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10 of The Best Manga Around

Despite being from Japan, Manga is an increasingly popular medium around the world and conforms to a style developed in the 19th century. These Japanese comic books have managed to proliferate through the West and across the globe from the late 1980s. Often they are adapted into animated films or television shows known as anime and this only further gives rise to their popularity.

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The 90s saw the franchise Pokemon really give a break to this style on a truly international scale and so manga has now become a recognized term elsewhere. Here we look at 10 of the best to get your head round.


10. Vagabond

Set in 17th century Japan, the story is a fictional retelling of one of Japan's most famous and successful sword fighters through the battles of the different warlords that ruled over feudal Japan at the time as well as through a friendship with other warriors and the people he meets along the way of his many and varied travels.

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An incredibly intense series, it involves a lot of swordplay and martial arts as well as historical context but it is a great place to launch into the culture of manga if you don't mind a bit of gore.


9. Yotsuba&!

A sort of 'slice of life' comedy series about an eccentric young girl and her father as they move into a new neighborhood. The series mostly revolves around the young, energetic girl learning about the world around her in funny and endearing ways in a series of day to day adventures where she is guided by her father and the other people she meets.

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It is cutesy and largely unobjectionable so is open to most age ranges.


8. Akira

A futuristic piece set in the year 2038, many may be more  au fait with the incredibly popular anime film adaptation but the manga is where it all started and it tells of a world where a police state rules the roost whilst corrupt politicians and religious sects scrabble for any remnants of power and there is talk of revolution.

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It is dark, complex and convoluted at times but the world is so detailed and thought through that its beauty is in its intricacies. The wonderful cyberpunk aesthetic it uses is also a marvel.


7. Fullmetal Alchemist

 With a magic and science crossover feel to it, this eerie yet brilliant series follows two brothers who try to bring their mother back from the dead using alchemy. When this goes wrong, they mess up their own bodies and need to find the fabled Philosopher’s Stone in order to restore themselves back to what they once were.

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A surreal series that is both off the wall and touching in how its emotions are rooted in reality and some of the complex themes it deals with through fantastical settings.


6. 20th Century Boys

A psychological thriller with coming of age themes as a group of friends start to notice odd occurrences beginning to happen in relation to events or items involved in their childhood antics. In what starts out as a bit of a mystery leads to discoveries of cult leaders trying to destroy the world via childhood memories.

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Intense and cleverly written, it tells of lost youth as well as a straight-up thrill ride, it can be read on different levels.


5. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

A post-apocalyptic Japan has been laid to waste by rising sea-levels and an eruption of Mt. Fuji which has lead government to be decimated and futuristic technology in disarray. People who have survived now live in devolved enclaves with robotic friends and helpers at a much slower pace of life and this series follows that.

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What is charming about it is that, despite the grim setting, it is actually about human relationships and how people interact with each other more than anything else.


4. Vinland Saga

In what is an interesting route for manga, this saga takes on other cultures outside of Asia and follows a young Viking warrior who swears revenge on the man that killed his father and then is led into a battle for the English crown. This mishmash of European medieval history has relative accuracy to it and holds entertainment in its high-drama.

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Gruesome, bloody and full of twists and turns, you can't really say this is one for the faint of heart.


3. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 

Created by legendary director Hayao Miyazaki, who later turned it into an anime film, this epic follows another post-apocalyptic war that has left a poisonous fungi covering the world that creates forests of giant, mutant insects ravaging the environment and leaving fewer and fewer inhabitable lands. Due to this, another war looms on the horizon for kingdoms to control these lands.

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Intense and borrowing both historical and futuristic elements, it confronts humanity's relationship with nature.


2. Monster

A well-renowned doctor is forced to choose between saving a young boy's life and a prominent politician but his beliefs mean that he considers all life equal and so saves the young boy that came to him first. This leads to him losing his job and money and well kept way of life but his sense of self-worth remains intact.

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That is, until, bloodshed, murder and mystery lead him to question everything he believes in and everything he has done as the young boy no longer appears as innocent as he first seems.


1. Berserk

A dark fantasy that makes Game of Thrones look like a walk in the park may pique the interest of a few but be warned, if you aren't good with gore, give this a miss. However, the underlying themes that question whether humanity is fundamentally good or evil will get the mind whirring and it is far more high-brow than just a blood and guts fest.

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A wandering swordsman raised by mercenaries tries to find the meaning behind the demonic mark on his neck which, in itself, attracts demons which he must slay in order to survive.

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