25 Amazing Manga You Must Read Right Now

I read mana books, stories published online, but I also enjoy reading manga. It’s a medium I’ve loved for years. Amazing manga stand out not only for their story but also for breathtaking visuals.

The reason manga are so interesting is the combination of cultural differences, unique stories, and visuals.

Best Manga Intro Picture
© Kentaro Miura – Berserk

I’ve read hundreds of manga, but I noticed their quality can vary. Because of this, I created a list of twenty-five amazing manga. While some of the manga on this list might be popular and well-known, I believe there’s also some hidden gems.

If you want more manga recommendations, check out my lists of the best horror manga, the best seinen manga, and the best shonen manga.

I’d also like to give a spoiler warning. I’ll try not to go into too much detail regarding the plot, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

So, here are twenty-five amazing manga you must read right now.

Table of Contents

Ichi the Killer

Best Manga by Hideo Yamamoto - Ichi the Killer Picture 1
© Hideo Yamamoto – Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer by Hideo Yamamoto is amongst the most depraved and sick manga out there. It’s also one of my favorites.

The manga concerns two characters. One is the twisted, insane yakuza Kakihara, the other Ichi, the titular killer. The story starts when Kakihara’s boss goes missing. This event sets into motion a brutal search, bringing Kakihara into conflict with other yakuza groups, but also leads to a confrontation with Ichi.

The most interesting part about Ichi and Kakihara, however, is how different they are. They are polar opposites and it’s this distinction that helps to bring forth tension, but also makes the manga much more interesting.

Best Manga by Hideo Yamamoto - Ichi the Killer Picture 2
© Hideo Yamamoto – Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer features copious amounts of violence, including torture, rape and murder, but it’s not a mere gore fest. It’s a deep, psychological masterpiece about the interplay between masochism and sadism, childhood abuse and identity disorder. All these themes are mixed into a manga as brutal as it is compelling.

What makes Ichi the Killer work so well is the raw violence it features. Its characters aren’t normal people, but the most depraved and twisted inhabitants of society’s underbelly. It shows us all those people, their depravity, how far they will go to reach their goals, and filters none of it. It’s a manga as sick as it’s satisfying.

Ichi the Killer’s not for the faint of heart. It’s fucked up, brutal, and often downright disgusting. Yet, it’s also one of the deepest, psychological and amazing manga of all time.


Best Manga by Yasuhisa Hara - Kingdom Picture 2
© Yasuhisa Hara – Kingdom

Kingdom by Yasuhiro Hara is an amazing manga and one of the best in the history and military genre.

It’s set during the Warring States era of China and aims to detail the unification of China under the state of Qin. Shin, our protagonist, is a young servant boy who becomes entangled in the matters of state. After helping the soon-to-be king of Qin, Ei Sei, he sets out to become a Great General under the Heavens.

Kingdom’s focus is on the many large-scale battles so common during the Warring States era, and presents them in intricate detail. What makes Kingdom such an amazing manga, however, is the showcasing of strategies and tactics. The manga details the various engagements, strategic finesse, tactics deployed, but also the brutality of these battles.

Kingdom also outlines important political events. The most notable of those being the power struggle between Ei Sei and Ryo Fui.

Best Manga by Yasuhisa Hara - Kingdom Picture 4
© Yasuhisa Hara – Kingdom

Kingdom’s art starts out average. During the first arc, it’s merely decent. This changes in later parts when we witness the many large-scale engagements and see the giant, walled cities of ancient China. They are a marvel to look at.

Kingdom’s biggest problem is its protagonist. Shin is rather clichéd and more a shonen protagonist. He’s a young hothead, not smart, and aims for the top because it’s the top.

Apart from him, however, the manga features many other fantastic characters, for example Kanki, Riboku, Ryo Fui and General Ou Ki.

Kingdom’s first arc, the Sei Kyo Rebellion arc, is easily its worst. While it was interesting, it felt more like a shonen manga. All that changed during the first large scale battle.

Kingdom’s an amazing historical manga, and one of the greatest military manga of all time.

Yamikin Ushijima-kun

Best Manga by Manabe Shouhei - Yamikin Ushijima-kun Picture 1
© Manabe Shouhei – Yamikin Ushijima-kun

Manabe Shouhei’s Yamikin Ushijima-kun’s a manga about illegal money lending. While it’s an amazing manga, it’s also a very dark one. People are being betrayed, tortured and even use their life.

Kaoru Ushijima is a money lender. He offers cash loans with an interest rate of fifty percent to be paid back within ten days. Who’d accept such an outrageous loan? Those who are drowning in debt, or who gave into their various vices.

As the manga continues, we follow Ushijima as he makes sure he’s paid back at all costs and takes from people everything they have. He’s not shy about using identity theft, extortion, and even prostitution. And every once in a while, he might even set an example for those who think they can get away.

Best Manga by Manabe Shouhei - Yamikin Ushijima-kun Picture 2
© Manabe Shouhei – Yamikin Ushijima-kun

Interestingly enough, it’s often hard to feel sympathy for any of these characters. While Ushijima’s not a good guy, one can’t help but root for him.

This changes in later arcs, when the manga focuses more on other characters, detailing their life, and the reasons that eventually drive them to visit Ushijima’s office. Many of these stories are tragedies, and we watch as misery and trouble are piling up on people until there’s no way out. Yet, there are the occasional glimmers of hope that can be found as well.

