30 Best Japanese Manga You Need to Read in 2023
The term manga is, of course, usually associated with Japan and Japanese authors. But, while Japanese authors are predominantly in the manga business, there are manga created by international (non-Japanese) authors as well. But, we’re not going to talk about them in this article. In it, we are going to bring you a list of the 30 best Japanese manga series that you simply have to read. As far as manga are concerned, this list contains the best of the best.
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.
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.
3. 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.
4. DEATH NOTE
Original Run: December 1, 2003 – May 15, 2006
Number of Volumes: 12
Light Yagami is a gifted high school student who judges the current world as criminal, rotten, and corrupt. His life changes completely when he accidentally picks up a mysterious notebook entitled “Death Note.” Its user manual states that “the person whose name is written in this notebook dies.”
At first skeptical, Light, however, decides to test the notebook and discovers that its power is very real. He meets the former owner of the Death Note, a death god named Ryuk. This one declares to have voluntarily dropped his notebook to entertain himself. Light decides to use the Death Note to exterminate the criminals to build a perfect world in which he will be the god.
Original Run: December 20, 1982 – June 25, 1990
Number of Volumes: 6
Tokyo was destroyed by a mysterious explosion on December 6, 1982, and this triggered World War III, with many cities destroyed by nuclear weapons. In 2019, Neo-Tokyo is a corrupt megalopolis crisscrossed by gangs of idle and drug-addicted young bikers. One night, one of them, Tetsuo, has a motorcycle accident while trying to avoid a strange boy who is in his way.
Wounded, Tetsuo is captured by the Japanese army. He is the subject of numerous tests as part of an ultra-secret military project aimed at identifying and training beings with predispositions to psychic powers (telepathy, teleportation, telekinesis, etc.).
Tetsuo’s friends, including their leader Kaneda, want to know what happened to him because when he escapes and finds himself free, he is no longer the same. Tetsuo tests his new powers and wants to establish himself as a leader among junkies, which doesn’t sit well with everyone, especially Kaneda.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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”.
9. 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.
10. Fairy Tail
Original Run: August 2, 2006 – July 26, 2017
Number of Volumes: 63
The story mainly focuses on the missions carried out by one of the teams of the Fairy Tail guild, composed of Natsu Dragneel (fire dragon hunter), Lucy Heartfilia (constellationist), and Happy (an Exceed, a blue cat that can appear with wings, fly and talk), who will soon be joined by Erza Scarlett (Knight Mage) and Gray Fullbuster (Ice Mage then later Ice Demon Hunter), two other members of the famous guild. They are joined during the adventure by Carla (an Exceed white cat, like Happy), Wendy (a celestial dragon slayer), and many others.
11. 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.
Original Run: January 19, 1998 – August 30, 1999
Number of Volumes: 3
Kirie Goshima lives in the small town of Kurouzu, a bit isolated between the sea and the surrounding mountains. She’s a perfectly normal high school girl, but her boyfriend’s father begins to behave in a disturbing way: he is obsessed with observing spiral-shaped objects. This form is becoming more and more present in the small town, as if under the effect of a curse.
13. Detective Conan
Original Run: January 19, 1994 – present
Number of Volumes: 100
Shinichi Kudo is a 17-year-old high school detective frequently associated with the police. During a visit to an amusement park with his childhood friend, Ran Mouri, he discreetly overhears a private conversation between two individuals – Gin and Vodka – belonging to a mysterious criminal organization whose each member is dressed in black.
Spotted then stunned, he is forced to swallow a new poison (APTX 4869) developed by this organization, before being left for dead. This poison, supposed to kill him without leaving a trace, causes him to regress to his former physical appearance as a six-year-old boy due to a rare and unknown side effect.
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).
15. 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.
16. Oyasumi Punpun
Original Run: March 15, 2007 – November 2, 2013
Number of Volumes: 13
The manga tells the story of Punpun, a real boy represented as a 2D caricatured bird. He tells us about his unstable family situation, then addresses his first love, describing his entourage, while going through his early adolescence with his mind being more or less hyperactive over several years of his life.
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.
18. Elfen Lied
Original Run: June 6, 2002 – August 25, 2005
Number of Volumes: 12
The story is set in Kamakura, Japan. It revolves around the Diclonius, mutant beings very similar to humans but with two strange horns on their heads and endowed with very strong invisible limbs called “vectors.” Believed to be dangerous to the normal human race, Diclonius babies are killed at birth or locked up in research laboratories, subjected to terrible torture and extremely violent experiments.
However, one of them, Lucy, manages to escape to the sea, massacring anyone who comes in front of her. She is found on the beach by two boys in a complete state of amnesia and double personality caused by a shot in the head while escaping.
