What are the Top 20 best Manga Series?


Originally this was just going to be a Top 10 list but there are so many great titles that I ended up expanding this to 20. Sure, you could just keep expanding it until it’s a Top 100 but that’s a lot tougher to pull off although it would make for a fun article. In this list I’m really just thinking about series so you have to be at least 2 volumes long. One Shots don’t count although I doubt I would have any this far up either way.

I’ve read close to 500 different manga titles but of course hidden among those are a bunch of one shots. In terms of series I’m not sure how many I have read although I expect it should be around 300 or so. My favorite manga genre tends to be action, but I’ll enjoy a great sport or mystery title as well. There’s usually something to be enjoyed in most titles. Most being the key word of course because when you have a series called Go Go Monster that bores you to tears then you have a problem….

Before getting into the Top 20 titles I’m going to give out some honorary mentions.

Best Harem: Nisekoi They say there is a gem in every genre and I suppose that is true. The very concept of a Harem usually leads to disaster so I wouldn’t say there’s a great track record here but Nisekoi pulled it off. In part I would say this is due to the fact that the main character actually has a backbone and isn’t just playing the field the whole time. Ultimately he has to make a choice and does this without any fake outs or cop outs. The art is really solid and I would say almost every character got a satisfying resolution.

Start of the Road: Dragon Drive

This is here simply for being one of the very first manga titles I ever read. I would say it was the first long running title I read for a series I was unfamiliar with. In a lot of ways you could say this is the title that really got me into manga as a medium so it will always be a very fun manga title to read. It’s nowhere close to the top 20 to be honest but still worth putting some respect on its name.

Best Mystery: Detective Conan

Spiral is right up there though and if you count Death Note then that is technically above Conan but I consider it to be more of a thriller since we know who the villain is. Conan’s had a very impressive run over the years as it’s even longer than One Piece. While it would be nice if the plot could move forward a bit quicker, each mystery is always a blast so you can’t really fault it. This one couldn’t crack the top 20 but as King of its genre it’s definitely worth a mention.

Generally strong titles that missed out
Kuroko’s Basketball
Beelzebub
Medaka Box
Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan


These three don’t own their categories or anything but they were the 3 titles left over when I was constructing my Top 20. I guess that’s not to say they are necessarily numbers 21-24 but at least they were top of mind. Kuroko’s Basketball brought a new intensity to the sport genre that was only previously seen in Prince of Tennis. The story arcs were excellent and if anything it’s just a shame that it couldn’t be longer. From all of the sport titles it probably has the most complete cast on a team. Yes, that’s even including Prince of Tennis.

Beelzebub is one of those titles that had a very shaky beginning but only kept getting better and better as it went on. I could have done without some of the crude humor with the baby and that’s really what keeps it from being a little higher. Still, it was a tremendous action series that had a very impressive run. Nothing can ever take that away from it.

Then you have Medaka Box. It’s only issue is that the fanservice could be a bit excessive at times, otherwise this would be a lock for the Top 20. It had a very colorful cast of characters and strategies in the fights that could even match Hunter X Hunter. The power scaling of the series was also very unique with how it would go up and down with the gifted and the unlucky. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s a shame that it never got a full anime version.


Nura was really impressive when reading it. The main character’s journey is similar to Yugi/Tsuna’s in many respects and he also has to deal with living in a demon gang. There’s a lot of great action here and all of the super forms are really done right. The fact that you have 3 generations of Nura fighting out here made for a great climax so this was a really high ranking action title.

Now these are honorary mentions for titles that are still going and could realistically make the Top 20. After all, as long as you live you have a shot right? That said, some are more realistic than others. Take Black Butler for example.

The only top ranking this horrific series has a chance of reaching is the title of worst manga of all time and Black Bird would have a lot to say on that. Birds of a feather flock together and all that right? Ah man, those titles are so bad….

sooooo…baaaaaadddddddd-Anyway lets go on to the ongoings that are quite solid and should have a bright future ahead of them.

