The 50 Best Manga of All Time

What are the best manga of all time?  Well, hopefully without causing too much controversy, we’d like to present our list of the top 50 manga of all time!

While many people think of manga as the comic book art form that gained prominence in the 20th century, it actually dates back to the 19th century in Japan and its development is tied to Japanese drawings that appeared as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. The wildly popular manga comics have now become a billion-dollar industry and include every genre imaginable, from comedy to science fiction to romance. Often confused with anime, manga refers to comics only, whereas anime typically means the animated version of those comics.

Manga is not just for kids, either: people of all ages and all walks of life read these comics, both in Japan and throughout the world. If you’re new to manga and wondering where to start (other than preparing yourself to get used to reading from right to left!), then we have some useful lists to get you started.

If you’re learning Japanese, manga offers you a wealth of story choices at different levels, from beginner to advanced. Even one of our favorite language learning hacker Tim Ferris admitted to using Manga to learn Japanese and other languages.

best manga of all time

The Best Manga of All Time According to Reddit

Reddit is a popular resource for all things Manga, with users sharing new favorite stories they have discovered as well as commenting on some of the all-time classics. With more than one million members, reddit’s manga community will keep you in the know on the manga you should be reading. Lists such as “The Official Top 100 Manga of all Time”are enough to keep anyone busy for a while!

And if you’re still skeptical that manga will pique your interest or entertain and inform you, consider the breadth of genres covered. Manga includes every storyline imaginable, from those that touch on important historical elements of Japanese culture to those that hit on relevant issues of the times, such as the bullying epidemic, LGBTQ issues, or even devastating natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Many Different Genres of Manga

As one recent article pointed out, manga is aging with its population: new stories aimed at older readers account for the fact that these readers want to see themselves in stories, not just as characters on the periphery. Perhaps in time it will be named its own category, but for now the types of manga you should familiarize yourself with as you search its genres are

Shonen: manga targeted to an audience of “tween” boys

Shojo: manga targeted to an audience of “tween” girls

Seinen: manga intended for adult men

Josei: manga intended for adult women

Kodomomuke: manga for younger children


It should be noted that a serious threat has been posed to manga in recent years in the form of piracy. Unfortunately, the same web-based audience hungry for new manga has the option to effectively steal it. There is an entire industry based on scanning the pages of physical books and making them available, without authorization, online. This has had a serious impact on manga sales, and in turn the bottom line for the authors and publishers who create them. If you truly enjoy this important art form, be sure to purchase it from credible sources, so that the talented artists who create manga will not be forced to give up their craft!

8 Manga Classics

We’ll start with 8 Manga classics that everyone should read, covering a wide range of themes and interests:

1. Naruto, by Masashi Kishimoto

The message in Naruto is a familiar and also appealing one, as it illustrates the dreams of an orphan boy who aspires to be the best ninja. Just as we rooted for Annie to win the heart of Daddy Warbucks, we will cheer for Naruto in his quest!

2. Sailor Moon, by Naoko Tekeuchi

Talk about girl power! Sailor Moon tells the story of Usagi Tsukino, a magical warrior who is charged with protecting the earth from evil powers.

3. Astro Boy, by Osamu Tezuka

This one is a must-read for anyone new to manga: Astro Boy is one of the most popular manga of all time, telling the story of a scientist devastated by the loss of his son, so he replaces him with a robot.

4. Ace of the Diamond, by Yuji Terajima

The American pastime is beloved in Japan, too, and we see this illustrated in a manga about baseball. The main character is Weijun Sawamura, and he is recruited by a high school with quite a baseball legacy. Any sports fans are sure to connect to Manga by starting with this beloved tale!

5. Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo

Akira is a wildly popular 1980s manga, focused on a biker gang in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. The title character is shrouded in mystery and the sci-fi action has made this one a fan favorite for generations.

6. Inuyasha, by Rumiko Takahashi

The present meets the past when high schooler Inuyasha falls down a well and time travels to ancient Japan. Fans of both fantasy and history have loved this wildly popular manga series that has generated several feature films.