The art style in Yamikin Ushijima-kun is unique. It’s not as refined and as that of other manga, and can best be described as gritty and dirty. For a manga like this, however, that focuses on the dregs of society, it’s perfect and helps so much to set the tone.

Yamikin Ushijima-kun is a fascinating, dark and amazing manga, especially for those who are interested in crime and the dark underbelly of society.


Best Manga by Hiroya Oku - Gantz Picture 1
© Oku Hiroya – Gantz

Gantz is one of the most insane and amazing manga out there.

One day, Kei Korono and his childhood friend Masaru Katou die in a tragic train accident. Yet, mere moments later, they arrive in a Tokyo apartment. It’s populated by various other people, and in the room’s center is a black sphere. It’s called Gantz, and it informs them it’s now their mission to go out and hunt down aliens who live amongst humans. Before anyone can react, they are teleported outside. Thus, the first mission begins.

Gantz is a brutal manga about hunting aliens, and full of fluid action and glorified gore. While the very first mission only features two aliens, the stakes throughout the manga are constantly rising. Later missions feature huge amounts of creatures that are as dangerous as they are outlandish.

Best Manga by Hiroya Oku - Gantz Picture 3
© Oku Hiroya – Gantz

What makes Gantz so amazing is the action and the art. Gantz comes with some of the most dynamic action, and it’s all rendered in beautiful detail and stunning to look at. The same is true for the many aliens. Gantz’s monster design is amongst the greatest in all of manga.

Another reason Gantz stands out is because of its protagonist, Kurono. He starts out as an egoistic, unlikeable teenager, but develops tremendously throughout the manga. It’s a delight to witness him grow and eventually become the leader of the Gantz team.

The world of Gantz is dark, and this is not exclusive to the missions. We bear witness to severe bullying, rape and even a mass shooting.

And yet, Gantz is an action-packed masterpiece and one of the most amazing manga out there. It’s nothing short of weird, insane, and gory madness.

Liar Game

Best Manga by Shinobu Kaitani - Liar Game Picture 1
© Shinobu Kaitani – Liar Game

Shinobu Kaitani’s Liar Game is amongst the best mind game manga out there.

We meet Nao Kanzaki, an extremely honest girl who finds herself a contestant in the Liar Game, a game of deceit with stakes in the hundreds of millions.

It’s not long before Nao’s tricked, but finds help from the genius swindler Akiyama.

Liar Game’s such an amazing manga because of the games featured in it. While they might start out simple, they become more and more complex the longer the manga continues on.

Yet, it’s not so much the games themselves, but the many ploys, tricks and strategies employed by the characters that make them so great. It’s nothing short of amazing to watch them out-play each other repeatedly over the course of a single game.

Best Manga by Shinobu Kaitani - Liar Game Picture 2
© Shinobu Kaitani – Liar Game

This is most noticeable during the Contraband Game and the Musical Chair Game, which were absolutely amazing. Yet, this wasn’t solely because of how these two games were constructed, but also because of certain characters they featured.

Most characters in Liar Game represent a certain character type, and many of them are easily out-played by Akiyama. Yet, the Contraband Game introduces us to Yokoya and the Musical Chairs Game to Harimoto. Both of them were formidable adversaries and a match for Akiyama. This made these games much more interesting and suspenseful.

Liar Game’s a well-written and absolutely amazing manga. It features complex games, clever strategies, and great characters. If you’re a fan of mind game manga, read it. It’s the best mind game manga out there.

Bokutachi ga Yarimashita

Best Manga by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Hikaru Araki - Bokutachi ga Yarimashita Picture 1
© Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Hikaru Araki – Bokutachi ga Yarimashita

Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Hikaru Araki’s Bokutachi ga Yarimashita’s one of the darkest, most amazing manga of all time.

It centers on Tobio Masubuchi, and his three friends Isami, Maru, and Paisen. One day, Maru gets in trouble with delinquents from a neighboring school, and is beaten up. Promptly, the friends hatch a plan for revenge.

What they planned to be nothing but a prank, turns into deadly reality. In an instant, their normal, every day lives ended.

Bokutachi ga Yarimashita is extremely well-written. It’s a story that centers on a variety of psychological themes, the most important being guilt and redemption. It’s these themes that make Bokutachi ga Yarimashita such a dark, depressing, yet amazing magna.

Best Manga by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Hikaru Araki - Bokutachi ga Yarimashita Picture 2
© Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Hikaru Araki – Bokutachi ga Yarimashita

Reading this manga was quite the unique experience. Bokutachi ga Yarimashita’s plot is ripe with tension, but most of all, it will make you uncomfortable on a deeply psychological level.

The writing, the storytelling and pacing are nothing short of brilliant, but more so are the characters. It’s a manga that’s almost entirely character driven. These characters, however, aren’t heroes, they are normal, every day people. They are immature, weak, and never thought about the consequences of their actions.

It’s interesting to see how these types of people handle the events happening in this manga, and the toll it takes on their emotions and psyche.

Bokutachi ga Yarimashita’s a realistic tale. It shows us there are no magical endings in real life. Instead, life goes on, and you’ll have to live and come to terms with the consequences of your actions.