Dragon Ball Super

The original Dragon Ball Z made it to the top 20 so there is already a precident for this. Ultimately since the manga would fall behind the show at times, Super hasn’t been as consistent as it could have been with arcs like the Tournament of Power being abridged. That said, the Moro arc was quite solid and the Granola arc is off to a great start. If this one can just keep going on a consistent level it’s certainly possible for it to achieve such a high status. I don’t see it ending anytime soon either so it will have a lot of opportunities.

Boruto

I wouldn’t say Boruto’s chances are as good as Dragon Ball Super’s since it will need a little more time and has more ground to cover. That said, when we do have action scenes they have held up quite well. Bortuo is starting to get quite high tier with the power scaling so we definitely can’t count it out. What would really be nice is if Sasuke and Naruto could de age or something but even without that there is a lot that the series can do.

Twin Star Exorcist

I hesitated about putting this one in because the series seems to be in its final arc. If so, there is really no time to jump high enough to make it to the top 20. I would say what it has going for it is that it might be one of the very closest to make it to the top. The artwork is one of the best for any ongoing series right now and I continue to be impressed at those fight scenes. If it can survive for another arc it could really pull this off but unfortunately I do see the end goal in sight.

Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen is the next big Shounen Jump title. As this point it is quickly gaining ground on its seniors within the magazine and you could say as soon as one of the Big 3 end, (Black Clover, My Hero Academia, and One Piece) that it will automatically assume the vacant spot. It’s a lot newer than the others though so it’s really just a matter of time for this one to start climbing up the ranks. This series shouldn’t be anywhere near its end so there’s no rush.

My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia is certainly a big title and it’s just entered a critical arc. Right now the forest arc is still my favorite in the series but this one is hitting the right notes. I am certainly on board with Deku’s character arc as I would say he is easily at the best he has ever been. While there are theories that this could be the final arc of the series I’m going to bank on this being the end of “Part 1” as the next part follows Deku as the world’s number 1 Hero. There’s a lot of ways this can go though so we just have to watch out.

One Piece

I know this one’s a long shot but the fact that One Piece is so long just means you really need to put it here. After all, I would say on average One Piece is a very good series that has had its moments of greatness. It was never able to be as consistent as Naruto or Bleach but it is still going which is a feat in itself. Additionally, if it’s true that we’ve barely just passed the halfway point of Wano then it doesn’t matter that the series may only have 1-2 arcs left because it’ll still be on going for years.

With the honorary mentions out of the way it’s finally time to stop and take a look at the Top 20. These are the cream of the crop. The ultimate titles that reign atop the food chain of the entire manga Kingdom. Out of the 20 on the list, 6 are still ongoing so who knows how much higher they can rise. Or of course they can do the unthinkable and crash but that’s fairly rare. Most series I would say end on a high note or at the very least even if it’s not the best arc, it’s one that is comparable to the rest. So lets dive in!

20. Saint Seiya

Saint Seiya is a manga as old as time and you can tell that to an extent. The art has an old look to it and the arcs tend to have the same story beats over and over like a classic superhero comic. (Check out the ole JL Archives and you’ll see how each story has them split up into 5 teams to beat their enemies and return) Saint Seiya doesn’t change things up a whole lot but it doesn’t really need to. The core premise is exceptional and the fights never hold back. Why change something if it isn’t broken right? That’s Saint Seiya’s methodology and it works.
19. Hunter X Hunter

It’s always crazy to think that without hiatuses Hunter X Hunter could be around One Piece’s length right now. Well, no time for What Ifs, when the manga exited we were in the middle of a great arc. The boat trip could even become the best arc in the series due to how almost literally every big character has found their way onto it. Hopefully this series returns someday because things were going really well.
18. Naruto

Naruto is one of those series where I mostly remember Part 1 through the anime as I didn’t get serious on the manga until Part 2. It’s a very nostalgic series and one that really brought the hear ton the Big 3. (One Piece had the popularity, Bleach had the skill, and Naruto brought the emotional punch) It’s just a very solid all around series that makes for a great first recommendation to any manga fan.
17. Death Note

