For someone who has a very unreliable internet connection, reading manga is more preferable than watching anime. I’m too conscious of my disc space on my computer, so I rarely download anime or even manga. Most of the time, I just read or stream online and depend on my friends for soft copies.
Some anime and manga fans out there would say they generally prefer anime over manga or manga over anime, but that’s not my case. For me, each provides a unique set of experiences. For one, I like watching anime because, well, it’s animated. Things have color and they move and I can hear them too. Nevertheless, I like reading manga because it leaves a lot to the imagination. The colors, voices, sounds and movements are all up for you to make up, hence your experience would be a more personalized one.
In this post, I’m sharing with you my favorite manga, but it’s really up to you whether you read them or not. You can take your pick too! I promise to minimize the spoilers. And don’t worry, I’ll be posting my anime recommendations next. So anyway, here goes!
9) ‘Level E’ (Story & Art by Yoshihiro Togashi)
Genre: Sci-fi, Comedy, Adventure
Number of Chapters: 16
Plot: Extraterrestrials are all over Earth and we just don’t notice them. Level E follows a genius alien prince who has arrived on our planet but only uses his brilliant mind to cause trouble for his own amusement.
Malory’s Note: If you’re looking for laughs and fantastic art style, you’d definitely love Level E! From the artist who made Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter, I say Level E is quite a pleasantly unexpected piece. It also made me think that I should try to be patient with annoying people because they might be aliens who are not yet fully acquainted with human culture.
8) ‘Leviathan’ (Story by Otsuka Eiji, Art by Kinutani Yuu)
Genre: Seinen, Supernatural, Horror
Number of chapters: 70
Plot: Samizo Kohei returns from the dead with an apocalyptic prophecy. He sets up an unlicensed clinic in Shinjuku where he works as a “psychic surgeon”, allowing him to interact with and aid the supernatural creatures and phenomena of Shinjuku. However, nobody is quite sure if Kohei has returned to prevent the apocalypse or initiate it.
Malory’s Note: Engaging story and astounding art style. I’m a total sucker for Otsuka Eiji’s works. It’s not the kind of horror story that makes you scared to sleep at night. Instead, it keeps you up with thoughts that its story would make you ponder on.
7) ‘Sakamoto desu ga?’ (Art & Story by Sano Nami)
Genre: Seinen, School, Comedy
Number of chapters: 27
Plot: High school student Sakamoto is the definition of perfection. Good looks, intelligence, athleticism, kindness—he has it all! Everywhere he goes, all the ladies love him and all the boys are mad with jealousy. No amount of tricks or traps can ensnare Sakamoto as he evades and outmaneuvers his critics with ease; not even a male model can stand against his cool and collected demeanor as he glides through life with grace and elegance. Whatever situation he’s in, Sakamoto will overcome anything in absolute perfection. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: It has a very unique and refreshing story and I just love how the delinquents aren’t antagonized here. It’s like saying there’s good in everybody and you just have to bring it out!
6) ‘Uzumaki’ (Art & Story by Junji Ito)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
Number of chapters: 19
Plot: Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito, realize that their town is cursed with the spiral pattern. It manifests itself in many ways and eventually drives people into madness. As the curse worsens, Kirie and Shuichi find themselves being drawn closer to the source of the curse.
Malory’s Note: My favorite Junji Ito manga so far. The series starts with a couple of youths in a stable and strong romantic relationship, and merely goes on to show how ordinary each life has been ruined by the spiral pattern. I liken its effect to that of the movie ‘The Number 23’ wherein you’d come to notice the number 23 a lot; in a similar way, ‘Uzumaki’ made me very conscious of spiral patterns.
5) ‘Me and the Devil Blues’ (Art & Story by Hiramoto Akira)
Genre: Historical, Psychological horror, Supernatural
Number of chapters: 34
Plot: Loosely-based on the life of blues musician Robert Johnson, this manga follows the life of RJ in the 1930’s American South. RJ sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the devil to teach him to play the blues.
Malory’s Note: This manga features a lot of aspects of American life which are rarely portrayed in Japanese comics like lynching and racial discrimination in the US. The art style is as riveting as the storytelling. When reading it, I sometimes forget that I’m reading manga and not Western comics!
4) ‘Pet Shop of Horrors’ (Art & Story by Matsuri Akino)
Genre: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Fantasy, Comedy, Josei
Number of chapters: 41
Plot: A smoke-filled alley in Chinatown harbors Count D’s Pet Shop. The pets sold here aren’t your everyday variety and the Count prides himself on selling Love and Dreams in the form of magical creatures that come with an exclusive contract. But buyers beware. If the contract is broken the Count cannot be held accountable for whatever may happen. A fascinating and macabre look into the very soul of human nature.[lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: It’s mainly episodic but some aspects of the story have continuity. Though dark, Pet Shop of Horrors is also elegant and beautiful with bursts of comic reliefs. One may also pick up valuable life lessons from reading this manga.
3) ‘Monster’ by Naoki Urasawa
Genre: Psychological, Seinen, Mystery, Drama
Number of chapters: 162
Plot: Dr. Kenzou Tenma is a renowned brain surgeon of Japanese descent working in Europe. Highly lauded by his peers as one of the great young minds that will revolutionize the field, he is blessed with a beautiful fiancée and is on the cusp of a big promotion in the hospital he works at. But all of that is about to change with a grave dilemma that Kenzou faces one night—whether to save the life of a small boy or that of the town’s mayor. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: ‘Monster’ changed my life–or rather–changed my view on life. I came to fully embrace nihilism through this masterpiece. Which is also the reason why you should make sure kids below 18 aren’t exposed to this. Its impact is too intense. I could have listed this as #1 if I did not prefer the anime adaptation.
2) ‘Shoukoku no Altair’ (Art & Story by Katou Kotono)
Genre: Historical, Action, Adventure, Drama, Shounen
Number of chapters: 80+
Plot: Mahmut is a young Pasha serving on the general’s council of Türkiye. The clouds of war are gathering over his country. With Türkiye’s council split between the warmongers and the pacifists, Mahmut begins his quest to keep the peace at any cost. As he finds himself deeper and deeper in the politics of the ancient world, new enemies and allies surface. [lifted from mangafox.me]
Malory’s Note: I’ve never encountered a manga that delves as deeply into historical political maneuvers and military strategy as Shoukoku no Altair. It’s very loosely-based on the events that led up to the Fall of Constantinople. It’s a “what-if” in history. Also, engrossing details of the art match that of the story. I sometimes forget to breathe when I read this!
Now here’s my favorite manga…
1) ‘Mushishi’ (Art & Story by Urushibara Yuki)
Genre: Historical, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen
Number of chapters: 50
Plot: Mushi is the most basic form of life and takes on different manifestations. They exist aimlessly. They just exist. Ginko is a mushi-master who goes after rumors of occurrences that can be tied to Mushi in order to understand these creatures, which can also lead to understanding life and existence itself.
Malory’s Note: Well, if ‘Monster’ made me nihilistic, ‘Mushishi’ made me an existentialist. It has a captivating story and the art is just beautiful. I like describing this manga as something that feels like home–like you belong. Also, the nature art is dazzling. Everything about ‘Mushishi’ is just beautiful!
Well, that ends my list of recommendations! I hope you get around to reading them and when you do, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Malory out~