Manga Recommendations

Manga Recommendations

For those of you who are looking to get more into manga, here’s a list of 50 manga which are not only easily available online ( but COMPLETELY SCANLATED. Your enjoyment of these may vary from decent to excellent but I’d say that they’re all worthwhile reading overall. If you’re wondering why your favourite manga series _________ is not listed, it’s because it was rather relatively well known on /a/ already (ex. Monster), ongoing (ex. Berserk), or not available online (ex. Phoenix). Most of the synopsis are taken from

1. A Revolutionist in the Afternoon:
A short story collection by Matsumoto Jiro.

2. Adolf ni Tsugu:
First published in 1983 by Shogakukan, it is the story of three individuals named Adolf: a Jewish boy living in Japan, a half-Japanese/half- German boy, and the leader of Nazi Germany. The first two hold a secret about the last, a secret which could affect the course of the war.

3. Adventure Boys:
The only common feature running through these stories is a grown-up protagonist somehow coming face-to-face with his childhood past, in a testament to the loss of youth, the disillusionment of growing old, and nostalgia for better times.

4. Apocalypse Meow (also known as Cat Shit One):
Inside the jungles of Vietnam, a courageous Special Ops. Unit is fighting the most infamous war of decades past—the Vietnam War. This bold account follows the brave exploits of Sergeant “Perky” Perkins and his unit…of rabbits! Join Rats, Perky and Botaski as they fight against the cats of the Viet Cong. From the Tet Offensive to the My Canh bombing, watch these commando-style bunnies through an anthropomorphic lens as events unfold and violence erupts.

5. Bakune Young:
It started with a brutal beating at a pachinko parlor, and now Bakune Young-maniac, moron or mastermind -- has taken Japan's biggest crime boss as a hostage as Step One of his plan to rule the world! Soon, yakuza, police, hapless detectives and Bakune's former gym teacher collide as Bakune holes up with his hostage in Osaka Castle, and the manly men of the Japanese mob vow to do anything to rescue their boss! Can Russian-roulette-playing police chief Sorigami salvage the situation with his highly trained army of human robots? Will Johnson Membodeath, the ninja, stop the madness by killing everyone in sight? Savage satire of the action-violence manga genre!

6. Banana Fish:
Nature made Ash Lynx beautiful; nurture made him a cold ruthless killer. A runaway brought up as the adopted heir and sex toy of "Papa" Dino Golzine, Ash, now at the rebellious age of seventeen, forsakes the kingdom held out by the devil who raised him. But the hideous secret that drove Ash's older brother mad in Vietnam has suddenly fallen into Papa's insatiably ambitious hands--and it's exactly the wrong time for Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to make Ash Lynx's acquaintance...

7. Believers:
Three members of a modern-day Japanese cult who are taking part in a "deserted island" program in which they must work together to purify and refine their spiritual essence and transform themselves into more advanced human beings. Of course, life doesn't usually work that way.

8. Blue Spring:
This dark and intense drama is set in a boy's high school where Kujo becomes the official leader of a gang. Kujo must constantly defend his position by playing a dangerous rooftop game with the other boys vying for his position. This manga has also been made into a film which has shown in various festivals throughout the world.

9. Claudine:
Claudine is a woman convinced since she was young that she was born into the wrong gender. She struggles through life, being the first child after three older brothers to take after their father. She wants only to be able to find true love...

10. Confession:
A one-volume manga about a pair of friends on a mountain climbing trip who wind up trapped in a cabin when one is wounded, and one of the pair makes a frightening revelation...

11. Dead End:
Shirou's ordinary life as a poor construction worker gets turned upside down when he comes across a naked girl, Lucy, who's fallen out of the sky! Her strange and unique personality entices him and he introduces her to his apartment buddies. But after leaving for just a few minutes, he returns to the apartment to find Lucy gone, all his friends slaughtered and an ogre-like stranger standing amidst the carnage. The big man suddenly pulls Shirou out of the apartment building just before it explodes! Shirou gets pushed down into the sewage system of the city and is saved by a mysterious man...