The young Diclonius finds herself with a completely different personality, and the two boys decide to call her by the only word she can pronounce, namely “Nyu.” Unable to leave her alone in those conditions, they take her home waiting to find out about her past. But the military does not give up and remains on her trail of her. Every time the girl hits her head, she goes back to being Lucy.
19. Hajime no Ippo
Original Run: October 11, 1989 – present
Number of Volumes: 134
Ippo Makunouchi is an extremely shy student who cannot make friends because he has to constantly help his mother run her fishing business. Because he stays to himself, he is bullied by a group led by Umezawa. One day he is badly beaten, but a passing middleweight professional boxer Mamoru Takamura stops them and takes the injured Ippo to the Kamogawa gym owned by retired boxer Genji Kamogawa. This treats his wounds.
After Ippo wakes up to the noises of boxing training, Takamura tries to cheer Ippo by letting him drain his frustrations on a sandbag. The men get the first glimpse of Ippo’s talent for boxing. After this incident, Ippo thinks a lot about the situation and decides that he wants to start a career as a professional boxer.
In delivering this message to Mamoru Takamura, Takamura believes Ippo is taking professional boxing too lightly. He can’t turn Ippo down right away, however, especially because of his feat of punching the sandbag much harder than anyone in the gym except Takamura.
20. SLAM DUNK
Original Run: October 1, 1990 – June 17, 1996
Number of Volumes: 31
Hanamichi Sakuragi, an immature and unpopular young man, is determined to put an end to romantic disappointments when he enters Shohoku High School. He then meets Haruko Akagi, a girl he falls in love with. Following her advice and to please her, he decides to play basketball and join the high school club. During an altercation with the captain of the basketball team, Hanamichi is forced to challenge him to a basketball duel.
Sakuragi ends up winning and learns that the captain is none other than Haruko’s older brother: Takenori Akagi. Despite some reluctance, the latter finally lets him join the basketball team. Unfortunately for Hanamichi, the boy Haruko is in love with, Kaede Rukawa, idol of all the girls and the most talented first-year player in the department is also there.
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: November 13, 1996 – June 18, 2008
Number of Volumes: 56
During the Sengoku period, a half-demon (hanyō) named InuYasha steals the Shikon Pearl (Shikon is not in original; Jewel of the 4 souls or the Sphere of the Four Spirits in the Castilian anime adaptation) with the aim of using it to become into a full demon (yōukai).
However, her plan is foiled by a priestess named Kikyō who, on the verge of death from a very serious wound, using the last of her strength, shoots a sacred arrow at him, nailing him to the sacred tree (Goshinboku); leaving him paralyzed and asleep for 50 years. Minutes later, the priestess, before dying, asks that his body be burned along with the jewel.
23. 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.
Number of Volumes:
The Royal Knights of Protestant Order are a noble house of London led by Abraham Van Helsing. For generations, he has been fighting against creatures that most ordinary people are unaware of like vampires, ghouls, and any non-human entity that is generally referred to as a “monster”.
The Order operates in great secrecy and has long been a paramilitary organization in the service of her Majesty. Leading the organization is Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, a direct descendant of the first Lord Hellsing. Still a teenager, she is forced to take control of the Order.
Her father Arthur, sick and close to his death, orders his daughter, should she feel threatened, to go down to the basement of the mansion, where there is something able to protect her.
Number of Volumes:
The story begins in Germany in 1986, at the Eisler Memorial Hospital in Düsseldorf. Kenzô Tenma, the main character, is a young Japanese neurosurgeon with exceptional skills. He is engaged to Eva Heineman, the daughter of the director of the hospital, and is destined for a brilliant career. However, one day, he refuses to give priority to his care to the mayor of the city and prefers to operate on a boy injured by a bullet in the head, who arrived at the hospital before the mayor.
26. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Original Run: February 1982 – March 1994
Number of Volumes: 7
By drawing on underground resources and polluting the biosphere, the thousand-year-old industrial civilization saw its downfall during the “seven days of fire”. This war, of rare violence, inflicts terrible damage, almost annihilating humanity and its knowledge. A thousand years have passed and humanity is surviving as best it can, reaching the “ceramic age”, contenting itself with stripping or repairing the vestiges of the past.
Between a vast desert and the “Sea of Decomposition”, a few islands of life are home to different human communities. The fukai is protected by giant insects, which have adapted to this polluted environment. The “Omu” are the main representatives, by their size and their sensitivity.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. Rurouni Kenshin
Original Run: April 25, 1994 – September 21, 1999
Number of Volumes: 28
The story takes place in 1878 in Tokyo. Kenshin Himura, a former assassin nicknamed Battosaï, literally “master in the drawing of the sword”, during the time of the Tokugawa reign, hides a very heavy past. Become a wanderer since the establishment of the Meiji era, he travels the country equipped with his sword with an inverted blade, with the desire not to kill again.