What Manga Should I Read? How To Choose The Right Manga

You have decided to get into reading manga. Where do you start? Which type of manga will you enjoy? 

So which manga should you read? Manga has five main categories and hundreds of subcategories. Even though these categories are differentiated by audience types, this, of course, does not mean that you should only read whatever fits your description. The key to knowing where to start and what will suit you is finding out exactly what each category consists of. 

Luckily, there is a type of manga for every person out there. Since the manga is generally categorized by audience types, it is not too difficult to figure out where to begin. This article will help you choose your starting point and show you how to navigate from there.

Check this guide out if you’re interested in Getting Started Drawing Manga.

What Are The 5 Main Categories Of Manga?

1. Kodomomuke – Manga for young children

The Japanese word kodomomuke literally translates into “intended for children.” This kind of manga is aimed at children who are not yet old enough for Shojo and Shonen manga. 

Although this does not mean that adults can not enjoy it too. These comics include what most children’s books would – fun, adorable, and innocent storylines. Most of the time, light-hearted lessons are included. 

2. Shojo – Manga for teen girls

Many teen girl’s lives revolve around romance and drama. Shojo manga is full of all the things teenage girls love. Most shojo comics have a young, female protagonist. Some of the comics delve a little deeper into issues that may arise for girls in their teen years such as experimental sexual relationships, using drugs, and other challenges.  

Shojo can usually be identified by their pink covers with images of flowers, clouds, etc. Examples include The Gentleman’s Alliance, Sailor Moon, and Boys Over Flowers.

3. Shonen – Manga for teen boys

This kind of manga can be described as action-packed, funny, and focuses a lot on friendships and allies. Pretty much the things teenage boys are into. Examples include Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk, One Piece, and Bleach.

4. Josei – Manga for women over 18

Josei is similar to Shojo except for the fact that some comics are more R-rated. Like Shojo, Josei consists of drama and romance. However, Josei focuses more on personal and sexual relationships and is often more graphic than its teen counterpart. It has been compared to typical western romance novels. Some famous examples of Josei include Loveless, Honey and Clover, Midnight Secretary, and Karneval. 

5. Seinen – Manga for men over 18

Seinen manga is often compared to western action films. These comics include lots of violence, sexual scenes, drugs, and swearing. Unlike Shonen, the main character is not always seen as a good person or a hero with moral values, but rather a dark horse.

Some popular examples of Seinin are Monster, Berserk, and Akira. Seinen is identified by the graphic, sometimes even gruesome covers and these usually give an accurate description of what you can expect inside the comic. 

The titles that have been listed above really only describe manga categories in the most basic form. The truth is, manga has thousand of sub-categories that fall under each of these categories. Sounds complicated and overwhelming right?

I know.

The good news is, if you know what kind of books you generally like to read – there are most likely a lot of great manga versions of them. 

What Are The Manga Subcategories?

Manga is definitely not created solely for the five audience categories listed above. Different people like different things. Whether you are an adult woman who enjoys books that are mainly written for teenage girls or an adult man who loves to read books that are aimed at adult women, there are definitely no limits to choosing the type of manga you want to read. 

Here, you can take a deeper look into the world of major manga subcategories. 

Adventure Manga

Adventure is a category of manga that mostly includes traveling around the world and undertaking sometimes dangerous and fun quests. Think treasure quests, saving the world, and exploration. Adventure manga usually goes hand in hand with action manga. 

Examples of adventure anime include One Piece, Tower Of God, Pluto, and Dragonball. 

 Action Manga

The action genre in manga can basically be described as graphic, blood, and guts kind of stuff. Anime depicts extremely high levels of intense action. There is lots of fighting, thrilling moments, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. If you love reading adrenaline-filled comics, then this is definitely for you. 

Try Martial Peak, God Slayer, or The Great Deity.

Horror Manga

Horror manga stays true to old-fashioned horror stories. There are lots of monsters, ghouls, ghosts, and chilling stories that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat give you a good scare.

Examples of horror anime include Kagewani, Mononoke, Hell Girl, and Ghost Hound.

Magic Manga

This kind of manga also stays true to traditional stereotypes. You can expect spells, wizards, sorcerers, and witches. The storylines usually involve characters learning to perform magic or discovering that they can do magic.

 Magic girls are an incredibly popular category as well. Comics such as Overlord, the Mage And Demon Queen series, Doupo Cangqiong and Magical Doremi are among fan favorites. 

Psychological Manga

Psychological manga usually involves the kind of stuff you would expect to read about in thriller, suspense, and mystery novels. This type of manga includes storylines based on things like serial-killers, crimes of passion, going insane, and mind games. 

The purpose of these comics is to make readers think and leave them feeling unsettled and even mind-blown.

Examples of psychological anime include One Outs, Pluto, Beastars, 20th Century Boys, and Berserk.

