- The Secret of Manga That No One is Talking About
- More manga like My Hero Academia: Attack on Titan, Dr. Junji Ito is the king of horror.
The world of Japanese manga, just like any big form of entertainment, can be a dizzying place to dive into. The same is true for anime and western comics: where to start. So, let's talk about where to start with reading manga. Browse a bookstore in the US and the UK and the sheer number of manga on the shelves can be, quite honestly, intimidating. And that's to say nothing of what the same section of a bookstore looks like in Japan. First thing you need to know is what genre or style of writing and storytelling you're into. When it comes to reading manga, every kind of story exists across every genre (and that goes for Korean manhwa, too). From sci-fi and fantasy to queer romance; from kid-friendly stories to literary fiction, the world of manga has it all. Let's look at eleven different manga, all popular, all high quality, beautiful art with clever stories. But each one is different, and sits within a specific genre of style. These are not the eleven best manga of all time. They may not be your favorites. But that's not the point. The point is that each of these represents a great place to start reading manga, depending on what you're looking for. So, let's dive in! And, if you're a budding anime fan looking for a place to start, check out our list of ten anime for beginners! Looking for a fun adventure?
One Piece can be seen as the definitive manga. 1. In Japan, it is as much of a cultural staple as Hello Kitty. The reason for One Piece's success is simple: it's an enormous adventure filled with fun-loving pirates. It appeals to children as much as adults. It embodies the very concept of adventure and discovery. Its protagonist is a wide-eye and ambitious young pirate with lofty ideals and two eyes on the horizon. There are few better manga to start with if you really want to understand the cultural zeitgeist of Japan. To read One Piece is to read the heart and soul of the manga world. However, there is one enormous barrier to entry which is worth noting. One Piece is enormous. It has been running for decades, across hundreds of chapters. Buying and reading One Piece is an investment of both your time and your money. It'll take you a long time to play catch-up. If you're not in a hurry, however, each volume is cheaper than your average novel or Marvel TPB, making it an affordable place to start reading manga. One Piece is the perfect manga to start with if you're looking to enjoy a fun action-filled adventure that's appropriate for all ages. It's clever, layered, beautiful, hilarious, and inspirational.
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But it is very, very long. Start at the beginning and take your time. Looking for something smart and literary? Goodnight Punpun (or Oyasumi Punpun as it's known in Japanese) is an intensely smart and criminally underrated manga. It follows the coming-of-age story of the titular Punpun, a young man dealing with a dysfunctional family and a lot of emotional baggage. While a lot of manga is heavy genre fiction with a focus on action and fun, Goodnight Punpun is the perfect manga for readers of literary fiction. It is an intensely smart and deep manga that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the giants of classic literature (a rather lofty but thrilling place to start reading manga). Our friend Jamie wrote an incredible essay on the genius of Goodnight Punpun which explores the writing and art of this manga in exquisite and fascinating detail. Check it out if you want to know more. Goodnight Punpun explores some really big themes, so buckle in for an intense ride.
The Secret of Manga That No One is Talking About
The manga ran for 13 volumes, which makes it a pretty digestible series, as manga go. Depending on where you buy it from, however, you can find it bound into seven volumes with some really gorgeous and evocative cover art. Looking for a classic? There are few series as ubiquitous as Dragon Ball. In the western world, the anime of Dragon Ball Z made a far bigger splash than One Piece ever has. The original manga, which traces the story of protagonist Goku as a young martial artist with a monkey's tail, is a retelling of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en. Reading Dragon Ball is the perfect place to start reading manga if you want to begin with one of the great classics. And, while you can do that with One Piece, that series is still ongoing, while Dragon Ball wrapped a long time ago and is still celebrated as a beloved classic today. Dragon Ball represents the essence of shōnen manga (manga geared towards young men who like action and adventure).
