So to start off my new blog I decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite manga series that I own. By the end I’d like to hear all your comments and maybe even see what your list would be. So let’s get started!
10. Dragon Ball-Akira Toriyama
Yes, I’m sure everyone has this on their list, but can you blame them? Dragon Ball practically revolutionized the Shonen demographic and if you look at all the famous series now I bet they were inspired by Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball is the epitome of Shonen, and Shonen series have been trying to copy its popularity ever since.
The reason I put it on my list is because it’s a story about evolution. It started out as a comedy gag manga about the monkey king. It was about adventure, fun, and occasional battles. It wasn’t until Volume 17, or DBZ vol 1 when it was rebranded, that it evolved into a battle-centric manga. Characters from the first part were reduced and/or forgotten. The mythology was added upon and expanded giving us memorable villains and universe shattering fights. Not only did the series change over time, which is rare these days, but we follow the main character when he’s 12 to when he’s in his 40s or 50s (I lost track because he doesn’t look his age). We are literally going through Goku’s life with him, and I think that’s one of the appeals that Dragon Ball offers.
9. Shaman King- Hiroyuki Takei
A highly underrated manga. Before, I said that Dragon Ball was the epitome of Shonen, well I’ll say that Shaman King is the epitome of battle manga. Why? Because it’s literally nothing but battles. From volume 4 to 32 it’s all one tournament.
For those who don’t know, Shaman King is about a boy, Yoh Asakura, who has the power to see and interact with ghosts. He comes from a long line of shamans and with the help of his samurai ghost friend he enters the tournament that only happens once in a millennium (??) to become the Shaman King and keep the peace of the world.
The story is really good and adds layers as it goes along. The characters are all funny and unique. The rivalry is as classic as Goku and Vegeta. The art is stunning, and one of the reasons why I’m such a big fan of Hroyuki Takei. The only problem I have with it was that it was cancelled at volume 32, with no ending, but Takei drew the rest of the chapters to finish it up a little later after cancellation. Sadly, they are in special volumes so I don’t think we’d ever get a translation of it in the States, which means it will be endingless for me 😦
8. Phoenix -Osamu Tezuka
Considered the Father of manga’s Magnum Opus, Phoenix is a special series that Tezuka was working on all his life. Each volume is a stand alone story, and focuses on the theme of immortality. The stories go from the far far future, to the far far past, and would have eventually met in the present day. Each volume revolves around the mystical fire bird the Phoenix. Sadly, Tezuka passed away before he could finish it, and he never wrote down his plans or told anyone what the ending would be so it will for eternity not be complete. Also, if you try and find a physical copy they’re all out of print and tough to find. Currently I own 5 volumes and I always keep my eye out for stupid people who don’t know what they’re selling. (One of the most expensive out of print volumes I got for less than $20).
7. Detective Conan/Case Closed- Gosho Aoyama
It took awhile for me to invest in this, but when I did I was hooked for life. Detective Conan is about a high schooler, Shinichi Kudo, who is one of the best detectives. One day he stumbles upon an organization that knocks him out and tests a killing drug on him, but instead of dying he has shrunk to the size of a kid. Staying with his crush and helping out her father, who is also a detective, Shinichi (who uses the name Conan) tries to uncover the organization and find a way to get back to his normal body.
Right off the bat I bet that sounded childish to you, and you know what? Your not alone. I know a ton of people who won’t give this series a try just because of the premise and the artwork. However, in the first chapter you see someone being decapitated and a geyser of blood erupting from their body. When this series wants to be graphic it will show blood, stabs, and any other way to kill people. The mysteries are genius and if you pay attention you could solve them too, although I haven’t been able to solve many.
What may turn people off is the fact that the English editions changed the names of characters. I’m not sure who’s idea this was, I did hear that it might have been Gosho himself so that it would attract English speaking people more, but a lot of people avoid this series because of the name changes. For Example, Detective Conan is now Case Closed with a cartoony design. Ran is now Rachel, Shinichi is now Jimmy, Kogoro is now Richard and so on. However, just because they changed the names doesn’t take away the fact that the storytelling is still solid. The romance, detective, and action scenes are all wonderfully balanced. And this has over 80 volumes out currently (just over 50 in the states) and if you average three cases per volume, then Gosho has made at least over 130 different cases. That’s impressive.
The series started in 1994 so the artwork has changed. If the beginning volumes turn you off pick up one of the volumes in the 20+ range. Each volume is basically a stand alone. If you want the overarching story with the black organization there is a great Detective Conan wiki that will tell you which volumes have them in it.
6. Death Note- Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
Did this surprise anyone? Come on, something as famous and now iconic as Death Note has to be put on this list. The only surprise is that it’s not higher up. The series does a great job with psychological thrillers and I can only imagine how tough it must have been to make.