Post-Apocalyptic Manga

This one is definitely one of the most popular manga sub-genres. The setting is almost always in an anti-utopian society where there are very few people left on earth. The themes range anywhere from zombie-apocalypse to massive meteors. 

The five highest-rated comics in this genre include Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, Girls Last Tour by Tsukumizu, Basara, and 7 Seed, both by Yumi Tamura, and Desert Punk by Masatoshi Usune.

Fantasy Manga

Fantasy manga is a mix between the adventure and magic genres. Everything is unrealistic, which makes it awesome. Characters often get teleported to make-believe worlds. 

Everything seems impossible and the content is very imaginative. 

Examples of fantasy manga include Slayer, Yona of The Dawn, Natsume’s Book Of Friends, and Martial World. 

 Drama manga

The goal of this genre is to turn on the waterworks. The comics in this genre are generally aimed at women, although this definitely does not mean that only women can enjoy it. The storylines are emotional, tragic, heartwarming, and inspiring. All the things that are guaranteed to make readers feel touched and even shed some tears.

 If you feel like you need a good cry, you can start by reading Plastic Memories, Black Bird, Liar Game, and Nozoki Ana.

 Comedy manga

We all love a good laugh. Comedy manga is hilarious, witty, and always well-written. Depending on what makes you laugh, this category is so huge that there is something for every sense of humor out there. 

These have been rated the best comedy manga books: One Punch Man, Kaguya Sama – Love Is War, Grand Blue Dreaming, Daily Lives of High School Boys, and Fullmetal Alchemist. 

 Mystery manga 

Detectives, sleuthing, and solving crimes are all part of mystery manga. If you love a good old detective story, then this genre is definitely a must. A lot of the time mystery, adventure, psychological and action genres are combined to form one storyline. Examples include Detective Conan, Eden of East, Hyouka, and Gosick. 

Romance manga

Romance manga generally falls under the Josei or Shojo categories, depending on whether it is explicit or not. You can expect a lot of heartfelt and sweet moments but also some heartbreak and tragedy.

Storylines show the character’s relationships blooming and developing. Oftentimes, there is one protagonist who must choose between two love interests. Examples include Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For An Otaku, An Incurable Case Of Love, and Ao Haru Ride.

And lastly,

Sci-Fi manga 

Sci-fi includes stories about high-tech equipment or inter-galactic travel. It is often combined with adventure, history, space, and action genres. Some examples include Evangelion, Space Dandy, and Cowboy Bebop.

The above list really only includes a handful of the sub-categories that manga consists of. There are too many to even begin listing, but these are generally the most popular. Some often go hand in hand with an audience category as well.

Why Is Manga So Popular?

Manga is said to have been a part of Japanese culture since as early as 1603 in the Edo period. But manga is no longer only popular in Japan. It has gained increasing popularity in Western culture and you could say that both manga and anime have become something of a hobby or even an obsession among many people. 

Why? Because it is something different and it literally appeals to everyone.

Manga is one of the few unique forms of entertainment that has the special ability to be able to evolve along with all of its readers. It is constantly adapting to suit its audience and this is what makes people love it. 

Why do people like to watch movies and series or read books and comics? It is because while they are watching or reading, they can get out of their heads, at least for a while. It is so much more fun to indulge yourself in the life of a fictional character, especially if that character lives a life that is completely out of the ordinary and often beyond normalcy as we experience it. 

This is what makes manga so appealing and even addictive. The storylines are crazy and incredibly creative. Manga is usually written very well as the standards are high. Readers love that the stories are rarely predictable or boring. 

Anime and manga generally possess the stereotype that it is mostly made for children. This is definitely not true. In fact, most manga books are not suitable for children. This is likely what intrigues a lot of people – the fact manga accommodates all audiences. 

That being said, manga was and is still very much loved by children all over the world

Comics such as Dragon Ball and Pokemon are pretty much household names in many parts of the world. As technology has advanced, watching anime and reading manga have become much easier over the years. Because of e-commerce and the internet, it has become increasingly easy to find and purchase manga all over the world.

What Are The Top 10 Best Manga?

If reading the list about manga sub-categories has completely overwhelmed you, then a good place to start would probably be with the comics that everyone loves the most. You know you will be reading something of excellent quality and the chances of you getting hooked will be greater. 

Here are the top 10 rated manga comics of all time according to CBR:

10. Slam Dunk

This is sports manga and tells the story of how Sakuragi Hanamichi comes to love the game of basketball.

9. Grand Blue 

Grand Blue is also sports manga and the storyline involves a boy named Iori Kitahara who deals with peer pressure while also trying to be a successful swimmer. 

8. Kingdom

Kingdom is unique because the setting is not in Japan, but rather in ancient China. It follows the story of a boy named Shin who dreams of becoming a great ruler and all the pain and suffering he experiences on this path.

