Manga For Newbies

Since the pandemic started, I have been going crazy consuming content. Usually anime and manga. However, as I bought a tablet back in April – I have been going HAM on reading manga – watching less anime than I have ever in the past few years. I’m absolutely just losing hours in my day just reading these comics that fill me to the brim with excitement and intrigue. With my blog, I typically try my best to balance everything I write. I write about movies, anime (obviously), personal life stuff, and sometimes a little satire. I don’t write enough about manga even though it is something that I consume nearly everyday. So I compiled a list of manga that would be great  for new readers who enjoy other popular stories or mediums of entertainment.
This list might end up being long – but I assure you that if you’re a noobie this list is pretty darn great. If you’re a vet of reading manga – this list might be too normie for you but just know that this isn’t for you. However, I can bet that you probably would agree with me that this list has nothing but hits. Also, it’s freaking hard to find obscure manga. If you’re new to the medium – how are you going to to know how to find stuff that’s never even had an English release?

If you like Ted Lasso

Lasso is my favourite show right now in the west and I even dressed up as him for a hot second in a work meeting. My suggestion for Ted Lasso fans is Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO). I actually have a draft written about GTO that’s not completed so I won’t get into the series too much but I can get into it a little here. GTO is about a delinquent turned teacher – Eikichi Onizuka who becomes the homeroom sensei for a what seemed to be normal group of kids. However these kids are far from normal. These kids have made 3 of their past teachers retire from the profession and have a vendetta against all educators due to an unfortunate past incident. As they are looking to ruin Onizuka’s life, they start to realize that Onizuka is not a normal teacher. As a former motorcycle gang leader he stumps his students one by one, while teaching them of the merits of life, the importance of youth, and the power of friendship. I absolutely love this series, it’s definitely one of my most favourite series of all time. Onizuka is kind of a legend within the community as being one of the best characters ever written – much like Lasso himself. This series is quite a bit more crude than Lasso but in spirit it’s very similar. By the way, how popular is GTO? It has 4 different manga series (2 of them being prequels), 2 different live action series, a live action film, and an anime that only covers the first half of the manga. It’s really popular.

If you like Squid Game

Lots of suggestions for this category but Kaiji is the one for me. Kaiji is about the titular character Kaiji Ito as he gambles his way through the criminal underground to relieve his debt and the debt of others around him. When a simple decision made can be the difference between joining the 1% and never being seen or heard from ever again – the decision can end up leading to death or major injury due to pressure. Unlike GTO, this series is still ongoing and has been ongoing since 1996. It’s incredibly popular with 4 movie adaptations between China and Japan, two seasons of anime, and several spinoffs. Kaiji is a psychological thriller that is meant to keep you at the edge of your seat. Although others would say that the art style is a bit dated, I would said that the art style has character. Just like Squid Game, you see people die, make horrible decisions, and greed over money. In Kaiji you can see the best and worst in people. It’s a crazy ride and incredibly exhilarating. If you find yourself to be more of an anime viewer, the only 2 seasons of Kaiji cover the first 2 arcs of the manga.

If you like Harry Potters, Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones

I have two suggestions and I’ll break them up into 2 parts. Berserk  is an epic dark fantasy that has everything you could want from something of that genre. Berserk might not even be a good suggestion as after reading it, you’ll probably never find something as good ever again. Well fleshed out characters, incredible lore, amazing art, and philosophical themes that tie the whole world together as weaved by the late author Kentaro Miura. Unfortunately, Miura suddenly passed before his story ever saw an ending, so for Guts – our protagonist we will never see if he will ever find peace. I think that everybody, me included, in the manga reading community recognizes that Berserk is the GOAT of manga. It’s perfect. I honestly cannot think of any flaws in the story or the art. Everything makes sense, everything falls in place for a reason – that’s causality. It’s the most complete narrative that I’ve read and it belongs up there with other mainstream stories as one of the greats. Major trigger warning though as the story does have graphic violence in gore and sex.