Everything is a 10, from the art to the story, and even the characters. You could argue that some spots are not as top notch as they could be, but when looking at this Shonen title as a whole it pulls off it’s bad parts better than other Shonen. The only thing I wish is that there would be a sequel, now that would be interesting.
5. Naruto- Masashi Kishimoto
Yep, I’m ready for the hate. Naruto is one of those series that over stayed it’s welcome and has some big flaws in it’s second part. I love the first part, and some arcs in the second part, but overall it was stretched and had some milking going on.
But the reason I put it so high up is mostly for part 1. Not only is it a great story, but it has influenced and helped many people, including me. Naruto helped me out in my not-so-happy-days. It changed me, and while it may sound cliche, Naruto is the reason I am who I am today. It was one of the pivotal points in my life and changed me for the better. I know it has affected a lot of other people and it’s one of the reasons why it gets so much love and hate. The only reason people hate this so much, other than the fact that it’s everywhere, is that people love it. At some point they loved this, and then it started going downhill and because of that they are acting out, or growing out of their Naruto phase. Either way, Naruto is an important title that has done more emotionally than a lot of series so I just had to put it in my top 5.
4. Parasyte- Hitoshi Iwaaki
Generally an unknown manga, but with the recent anime I’m sure a lot of people know of this now. Many people would probably remember this for the aliens and the fights. It had crazy fights, lots of blood, and took an adult approach to things, because it’s Seinen. But what really attracted me to this series is the fact that it makes you think. It’s philosophical, and really tries to identify the human race. I do think at some point the fights started taking over the subject it really wanted to do, but it’s a short series with an ending and I can’t help the fact that it really sticks with you.
3. Vinland Saga- Makoto Yukimura
Another underrated manga. Deserves an anime, and more fans. I’m surprised not many people have heard or read this.
Vinland Saga is based on “true events” and follows Thorfinn’s journey as he fights for honor and vengeance. This is the viking era and it really shows how brutal and barbaric they can be. The fighting is great, the characters are spectacular, and it is often compared to Berserk. I have not read Berserk, but the art is definitely in the same realm. If you want a mature story that isn’t just about fights, but also characters, then I’d highly recommend you to read this.
2. Prison School- Akira Hiramoto
Now this really surprised me when making this list. Never would I have thought that an ecchi title would end up on it, let alone the number two spot! But alas after reading the manga and catching up to its current chapter I must say it deserves it.
It’s about five boys who enter an all girls school that recently went co-ed. To their surprise they were the only boys who entered and each one has perverted reason to being there. But, when caught in an indecent act they are thrown into a “prison” on school grounds for one month to atone for their sins.
Now, oddly enough, I didn’t read this manga because it would be full of fan service. I saw that the anime was coming out and the picture looked cool. I decided to check out the first chapter and once the day was over I had read over 70 chapters! This series is addicting. If you can handle the extreme ecchiness then I’d highly recommend you check this out. The characters are all unique, likable, and funny. The interactions between everyone is hysterical. It’s so over the top that it’s amazing. You have misunderstandings, epic WTF faces, and intense suspense. This manga does suspense better than everybody. I’m literally engrossed and biting my nails as the suspense is drawn out. I have to stop reading whenever a character achieves something to throw my arms up in victory for them. This series has made me so invested in everyone and while the story is predictable at times, it uses that to its advantage and it only makes the suspense that much more intense.
Although do note, there is nudity, pee, torture, and other extreme activities that will turn a lot of people off.
1. Hunter x Hunter- Yoshihiro Togashi
What can I say about this. This is Togashi’s Magnum Opus and when he completes it I can only assume it will be a masterpiece, because that’s exactly what it is right now. He goes so in depth with the characters that it’s insane. Even side characters have more depth than some main characters in other series. Each one feels like they could be the main character of their own series.
The arcs are great, the first few set up the world, while each one after adds and elevates the story to the point of the emotional dam bursting. When I first finished reading the Chimera Ant arc I cried. Every time I reread that arc I cry. Everything is so beautiful and perfect. This series really means a lot to me, I reread it constantly, and it has inspired me so much to push myself.
A lot of people give Togashi shit, and I won’t go into detail here, I’ll probably just write a post on it, but he doesn’t deserve what people are saying about him. He has created something that almost everybody loves. It spawned two anime. one in 1999 and another in 2011. He created the best friendship in any series, and he actually puts stakes in his characters. Main characters do go to the dark side and their inner emotions are complex like real people. And in current chapters he’s not afraid of putting his main characters aside to focus on new ones. Togashi has the balls to create something amazing and not let Jump run his show, and I have the utmost respect for him and Hunter x Hunter that it just had to be in the number one spot.
So tell me what you think, tell me what your top 10 are, and I can’t wait to post another topic 🙂