Now this series takes me back. Light was easily one of the most ambitious main characters of all time. A mass murderer psychopath as the main character? It was very interesting and made you ask a lot of tough questions. It was the first big battle of wits manga that I read and it holds up extremely well. Light’s battle against L had to be one of the most impactful moments across just about any series.
16. Rurouni Kenshin

Kenshin made for a fairly unique main character as he was already older when the series first starts. He doesn’t take a lot of joy in fighting the way that most characters do and really does it out of necessity. The art here was top notch and while I usually do not care for the past as a time setting, this series pulled it off.
15. Prince of Tennis

Okay so the image is from the sequel but it was too cool not to pick. Prince of Tennis is the definitive sports title across all of manga and has never relinquished the throne. Part of why I got into Tennis is likely due to this manga’s influence. It’s a shame that the sequel hasn’t gotten big in America yet but this is a title I could easily recommend to anyone.
14. Kaguya-Sama Love is War

Kaguya-Sama may look out of place next to the others here since it’s a psychological romantic comedy. It’s quite unique and I still recall thinking it was a series about vampires after seeing the iconic volume 1 cover. Still, it’s ended up being one of the ultimate manga titles out there and has continued to rise. It’s one of only 3 series that have ever caused me to binge into the wee hours of the night when I would usually be asleep. (Tower of God and RWBY the animated series are the only other two) What really makes this title stand apart is the fantastic writing and its unique look into the power dynamics of a romance.
13. Beet

Beet is in a similar boat to Hunter X Hunter where it would be even bigger if not for the hiatuses. The artwork was stunning and the series was preparing for a DBZ type adventure. I would still consider it an elite but due to how abruptly it stopped I can see why a lot of people would avoid it. Hopefully the continuation gets big soon so everyone can really relive the adventure.
12. Black Cat

Black Cat was at one point in my literal #1 position for all of manga. Of course I read it a long time ago before most of the other titles so it was natural that others would show up. Still, Black Cat is still notable for having one of the best romances in the entire medium as well as having a top tier main character. Train Heartnet has a lot of style and the manga did a good job of always ramping up the stakes.
11. Yu Yu Hakusho

This one was very close to making the top 10. It was a tough fight but it just barely loses out to the next one. Yu Yu Hakusho has a ton of amazing action and characters. It ended up getting an anime that was so amazing that even the manga couldn’t keep up. Hakusho will always be known as a top tier contender regardless though and if any series above it end up slipping this one will be right there to take their spot.
10. Gamaran

Gamaran was never formally licensed in America so it was unable to get as popular as it should. Think of it like Kenshin only with whole schools of swordsmen fighting each other. The fights are crazy and while the abilities are mainly grounded the manga isn’t afraid to give them superhuman feats all the time. It has a certain intensity that very few titles can match.
9. Black Clover

At this point it’s easy to see why a lot of people call it GOAT Clover. Black Clover is just amazing in that it burst out of the gate as an amazing series. A lot of titles need some time to pick up but this one was superb from Volume 1. A good amount of credit for that goes to Asta as he is such a likable guy. Part of what makes him shine is the fact that he never gave up on working out and training his body even though he didn’t get magic. He didn’t let the unfairness of the world drag him down and just kept on fighting until he became a member of the Black Bulls. Hopefully this title doesn’t end any time soon.
8. Liar Game

I had to debate with myself a while on if this should really be ahead of Black Clover. It’s close but I would give it the slight edge. Mainly what helps it win out is that I just love analytical series like this. Each game causes you to think a lot on what the right strategy is. The best part is that the series never cheats. You can really get the answers yourself but it is incredibly difficult. The writing here is phenomenal so you will be sucked in to each event.
7. Reborn!

