Revenge, as a narrative element, isn’t really a genre in the literal sense of the term, but it does feature in a lot of artistic works as a principal plot element. The world of manga is known for providing us with a lot of different narrative elements, so revenge can definitely be – and often is – a part of it. In this article, we are going to give you a list of the 20 best revenge-focused manga series of all time.
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).
2. Vinland Saga
Original Run: April 13, 2005 – present
Number of Volumes: 25
In 1002 A.D. in a small village in Iceland lives Thorfinn, a six-year-old boy, with his father Thors, mother Helga, and sister Ylva, delighting in hearing stories about the legendary land of Vinland from the mouth of the trader and navigator Leif Erikson. Father Thors is a former mercenary of the Jomsborg Vikings who faked his death to retire to lead a peaceful existence away from violence.
But when King Sweyn I of Denmark summons his vassals to invade England, Thors must also answer the call to protect his village from possible repercussions. However, his boss has not forgotten his desertion and plans to kill him by hiring the pirate Askeladd. Having been ambushed, Thors prefers to be killed in order to save little Thorfinn, who had secretly boarded his ship.
3. The Rising of the Shield Hero
Original Run: August 22, 2013 – present
Number of Volumes: 22
Naofumi Iwatani was summoned to another world along with three other boys from parallel Japan to become the “Legendary Four Heroes”, or “Four Ancestral Saints,” of this world.
Each of the Heroes was equipped with their own legendary equipment as soon as they were summoned: Naofumi received the “Legendary Shield”, the only defensive equipment of the four, while the others respectively received an offensive weapon.
Due to Naofumi’s lack of charisma and experience, he ended up with only one teammate to accompany him, an attractive young woman, while the others received several: unfortunately, on the second day, Naofumi is betrayed, stripped, and falsely accused by a said teammate.
4. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Original Run: August 24, 2006 – February 24, 2010
Number of Volumes: 8
On August 10, 2010, the Holy Empire of Britain declares war on Japan, which, conquered, loses all rights and is renamed “Area 11”. Lelouch promises his friend Suzaku that he will annihilate Britannia. Seven years later, in Tokyo, the young Briton Lelouch Lamperouge sees his childhood friend Suzaku Kururugi, who has obtained British citizenship and joined the army.
In a dramatic situation, in which the Japanese of the Shinjuku ghetto are exterminated by order of the British Prince Clovis, Lelouch, mistaken for a Japanese terrorist and about to be executed, receives a mysterious girl named C.C. the Geass the “Power of Kings”, which makes him capable of subduing the will of others, of controlling people with only eye contact. C.C. establishes a solid relationship of complicity with Lelouch, so much so that she seems to be her woman, and she, reciprocated in her feelings, she will remain by her side until the very end.
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.
6. Deadman Wonderland
Original Run: May 2007 – August 2013
Number of Volumes: 13
A powerful earthquake ravaged mainland Japan and largely destroyed Tokyo, submerging three-quarters of the city in the ocean. Ten years later, the story centers on Ganta Igarashi, a seemingly ordinary student who attends Nagano Prefecture College.
Although a survivor of the earthquake, Ganta has no memory of the tragedy and has lived an ordinary life. All of this changes when a strange man covered in blood and wearing purple armor floats outside the classroom windows. Smiling like a madman, the Man in Red slaughters Ganta’s entire class and, rather than killing him, embeds a shard of red crystal in his chest.
A few days after the massacre, Ganta is declared the sole suspect and, after a speedy trial, is sentenced to life in prison in Deadman Wonderland, a prison lined with an amusement park.
7. Blade of the Immortal
Original Run: June 25, 1993 – December 25, 2012
Number of Volumes: 30
The story is set in Japan in the Edo era. The protagonist, Manji, is a warrior who has a great advantage over his rivals: no wound can kill him. In the past, he killed 100 other samurai, including his sister’s husband. An elderly nun, who is said to be 800 years old, grants him the gift of immortality through worms called kessenchū, which heal any wound and even restore amputated limbs even though the amputation was hours ago.
The death of his sister leads him to accept the mission that will end his immortality: he must kill 1000 evil men to redeem himself. Manji crosses paths with a young woman named Rin Asano and promises to help her avenge her family, who was killed by a group of expert swordsmen led by Kagehisa Anotsu. Anotsu killed Rin’s father and her entire dojo.
8. Skip Beat!
Original Run: February 7, 2002 – present
Number of Volumes: 47
Mogami Kyōko and Fuwa Shōtarō are childhood friends. Kyōko has always known Shō, helps his parents, takes care of him and forgives him everything, like a prince. Also, when at the age of 16, the latter leaves Kyoto, his hometown, to run away to Tokyo where he has a chance to break into the song, he asks Kyōko to accompany him.
She accepts, very happy to have been chosen by her childhood friend. But once there, Shō is totally absorbed in his work as a singer. He almost never enters the apartment they occupy, while Kyōko combines the jobs in order to be able to pay the rent and the lifestyle of Shō, now become famous. Despite the difficulties, the young girl continues to work until exhaustion for her prince, and all this while keeping a smile!
9. Mirai Nikki
Original Run: January 26, 2006 – December 25, 2010
Number of Volumes: 12
Yukiteru Amano is a solitary young boy who takes refuge in his imagination to escape the social void that constitutes his daily life. He considers that he can avoid any annoyance by observing the world from an external point of view, and records all the events happening around him in the form of a diary which he keeps using his mobile phone.