Bokutachi ga Yarimashita is a fantastically dark, suspenseful and amazing manga. It gives readers one of the deepest looks into the human psyche.


Best Manga by Hideo Yamamoto - Homunculus Picture 3
© Hideo Yamamoto – Homunculus

Homunculus is another masterpiece by the creator of Ichi the Killer, Hideo Yamamoto. Where Ichi the Killer’s disturbing, Homunculus’s surreal.

The story centers on Susumu Nakoshi, a young homeless man who lives in his car. One day, Manabu Ito, a young medical student, approaches him. He researches the process of trepanation, and is looking for a test subject to undergo the process. Eventually, Nakoshi agrees.

While this premise is odd enough, the results of the operation are even stranger. From this point on, whenever Nakoshi covers his left eye, he sees distorted versions of people, which are referred to as homunculi.

Best Manga by Hideo Yamamoto - Homunculus Picture 1
© Hideo Yamamoto – Homunculus

As the manga continues, the story only gets weirder. While there are the homunculi, which are weird in their own right, the manga’s plot discusses a variety of deeper, psychological themes.

This plot, however, is almost unpredictable, and more a character study, one that slowly turns into a man’s descent into madness.

The art all throughout Homunculus is nothing short of fantastic. While it features its fair share of disturbing and explicit scenes, it’s also full of surreal and even abstract ones. Yet, the most outstanding thing in this manga is, without a doubt, the grotesque homunculi.

Homunculus is an amazing manga. It’s a work of surreal fiction, featuring two extremely complex characters, a unique scenario and an unrestrained, yet deeply interesting narrative.

Alice in Borderland

Best Manga by Haro Aso - Alice in Borderland Picture 1
© Haro Aso – Alice in Borderland

Haro Aso’s Alice in Borderland is an amazing manga about death games and one of the best the genre offers.

Ryohei Arisu tries his best to avoid thinking about the future. One night, he and his friends Chota and Karube witness first fireworks and then a blinding explosion. Moments later, they find themselves in a different world. This world’s Borderland, where people are forced to take part in deadly games or die.

The greatest part about Alice in Borderland is that games differ not only by type but also by difficulty. Each game is tailored towards specific qualities; some require intellect, others might require physical fitness.

Yet it’s still a manga about death games, and these games are as brutal as they are unforgiving.

Best Manga by Haro Aso - Alice in Borderland Picture 1
© Haro Aso – Alice in Borderland

One of the best things about Alice in Borderland is the characters, especially Arisu. He’s not only a fantastic protagonist but also a realistic one. While he’s resourceful and smart, he’s not a genius. He’s also a rather somber character, one surrounded by a deep-set melancholy. He’s not the type to fight ruthlessly or until it kills him. All this, however, makes him so complex and interesting.

The same is true for many of the side characters. Yet, in later parts, the manga focuses on them a little too much. It gives Alice in Borderland an almost episodic, rather unrestrained feeling.

Another problem’s the ending. While it worked well and there wasn’t much of a different choice, it still felt rather anti-climactic.

Even though Alice in Borderland is one of the best death game and survival manga. If you like this genre, read this amazing manga.


Best Manga by Jiro Matsumoto - Freesia Picture 4
© Jiro Matsumoto – Freesia

Jiro Matsumoto’s Freesia’s an amazing manga set in a dystopian Japan in which retaliatory killings are legal. This means, when a loved one’s murdered, you can hire someone to take revenge, or even take justice into your own hands.

Kano, our protagonist, works for an agency which specializes in retaliatory killings.

Reading this, one might think Freesia to be a manga about bloody retaliatory killings, but it’s so much more. The manga’s focus is not so much on the killings, but on the target’s background and personal story. These individual stories are well written, make us sympathize with the characters, and their death into genuine tragedies.

The manga’s setting is gloomy, dark and depressing. Similarly, the cast is full of broken and mentally ill people.

Best Manga by Jiro Matsumoto - Freesia Picture 3
© Jiro Matsumoto – Freesia

Especially Kano stands out. He’s a character suffering from memory failure, schizophrenia, and hallucinations. Yet, Freesia goes further than just presenting these issues to us. Instead, we see the world through Kano’s eyes, making the entire manga a surreal experience. It also constantly makes us wonder what’s real and what isn’t.

Kano’s not the only one suffering from mental problems, however. Many other members of the cast are plagued by delusions and hallucinations. These, too, are presented to us at face value, and as with Kano, we only understand what’s truly going on when we get a rare glimpse at reality.

Freesia’s a brilliant masterpiece. It’s a dark, depressing work, but also an amazing manga. It presents mental illness in a light I’ve never encountered in another manga before.

Kamisama no Iutoori and Kamisama no Iutoori Ni

Best Manga by Akeji Fujimura, Kaneshiro Muneyuki - Kamisama No Iutoori Ni Picture 1
© Akeji Fujimura, Kaneshiro Muneyuki – Kamisama No Iutoori Ni

Akeji Fujimura and Kaneshiro Muneyuki’s Kamisama no Iutoori and its sequel are two of the weirdest manga out there.

They center on death games, and are amongst the best the genre offers, yet they stand out for how weird, almost surreal they are.