12. Domu:
A twisted old man, gifted with extrasensory powers, silently holds sway over an entire block of apartments. The occupants are puppets for him to control. Life is his to give...and to take. But suddenly there is a new voice in his head, and before he knows it, a young girl with her own battery of psychic abilities has arrived to challenge him! Soon, the sprawling complex becomes a battleground between two minds possessing incredible, unimaginable power.

13. Free Soul:
After a heated argument with her mother, Keito runs away from home without knowing where to go. When she helps an old woman to carry her bags home, the woman offers to put her up in one of her rooms. Keito accepts and starts to pick up the pieces of her life. When she's not drawing her own comic, which features a black jazz singer named Angie, the young woman works at a record shop. That's where she meets and falls in love with Niki, an attractive trumpeter in a funk band. They sleep with each other. Unfortunately for Keito, Niki then explains that she's not interested in a serious relationship, but Keito is not willing to give up that easily...

14. Full Flower Garden:
On the outskirts of Neo-Hong Kong lies a mysterious Chinese-style garden. Legend has it that anyone who looks upon the fairy of the garden will die before the night is out. Five years ago, Douglas Pyke was charged with discovering the true nature of this fairy, but when he accidentally killed a woman in the line of duty, he left the police force forever. Now, a cabbie and sometime private eye, he is asked to find a missing scientist and confront the mysteries of the garden once more.

15. Hanaotoko:
Shigeo is a high strung elementary school student living with his mother. His only concern is getting ahead in life by doing well in school. He despises his father Hanao (who is separated from them), who's an idealistic free spirit and a kid at heart, infatuated with the sport of baseball. Shigeo's mother forces Shigeo to take time to visit his father, and so begins Shigeo's lessons that there's more to life than excelling academically (courtesy of his very childish father).

16. Harukana Machi e:
On his way back from a business trip, the protagonist decides on a whim to take a train back to his old hometown. The moment he pays respects to his mother's grave in the transformed town, he is transported back to a summer when he was still in junior high school, only with all his middle-age consciousness, knowledge and abilities intact. On this journey across time, he understands for the first time the burdens born by his father, and his mother's tears. This is the kind of fantasy manga were made for, executed by an artist of great talent. This is a serious, delicate, and ultimately moving time travel variation.

17. Helter Skelter:
Through round after round of extensive plastic surgery and vigorous maintenance, Ririko has become the absolute manifestation of beauty, and becomes a wildly successful model, actress, and singer. However, soon, her body, unable to withstand the burdens of surgery, begins to crumble, and along with it so does her mind, as she plummets towards a frightening and inevitable end. A story about a woman's vanity, greed, hatred, and despair, by the author of River's Edge.

18. High School Girls:
A hilariously hip account of life at an all-girl private high school. As the student body comes of age we witness their search for love, sexual controversy and the rivalry between cliques. Based on the authors own real life experiences this is one manga you don’t want to miss!

19. Indigo Blue:
Rutsu, a novelist, finds herself caught between her boyfriend and another woman.

20. Japan Tengu Party Illustrated:
A tengu is an utterly proud and arrogant creature (so much that the Japanese saying, "to become a tengu," means to preen conceitedly) that is said to steal young children away from their homes. In this story, the fractured and disgraced remnants of the tengu species come together from all over the country to rise up, reclaim their pride, and rule over the nation of Japan, as is their right. What kind of effect will the "Tengu Party" have on the humans of Japan, and more importantly, what exactly makes a tengu?

21. Jisatsu Circle:
A disturbing manga inspired by an even more disturbing movie of the same name (aka Suicide Club). As you might expect, they both deal with the theme of suicide. However, the plots of the manga and movie are significantly different, so don't wory about spoilers and such. Finally, I'd just like to point out that the manga isn't for the faint of heart, and the movie even more so.

22. Joan:
Guided by visions of La Pucelle (the name given to Joan by followers), Emil seeks to unite France under the divine rule of the King. In her quest, Emil goes to the same places Joan had traveled through, and gains her own followers in the process. However, Emil is opposed by the dauphin Louis, a brute enforcer who fears no divine power and wishes to make his own bid to rule the country.

