Manga is a style of Japanese comic book. The term is “comics” in Japanese, though in other countries, the term means that it is a type of comic that originated from Japan.
It has taken the world by storm and has helped shaping how the world views Japan. Though manga seems like a fairly new addition to the entertainment industry, it has actually been quite an old form of entertainment with a rich history.
As early as 18th century, the term manga has already been used in Japan. But it has not gained popularity worldwide until the 1960s and 1980s. And now, it is considered as an integral part of entertainment around the globe.
As a vital part of Japanese culture, this type of reading material has also helped introduced Japan to the world. It has given glimpses of the way of life and the kind of society that the Japanese have.
Manga also give life lessons, inspiration and motivation that people can use in their daily life. The stories are not mere entertainment but are also a reflection of the real world and the lives of people. Hence, it provides perspectives and values that are applicable in real life. Some even consider it as a source of inspiration that pushes them forward. It can also give respite – a rest amidst the ever-changing and ever-challenging world.
If you are a first-time reader, here are some light stories that you can start with. There are tons of genres that you can choose from but for starters, slice of life (related to real life – mostly school life and romance), shoujo (aimed for young teen readers) and shounen (aimed at young teen male readers – often action and adventure) can be your best bet for now.
Fruits Basket (author & illustrator: Natsuki Takaya)
Fruits Basket is one of the most popular manga series that has been adapted into an anime series (2001 & 2019). It is a shoujou series that touches the school life and fantasy genres.
The story is heartwarming but there are also painful moments that will leave a mark in your heart. But since it is also a comedy series, there are also scenes that will leave you laughing.
The character designs will enable you to easily differentiate the characters from one another. Since some non-readers and new readers complain that they cannot differentiate characters, especially on black and white reading materials, the easy-to-recognize character design of Fruits Basket is a good option for new readers.
Horimiya (author: HERO & illustrator: Hagiwara Daisuke)
Another light-hearted comedy romance manga series that might get you hooked on reading is Horimiya. It features the life of high school students, their struggles and often their shenanigans with one another.
It is still an ongoing series – the author is still currently releasing chapters and the story is not yet finished. This is good news since if you have caught up with the current 100+ chapters (as of this writing), you can still look forward to more chapters in the future.
The character design is really cute and you will surely fall in love with the quirks of the characters, even the cuteness of the make cast.
Fullmetal Alchemist (author & illustrator: Hiromu Arakawa)
This is a bit serious yet funny series that you might want to venture on. One of the most popular anime series, Fullmetal Alchemist is a shounen series that features steampunk and dark fantasy.
The story is intricate but the way it was presented in the manga makes it worth reading. The storyline and the scenes will leave you in awe; the heart-wrenching circumstances of the characters will leave you in tears. Death is part of the series; hence, you better prepare yourself for any emotional turmoil that you might experience reading this masterpiece.
The drawing style is unique and the characters are easy to recognize. If you want to see them in action, you can watch the anime adaptations: Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. A live action movie adaptation was produced in 2017 and was received fairly well.
Death Note (author: Tsugumi Ohba & illustrator: Takeshi Obata)
If you are in for mindboggling intellectual battles between geniuses, this series is for you. This psychological thriller will take you on the skirmish between a renowned detective and a genius student who are hunting one another.
The series also touches on fantasy, with its inclusion of supernatural beings. But, this is not your typical fantasy series as it is also a realistic representation of human life.
Like Fruits Basket and Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note has also been adapted into anime. The manga has 12 volumes while the anime adaptation has 37 episodes. Live action movies had also been produced in 2006 and 2017.
Naruto (author & illustrator: Masashi Kishimoto)
Even non-anime lovers know who Naruto is. One of the most popular series that has stayed at the top for quite a while is the shounen series that features ninjas, chakras and jutsu.
The series has an astounding 72 volumes with an anime adaptation composing of 220 episodes. This does not include the story of the protagonist’s son, Boruto. After the adventures of young Naruto, the story continued on with his eldest son, Boruto, though the series is not written by Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto’s author.
With the number of volumes, the manga is obviously a compilation of the adventures and misadventures of the characters. Flashbacks of previous events leading to the present are also included in the series, making it a multi-layered story that presents a ton of adventures and lessons for the readers.
Tokyo Ghoul (author & illustrator: Sui Ishida)
Another manga that is worth starting with is Tokyo Ghoul. If you love horror and dark fantasy stories, this is the right choice for you.
The title of the series presents the main focus of the series: ghouls. Living amongst humans, the entanglement of these creatures with humans is featured in the series.
Consisting of 14 + 16 tankōbon (book) volumes, it is a fairly splendid read. The series was initially released with 14 volumes. The sequel series, Tokyo Ghoul: re, consisted of 16 tankōbon volumes. There is also an anime adaptation with 12 episodes and live action movie adaptation (2017) which received warm welcome from anime fans.
Zense Coupling (author & illustrator: Kakitsubata Waka)
A light-hearted series that focuses on romance, school life and reincarnation makes this a good candidate for new readers. The series features the story of the 4 couples that have been reincarnated in the present in each chapter.
The series is still ongoing but readers are seeing an end to this cute yet heartfelt collection of stories. With a total of 53 chapters released and translated as of this writing, it is a fairly quick read. Nonetheless, it may leave a lasting impression due to its charming art, fast-paced storytelling and heartwarming scenes.
Reading manga is not only entertaining. It also gives lessons and experiences that we might not encounter in real life. With the help of these series, we will be able to venture into worlds and experience things that we might not even deem possible if not for the creativity and cleverness of the authors and illustrators of these masterpieces. It’s also thanks to the scanlators for translating these pieces of art from Japanese to English and other languages.
Delve into the world of Japanese comics and discover the excitement, relaxation and growth it brings.
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