7. Barefoot Gen, by Keiji Nakazawa

For those with an interest in military history, Barefoot Gen is the perfect manga series. In it a six-year-old boy named Gen lives through the horror of Hiroshima, and its lessons are still as relevant today as they were for the WWII generation.

8. Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami

Before the Hunger Games, there was Battle Royale: a manga thriller focused on a group of students who are forced to kill one another. This one is not for the faint of heart!

The Top Manga Of All Time (an Imperfect Reading List)

  1. Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama, Published by Kodansha
  2. Bad Boys by Hiroshi Tanaka, Published by Shonen Gahosha  
  3. Baki the Grappler by Keisuke Itagaki, Published by Akita Shoten  
  4. Black Jack by Osamu Tezuka, Published by Akita Shoten  
  5. Bleach by Tite Kubo, Published by Shueisha  
  6. Boys Over Flowers by Yoko Kamio, Published by Shueisha  
  7. Captain Tsubasa by Y?ichi Takahashi, Published by Shueisha  
  8. Case Closed by Gosho Aoyama, Published by Shogakukan  
  9. City Hunter by Tsukasa Hojo, Published by Shueisha  
  10. Crows by Hiroshi Takahashi, Published by Akita Shoten  
  11. Devilman by Go Nagai, Published by Kodansha  
  12. Dokaben by Shinji Mizushima, Published by Akita Shoten  
  13. Doraemon by Fujiko Fujio, Published by Shogakukan  
  14. Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama, Published by Shueisha  
  15. Dragon Quest: Dai no Daib?ken by Riku Sanjo, Koji Inada, Published by Shueisha  
  16. Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima, Published by Kodansha  
  17. Fist of the North Star by Buronson, Tetsuo Hara, Published by Shueisha  
  18. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa, Published by Enix (2001–2003)  
  19. Gin Tama by Hideaki Sorachi, Published by Shueisha  
  20. Glass Mask by Suzue Miuchi, Published by Hakusensha  
  21. Golgo 13 by Takao Saito, Published by Shogakukan  
  22. Great Teacher Onizuka by Tooru Fujisawa, Published by Kodansha  
  23. H2 by Mitsuru Adachi, Published by Shogakukan  
  24. Hajime no Ippo by George Morikawa, Published by Kodansha  
  25. Hunter × Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi, Published by Shueisha  
  26. Initial D by Shuichi Shigeno, Published by Kodansha  
  27. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki, Published by Shueisha  
  28. Kinnikuman by Yudetamago, Published by Shueisha  
  29. KochiKame by Osamu Akimoto, Published by Shueisha  
  30. Major by Takuya Mitsuda, Published by Shogakukan  
  31. Minami no Teiou by Dai Tennoji, Rikiya Go, Published by Nihon Bungeisha   
  32. Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya, Akira Hanasaki, Published by Shogakukan  
  33. One Piece by Eiichiro Oda, Published by Shueisha  
  34. Ranma ½ by Rumiko Takahashi, Published by Shogakukan  
  35. Rokudenashi Blues by Masanori Morita, Published by Shueisha  
  36. Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki, Published by Shueisha  
  37. Sangokushi by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, Published by Ushio Shuppansha  
  38. Sazae-san by Machiko Hasegawa, Published by Kodansha  
  39. Shizukanaru Don – Yakuza Side Story by Tatsuo Nitta, Published by Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha  
  40. Shoot! by Tsukasa Ooshima, Published by Kodansha  
  41. Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue, Published by Shueisha  
  42. The Kindaichi Case Files by Yozaburo Kanari, Seimaru Amagi, Fumiya Sato, Published by Kodansha  

best manga of all time

Barnes & Noble Recommendations

Once you make your way through this list, take a look at what our friends at Barnes & Noble are recommending in 2019:

January Manga picks from Barnes & Noble

February Manga picks from Barnes & Noble

March Manga picks from Barnes & Noble

April Manga picks from Barnes & Noble

May Manga picks from Barnes & Noble


Recommend reading

McCarthy, Helen. A Brief History of Manga. Ilex Gift, 2014.

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