Manga For Beginners AKA Your First Step Into The Otaku Life

Manga For Beginners AKA Your First Step Into The Otaku Life

Which came first, anime or manga?



Before there was anime, there was manga—generally speaking, that is, because it actually depends what specific series you’re talking about. Technically speaking though, Japanese comics (AKA manga) are related to the earliest scrolls, which date back to the 12th century. On the other hand, animated work from Japan (AKA anime) dates back to just 1907.


That’s not saying, of course, that you have to start with manga to appreciate anime. Nor does it mean you have to start with anime before diving into the vast world of manga. But hey, it helps to see the whole picture, doesn’t it?


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When it comes to starting off with manga, however, there are some undisputed firsts that need to be read (big claim; please don’t kill me).



Written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otomo


Image via Imgur


The story: Tokyo is annihilated in a blast that signaled the beginning of World War III. Then the lives of two teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, are changed forever when the former awakens his paranormal abilities. Together, they must outsmart the shadowy agency that will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe from hitting the city.


At its heart, the mysterious agency’s motivation is a consuming fear of the unthinkable and monstrous power fearfully called Akira.


The hook: In the genre of science fiction, many consider this piece by Katsuhiro Otomo as one of the greatest works of graphic fiction.


Dragon Ball

Written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama



Image iTunes


The story: Son Goku is a monkey-tailed boy and Dragon Ball follows his adventures from a child to his becoming a grandfather. Throughout his journey, he is put against numerous enemies and eventually (arguably) becomes the strongest and most skilled martial artist in the universe. And through each battle, Goku comes across a large ensemble of heroes and villains, each of who help drive the conflict of the story.


The hook: It really needs no introduction, but it does deserve a read. A classic, through and through.


Fruits Basket

Written and illustrated by Natsuki Takaya



Image via Manga Rock


The story: When Tooru Honda is orphaned and must live in a tent, her life seems to be in complete shambles. But things start to get better when she meets the Souma family, who offers to take her in exchange for her doing household chores—that is, until she finds that they’re actually cursed by the Chinese zodiacs.


The hook: The humor wins here. And the issues it tackles isn’t commonly found in its medium.


Hunter x Hunter

Written and Illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi



Image via Crunchy Roll


The story: Only one in a hundred thousand people are able to pass the grueling qualification exam required to become a Hunter. The goal is to be a member of an elite group of individuals who track down treasures, magical beasts and—on the rare occasion—even men. They, in turn, gain access to restricted areas, mountains of information and the right to call themselves Hunters.


The hook: The adventure, the mystery and conflict resolution.


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Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi



Image via Manga Rock


The story: Kagome is a modern Japanese high school girl who doesn’t believe in myths and legends. All of this changes, however, when she’s pulled out of her time and thrown back into ancient Japan. It’s there that she meets Inuyasha, a dog-like half-demon who’s linked to Kagome’s destiny.


The hook: The characters, their interactions and the mess they make for themselves.


Oh! My Goddess

Written and illustrated by K?suke Fujishima



Image via Crunchy Roll


The story: Dialing a wrong number is usually no big deal, but when Keiichi Morisato unknowingly calls the Goddess Technical Help Line, his life changes forever. A goddess called Belldandy is dispatched to him and allowed to grant him one wish. Feeling like he can cheat the system, he wishes for Belldandy to stay with him forever—and it is done. But this, however, has (good and bad) consequences.


The hook: The norse mythology and the realistic struggles of life.


One Piece

Written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda




The story: A 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy one day decides to put together a 10-man crew to traverse the Grand Line. By crossing this dangerous sea, Luffy hopes to become the King of Pirates by finding One Piece, a great treasure. The thing is, crossing the Grand Line does not come easy as people gain powers from consuming Devil Fruits, such as generating fire and transforming into animals).


The hook: The welcome feeling of family we hardly ever associate with pirates.


Rurouni Kenshin

Written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki



Image via Manga Rock


The story: Once a feared assassin, Himura Kenshin now only wields his sword to protect those that cannot protect themselves—though he remains true to his vow never to take another life. But when he finally finds his own reason to live, enemies old and new test him both mentally and physically.


The hook: The romance. The history. The mystery behind Kenshin’s past.


The Push Man and Other Stories

Written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Tatsumi



Image via Good Reads


Disclaimer: Some people don’t consider this manga, but rather as a gekiga, which literally means dramatic pictures and is made for mature audiences. The Push Man and Other Stories is a collection of 16 such productions.


The story: The Push Man in particular is about Kizaki, who helps a woman after her shirt rips. She sleeps with him soon after and invites him out. There, two of her friends have their way with him.


The hook: Short and dramatic. Disgusting in a good and surprising way.



Written and illustrated by Junji Ito



Image via Manga Rock


The story: On the coast of Japan is the town of Kurozuchou, which is said to be cursed. But as Shuichi Saito explains to his girlfriend, Kirie Goshima, the curse is not of a being or a person, but a pattern: Uzumaki, the spiral, a hypnotic secret of the world.


It’s in the whirlpools of water and the whirlwinds in the air. It’s in the spiral marks on people’s bodies and in the madness that spreads.


The hook: Fear of the unknown—it’s in all of us.


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A little bit of a warning: Once you enter the world of manga, there might be no turning back. Page after page, book after book, series after series. But hey, we’re fun over here.



Art Alexandra Lara

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