Takahata Shun is a normal high school student, and incredibly bored with his life. One morning, his teacher’s head explodes, a Daruma doll appears, and the very first death game in the series begins.

Over the course of the manga, we’re introduced to a cast of fantastic characters, and witness death games that get progressively weirder and more complex.

Best Manga by Akeji Fujimura and Kaneshiro Muneyuki - Kamisama No Iutoori Ni Picture 2
© Akeji Fujimura and Kaneshiro Muneyuki – Kamisama No Iutoori Ni

It’s, however, not only the games that are weird. Kamisama no Iutoori’s cast of characters is populated by some of the most eccentric weirdos in all of manga, especially Amamiya and Ushimitsu.

The greatest thing about the series, however, is how it handles these characters. Apart from one notable example, it’s never shy about killing them off and does so at the most unexpected moments. More than once, we’re introduced to a new character, see their backstory before they are unceremoniously killed. This gives the manga an unforgiving, but also strangely humorous, atmosphere.

Kamisama no Iutoori’s art is mostly average, but it improves vastly in its second part. Especially near the end, the manga features some of the most stunning and gorgeous page spreads in all of manga.

Kamisama no Iutoori and its sequel are a strange series, yet they are also incredibly enjoyable. If you’re a fan of death games, especially the weirder kind, read this manga.

Junji Ito Horror Collection

Best Manga by Junji Ito - My Dear Ancestors
© Junji Ito – My Dear Ancestors

In horror manga, there’s no name as popular as Junji Ito. His horror collection is amongst the best works of Japanese horror of all times.

It comprises mostly terrifying one-shots, but also includes some of his longer works, notably Tomie and his adaption of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. If you’re interested in learning more about Junji Ito’s work, check out my article on my favorite Junji Ito stories.

This collection is full of outstanding works, for example Long Dream, Hanging Balloons, The Lovesick Dead or my Dear Ancestors, to name a few.

Best Manga by Junji Ito - Tomie Picture 1
© Junji Ito – Tomie

Ito’s work stands out so much because of his beautiful and unique art style. He’s a master of the craft and his works are full of gruesome imagery, violence and gore. One of the most prevalent themes in his works is that of body horror. We witness people being distorted, twisted, and changed into outlandish abominations. If you want to learn more about this, read my article on his style, his themes and how he scares us.

Ito’s characters, however, aren’t heroes. They are mundane nobodies who go about their normal lives until they stumble upon horrific and outlandish situations.

These horrific situations, however, are also special. Ito’s work is seldom about monsters or killers. Instead, his horror comes from things as mundane as his characters: dreams, love, hair, and even musical records.

Junji Ito’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Japanese horror mangaka and his horror collection is an amazing manga worth reading for any horror fan.

Omoide Emanon

Best Manga by Kenji Tsuruta - Omoide Emanon Picture 1
© Kenji Tsuruta – Omoide Emanon

Sometimes, a short tale can be much more brilliant than longer works. Kenji Tsuruta’s Omoide Emanon is one such work and an amazing manga. This short, beautiful tale is based on the novel by Shinji Kajio.

When a young man returns home from his travels via ferry, he meets a beautiful young woman who introduces herself as Emanon. The two of them soon begin talking.

When he invites her to dinner, she tells him an unbelievable story about herself.

What makes Omoide Emanon so special is the warm, solemn atmosphere so prevalent throughout the entire work. It might be the way our characters meet, or the reason the young man returns home; it all fits perfectly.

Best Manga by Kenji Tsuruta - Omoide Emanon Picture 2
© Kenji Tsuruta – Omoide Emanon

Omoide Emanon’s art is nothing short of beautiful, but focuses on presenting us with realistic characters. Emanon stands out the most. She’s charismatic, rendered in beautiful detail, and there’s this ominous aura to her. Yet, she’s not unreasonably beautiful, but is painted entirely realistically.

What makes this such an amazing manga are the emotions conveyed in this one, single volume. Omoide Emanon had a much bigger impact on me than many other longer series.

We get nothing but a glimpse into the life of two characters, and witness nothing but a chance meeting.

Yet, it’s these small things, those little chance meetings that stay with us the longest, and Omoide Emanon might just be one of them.

Onani Master Kurosawa

Best Manga by Katsura Ise and Takuma Yokota - Onanie Master Kurosawa Picture 1
© Katsura Ise and Takuma Yokota – Onanie Master Kurosawa

Katsura Ise and Takuma Yokota’s Onani Master Kurosawa’s one of the biggest surprises in the entire manga industry. One would expect it to be nothing but a big, perverted joke, but that’s far from what this manga truly is.

We meet Kakeru Kurosawa, a fourteen-year-old student with a peculiar habit. When classes are over for the day, he retreats to a seldom-used school bathroom to masturbate.

When his mousy classmate Aya Kitahara is bullied by some of the popular girls, he takes revenge into his own hands.

Soon enough, Kitahara figures out he was behind the incident. Instead of thanking him, however, she blackmails him and forces him to do the same thing to other girls who bullied her.

Best Manga by Katsura Ise and Takuma Yokota - Onanie Master Kurosawa Picture 2
© Katsura Ise and Takuma Yokota – Onanie Master Kurosawa

In its earlier chapters, Onani Master Kurosawa’s rather humorous and considered a parody of Death Note. Before long, however, the story matures and becomes one of the most inspiring coming-of-age tales in the entire industry.