It's a combat-heavy manga with gorgeous direction and character design. The fights are drawn with fluidity and the characters are written with clarity and love. And the manga's creator, Akira Toriyama, is one of the most beloved mangaka in the industry (also famed for his character and enemy design in the Dragon Quest series of video games). Dragon Ball is one of the few manga that stands up as a classic, has aged beautifully, still looks gorgeous and reads with a lot of fun energy. For budding manga readers looking to go back a few years and begin with a classic, there are a few classics as beloved as Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball. Looking for what's popular right now? When it comes to reading manga, there are two kinds of budding manga readers: those who want to read the best classics (like Dragon Ball) and those who want to begin with whatever is most popular right now. And, right now, the king of manga is My Hero Academia. For those uninterested in superheroes or action-heavy stories, My Hero Academia may not be for you. But also, it might; don't dismiss it without giving it a shot. My Hero Academia takes a lot of people by surprise. What at first seems like a simple, almost twee, tale of a classroom full of trainee super heroes quickly morphs into an affecting, complex, and mature tale of brotherhood, personal growth, and some genuinely smart moral and philosophical debates.
More manga like My Hero Academia: Attack on Titan, Dr. Junji Ito is the king of horror.
The very best thing about My Hero Academia is its world building. You have an enormous cast of characters, each of which has a name, an appearance, a personality, and a goal that is unique, well-defined, and engaging. The villains offer interesting philosophical questions. The stories take unexpected and thrilling twists. My Hero Academia represents a new elevation of the shnen battle manga formula. It is intensely smart, beautifully drawn, well-paced, and speaks to a lot of different manga fans with various tastes. If you're eager to jump into the biggest trend, the biggest talking point, and, honestly, one of the best manga of today, My Hero Academia is exactly that. More manga like My Hero Academia: Attack on Titan, Dr. Junji Ito is the king of horror. And I don't just mean in the world of manga, but in all literature. In many ways, and depending on your personal taste, Junji Ito is a more creatively terrifying mind than even Stephen King. If you're looking for the peak of horror manga, Junji Ito is your man. Where it gets a little complicated is where to begin reading Junji Ito. He mostly writes short stories, which get collected in various places.
Right now, you can buy from any bookstore his horror collections Shiver and Smashed. Shiver collects many of Junji Ito's best short stories, and it the perfect place to begin reading the master of horror manga. If you'd rather check out a full book, rather than short stories, you can also check out Gyo and Uzumaki which are long-form Junji Ito stories. But beginning with Shiver gives you an excellent taste of the sheer range of genius on display in the terrifying mind of Junji Ito. Speaking personally, Ito is my favorite mangaka. There is no mind or hand like this man's. He represents the most creative art and twisted stories in the business, and is a great place to begin reading manga in general, as long as you don't mind being at worst and unsettled at best. A bonus with starting at Shiver is that it is a single book. one purchase; done. So many manga make the barrier to entry tough because they are serialized for years. Ito's stories avoid that problem entirely, so they make for the ultimate representation of manga art and a cheap place to start reading manga. Orange is a love story with a twist, as is the case with almost every manga you'll ever come across. It is also a mature and impactful short series to start with when it comes to reading manga. This one tells the story of a high school girl who receives a letter from herself a decade into the future. The letter explains that she regrets something connected to the new transfer student.
Our protagonist, Naho, must follow the letter's instructions in order to avoid making the same mistakes that her future self did, though this proves more difficult than she expects. The time-messaging element of this manga certainly provides an interesting angle, but the characters themselves are what really make this a worthwhile story to pick up and enjoy. There are some big, mature themes at play here, most of which circle mental health, suicide, and loneliness. This romance and slice-of-life manga currently has six volumes out, so it's relatively small and digestible (though each volume is pretty large since you can buy it in two giant collected editions). For budding manga readers looking to avoid fantasy, horror, or any abstract genre fiction, and would rather start with something relatable - a story set today, populated by ordinary people with intense and relatable drama - Orange is exactly the manga you're looking for.