, an indeterminate year at the end of the 20th century. In this post-apocalyptic universe, the survivors are either humble villagers trying to survive, or vicious bandits grouped into gangs who loot and persecute the villagers.
Original Run: September 21, 1999 – November 10, 2014
Number of Volumes: 72
The story begins during Naruto’s adolescence, around the age of twelve. Orphan dunce and great prankster, he does all possible stupid things to get noticed. His dream: to become the best Hokage in order to be recognized by the inhabitants of his village. Indeed, the nine-tailed fox demon sealed within him has fueled the fear and contempt of the other villagers, who, over time, no longer differentiate between Kyūbi and Naruto.
Despite this, Naruto trains hard in order to become genin, the first level among ninjas. After failing the genin exam 3 times, he finally manages to receive his Konoha forehead protector. He is then included in a team of three ninja apprentices, with Sakura Haruno and the talented Sasuke Uchiha who wants to avenge the people dear to him, by killing his brother Itachi Uchiha.
8. Jujutsu Kaisen
Original Run: March 5, 2018 – present
Number of Volumes: 18
Yuji Itadori is an out-of-the-ordinary high school student who lives in Sendai with his grandfather. Despite his innate talent for sports, he refuses to join the sports team due to his aversion to athletics. Instead, he chooses to join the occult research club, where he can relax and leave school by 5 pm to visit his grandfather in the hospital.
While on his deathbed, his grandfather invites him to “always help others” and recommends that he “die surrounded by people”. After his grandfather’s death, he meets Megumi Fushiguro, a sorcerer who informs him of the existence of a high-level cursed talisman in the school Yuji attended. Meanwhile, his friends from the occult club, in possession of the talisman, open the seal placed on it and attract all the curses in the school on them.
Reaching the school but unable to defeat the curses due to her lack of magical powers, Yuji swallows the finger (the true form of the talisman) to protect Megumi and her friends, becoming the host of Ryomen Sukuna, a very powerful curse. Despite being possessed, Yuji is still able to maintain control of his body.
As a curse, Yuji should have been executed, but thanks to Gojo Satoru (the most powerful and responsible sorcerer of the first-year alumni at the Tokyo Institute of Occult Arts), the upper echelons of the world of witchcraft agree to postpone the execution. until he has absorbed all 20 fragments of Sukuna’s soul (i.e., her 20 fingers), so as to definitively exorcise the curse.
Original Run: August 7, 2001 – August 22, 2016
Number of Volumes: 74
The 15-year-old high school student Ichigo Kurosaki has had the ability to see ghosts since childhood. One day he meets the shinigami Rukia Kuchiki who is hunting a hollow. Seriously injured during the fight, she is forced to transfer her powers to Ichigo to defeat the hollow in her stead. Until Rukia recovers, Ichigo must now do the work of a shinigami.
Rukia enrolls at Ichigo’s school and moves into his closet. Over time, the two become friends. Since Rukia Kuchiki has exceeded her stay in the human world, Rukia is forcibly returned to Soul Society by her stepbrother, the commander of the 6th Division of the Gotei 13, Byakuya Kuchiki, and his lieutenant, Renji Abarai, where all deceased souls, including the Shinigami reside.
10. Demon Slayer
Original Run: February 15, 2016 – May 18, 2020
Number of Volumes: 23
In Taishō-era Japan, Tanjirō Kamado is the first child of a family of coal merchants whose father has died: to support the family, he sells charcoal in the village below the Mountain. Despite the difficulties of life, they manage to find little happiness in their daily lives. One day, due to rumors circulating about a man-eating demon hanging around after dark, he is forced to spend the night with a Good Samaritan in the village.
Only, everything changes on his return when he detects, thanks to his keen sense of smell, a strong smell of blood: he rushes home and finds his family massacred.
11. One-Punch Man
Original Run: June 14, 2012 – present
Number of Volumes: 24
Saitama is an unemployed, depressed young man with no deep purpose in his life. One day, he meets a crab man looking for a young boy “with a chin split like an ass,” in his words. Saitama ends up meeting this young boy and decides to save him from the crab man, whom he manages to beat with difficulty. From then on, Saitama decides to become a superhero and trains for three years very seriously: 100 push-ups, 100 squats, 100 abs, and 10 km of daily running, and there are no heating or air conditioning conditions.
At the end of his training, “so intense that he loses his hair,” he notices that he has become so strong that he can now beat all his opponents with a single punch. His excessive strength is a source of problems for him since he cannot find adversaries of his size and is bored in his job as a hero because the fights no longer give him any feeling or adrenaline. Although he put an end to several threats, each more dangerous than the next, no one seems to notice Saitama’s incredible ability, except for his friend and disciple Genos, a young man turned cyborg.