Reborn probably has some of the best fight scenes in all of manga. That’s a good part of why the series is ranked so highly. It’s also versatile as the manga initially started out as a full comedy which was very humorous and then seamlessly turned into a battle manga. This showed that the author was able to handle each genre which is very impressive. This is a series you do not want to forget.
6. Dragon Ball Z

The original Shounen Jump legend! Dragon Ball Z is one of those huge franchises that everyone knows about and that’s because it is just so good. The series has no weaknesses and the art style is simple but extremely effective. The fights are easy to follow and the story is a lot of fun. It really came into its own during the Android Saga and never looked back. The series also has a ton of replay value since it’s so easy to read.
5. Bleach

Bleach is one of the most intense action series I’ve ever read. While a lot of people didn’t like the final arc I was definitely on board with it. The series just kept escalating everything higher and higher until it just ended. Now I will say that parts of the ending are a little on the rushed side but there was definitely a lot to wrap up. All in all I would say it did a fantastic job and Ichigo is such an awesome main character. The experience wouldn’t be the same without him.
4. Yugioh Duelist

Out of all the Yugioh titles this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The Battle City Arc is iconic because it brought in the best duelists in the world and made for a lot of great duels. Kaiba and Yami’s rivalry can hold its own with any other pairing out there. Both of them will never surrender or give up. Mix that in with the sheer enjoyment of Duel Monsters as well as the excellent art and you have a top contender.
3. Tower of God

Yeah technically this is a Manhua but that’s close enough. Besides which I haven’t read enough of those for it to be a different category. Now this was fun to marathon though as there are around 500 chapters in the series and each one is monthly sized. If it ever got a physical release I wonder how many volumes that would be. Seems to be like it would possibly even reach 100 already. Everything about this title is just absolutely top tier. The artwork is amazing and the cast of characters is next level. You’ll be sucked into the various story lines and the general lore that surrounds it. I just couldn’t put this down and just kept going from chapter to chapter. If you like action and adventure then this is an absolute must read.
2. One Punch Man

One Punch Man has hands down the greatest artwork of all time. It’s incredible how realistic everything looks and not in an overly detailed/gritty kind of vibe. I’m talking in a detailed approach where it still feels like DBZ but with a ton of extra elements. Each page you can pause and use as a background because of how HD it is. Every 2 weeks you really look forward to seeing what the next update will bring.
1. Megaman NT Warrior

Now we’re at the ultimate manga. The appearance of Bass EXE, the greatest character of all time. It’s no secret how incredible I’d say this guy is. The series has top tier art as well with all of the fights and the author had a clear understanding of what makes for a good action series. Each story arc kept on getting more and more interesting with all of the characters mixing things up and getting in on the action. If you think Megaman is for kids or isn’t a strong verse then you definitely need to check this one out.

And there you have it, that’s my Top 20 manga of all time! With so many ongoing series and tons of completed ones I have yet to read, I’m sure the list will remain rather dynamic. Some more than others of course as the Top 10 likely wouldn’t change much but titles beyond that would probably move a lot more. Nothing beats the feeling of discovering a new manga title that is top tier after all. We’ll see which is the next one to break out! Who knows, maybe it’ll be that Kaiju No. 8 everyone’s talking about.

Liar Game Review

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Deathmote and DBZ are titles that come to mind when asked about which manga to recommend to people. If they are looking for something deep and thought provoking then they end up going for Death Note. It is very accessible to all readers, but the manga that we are looking at today is just as accessible and I dare say that it may even be more thorough and complicated than the former. Liar Game goes all out with complex rules and several things going on at once much like Hunter X Hunter. The ending may be a bit sudden, but it was a fairly clever way to wrap up and will go down as one of the more satisfying titles. I would definitely be open to a sequel.

This adventure starts off with an unassuming Japanese citizen (Nao) who receives a black letter inviting her to the Liar Game contest. In the first round she is to be paired against her teacher. Each player starts out with one million dollars and the objective is to steal as much as possible before the round ends. Whoever has the most in the end will win. The main character doesn’t want to play this game though and she is also super gullible. Luckily, she enlists the help of a criminal genius (Akiyama) who single handily took down a large company. He agrees to help her put, but the rounds continue to get more and more difficult. Not to mention that Akiyama isn’t the only genius around. For the most part, quitting is not an option although the whole thing seems pretty illegal so I’m a little skeptical. The Liar Game officials told Nao that the cops wouldn’t help, but they can’t be trusted. Regardless, Nao ultimately declines all offers to leave anyway since she wants to save everyone.