The other suggestion would be One Piece. Oh One Piece, the greatest story ever told? Maybe, if not for Berserk. Much like Berserk, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones – One Piece has crazy amounts of lore. There’s lore in the background of scenes, there’s lore in the titles of the chapters, lore in the art covers, lore everywhere. Among manga, One Piece probably has more conspiracy theorists than any other series because Eiichiro Oda – the author sprinkles clues everywhere. By the way, One Piece is also the greatest selling comic of all time. Literally more copies sold than Superman or Batman.  The story is about a young boy Monkey D. Luffy as he travels the seas with his friends aiming to become the King of the Pirates – that’s it. No I’m kidding, along the way we meeting world breaking villains, government conspiracies that go back thousands of years, and mass genocide. One Piece is a children’s story, but it’s the greatest children’s story ever told.

If you like watching sports or sports movies

Slam Dunk is the greatest sports manga of all time (for if you’re new to manga). There are a few other series worthy of that title like Ashita no Joe or Touch (which I’ve written about here) but if you like sports and you’ve never read manga before, Slam Dunk is the go to pick. Slam Dunk like Berserk is also a bad first manga. Chances are that if you finish Slam Dunk as your first manga, you will go your entire manga reading life chasing that feeling of reading Slam Dunk. Slam Dunk is a series about a high school basketball team. That’s it. Like I’m not faking anything, there really isn’t much to say about the series beyond that. No one has super powers, people aren’t dying, the world is not at stake for a high school basketball game, it is what it is. But…it’s still a 10/10. The team Shohoku, is filled with amazing personalities. From the rookies to the seniors, every single character that gets the lime light is incredibly written. The amount of pressure that is written and drawn into each game is immaculate. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. This is one of the most well written series in manga. And it’s not just the writing, the art is next level. Like Berserk, it’s damn near perfect. It’s funny, it’s gripping, it’s adrenaline fueled. Everything about this series feels elevated compared to the generic shounen stuff that is popular these days. If a normal sports series is a Honda or Toyota, Slam Dunk is a freaking Mercedes Benz AMG with all the fixings. It’s drama and action at its best and if you love sports movies, you will love Slam Dunk.

If you like science fiction like Westworld, Blade Runner, or just Denis Villeneuve

Akira, mother fucking Akira man. The anime film is OK. The manga destroys the anime, oh my God. I can’t believe people have the NERVE to say that the film is good without reading the manga. Holy moly, shit is another 10/10 for me. Even talking about it is making me so hype. I also love that the series has a very clear part 1 and part 2, where shit hits the fan. This series in itself is super hard to explain as it is kind of a mess from the very beginning. I  guess the best way to describe it would be “controlled chaos). It’s based in Neo-Tokyo where a bomb went off to put the city in a post-apocalyptical setting. The main characters are members of a high school biker gang. It includes psychic beings, people dying, and a lot of military action. Again, another highly rated series by the general masses of manga fans and something that is incredibly hard to put down until the end. I actually remember bringing my laptop to school and binging this entire series in class because I couldn’t not finish it in one sitting. It’s been a few years since I last read it, so a reread would definitely not be a bad idea.
I have one more bonus review for this “genre”. 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa is a psychological science-fiction thriller. The series is about our protagonist Kenji Endo whose friend – Donkey, suddenly passes away. Before Donkey passed, Kenji receives a letter from the him with clues to the murder. Clues leading to the murder being tied with a cult, government conspiracy, and that this whole situation is tied to something Kenji and his childhood friends made up when they were in elementary school. This story spans decades as Kenji and his group try their best to uncover the secret of their friend. One of the best paced manga I’ve ever read. Granted, it does fall off near the last 25% of the story but nevertheless, it’s a must read.
And that’s my list! If you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments. This was a fun article to write and I might have to make a part 2 for the future.

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