12. Fullmetal Alchemist
Original Run: July 12, 2001 – June 11, 2010
Number of Volumes: 27
In the land of Amestris, where Alchemy is elevated to the status of universal science, two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, live with their mother, Trisha Elric, whose husband, Van Hohenheim, left years before. The latter dying from an illness, the two young children try to bring her back thanks to alchemy, defying the law which formally prohibits human transmutation.
Edward, the eldest, loses his left leg and his little brother loses his whole body. Ed sacrifices his right arm by sealing the soul of his little brother Alphonse in armor. Edward then enlisted in the army at the age of twelve as a State Alchemist, passed the exam, and obtained his alchemist name, the Fullmetal Alchemist.
With the advantages linked to the status of State alchemist and their research, the two brothers seek, at the risk of their lives, the philosopher’s stone that would restore their lost bodies.
13. Rave Master
Original Run: July 21, 1999 – September 9, 2005
Number of Volumes: 35
The world is divided by two forces: one evil, Dark Bring, the other beneficial, Rave (whose real name is Holy Bring, Rave being the diminutive of Resha Valentine given by Shiba to the Holy Bring in memory of the one -this). Both are materialized by stones with magical powers. The Demon Card organization uses Dark Bring to dominate the planet.
Haru Glory is a 15-year-old teenager who has lived with his older sister Cattleya on Garage Island since their father, Gale, went in search of Rave following the death of their mother, Sakura, who was killed by the Demon Card army 10 years earlier. The entry into his life of a strange animal, Plue, then an old man, Shiba, will change his life.
Shiba is the first Rave Master, the one who can wield the magic power of Rave. But during a fight that Haru witnesses, he will lose his ability to use it. This is how, by wanting to protect the old man, Haru will discover that he now has this power. Shiba has found his successor.
14. Chainsaw Man
Original Run: December 3, 2018 – present
Number of Volumes: 11
The story takes place in a world where demons are born from human fears. Demons are often dangerous and malevolent, their power proportional to how strongly their corresponding fear is incited into the collective human consciousness. However, humans can sign contracts with them to use their powers.
People who specialize in hunting and employing demons are called demon hunters. Demons originate from Hell and exist in an endless life cycle between Earth and Hell: they are reborn on Earth when they are killed in Hell, and vice versa. In Hell live extremely powerful demons called Primal Fears, who have never been killed. The transit between the two worlds seems to be supervised by the Devil of Hell.
15. Assassination Classroom
Original Run: July 2, 2012 – March 25, 2016
Number of Volumes: 21
The story takes place at the prestigious Kunugigaoka Middle School. Koro-sensei is a strange creature who claims to have suddenly destroyed 70% of the Moon. He then plans to destroy Earth next March for unknown reasons. He then introduces himself to the Japanese government and announces that he wants to become the homeroom teacher of Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Middle School so that he can train them as assassins and eliminate a very specific target: himself, their own teacher.
The students of this class will therefore have the objective of assassinating their teacher in order to save the Earth, the reward being 10 billion yen. However, a problem arises: Koro-sensei moves at Mach 20, has tentacles with infinite functions and, moreover, he is an excellent teacher! The government will agree so they can keep an eye on it on the condition that Koro-sensei does not harm the students; but will the students succeed in their mission before the set date?
16. Black Clover
Original Run: February 16, 2015 – present
Number of Volumes: 31
When humanity was about to fall to an ancient demon, a single wizard saved it and defeated it. Later that wizard became a legend and was named Wizard King. After that event, the Clover Kingdom enjoyed peace through generations of wise men and nine subordinate magical orders. Asta and Yuno are orphans who were raised together from birth after being abandoned at a church orphanage in Hage, located in the forgotten area of the Clover Kingdom at the same time.
In a world where everyone has Magical Power, whose ability to control it comes naturally: Asta is the only person born without magic, leading him to train physically as compensation. In contrast, Yuno was born a prodigy with immense magical power and the talent to control it. At the age of 15, Asta and Yuno have the ability to become magicians known as Magic Knights by receiving their respective grimoires, with which all magical power is channeled.
17. My Hero Academia
Original Run: July 7, 2014 – present
Number of Volumes: 33
The story is set in a world where, due to a genetic mutation, evidenced in the first place by the lack of a joint in the little toe, mankind has obtained the ability to develop superpowers called Quirks, which manifest themselves in children. by the age of four: it is estimated that around 80% of the world’s population own a Quirk.
There are infinite types of Quirks, and it is extremely unlikely to find two people who possess the exact same power, unless they are closely related. These particular abilities have allowed the development of a new category of people: the Heroes, who confront the individuals devoted to evil who use the Quirks for selfish and criminal purposes, commonly known as Villain. Additionally, Heroes who choose to exercise heroism on a professional level are recognized as Pro Heroes.