The reason this manga’s so good is mostly because of its characters. Especially Kurosawa stands out as one of the best, most believable and eventually likeable characters in all of manga. He might start out as an anti-social pervert, but develops tremendously.

For all his faults, he’s an extremely relatable character, and his development is incredibly well done. We’re not merely witnessing what happens, or how he feels, we learn to understand him. There’s a sort of intimacy between reader and Kurosawa that makes this such an amazing manga. This is also true for many of the side-characters, like Kitahara, Takigawa and even Sugawa.

Onani Master Kurosawa’s one of the most amazing manga I’ve ever come upon. What started out as a perverted joke manga about masturbation turned into a sweet and complex coming-of-age tale.


Best Manga by Tsutomu Nihei - Biomega Picture 1
© Tsutomu Nihei – Biomega

Tsutomu Nihei’s Biomega’s a mixture of science-fiction, cyberpunk and zombie apocalypse.

Zouichi Kano and his AI companion, Fuyu Kanoe, are sent out to retrieve a human immune from the N5S virus. This virus is rapidly spreading across the world and all infected by it become zombie-like beings known as drones.

As the story progresses, we’re introduced to various characters and factions. The most notable of them is the DRF, under the leadership of Niardi.

Biomega’s set in a futuristic world and full of cyberpunk madness. Tsutomu Nihei’s art is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s gritty, raw and features his typical, detailed, wide-reaching architecture. It’s a world populated by stunning cybernetic horrors and crazy futuristic technology.

Biomega stands out amongst other manga in terms of pacing and storytelling.

Best Manga by Tsutomu Nihei - Biomega Picture 3
© Tsutomu Nihei – Biomega

Biomega’s pacing’s insane. The first half of the manga consists almost entirely of action and is incredibly fast paced. While the action’s always fluid, the pacing can make it hard to keep up with what’s going on in the manga’s story.

Even more so than Blame! Biomega’s story’s almost entirely told via visuals. A division between art and story’s impossible.

Biomega’s most notable, but also problematic part, however, is a shift that happens in the middle of the manga. The setting, the atmosphere, and even the art style change vastly in its second half. What starts out as a fast-paced cyberpunk apocalypse becomes a somber, cyberpunk-fantasy story. Another problem’s the ending which brings the story to a close, but feels strangely out of place and somewhat rushed.

Still, while Biomega has its problems, and the story can be weird, it’s still an amazing manga. I highly recommend it to any fan of science-fiction and especially cyberpunk.


Best Manga by Manabe Shohei - Smuggler Picture 1
© Manabe Shohei – Smuggler

Smuggler’s a short, one-volume manga by Manabe Shohei, but also his best work to date.

Yosuke Kinuta’s a failed actor. After he landed himself in serious debt, he’s forced to work as a smuggler and become part of a corpse disposal crew. Trouble brews when the crew gets involved in a mob war and two deadly Chinese assassins join the fold.

Smuggler’s an amazing manga and one of the best in the thriller and crime story. It’s a story that can best be compared to the movies of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Richie.

It features a cast of over-the-top characters, and its fair share of fantastic action. Especially Spine and Guts, the assassins, and Joe, the leader of the corpse disposal crew, stand out by being absolute badasses.

Best Manga by Manabe Shohei - Smuggler Picture 3
© Manabe Shohei – Smuggler

Of all the characters, however, Kinuta stands out the most. He’s the most relatable of all the characters, not a madman, but a badass in his own right as we learn in later parts of the story.

The manga even features the occasional scene of subtle humor, but they never ruin the overall, serious feel of the story.

Manabe Shohei’s typical art style is noticeable at first glance. The manga’s setting is gritty and dirty. The characters are rendered uniquely but realistically. Yet, it gives them a somewhat ugly look compared to those in other manga.

Overall, Smuggler is a gem that few people might know about. It’s an amazing manga and a disturbing crime story full of memorable and badass characters.

If you’re a fan of crime stories, read Smuggler.

The Climber

Best Manga by Shinichi Sakamoto - The Climber Picture 1
© Shinichi Sakamoto – The Climber

There are few manga as beautiful and well-written as Shinichi Sakamoto’s The Climber.

Buntaro Mori’s a lonesome teenager, but when a classmate challenges him to climb the school building, he doesn’t hesitate. This moment awakens his passion for climbing.

The Climber’s a work focused heavily on perseverance and dedication. It’s almost as if this manga’s saying: if you work hard enough, you can do anything.

What makes this such an amazing manga, however, is the presentation and the main character. While The Climber’s a story about climbing, it uses the sport as a vessel for a largely character-driven narrative.

The manga focuses more on Mori’s development as a person than on anything else. He’s someone with problems, but as he climbs mountain after mountain, he also overcomes his personal problems. This dualism is masterfully done.

 Best Manga by Shinichi Sakamoto - The Climber Picture 5
© Shinichi Sakamoto – The Climber

The Climber’s art is some of the best in the entire medium. It’s nothing short of breathtakingly beautiful and full of stunning page-spreads of mountain ranges.