23. Kaikisen:
The legend has it that once upon a time, a pact was sealed between the Shinto priest of the town of Amide and a mermaid. Ever since, abundant fishing has guaranteed the town’s prosperity. This pact has always been honored by the priests of the Yashiro family. However, the legend has attracted both media and property developers, and the acting priest has acceded to their demands. Yosuke, youngest of the Yashiro family, has doubts about the existence of the mermaid, but will soon change his opinion as strange occurrences begin to unfold…

24. Korokoro Soushi:
This is a guro book featuring lots of violence and gore, including some cannibalism. It’s not really hentai, but it does have some sex thrown in here and there, mostly rape. It’s set in feudal japan and its central character is an insane sadistic princess with a elite unit of special “hair” ninjas. She gets reckless and draws the attention of the Shogun which leads to a huge clash. Fun book with some grim humor, very graphic and has some disgusting stuff so not for the faint of heart. Some of the contents include torture, lobotomies, cannibalism, warfare, ninja combat, and a “Hell” amusement park. Featuring guest appearances by Jesus, and a clan of ninja descended from Moses!

25. Lives of Eccentrics:
Explores the lives of the famous yet not famous people that lived in our world--such as Nikola Tesla, Typhoid Mary, the woman behind the Winchester Mystery House, Kou Yoshio, and much much more. Art by Araki Hirohiko and Onikubo Hirohisa, all stories by Araki Hirohiko.

26. Love My Life:
Ichiko Izumiya is a young student of English who would like to walk in the footsteps of her father is a translator of trendy American novels. She finally decides to confess to him that she is in love with Eriko, a law student. Ichiko will attempt to live out her homosexuality in peace and will be brought to wonder about the nature of her relationship: is she really homosexual or simply in love with a sensitive being who happens to be of the same sex?

27. Love Roma:
Love Roma is a story of love at first sight - literally. When Hoshino sees Negishi for the first time, he asks her to be his girlfriend. Shocked, Negishi nevertheless agrees to allow to Hoshino to walk her home, where he explains why he is in love with her. Touched, Negishi begins to feel something for this strange young boy from her school.

28. Lullabies from Hell:
Welcome to one of the most disturbing minds in Japanese manga! Hideshi Hino has long been considered a master of the horror manga genre since his coming out in the late seventies. And the four stories in Lullabies from Hell will show you how demented the man can be. The self-titled first chapter introduces you to the author himself, a horror quasi-biography of sorts. The second story tells of Hino's having willed his pregnant wife into birthing a horrible, planet-devastating reptile baby that eats puppies and children! And you can imagine how the stories progress from there.

29. Milk Closet:
Many children mysteriously disappear in 2005. This is called it the "Reasal Phenomenon." A few children came back with tails on their behinds. One of them was Hana Yamaguchi. Hana calls upon children with tails and creates the "Macro Cosmic Invincible Legion of Kids." These children can go freely back and forth from one world to another and with such special powers, they save missing children. But then, the Ali Troops invade this world. This is a fascinating science fiction drama about the wonders of the universe.

Don’t be put off by the “ugly” faces, the story is quite interesting, creepy, and disturbing like in the vein of Narutaru. The plot is a bit convoluted though so take your time with it.

30. Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show:
The basic plot is that an orphan girl named Midori is taken in (read: enslaved) by a traveling freak show. The freak show includes such unsavory characters as a mummyman, a snake woman, and a drooling man with no limbs. The owner of the freak show, the eponymous Mr. Arashi, is a strict man who allows his freaks very little freedom or joy in life. He is especially cruel to Midori, our heroine. Midori works, not as a freak since she is normal, but as a sort of caretaker of the freaks.

By Maruo Suehiro, the king of WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN-esque manga. Can't guarantee most people will like it, but people really need to try at least one of his works.