18. One Piece
Original Run: July 22, 1997 – present
Number of Volumes: 101
Twenty-two years after Gol D. Roger’s execution, the interest in the One Piece treasure is waning. Many have given up on it, some even wonder if it really exists. Although pirates are still a threat to the locals, the Navy has become more effective in countering their attacks on all four seas: East Blue, North Blue, West Blue, and South Blue.
However, this change did not deter Monkey D. Luffy, a young boy, from wanting to become the successor to the legendary Roger. He will thus set off on an adventure, giving himself the first objective of creating a crew in order to reach the Grand Line sea, where the fever of the “great wave of piracy” continues to rage, and where many big names in the piracy are in pursuit of the One Piece, supposed to be on the last island of this great sea, Laugh Tale.
19. The Seven Deadly Sins
Original Run: October 10, 2012 – March 25, 2020
Number of Volumes: 41
Liones, Kingdom of Britannia. The Grand Master of the Holy Knights Zaratras was brutally murdered, and the culprits are said to be an order of seven legendary knights in the service of the king who wanted to overthrow the throne.
Ten years later, a young girl named Elizabeth Liones goes in search of these mysterious knights who were once the pride of Liones: the Seven Deadly Sins, a group bringing together seven major criminals chosen by the king himself, to thwart a conspiracy engineered by the holy knights against royalty. It was then that she ended up at the Boar Hat, a tavern whose owner is a little boy accompanied by his pig Hawk.
But what was her surprise when she discovers that the child at the head of the tavern is none other than the Sin of the Dragon of Wrath, leader of the Seven Deadly Sins, Meliodas. It is then that their adventures begin in search of the other six Deadly Sins, in order to save Liones.
20. Blue Exorcist
Original Run: April 4, 2009 – present
Number of Volumes: 27
The world of Blue Exorcist is made up of two dimensions that oppose each other like two faces of mirrors. The first is the world in which human beings live, Assiah. The other is the world of demons, Gehenna. Normally, travel and even any form of contact between the two is impossible. However, demons can pass into this world possessing everything that exists within it.
Satan is the god of demons, but there is one thing he does not have: a vessel in the human world powerful enough to contain him. To this end, he fathered Okumura Rin and Okumura Yukio (but only Rin inherited Satan’s powers, Yukio being too weak), his sons, from a human woman, but are the latter in line with his plans, or should they become something else?
After killing the guardian father Fujimoto, in an attempt that should have allowed Rin to return to the demon world, he gives him a dream: to become an exorcist to defeat the god of demons.
21. Fire Force
Original Run: September 23, 2015 – February 22, 2022
Number of Volumes: 33
In the year 198 of the solar calendar, the world faces the phenomenon of human combustion where humanity can ignite without warning and turn into a “human torch”. Members of the special Fire Force brigades of the Kingdom of Tokyo seek to discover the reasons for this phenomenon and among them is Shinra Kusakabe, nicknamed “the Demon”, who joins the 8th brigade to eradicate the phenomenon of human combustion and uncover the truth about it, as the fire claimed the lives of his mother and brother twelve years ago.
22. Hunter × Hunter
Original Run: March 16, 1998 – present (on hiatus)
Number of Volumes: 36
Twelve years before the start of the story, Ging Freecss abandoned his son Gon in the hands of his aunt Mito on Whale Island. Gon, who always believed that his parents were dead, discovers one day, thanks to his father’s apprentice, Kite, that he is still alive and has become one of the best hunters, elite individuals and accredited for tracking of secret treasures, exotic beasts, and even other individuals.
Motivated by this revelation, Gon decides to leave his home and take the Hunter Exam, a series of challenges that seek to test the skills, survival, and teamwork of its participants.
23. Gin Tama
Original Run: December 8, 2003 – June 20, 2019
Number of Volumes: 77
The story takes place in Edo —the old name by which the city of Tokyo was known—, which has been conquered by strange extraterrestrial beings called “Amanto”. The samurai of that time fought against the invaders, but the Amanto defeated them and forbade all people in the city to carry swords.
The play centers on the adventures of a silver-haired samurai known as Gintoki Sakata, who helps a teenager named Shinpachi Shimura save her sister from a group of aliens who wanted to make her part of a brothel. Impressed with Gintoki, Shinpachi decides to become his apprentice and work with him as a freelancer in order to pay Gintoki’s monthly rent.
24. Soul Eater
Original Run: May 12, 2004 – August 12, 2013
Number of Volumes: 25
Several young students from Shibusen School are learning to become Meisters. This school was founded by Master Shinigami (the God of Death), on the one hand with the aim of training young meisters with their demonic weapons, which can take human form, to mow down souls; on the other hand to prevent the Great Devourer, who nearly engulfed the world in despair and madness, from being reborn again.
