Looking to start reading manga? Manga are basically Japanese comic books. There are a wide number of genres and more titles available than you can imagine. So where to start?

Who wants to read these manga? Photo Credit: Rog01 at Flickr.

Classic manga series are classics for a reason. Their art, storylines, and even cultural impacts make them stand out from a very crowded field. Many of these manga have been made into anime series, though how accurate they are to the original work varies. Here’s a list of classic manga series to help you get started in reading this interesting genre.

Note: Japanese manga are read right to left. Read it like a normal English language comic book and you will be very confused.

1) Death Note

Photo Credit: Amazon.com.

Before you start thinking manga is just kids’ stuff, read Death Note. This is a story about what a human being becomes when they’re given the power of a literal god of death. It is a grim story about human morality, even with its fantastic touches. What lengths will a person go to rid the world of evil if they could, if human laws meant nothing to them? What happens to their soul? What happens to the people around them? Read Death Note to see some contemplation of these questions.

2) Naruto

It’s hard to look into anime and manga without seeing Naruto. There are Naruto video games, shirts, merchandise, and movies. It is a massive franchise that ran for 18 years (included Shippuden). The story covers the adventures of the main character, a strange boy training to be a ninja in a village of ninjas in a world full of ninjas.  The series has a wide range, containing involved backstories, training, adventures, war, humor, tragedy, rivalry, friendship, and much, much more. Naruto is a great introduction to the wild and wide number of stories found in Japanese manga.

3) Bleach

Bleach is another long-running, long-ranging classic manga series. What seems to be a strange twist of fate draws teenage Ichigo into a world of gods and monsters. Bleach is known for its detailed and amazing art. Much like Naruto, it touches on a wide range of subjects, though it is generally more focused than Naruto. Enjoy reading through the strange and dramatic world of Bleach.

4) One Piece

Zany and wild, One Piece follows a crew of pirates as they search for the treasure that will make one person the next Pirate King. The cast of characters are colorful in every sense and include humans as well as a number of other species. This is a very humorous manga, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss its story or its art. Both are incredibly engaging. The series is still continuing, so if you’ve caught the manga bug, definitely give One Piece a try to so you can be looking forward to a new issue on a regular basis.

4) Ranma 1/2

Ranma 1/2 is the story of a cursed boy who turns into a girl when splashed with cold water as he studies martial arts. A lot more domestic than many other manga, Ranma 1/2 is very comedic with some truly touching moments as well. You’ll quickly enjoy getting to know these endearing characters and enjoy their wild antics. It’s a great manga for teens and pre-teens if you’re looking to give them something new to read.

6) Dragonball

Dragonball is yet another long-running adventure manga. The title is derived from seven mystical balls that are scattered around the world. When gathered together, they summon a dragon who can grant one person one wish– any wish. Everyone who knows about this wants to collect these magic balls, and this manga tells the tale of young Goku and his friends as they try to stop evil beings from making the wish.  There are also multiple instances of alien invasions, deaths, resurrections, growing up, time travel, mad science, superpowers, and a lot of humor. Pick it up if you want to be a part of a wild and action-packed ride through the cosmos.

7) Astro Boy

This manga chronicles the adventures of Astro the boy android in a world full of robots and humans. It is considered one of the most influential manga ever created. Many consider the movie based on it to be the first instance of the anime style. A lot of the storylines, style, and concepts found in Astro Boy can be found throughout many, if not most, manga, especially if the series focuses on adventure. Read Astro Boy for a true classic in the manga genre.

8) Pokémon Adventures

This is the manga series based on the video game (no chicken or egg here; the video game was first). The popular afternoon anime series is based on it. All the old favorites of 1990s can be found here in their original form. The series begins with the video game Red, Blue, and Green. It is still continuing to keep up with latest video games in the Pokémon series. This is a bit more violent than the anime series, so be careful if you plan on buying t for children who have caught Pokémon fever. Occasionally Pokémon actually do die and there is some real danger. This makes it a more thrilling read than you might originally assume. Read it to see another version of the Pokémon franchise.

9) Lone Wolf & Cub

The disgraced samurai-turned assassin Ogami seeks revenge on those who accused him falsely of dishonorable crimes—with his 3 year old son at his side. The art is strikingly beautiful in this manga, more akin to classical Japanese art styles than traditional manga. It is a powerful epic and depicts serious violence typical of Feudal Japan. Lone Wolf and Cub is a classic manga series that you should not pass up.

10) Detective Conan (Case Closed)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Strange and many time silly, this tells the tale of boy detective (former high schooler, current grade schooler) as he helps police solve cases behind the scenes. This is a great manga series for adults and children to share, as its mysteries are clever and there is a lot of fun to be had. Buy now!