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I’ve been reading manga for over half my life. I’ve seen the North American manga industry go through ups and downs, but it seems to have stabilized now. Today, we have access to some of the best manga series because publishers are taking risks and licensing lesser known titles and classic backlist series. This is great news for all of us manga fans!
I compiled this list with a variety of manga in mind. I wanted to make sure that there was something for everyone, regardless of age or preferences. I included both well-known series as well as some hidden gems that I think are worth reading. I strongly believe that there is a manga out there for everyone. Hopefully one of the following titles catches your eye!
COMPLETED MODERN CLASSICS
If you’re interested in reading manga but don’t know where to start, I recommend checking out some of the titles below. I chose these specific series because they’re completed stories, so you don’t have to worry about getting invested in a series that isn’t finished yet. Additionally, they’re all popular series that have been around for awhile, so you’ll be able to connect with other manga readers who have already read them.
DRAGON BALL BY AKIRA TORIYAMA
Toriyama’s iconic manga, Journey to the West, draws inspiration from the classic Chinese novel of the same name. The series revolves around Son Goku, an alien raised as a human who trains in martial arts and seeks the dragon which can summon a dragon able to grant any wish.
NARUTO BY MASASHI KISHIMOTO
For generations of manga fans, Naruto is the series that started it all. It’s the story of an orphaned boy who dreams of becoming the best ninja in his village. If you’re a fan of slick battles and cool ninja powers, this is the series for you. It’s also one of the most accessible series for readers brand new to manga.
DEATH NOTE BY TSUGUMI OHBA AND TAKESHI OBATA
Please forget the atrocious, whitewashed Netflix adaptation and read the original manga instead. A brilliant high school student obtains a notebook that grants him the ability to kill anyone whose name and face he knows. With these newfound abilities, he plans to create a utopian world free of any crime, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
FRUITS BASKET BY NATSUKI TAKAYA
After her mother dies in a car accident, high school student Tohru Honda finds herself living with the Sohma family. In doing so, she uncovers their family secret – each member of the Sohma family is possessed by a spirit of the Chinese zodiac and will transform into their animal form under a specific set of conditions. Tohru is a kind-hearted girl, so she agrees to keep this discovery a secret and sets about to break the family curse.
SAILOR MOON BY NAOKO TAKEUCHI
Discover the magic for yourself with Sailor Moon, the series that started it all when it comes to magical girls in manga form. Join Usagi Tsukino on her journey as she discovers she is Sailor Moon, a chosen warrior with the task of protecting Earth from evil. With the help of the other Sailor Scouts who represent the planets of the solar system, they work together to keep Usagi and the planet safe.
BEST ONGOING MANGA SERIES
If you’re the type of person who loves to read a series that’s still unfolding and offers plenty of speculation and discussion, then you’ll love these titles.
MY HERO ACADEMIA BY KOHEI HORIKOSHI
My Hero Academia is a popular manga and anime series that offers a unique and refreshing perspective on the superhero genre. The story follows Izuku Midoriya, a boy who was born in a world where everyone has superpowers. This crushes his dreams of becoming a superhero, until he unexpectedly gains a set of super abilities of his own. With his new powers, Izuku Midoriya might just be able to realize his dream after all.
ONE PIECE BY EIICHIRO ODA
One Piece is a significant manga series of our generation that has topped Japanese bestseller lists since it first debuted in 1997. It’s about a young boy who wants to become the pirate king and is full of funky special abilities, hilarious visual puns, and found family feels. One Piece is a magical journey that reminds everyone to go after their dreams.