YEt, there are also glimpses of poetic beauty to be found. Many pages are entirely without dialogue, showing us nothing more than Mori climbing. In these scenes, the visuals speak for themselves, and it’s a thing of beauty. Even move, these pages often contain metaphors, allusions, and literary passages. It makes The Climber a work of profound joy and character without ever feeling pretentious.

The Climber is a work of art, of beauty. It’s more than a manga about climbing, but a character-driven narrative and coming-of-age story. While it can be a heavier read and features its fair share of unpleasant experiences, it is always beautiful.

Me and the Devil Blues

Best Manga by Akira Hiramoto - Me and the Devil Blues Picture 1
© Akira Hiramoto – Me and the Devil Blues

Me and the Devil Blues is a manga by Akira Hiramoto, retelling the life of Robert Johnson, set in the American South.

Robert’s a dabbling musician and wants nothing more than to learn how to play the blues. Yet, he’s no good at it. One day, he learns of a certain urban legend. If you play at a crossroad at night, the devil will visit you and, in exchange for your soul, he’ll make you a genius blues player.

Robert, desperate, does as the legend says and his life changes forever.

Me and the Devil Blues is an absolutely amazing manga, one of the best I’ve read in years. The art is gritty, but extremely detailed, making it a strangely beautiful manga.

Best Manga by Akira Hiramoto - Me and the Devil Blues Picture 3
© Akira Hiramoto – Me and the Devil Blues

The setting, the American South during the 1930s, is extremely well portrayed, giving the manga unique, western feeling. Even the racism, the division between white and black can be clearly seen.

Another fantastic element is the manga’s characters. While RJ’s a decent enough protagonist, he’s more thrown into events rather than choosing them. The best characters in this manga, however, are Clyde Brown, a complex and likeable character in his own right, and the evil, enigmatic Stanley McDonald.

What makes Me and the Devil Blues such an amazing manga, however, is the atmosphere. There’s no other work I encountered with so much tension and suspense. You can’t seem to catch your breath for an entire chapter, or even multiple chapters at a time.

Me and the Devil Blues is another gem of, and one of the most suspenseful and well-written manga out there.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run

Best Manga by Hirohiko Araki - Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run Picture 1
© Hirohiko Araki – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run

Who hasn’t heard of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures? Hirohiko Araki’s masterpiece is one of the longest running and most amazing manga out there.

Its first part, telling the story of Jonathan Joestar, is rather reminiscent of Fist of the North Star. During its third part, however, Hirohiko Araki introduced Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s most unique element, Stands. They can be described as physical manifestations of a character’s life force, giving them various superhuman powers.

While all parts of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure are worth reading, Part 7: Steel Ball Run, is widely considered its best.

It depicts a cross-country horse race across the United States, the Steel Ball Run.

Johnny Joestar, a crippled former horse racer, merely comes to watch the start of the race, but encounters a man named Gyro Zeppeli.

Best Manga by Hirohiko Araki - Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run Picture 3
© Hirohiko Araki – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run

The two clash and have a dual in which Gyro uses fantastic powers. These powers allow Johnny to stand up again, and he promptly decides to compete in the race.

Stell Ball Run feels like the culmination of anything Hirohiko Araki’s done before.

Where it stands out from other parts in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, is in the setting and story. While Johnny and Gyro are competing in the Steel Ball Run, they have to not only fight various adversaries but also uncover an overall plot. This dualism creates multiple layers of tension and makes the manga much more interesting.

Still, Ball Run’s art is nothing short of perfection. It’s much more detailed than earlier parts of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Battles look amazing and characters and Stands are rendered in Hirohiko Araki’s usual style.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Stell Ball Run is an amazing manga, a masterpiece and any manga fan should read it.

Vinland Saga

Best Manga by Makoto Yukimura - Vinland Saga Picture 1
© Makoto Yukimura – Vinland Saga

Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga tells the story of Thorfinn Karlsefni. He joined the mercenary group of a man named Askeladd. We soon learn that Askeladd’s responsible for his father Thor’s death, and Thorfinnn only joined his group to get revenge.

When Askeladd learns that the Danish prince Canute has been taken hostage, he hatches a devious plan that should change their lives forever.

Vinland Saga’s a masterpiece and an amazing magna.

It’s set in 11th century Europe and centers on Vikings and Viking culture. While Vinland Saga takes some liberties, it feels mostly realistic. It also doesn’t shy away from portraying the many atrocities committed by the Vikings.

As a manga about Vikings, it’s full of brutal battles, which are presented in all their gratuitous and gross glory. Yet, the manga isn’t so much about brutal battles, but more about Thorfinn and his personal journey. Long parts of the manga are calm and gloomy, focusing heavily on his feelings of guilt and regret.

Best Manga by Makoto Yukimura - Vinland Saga Picture 5
© Makoto Yukimura – Vinland Saga

The main reason Vinland Saga’s such an amazing manga, however, is the art and the characters.

The art is nothing short of beautiful and can rival the best manga out there. 11th century Europe looks stunning and all the towns, cities and farmsteads are beautifully illustrated.

Thorfinn starts as a quiet, efficient killer, but grows tremendously and becomes one of the most complex characters in the entire medium. The manga’s best character, however, is Askeladd.

The only character I’ve got a slight problem with is Thorkell. He’s enjoyable and based on a legendary Viking, but he feels a bit too over-the-top.