While good Seinen titles are a little harder to find than Shonen ones, they can certainly pay off in big ways. For example, this title has no fanservice in it and very little animal violence. These two qualities can help quite a bit especially when coupled with the fact that the story is so good and well written. There are really no negatives to be found here. The threat of what may happen to the participants who lose is rather dark, but luckily it never happens and that part would also be quite the stretch as you would assume that the cops would prevent this. (Gotta factor in the plot twist as well)

While it gets very low screen time, the animal violence is definitely regrettable. It really wasn’t needed and Mice always getting the short end of a stick certainly got old a long time ago. It is hard to find the villain likable at all after pulling a stunt like this. I suppose that the art isn’t very good. Akiyama always looks dead tired and Nao tends to always have her eyes extremely wide open. These traits can be a little humorous at times and the art is never hard to read, but it could still be a lot better. This isn’t exactly Bleach level art but I wouldn’t call it much of a negative either. At the very least, it’s not hard to read. The series does have some pretty fun splash pages and exaggerated heads for when the characters are panicking as well.

What really separates Liar Game from other thrillers is how detailed and thorough all of the rounds are. There are a lot of rules and each of them build off of each other. There is always a way to win the game though so you just have to really apply yourself and think it through. Liar Game also has fun giving you incorrect solutions via the side characters which sound really good until Akiyama crushes it. Even Akiyama will occasionally get tricked as every good plan can also have a counter and he isn’t the only genius around. The plans which are not full proof can still work so long as you don’t happen to be surrounded by geniuses. A game as simple as musical chairs can quickly become very strategic as the characters analyze every aspect of it.

As with Hunter x Hunter, the characters do seem to overthink things to an extent though. After a while, you are over thinking the opponent to the point where you are just assuming that they are following your train of thought. Several of Akiyama’s plans revolve around concepts of human nature, but those don’t always hold true. His plans could have been foiled at times if more headstrong characters had shown up although most of those were weeded out early on.

As you may have surmised by now, Akiyama makes for a very good main character. Surprisingly we never get a long flashback to take a look at why he destroyed a large company. The company was corrupt, but a few lines on the subject is all that you will ever get here. That works for me to be honest since flashbacks can be annoying to read through at times. It’s good in the long run for universe building, but it can hurt the flow of a manga. Flashbacks and origin stories should be put in the back of a manga volume as opposed to being seen as normal chapters that interrupt the story. Granted, this flashback probably would have been a lot of fun since the writing has been on point for the rest of the adventure. It was not needed to cement Akiyama as a great lead though. He has no gimmicks or negative traits. He simply hatches a plan to defeat the puzzle and moves on. He has a subtle character arc as Akiyama initially makes all of his moves based on logic and calculations, but eventually starts to put a little stock into emotions. Playing on someone’s emotions is a strategy, but I don’t mean it in that way. It’s more that Nao gets him to believe in people a little more when he didn’t think much of them at first. Akiyama is very serious for 99% of the series so it is very rare to see him having any fun, but he doesn’t mind gloating a little as he explains how he won. He is pretty much a perfect main character.
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On the other hand, Nao can be very annoying at times. It is great that she chooses to believe in people, but the sad truth is that a lot of people cant be trusted. Seeing her tell a bunch of strangers Akiyama’s plan was quite sad. Luckily, Akiyama is great at adapting on the fly and eventually he probably even considered the chance that she could make a mistake into his ideas. Nao is also one of the only characters I can think of at the moment to be betrayed by the same character on multiple occasions. Her naivety at the beginning is very extreme to be sure. Her character arc is about how she learns to be a little smarter and more cunning. She finally lays some traps down. She doesn’t like to use underhanded tactics and prefers not to lie, but she stops being manipulated by the rest of the cast, which was a huge improvement. I definitely think that she was a little too extreme in the beginning, but Nao does stand for all the right things. She wants to help everyone rather than just winning and escaping this tournament. Nao is definitely a nice person and now she has learned that this does not have to be synonymous with being a pushover. Nao from the end of the series is a really good character so in the end I’d say that she is likable. She is nowhere near Akiyama, but few are.