7. Oyasumi Punpun

This manga falls under the psychological, action, and drama genres. The story is dark and deals with issues such as rape and domestic violence. 

6. Vagabond

This is an old but timeless one and it follows the story of a teenage boy called Musashi. His dream is to become the greatest swordsman, but this changes along the way as he learns vital lessons about life. 

5. One Piece

One Piece is a very popular one. This manga was incredibly well-liked and when the anime was created, it became a favorite among children everywhere.

4. Monster

This is a story about a doctor called Dr. Kenzou Tenma. It is very suspenseful, thrilling and according to fans, definitely one of, if not the best psychological manga ever created. 

3. Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal is a manga series telling the story of brothers Edward and Alphonse as they embark on an adventure to find the Philosophers Stone.

2. Jojo No Kimyou Na Bouken Part 7: Steel Ball Run

This story has it all – humor, action, adventure, and fantasy. The protagonist is Johnny Joestar and his nemesis is Gyro Zeppeli.

1. Berserk

Beserk has been rated the number one best manga ever created. The story follows the life of Guts who is betrayed by someone he trusted. He suffers a series of bad luck events and wants to get revenge. 

If you have no idea where to start or what you would enjoy reading, these are good to try out. The manga on this list are mostly ones that defy the limits of categories and audiences and most of them appeal to almost everyone.

Is There A Difference Between Manga And Anime?

Yes, there is a difference between manga and anime. Although society often incorrectly identifies these two as the same thing, the difference lies in the way they are portrayed. 

The word manga literally translates into “random sketch.” Anime translates into “animated” or “lively”. Manga is a book or a comic and the focus is more on the actual words. Anime could rather be described as a film or film series and the main focus would be on the graphics and images. Manga is a lot older than anime – it is the original form of Japanese comics and anime has stemmed from creating a moving animation based on manga comics.

Although manga is the original content that was created, anime is what captivated the western world and made both manga and anime so popular outside of Japan. 

Although they are not the exact same form of art, both consist of content that is based on everyday problems, relationships, societal issues, history, and culture. 

How Is Manga Maintained In The Western World?

You could almost say that manga is as popular in the west as it is in Japan. People from all over the USA, Europe, and Asia have really taken a great liking to manga. Comics are constantly being translated into hundreds of languages to accommodate readers from all over the globe. 

American magazines such as Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat have been created in recent years and also contain shojo and shonen manga. These magazines are obviously more accessible than Japanese manga and because of this, have become very popular. 

Is Manga An Expensive Hobby?

In the USA, manga generally costs anything from about $6 to $20. Keep in mind that a single manga comic is not very long. If you are an avid reader then it can turn out to be quite a costly hobby. 

Things like shipping and translation obviously add to the cost. Creators of manga know that their content is highly enjoyed all around the world and that, honestly, people will pay high prices to get their hands on Japanese manga. 

As with anything, there are other ways to get your hands on manga without paying a ridiculous amount of money. Manga fans sell their second-hand comics on many platforms throughout the world. If you already own your own manga comics, you could consider trading with other readers. 

What Is The Meaning Of Some Common Manga Terminology? 

Waifu

Waifu is basically “wife” with a Japanese twist. It is used in manga to indicate a romantic relationship with a woman.

Doujinshi 

Doujinshi refers to manga that is created by fans and sold to other manga-lovers either via the internet or at manga comic conventions. 

Moe

Moe literally means “to burn”. In manga terms, this basically refers to the warm feeling that readers get when reading about special, cute characters.

Otaku

Otaku refers to having an obsession with something or being stubborn about an opinion in an unhealthy way.

Raw 

Western readers use this word to describe manga that is not translated. 

These are just a few terms that are generally used by people who really see manga as a serious hobby. They are not common, but you might hear them and wonder what on earth they mean. Now you know. 

Conclusion

In Japanese culture, manga is so much more than just a comic. Manga is a huge factor in Japanese culture and has been the inspiration for many forms of entertainment for centuries now. 

Most people already know what manga is. However, not many people quite understand the actual depth and impact of it. Japan has done the world a huge favor by sharing this creative, unique part of their culture

Whether you are looking to get into reading manga or whether you have been reading it for a while and just need a change, the tips above are sure to help you out. The key to knowing which manga you should read is making sense of the sea of comics you might come across. Creators of manga have tried their best to make it easy for readers to easily choose the comics and stories they would be interested in. 

A good way to figure out what type of manga you would like is to think of what kind of western books and movies you are usually interested in.

Knowing the genres, the sub-genres, the terminology, and the reasoning behind it will help you navigate toward finding what is right for you.

Remember that just because a certain manga is aimed at certain audiences, does not mean that it is not free for all. Everyone can read and enjoy any type of genre (except for young children). It all depends on your personal taste.

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