British newspaper the Guardian published its notorious list of the 100 greatest non-fiction books last week, giving bibliophiles yet another tallying mechanism to measure each other by ("You haven't read Erasmus' In Praise of Folly? What's wrong with you?"). Sure, we could bitch and moan about how the Communist Manifesto is sooooo obvious or about how The Right Stuff didn't make the cut.
Instead, we decided to make up our own list. It's shorter, more obscure and has a lot more pictures. We're talking manga.
Manga is a generic term for Japanese comics in the west. While some are only a few panels long on a single page, some can be 40-plus volumes and go on forever. And to make matters worse, there are so many different series and genres, it's mindboggling. So, after sifting through tons of titles and an intense debate in my head, here are the Top 20 Manga Recommendations.
Going roughly off of the Guardian's format, the list is alphabetically organized by genre and split into three main categories: shounen-manga (comics aimed at a male demographic that usually feature action-adventure), shoujo-manga (comics aimed at a female demographic with focuses on slice-of-life and romance) and mature (comics aimed at an older (think PG-13+) audience since it can contain violence, sex or drugs and isn't suitable for younger kids.
Category: Mature Action Dogs: Bullets and Carnage by Miwa Shirou In the dangerous future, four unlikely people whose lives are mysteriously connected venture in the underground of a city to learn more about their twisted pasts.
Mystery and Psychological Death Note by Ouba Tsugumi and Asami Yuuko Yagami Light is a genius bored with life who finds a notebook called the Death Note, in which any person's name he writes in it will die. As he rids the world of all social pariahs, only a mysterious man named L stands in his way.
Liar Game by Kaitani Shinobu Those selected for the Liar Game Tournament are given 100 million yen each, and as long as you return the amount after 30 days, you can keep whatever you steal. Too bad Kanzaki Nao isn't that smart. How will she survive this dangerous game? By teaming up with a criminal.
Category: Shoujo Magical Card Captor Sakura by Clamp One day, Kinomoto Sakura finds a book full of enchanted cards. Not knowing she has magical powers, she reads the 'windy' spell causing a small tornado to scatter the cards across Japan. Now she has to recapture them all before they wreak havoc.
School Life Romance Kimi ni Todoke (Reaching for You) by Shiina Karuho Known as "Sadako", Kuronuma Sawako looks like the girl from The Ring and is misunderstood by her classmates. She has no friends, until the popular kid, Kazehaya, starts talking to her. She starts to reach out to others, but in doing so, makes herself vulnerable. How will her new friends help her grow as a person?
Hana Kimi by Nakajo Hisaya Ashiya Mizuki enrolls in the same high school as her childhood hero, Sano Izumi, high jump. There are just two small issues: It's an all-boys school, and Sano quit the high jump. How will she keep her gender a secret from the entire school and get Sano to jump again?
Oresama Teacher by Tsubaki Izumi After getting arrested and kicked out of high school, Kurosaki Mafuyu vows to become the epitome of femininity. The only two that might hold her back from her goal are her homeroom teacher and new best friend.
Slice of Life Yotsuba&! By Azuma Kiyohiko A green-hair girl named Yotsuba is the new kid on the block. Over the summer, this strange little girl, amazed by simple things like air conditioning, goes on all sorts of delightful adventures to festivals and the beach.
Glass Mask by Miuchi Suzue Kitajima Maya is determined to be an actress no matter what. But between school and her part time delivery job, will she ever get a break?
Skip Beat! by Nakamura Yoshi Kyoko gave childhood friend and singer Shou everything she had, including all her money from to support his rise to fame. The instant he became famous, though, she found that he was using her as a servant. Angered, Kyoko vowed to get revenge on him so she cut her hair and joined the acting agency LME. One day she'll force him to regret his using her.
Action Adventure Fairy Tail by Mashima Hiro In her quest to join a guild of really powerful wizards known as Fairy Tale, Lucy gets captured by pirates. Good thing she meets Natsu, and while a little strange, he's a member of Fairy Tale. With his help, she has a chance to get her out of her predicament and into the guild.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn by Amano Akira Known as No-good Tsuna, Sawada Tsunayoshi is pretty useless and plans to lead a normal life. Then a baby called Reborn shows up with a transforming lizard and informs him that he's the tenth boss of the powerful, Italian Vongola Mafia Family. What is Tsuna to do and why is Reborn his teacher?
Naruto by Kishimoto Masashi Twelve years ago, the ninja village of Konohagakure was nearly destroyed by the demonic nine-tailed fox, Kyuubi. The leader, called the Hokage, traded his life to seal the beast in an infant named Naruto. Without knowing why, Naruto has been hated by the village his entire life, but he's still determined to prove himself and make them respect him.
One Piece by Oda Eiichiro Hearing a legend about the ultimate treasure, Monkey D. Luffy, the "One Piece" of the crew of the last great pirate king, sets out to become next one. He puts together his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, as he adventures to make his dreams come true.
Historical Amatsuki by Takayama Shinobu Tokidoki is failing history, so he's forced to go to a virtual reality museum for extra credit. What should've been a standard visit ends with him going blind in one eye and stuck in the Edo period after a virtual demon attacks. Will he ever get out?
Rurouni Kenshin by Watsuki Nobuhiro When the Tokugawa Shogunate fell, Himura Kenshin was a feared assassin known as the Hitokiri Batousai. Now, 10 years later in the Meiji Era, has become a peaceful, roaming samurai who wishes to atone for his sins and keep his past under control.
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Slice of Life Adventure Ranma 1/2 by Takahashi Rumiko When on a martial-arts training expedition with his father in China, Ranma became cursed when he fell into a pond. Now every time he's splashed with cold water, he turns into a girl. To make matters worse; his father has engaged him to Akane. Will he and Akane ever get along, and how will he undo the curse?
Yakitate!! Japan by Hashiguchi Takashi Japan, unlike its European counterparts, isn't famous for its bread, but Azuma Kazuma wants it to be. With his extraordinary skills he creates Ja-pan in his search for the perfect technique and dough to put Japan at the top of the baking world.
Sports Slam Dunk by Inoue Takehiko Delinquent Sakuragi Hanamichi meets a girl, Akagi Haruko, and falls in love. But, Haruko loves somebody else who happens to be a skilled basketball player. Not to be outdone, Hanamichi joins the basketball team to gain Haruko's affection, but actually starts to like the sport. With his teammates, he'll strive to become the number one high-school team in Japan.
Air Gear by Ogure "Oh Great" Itou When he was little, Minami Itsuki, better known as Ikki or "Baby Face" was taken in by four girls. Unbeknownst to him, they are part of "Sleeping Forest," a well-known Air Treck gang. Through them, he learns about Air Treck, a revolutionary in-line skating fad, which leads him down paths he couldn't have predicted.