31. MW:
Gurai is a Japanese Catholic Priest, who is unable to give up his lifelong sexual relationship with Yuki, a beautiful and sadistic young master criminal. Yuki's malicious crimes have become more and more extreme over the years, claiming many innocent lives, and Gurai is tormented by guilt at his inability to stop them

32. Nasu:
Short stories all related through a common medium: Eggplant. Two of its chapters have been turned into the movies, “Summer in Andalusia” and “Suitcase no Wataridori.”

33. Ohikkoshi:
These stories are told with the same bold, kinetic art style and brilliantly paced storytelling that Samura's Blade of the Immortal epic is famous for. The main offering, "Ohikkoshi," follows the turbulent paths of several twenty-something art students as they fall in love, fall in lust, play in rock bands, ride motorbikes, eat, sleep (together), and try to avoid making life decisions while drunk. This romantic comedy is a "Japanese art school confidential" packed with absurd humor, obscure death metal references, and some expertly placed, dramatic revelations. "Luncheon of Tears Diary" is a vibrant, genre-busting tale that also peppers its humor with sharp, dramatic moments. Natsumi Funabashi, a virgin, is an aspiring manga creator on a quest for love and a fulfilling career. Along the way, she has to cope with overzealous men, gang warfare, a mahjong addiction, and a lascivious manga editor. This collection is rounded off by Samura's hilarious "Kyoto Super Barhopping Journal: Bloodbath at Midorogaike," a rare, autobiographical travel piece.

34. Ping Pong:
Ping pong. Table tennis. Fast, furious. You might have seen it, even played it, but you've never seen it like this! The action centers around "Smile" Tsukimoto and "Peco" Hoshino, two high school students in the midst of adolescence and out to prove they've got what it takes in the cool, cruel world of sports.

Also has a good film adaptation, check that out as well.

35. Plastic Girl:
Let's talk about girlhood with Mr. Furuya in 21 chapters. Brilliant and creative blend of varying art styles.

36. Ryuguden:
Two brothers wearing bunnysuits hop on a phallic train and travel to a mysterious underwater brothel. If that doesn’t sound awesome, you have my deepest condolences for having no sense of adventure.

37. Samurai Executioner:
In a prison world, there are few good stories, and this is the world of Kubikiri Asa, the beheader and master samurai under the Shogun. It's a world full of vengeance, greed, and violence. A world of depravity and sin. One man can set things straight if he can keep his wits. This is a story of extreme proportions, of sword study thick in tradition and with grim purpose, of blood rivers, agonizing screams, bondage, torture, and the evil prevalent in human failure. Drafted by the confirmed masters of the international medium of manga, Samurai Executioner is a shocking combination of darkness and fire, fine lines, and a fine man in the face of human decline.

38. Short Cuts:
So just what is with this fascination for the Japanese teenage girl? We're talking about that extreme variant of her--that highly evolved creature of Japan's frantically trendy consumer culture...the ko-gal. Short Cuts is a unique and surreal Japanese comic strip that provides an illustrated journey into the ko-gal's world, created by Usamaru Furuya, one of Japan's most highly esteemed avant-garde comic artists.

39. Smuggler:
The smugglers in our tale--guys who have to clean up the bodies after mob assassinations in which heads get ripped off--are a cold-hearted silent veteran, an old man, and a young guy forced to do dirty work to pay back money he owes the mob.
When the young smuggler makes a mistake by allowing a captured rival to escape, the price he must pay for his error gets horrifically high...

40. Super Cruel and Terrible Tales of Mangaka:
A gag parody of Shinji Mizushima's immortal "Mangaka Zankoku Monogatari" (Karasawa's title only differs by adding "Chou" (super) to "Zankoku"), a manga about the dreams, ambitions, and suffering of a group of bright young mangaka. Karasawa brilliantly takes the piss out of just about everything involved with being a mangaka. It's lewd, raunchy, endlessly cynical and laugh-out-loud funny.