Overall, Vinland Saga’s an amazing manga that every few others can compare to. I recommend anyone to read it.


Best Manga by Takehiko Inoue - Vagabond Picture 2
© Takehiko Inoue – Vagabond

Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue is based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi and tells a romanticized version of the life of Musashi Miyamoto.

Shinmen Takezou joins the battle of Sekigahara. When he returns, however, he’s declared a wanted criminal and after a long hunt, he’s caught. Strung up at a tree and left to die, he’s eventually freed by the monk Takuan. He also gives him a new name, Musashi Miyamoto.

From this point onward, the manga focuses on Musashi’s travels, as he pursues the sword to become ‘Invincible under the Heavens.’

The manga’s absolutely gorgeous to look at and apart from a few exceptions, features the best art in the entire medium.

Vagabond’s a samurai manga, full of stunning battles. They are bloody, gory, and disturbing, but this violence is never glamorized.

Best Manga by Takehiko Inoue - Vagabond Picture 3
© Takehiko Inoue – Vagabond

The best thing about Vagabond, however, is the writing and the characters. While Musashi starts out as a demon child, he matures into a calm, philosophical man who questions what it truly means to be invincible.

Vagabond’s the story of Musashi Miyamoto, but also the story of Sasaki Koichiro. He was another brilliant swordsman of the time and long parts of the manga are dedicated to his life. Many of these parts are as well-written and interesting as those focusing on Musashi.

The way Vagabond’s story is told is another thing that’s extremely enjoyable. The manga often switches between Musashi and Koichiro, or even Matahachi, Musashi’s former best friend, showing each characters unique path.

Nothing much needs to be said about Vagabond. It’s one of manga’s greatest achievements and an absolutely amazing manga.

Ultra Heaven

Best Manga by Keiichi Koike - Ultra Heaven Picture 3
© Keiichi Koike – Ultra Heaven

Ultra Heaven’s a psychedelic manga and one of the greatest achievements in the entire medium. Reading it is an experience unlike any other.

Ultra Heaven’s set in a dystopian future in which feelings can be artificially created and consumed like drugs.

Our protagonist Kabu’s a junkie and addicted to these types of drugs. He soon finds out about a new illegal substance called Ultra Heaven. When Kabu meets a man who sells it, he accepts.

When he takes the drug, we’re presented with one of the most creative depictions of a trip ever. The art, the presentation, and the visuals are unlike anything I’ve seen in the medium.

Best Manga by Keiichi Koike - Ultra Heaven Picture 4
© Keiichi Koike – Ultra Heaven

What makes Ultra Heaven such an amazing manga is the art. The world’s presented to us in a highly detailed, and gritty art style and all its characters look highly unique. What makes Ultra Heaven so special, however, is the way it showcases drug usage and the hallucinations that come with it.

Kabu’s altered state of mind, be it caused by drug usage or later meditation, is represented by similarly distorted panels. What were once organized, rectangular panels, begin running into one another before they turn into nothing but pure chaos. This gives the entire manga a surreal, almost crazy feeling, one of disorientation, but always perfectly portrays what’s going on.

Ultra Heaven’s first and second chapter are weird enough, but things get truly crazy in the third one. While the earlier two chapters focused on drugs, drug usage, and the resulting trips, the third and final chapter focuses on the mind-altering effects of meditation.

Ultra Heaven’s a visual masterpiece unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s an incredibly amazing manga, one I recommend to anyone.


Best Manga by Junji Ito - Uzumaki Picture 1
© Junji Ito – Uzumaki

Uzumaki’s Junji Ito’s magnum opus and one of the scariest, most amazing manga out there. If you want to learn more about his work, check out my list of the best Junji Ito stories, or my ranking of all Junji Ito books.

While there are many bizarre and disturbing manga out there, Junji Ito’s Uzumaki deserves a special place amongst them.

The manga’s set in the small coastal town of Kurouzu-cho, which has become infested by spirals.

Kirie Goshima and Shuuichi Saitou, two teenagers living in Kurouzu-cho, become involved in various disturbing, spiral-related incidents.

As so often, Junji Ito wastes no time. Uzumaki’s opening chapter is amongst the most disturbing in the entire manga and portrays Shuuichi’s father’s descent into madness. At first, his obsession only centers on collecting spiral-shaped items. Before long, however, it turns weirder, inward, and eventually culminates in one of Uzumaki’s most famous and disturbing pages.

Best Manga by Junji Ito - Uzumaki Picture 2
© Junji Ito – Uzumaki

Where Uzumaki stands out, however, is in its unique premise. Other horror manga feature twisted creatures, ghosts or serial killers. Uzumaki, however, has no feasible antagonist. There’s only a concept, the spiral, that hangs over the town as an omnipresent curse.

Uzumaki shines the most in his presentation. Junji Ito’s first of all, a visual artist, and Uzumak is where he’s at his best. The art is stunning and all of Junji Ito’s disturbing imagery is presented to us in glorious detail. We see people as they are being changed, twisted and warped into spiral-like horrors. While Uzumaki’s full of blood and copious gore, all of this horror is presented to us in a way that’s both unique and creative.

Uzumaki’s one of the most disturbing and amazing manga out there, one of horror’s greatest achievements and a manga anyone should read.


