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A beginner's guide to Manga

By Kobo • May 15, 2024Recommended Reading

Whether you’re a new One Piece fan wondering about the long-running series, a Manga-curious reader looking for a starting point, or a seasoned fan looking for your next big fix, this is the list.

Originally a niche genre of graphic novels originating from Japan, the popularity of manga (the correct pronunciation for English-speakers sounds like "MAHNG-a") has exploded onto the mainstream over the last few years. Typically, manga chapters are serialized in magazines, then collected into volumes—which is how we enjoy them as published, translated content in the West.

We’re a fan of diving into all sorts of stories, no matter the medium. Manga is known for many things—epic action scenes, character growth that pulls on the heartstrings, stories that feel warm and cozy, extravagant worldbuilding, humour of both the slapstick or subtle variety.

In this list we’ve included series that are ongoing and completed, so if you’re intimidated by popular series that are hundreds of volumes long and still going, scroll down to find some great manga series that can already be read to completion.

Got more you’d add? Let us know on Instagram.

Ongoing series

It's never too late to get into manga, and with these popular and long-running series that are still publishing new issues, you're certain to never run out.

Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami

High school student Yuji Itadori, joins a secret organization of Jujutsu sorcerers to eliminate a powerful Curse named Ryomen Sukuna—of whom Yuji becomes the host.

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Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda

Shoko Komi is overwhelmingly popular, beautiful and elegant—and has a severe communication disorder. She manages to befriend Hitohito Tadano, an exceedingly average schoolboy, who resolves to help her reach her goal of making 100 friends.

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Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo

Twilight, aka Loid Forger, is a spy who is tasked with “building a family” for his mission to ensure world peace—he just doesn’t know that the girl he adopts as his daughter is a telepath, and the woman he agrees to marry is an assassin. Cue the shenanigans!

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Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Denji is an impoverished young man whose life turns around when he gains the ability to transform his head and arms into chainsaws. He joins the Public Safety Devil Hunters, a government agency focused on fighting against devils whenever they become a threat to Japan, which happens about as frequently as you’d expect in a world where a guy can have a chainsaw head.

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Bungo Stray Dogs by Kafka Asagiri, Sango Harukawa

Weretiger Atsushi Nakajima becomes a member of the Armed Detective Agency where he joins others gifted with supernatural powers to accomplish different tasks including running a business, solving mysteries, and carrying out missions.

Fun fact: The literal translated title is “Literary Stray Dogs”—the series was based on the idea of gathering multiple famous late authors and poets, and drawing them as young adults and teenagers with supernatural powers.

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Tokyo Revengers by Ken Wakui

Takemichi Hanagaki goes back in time twelve years to when he was in high school in order to do everything to prevent the death of his ex-girlfriend, who has died in the present due to a dispute involving the Tokyo Manji gang.

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One Piece by Eiichiro Oda

An epic tale of the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, in search of the mythical treasure known as the "One Piece" in order to become the next King of the Pirates.

One Piece was released in 1997 and has been collected in over 100 volumes and counting. There’s a running joke amongst manga readers that you’ve either read One Piece or you haven’t—and if you haven’t then it’s too late to start, but all those who have read it swear by the series.

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My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia deviates from the typical shounen manga stereotype where the protagonist is super powerful at the start. Here, in a world where superpowers, called Quirks, run rampant, Izuku Midoriya is a boy who was born without a Quirk, or a superpower — yet he still dreams of becoming a superhero himself. The world’s greatest hero, All Might, scouts Izuku out for his potential and gifts him his Quirk, allowing him to enroll in a highschool for superheroes in training.

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Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End by

Frieren starts at the end of a story — Frieren is an elven mage who is part of a party who returns as heroes after slaying the demon king. While everyone else grows old, but for her, fifty years passes by like nothing. A funeral of one of her comrades leaves her face to face with her own immortality — and she sets out on a new journey to learn more about humans and decipher what it really means to live forever.

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Mashle: Magic and Muscles by Hajime Komoto

In a riff on Harry Potter that doesn’t take itself too seriously, main character Mash Burnedead has zero magical powers in a society where one’s position is determined by their power and skill. What he does have, however, is an unhealthy obsession with cream puffs and an ungodly amount of muscular ability. When he has to enroll in the Easton Magic Academy and gain the Divine Visionary title (for only exceptionally magically talented students) or else, shenanigans ensue. Can muscles really beat magic?

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Completed series

If you're the type of reader who needs to know there's an ending coming, these series are for you. Though concluded, they're stories that still resonate throughout their respective genres and they're a great entry point for mainstream readers just trying manga for the first time.

Ranking of Kings by Sousuke Toka

A heartwarming success story of an unlikely hero — a little price named Bojji who was born deaf and very small in size. His only friend is Kage, the last survivor of a clan of assassins who is able to understand Bojji’s words, despite his inability to speak properly.

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Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Set in a steampunk world, two alchemist brothers are looking for the philosopher’s stone to restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life. This one has topped manga lists for years—expect action scenes, philosophical references, and characters you can’t help but root for.

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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War by Aka Akasaka

A psychological rom-com where student council president Miyuki Shirogane and vice president Kaguya Shinomiya are both too proud to confess their love for each other, leading to all sorts of shenanigans from multiple schemes hatched to make the other one show their affection.

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Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Orphaned Tohru Honda meets members of the Souma family, who are possessed by the animals of the Chinese Zodiac and cursed to turn into animal forms when they are hugged by someone of the opposite gender. As she grows closer to them, she resolves to break the curse and heal their emotional wounds.

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Horimiya by HERO, Daisuke Hagiwara

Kyouko Hori is the perfect mix of beauty and brains, while Izumi Miyamura is meek and distant to his classmates—but they both have a secret side that they don’t show to others. An everyday story of opposites attract and how people have more in common than we might expect.

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Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

Set in a world where humanity is forced to live in cities surrounded by enormous walls that protect them from giant man-eating humanoids known as Titans; Eren Yeager vows to exterminate the Titans after they cause the death of his mother.

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Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge

A samurai-inspired story where teenager Tanjiro Kamado strives to become a Demon Slayer after his family was slaughtered and his younger sister Nezuko was turned into a demon. Give it a try if you’re into action as well as scenes that give you the feels.

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Haikyuu by Haruichi Furudate

The story follows Shoyo Hinata, a boy determined to become a great volleyball player despite being only 163 cm (or 5’4”) tall. He joins the Karasuno High School volleyball team with the goal of winning Nationals.

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Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP

Elementary school student Sakura Kinomoto discovers magical powers after accidentally freeing a set of magical cards. Now she must retrieve the cards, each of which grant different abilities, to prevent catastrophe.

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Kimi ni Todoke: From Me To You by Karuho Shiina

A slow and sweet high school love story between Sawako Kuronuma, who has always been shunned and misunderstood because of her resemblance to The Ring’s Sadako, and sunny, cheerful Shouta Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class.

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Image credit: Casey Crafford/Netflix

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