One day, one of the imaginary entities serving as his playmates, Deus ex Machina, god of time and space, and Mumur, Deus’ helper, offers him to participate in a game. Yukiteru realizes that the phone on which he recorded his observations begins to contain entries about the future around him. Initially, he uses this power excessively and is happy to possess it until his diary predicts his own death and a girl from his class, Yuno Gasai, who also has a diary from the future follows him; he then ignores that she wishes to save him.
Original Run: February 4, 2003 – June 15, 2004
Number of Volumes: 5
When the feudal lord Ieyasu Tokugawa finds himself unable to decide which of his two sons should replace him at the head of the empire, his adviser suggests an atypical contest. Just let the Emperor’s two ninja clans (one from Iga province and the other from Kōga province) fight to the death, with 10 ninja masters from each clan fighting for one or the other of his sons.
The winning clan will determine who will succeed to the throne. Ieyasu accepts this competition, stating that the Iga clan will represent his eldest son Takechiyo, and the Koga clan his second son Kunichiyo. The leaders of both clans happily accept the fight, having been in a Cold War situation for generations until then. Finally freed from the non-aggression pact forged by leader Hattori Hanzō, the members of the Iga and Koga clans immediately begin killing each other with almost sadistic abandon.
However, to complicate matters a bit, the heirs of each clan – Gennosuke of Koga and Oboro of Iga – are deeply in love with each other. Thus begins a cruel war in which two lovers are turned against each other, forced to confront their loyalties and meet on the battlefield.
11. Higurashi When They Cry
Original Run: July 6, 2007 – December 17, 2007
Number of Volumes: 24
June 1983, Maebara Keiichi is a young student belonging to a middle-class family who, in search of rest, decides to move to the small and secluded village of Hinamizawa. Here, the forest air is strange and mysterious, but Keiichi manages to feel comfortable in that place that somehow looks so cozy.
He also makes some friends at his new school, and with them, he engages in after-school club activities, mostly playing strategy and card games. The days go by, and the town seems as normal and calm as ever until the arrival of “Watanagashi,” a local festival in which the god Oyashiro-sama is revered.
12. Lone Wolf and Cub
Original Run: September 1970 – April 1976
Number of Volumes: 28
The great warrior and master of the Suio Ryu Ogami Ittō had become the shogun’s executioner, the Kogi Kaishakunin, a position of great power used by the Tokugawa Shogunate (along with the oniwaban and assassins) to bolster the Shogun’s power over the daimyō. For those samurai and feudal lords who were ordered to commit seppuku, the Kogi Kaishakunin would assist them with their deaths by decapitating them to ease the pain of cutting their own stomachs.
As it was unthinkable for a person of lesser rank to act as Kaishakunin for a nobleman, the Kogi Kaishakunin was given a rank and allowed to wear the shogunate emblem, in effect acting in place of the shogun.
Shortly after the birth of his son Ogami Daigorō, Ogami Ittō returned to his home to find his wife Azami and all of his servants brutally murdered, and only his newborn son Daigorō alive. They were all supposedly killed by three former samurai from a disbanded clan, whose feudal lord had been executed by Ogami Ittō.
13. 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.
14. Blade of the Phantom Master
Original Run: 2001 – 2007
Number of Volumes: 17 + 1 Shin Angyo Onshi Gaiden
The story takes place in an unknown land. After the fall of the Jushin Empire and the death of the emperor, the country finds itself plunged into chaos, allowing terror and the law of the strongest to reign. Secret agents of the vanished kingdom, the Angyo Onshi had the mission of ensuring respect for the laws and punishing the governors who oppressed the people. Today, an Angyo Onshi named Mun-su continues this mission through the devastated country, accompanied by his faithful bodyguard (sando) Chun-Hyang, his squire, and a small desert bat.
15. Redo of Healer
Original Run: July 1, 2017 – present
Number of Volumes: 9 (light novel)
After being exploited, drugged and sexually abused for a long time due to his status as a weak Healing Hero, Keyaru develops powers drawn from the experiences of those he has healed: however, the moment he realizes his potential, he has already been deprived of everything. He then decides to use healing magic on the world to go back four years in the past, start all over again and get revenge on those who abused, raped and exploited him.
16. 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.
17. Black Butler
Original Run: September 16, 2006 – present
Number of Volumes: 31
Count Ciel Phantomhive was a 19th century English aristocrat with a troubled past. Between the years 1888 and 1889, aged 12 and having lost his parents in an inexplicable fire, he sees himself becoming the heir to the toy and candy company Phantom. He lives in a mysterious mansion in the countryside, on the outskirts of London, with his servants.
Ciel is the “watchdog” of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, a private agent responsible for unraveling the occult conspiracies brewing in the kingdom with her butler. He is also very shrewd and sure of himself (for his age) when it comes to carrying out an investigation, often doubling Scotland Yard in their investigations.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. GOBLIN SLAYER!
Original Run: February 15, 2016 – present (light novel)
Number of Volumes: 15
In a whimsical universe where everyone’s fate is ruled by dice rolls by the destiny rolls of deities, adventurers in search of wealth and glory come from all over the world to join the Adventurers’ Guild. An inexperienced young priestess who has joined the Guild joins a group of rookie adventurers, but her first quest turns into a nightmare when the rest of her team is slaughtered by Goblins: she owes her salvation only to a mysterious man in armor, the “Goblin Slayer” (in the original version, Goblin Slayer), an adventurer knight whose one and only objective is the eradication of these creatures.