Horror Manga by Tsutomu Nihei - Blame! Picture 1
© Tsutomu Nihei – Blame!

Blame! is a science-fiction, cyberpunk epic by Tsutomu Nihei.

It follows Killy, as he travels the City to find a human with Net Terminal Genes. A human such as this could access the so-called Netsphere, the City’s computerized control network. This would allow them to stop the Safeguard from exterminating what remains of humanity and stop the chaotic growth of the City.

Blame! stands out because of its art, world-building and storytelling. If you want to learn more about this, I urge you to read my detailed article on Blame!

Blame!’s set in a giant labyrinth of concrete and steel, a technological wasteland of mind-boggling mega-structures. It’s vast, seemingly endless, and Nihei showcases it by wide, distant shots illustrated as stunning panels or page spreads.

Yet, the City’s also home to various cybernetic horrors. There are cyborgs, the autonomous Builders who still continue construction of the City, and the Safeguard. All of them are unique, rendered in stunning detail and, at times, nothing short of grotesquely terrifying.

Horror Manga by Tsutomu Nihei - Blame! Picture 1
© Tsutomu Nihei – Blame!

While Blame!’s an action manga, full of enormous explosions and battles, it also has its calmer moments. Sometimes, entire chapters are dedicated to nothing but Killy traveling through the City.

Blame!’s storytelling is mostly visual. Chapters rarely feature any dialogue and many important events are shown by nothing but Tsutomu Nihei’s art.

The biggest problem with Blame!’s the story. It can be rather confusing and might require multiple read-throughs. This, however, is caused by the reluctance of dialogue and Nihei’s style of world-building. It’s only in bits and pieces that more about Killy, his mission and the world’s revealed.

Still, Blame!’s a visual masterpiece, and one of the most unique manga on this list. I highly recommend it to any fan of science-fiction, technological horror and cyberpunk.


Horror Manga by Kentaro Miura - Berserk Picture 1
© Kentaro Miura – Berserk

Rest in peace Kentaro Miura, thanks for sharing your gift with the world.

Berserk is a dark fantasy manga which tells the story of Guts, the Black Swordsman. He’s out on a quest for revenge against demonic beings known as apostles, and the man named Griffith.

At first glance, Berserk might appear a simple story. Nothing but the tale of a man fighting monsters with a sword as tall as himself. This, however, couldn’t be more wrong because Berserk’s one of the most complex and well-written manga of all time. This is first noticeable during the Golden Age arc. It’s here we learn more about Guts’ past, but also about Griffith.

The Golden Age arc shows us how complex these two characters are, but also how complex their relationship is. Kentaro Miura masterfully shows how their relationship comes to be, tests it and ultimately severs it.

Horror Manga by Kentaro Miura - Berserk Picture 3
© Kentaro Miura – Berserk

It’s because of these two characters that Berserk’s such an amazing manga. We get not only to know our two characters but also their goals and wishes, and how these influence their actions.

Yet, Berserk’s most popular for its art. Kentaro Miura was one of the greatest masters of the craft. There are few other mangaka who could compare to Miura when he was at his best. A single page of Berserk often contains more details than entire chapters of other manga.

This art truly shines in Berserk’s monster design. All the apostles are both gorgeous and terrifying to look at. There’s a grotesque beauty to these twisted monstrosities.

Berserk’s without a doubt, one of the greatest, most amazing manga of all time. It’s at the peak of the medium for a reason and any manga fan should read it.

Blade of the Immortal

Best Manga by Hiroaki Samura - Blade of the Immortal Picture 1
© Hiroaki Samura – Blade of the Immortal

Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura’s my favorite manga of all time.

We get to know Manji, the infamous ‘Hundred Man Killer.’ To punish him for this deed, an eight-hundred-year-old nun placed bloodworms in his body. Thus, he’s rendered immortal. To atone for his crimes, and to free himself of the curse of immortality, Manji vows to kill one thousand evil man.

Soon after, we’re introduced to sixteen-year-old Rin Asano. Her parents were murdered by Kagehisa Anotsu, the leader of the Itto-Ryu. When she meets Manji, she begs him to help her get her revenge.

Manji agrees and begins his travels with Rin.

While the manga’s premise is simple, it becomes more complex when various other factions are introduced.

Best Manga by Hiroaki Samura - Blade of the Immortal Picture 3
© Hiroaki Samura – Blade of the Immortal

What makes Blade of the Immortal such an amazing manga are its characters. While Manji and Rin are great protagonists, and develop tremendously over the course of the manga, Blade of the Immortal features many other excellent characters. The greatest of them is Anotsu Kagehisa, who’s the most complex character in the entire manga. Others are Taito Magatsu, Makie Otono-Tachibana and Shira.

Another testament to the manga’s greatness is that there’s no clear distinction between good and evil. All the characters have their own circumstances, goals and reasons for what they are doing. Anotsu Kagehisa might be the story’s chief antagonist, but that’s only because Manji and Rin are our protagonists.

Blade of the Immortal’s high point, however, is the outstanding fights. They are full of suspense, rich in action and nothing short of brutal. They are amongst the best in the entire medium.

Blade of the Immortal’s an amazing manga, and one of the greatest samurai manga of all time. Any fan should read it.

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