41. The Laughing Vampire:
While a young boy, just resurrected as a vampire , commits acts of awful ferocity, the city around him shows all its perversion. The adults abuse of their power, the boys degenerate and use all the available means to achieve their goal to give vent to their low instincts. Whoever can't understand and make opposition is doomed to change or becoming crazy. So which is the real horror? The vampire who kill in order to feed himself or the crawling disease hidden in the society who slowy corrupts without being noticed?

42. The Pushman and Other Stories:
The manga mainly deals with dreary environment of the rather seedy parts of post-war period in Japan and of the people who are trapped and sometimes suffocating from this milieu. Some are depressing, some are shocking, and some are just “What is this I don’t even…” but each chapter is interesting because it makes you want to figure out the state of mind each person has from living such a dreary life. I can’t say each chapter is meaningful, partly because I don’t quite understand all of it and some seem more like an attempt at black humour, but the manga as a whole is quite interesting in its portrayal of this period in Japan.

For those of you who did like Push Man, I highly recommend you check out Tatsumi’s other works like Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Good-Bye, and A Drifting Life.

43. The Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms:
Hiroshima, 1955. Ten years after her city was consumed by a scorching flash of light, a woman's soul is still deeply shaken by the earth-shattering explosion that devastated her home and changed her life forever. The war, the atomic bomb... what did they mean to ordinary people? Fumiyo Kôno examines these questions in her most powerful book yet an award-winning, widely-discussed masterpiece!

44. The Yellow Book:
Published by Kodansha in 2002 and awarded the prestigious Tezuka Cultural Prize, Fumiko Takano’s The Yellow Book is one of those rare works which you enjoy reading in order to feel the tender familiarity that arises between the protagonists and yourself. This collected volume was named after the longest of the four stories that it contains: a drama about an adolescent girl who falls in love with Roger Martin du Gard’s saga, Les Thibault. The remaining stories capture various fragments of everyday life with tenderness and humor. Through the kaleidoscope of its feminine views, The Yellow Book touches the readers heart by attending to what, in sum, makes up life—the little things of our every day.

45. Tropical Citron:
A coming-of-age story from Jiro Matsumoto (the author of Freesia) about a young, aspiring photographer named Soma. He's going nowhere, stuck in a mire of sex and drugs, until a horrible end to a one night stand sets him on a path that changes his life forever.

46. Uncivilized Planet:
From Jiro Matsumoto (the author of Freesia) comes a story of three childhood friends - Nicolo, Cookie, and Naomi - who grew up in a sleepy backwater town on an uncivilized planet. They struggle to get by while holding on to their dreams of leaving town and finding a better life... but can their friendship endure the tests of time? Can it withstand invading armies, broken dreams, conflicting ambitions, divided loyalties, jealousy, and even betrayal?

47. Undecided:
A collection of shorts by Byungjun Byun, artist of young sensible works on the life in the city, including "Princess Anna" and "Run, Bonggu". Many included shorts have received renowned awards from Korea and Japan.

48. Undercurrent:
The manga begins as Kanae Sekiguchi, proprietor of the Tsuki no Yu bathhouse, struggles to reopen her business after the unexplained disappearance of her husband...

49. Wings of Vendemiare:
The story takes place in a world that resembles 19th century Europe. When a carnival comes to town one day, Ray, the son of a bar owner, meets a girl with wings. The girl's name is Vendemiaire. She was given life by her Creator and tells Ray that she is not human. This is a series of short stories showing the kindness and cruelty of mankind. You can enjoy pictures drawn with a fine touch alongside the philosophic dialogue of the characters.

50. Zansho:
From Mohiro Kitoh, the author of Narutaru and Bokurano, comes this wonderful collection of short stories that reinforces his reputation as a skillful story teller. Spanning almost 20 years of the artist’s career—from his professional debut work Zansho to his latest contribution to IKKI magazine Pochi no basho—this collected volume offers a unique view of Kitoh’s artistic development.

For those of you looking to buy some good manga that aren’t available online, here’re some also worth checking out.

A Drifting Life
Drunken Dream
Not Simple
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths (will be released May 29, 2011)
Red Coloured Elegy
Summit of the Gods