The goal of the meisters is to swallow 99 corrupted human souls and one witch soul to their weapons, in order to gain access to the rank of Death Scythe. Unfortunately achieving this goal is not so simple, and many obstacles will stand in the way of the protagonists.
Original Run: December 6, 2010 – present
Number of Volumes: 24 + 2 special
Hiyori Iki was a normal middle school student until she was rammed by a bus trying to save someone from being run over. The stranger wears a sports suit and a scarf and later turns out to be God Yato. This incident causes her to become half an ayakashi, a demon. When she meets Yato again and learns that he is a god, she asks him to help her get back to normal. But Yato recently lost his sacred weapon (shinki) – another supernatural being who serves a god and strengthens his power.
He is also only a very little-known and therefore weak god. When both are attacked by an Ayakashi, Yato chooses a boy’s ghost as the new Shinki and names him Yukine. This turns out to be a good weapon, but is very insecure and impetuous due to his early death. Even with Yukine’s help, Yato cannot help Hiyori at first. When he turns to Tenjin, god of education, he sees that his former weapon Mayu now serves him.
26. Tokyo Ghoul
Original Run: September 8, 2011 – September 18, 2014 / October 16, 2014 – July 5, 2018
Number of Volumes: 14 / 16
The story of Tokyo Ghoul revolves around the student Ken Kaneki, who falls in love with a young woman named Rize Kamishiro. After meeting her, she bites his shoulder in a secluded alley and reveals that she is a ghoul, which shocks Ken.
As Rizeis about to eat Ken, several large metal poles fall on her from the construction site of a building. Roze dies in the process, while Ken is rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries. After recovering, he is released from the hospital. On the day of his release, he finds out that he is no longer human. He looks in the mirror and shivers run down his spine because he now has one “red eye”.
He realizes that Rize’s organs were transplanted into him in the hospital. Since he now owns Rize’s organs, he is a so-called and very rarely occurring “half-ghoul”.
Original Run: May 24, 2004 – November 12, 2012
Number of Volumes: 42
The series tells the story of Tsunayoshi Sawada, nicknamed Dame Tsuna, a young Japanese schoolboy to whom life has not given a gift. Last in all areas, including charisma and luck, he has nothing to please and he knows it. However, his sad life will change into something incredible the day a little guy named Reborn destroys his daily routine to make him the next godfather of the Vongola family (a large family of the Italian mafia).
28. Yona of the Dawn
Original Run: August 4, 2009 – present
Number of Volumes: 37
Yona, the princess of the Kôka kingdom, grew up carefree. Since childhood, she has been pampered by her father and protected by his bodyguard and childhood friend, Hak. On her sixteenth birthday, Yona is happy: her cousin and secret love, Soo-Won, comes to visit her to celebrate her birthday, and she intends to confess her feelings to him.
But nothing will go as planned. Forced to abandon her position, she will have to fight to regain the throne that is rightfully hers. As well as for its survival, because the country of Kôka is full of dangers.
29. YūYū Hakusho
Original Run: December 3, 1990 – July 25, 1994
Number of Volumes: 19
Fourteen-year-old Yusuke Urameshi is the perfect thug: brawler and rebel. Yet one day he dies saving a little boy from an accident, but this child would have miraculously survived even if Yusuke hadn’t intervened. Not foreseen by the authorities of the kingdom of the dead, his sacrifice poses a problem.
This is why he is offered to come back to life, after having succeeded in proving that he is worthy of it. He then becomes a detective of the spirit world without knowing it, and is endowed with powers that will help him in his various tasks, both in the human world and in that of the spirits.
Helped by Botan, the “ferryman of souls” who settled her case at the time of her “death”, of her friend Kuwabara, and under the direction of Enma junior, the son of the Dark King in charge of the examination of souls, he is tasked with finding three demons (Goki, Hiei, and Kurama) who have stolen three relics from the world of darkness: the sword of darkness, a mirror and the ball of Gaki.
Original Run: September 17, 1998 – May 21, 2015 (on hiatus)
Number of Volumes: 37
In 1600 the terrible battle of Sekigahara took place, which established the power of the Tokugawa shogun. Shinmen Takezo, son of a great samurai, is ready to do anything to survive among the fighters. Returning to his native village, he is rejected by the inhabitants for having deserted. Pursued, he then begins a long wandering with a single objective: to become the greatest samurai in Japan.
Vagabond is a long initiation manga, which leads the hero to discover, to understand the world around him and himself, dedicating himself to the way of the sword. Changing his name to Miyamoto Musashi, he challenges and confronts the most powerful samurai, carried away by a murderous spiral, and torn by his love for Otsu, his childhood friend.