I’d also like to take a moment to give the series some major kudos for not squeezing in a romance here. Akiyama and Nao were partners from the beginning of the series to the end. They had a good dynamic and helped each other out when one of them ran into a hole. A lesser series would have immediately decided to run with this and make them lovers, but Liar Game had more restraint than that. The two are close friends, but nothing more.

Harimoto is one of the two big villains in the series. I would definitely put him under Akiyama and Yokoya when it comes to raw intelligence, but he certainly is skilled. There is a big plot twist about him towards the very end which nullifies this to an extent. It was surprising and I wouldn’t say that it was necessary, but it did make another character become more compelling. Harimoto is old so he is lucky that most of the games are not physical. One of his followers gets a large role as Nao tries to convince her to leave Harimoto. That was a subplot that I would definitely take out. It dragged on quite a bit and the follower never became a likable character.

Yokoya is the main villain and he is certainly very smart. I’d say that Akiyama is smarter as he has to win with more limitations. Yokoya is rich and he is willing to use his fellow contestants. That automatically gives him a leg up on Akiyama so when he loses, it is that much more impressive for the hero. While Yokoya makes for a very imposing villain, I wouldn’t call him a likable one. As mentioned earlier, he does go for animal violence a few times which doomed him from the start. I also didn’t really buy his final moments as it felt out of character. I suppose that he had to choose his words carefully at that moment though. He needed to save some face and this may have been the best way to do it.

Fukunaga is one of the first villains who ultimately ends up helping the heroes. He is a fan favorite judging from the comments. He is decently a smart character, but can never seem to back up his tough talk. He is constantly conceding defeat before the round is actually over and serves as the voice of doom. He resorts to being physical a lot more than the other main characters and also messes with the villains through mind games. I can’t really say that Fukunaga is my kind of character, but he’s an interesting one. At the very least, he does help Nao quite a lot during her more gullible days. There are several other supporting characters in the series, but most of them aren’t all that important aside from their roles within the game.

As there were quite a few games in the series, I thought that I should go in depth with at least one of them. There were a lot of solid ones like the Musical Chairs and the 4 Way Tower Fight, but those are actually some of the weaker ones when placed next to the other rounds. One of the best games was definitely the “Airport Showdown” level! It’s a classic game of bluffing. There are two teams, one is security and the other acts as the smugglers. Each team switches roles after each turn and the game typically has a lot of turns so there is room for the mental battles. You can choose to smuggle a maximum of 100 million or nothing. The inspector must guess how much money is in the suitcase without opening it. If there is less money than what he/she guessed, then it is all captured. If there is more money than the guess, the security team must let it through. Also, if security guesses an amount and there is no money being smuggled, then they have to reimburse the smuggler. Naturally, these rules encourage you to simply not smuggle anything so there is no chance that you will take a penalty, but it will be difficult to win that way if the other team has the same idea. This is the game where Yokoya first showed up as well.

Another wrinkle to this is the fact that there is one more way to move money around. You can take it out of your safe and hide is behind or to the side of it. That way, the money isn’t counted in your collection and you can use some more mind games on the opponent. You also have to take great care not to let the other team snag your credit card through shenanigans or the game could be lost. There are probably another 5-10 rules that I haven’t listed here so it all gets pretty overwhelming. Not to mention that you can never trust anyone in this series as they all look out for themselves first and foremost. Betrayals are one of the few constants that you can count on in this title. Most of the games are so long that they stretch out over the course of multiple days. You can imagine how taxing that can be as you have to stay alert for many hours in a row. Luckily, violence is forbidden so you don’t have to worry about being attacked while you’re asleep or anything like that. Only intelligence and wit can be used as weapons in this tournament.

There is a big twist at the end of the series, which leads into the cliff hanger that will never be resolved. It definitely comes out of nowhere and you’ll look at all the rounds in a different light. Was it a good twist? Welllllllll, I would say yes just because it creates a cool cliffhanger. The sequel series would have definitely been hype had they gone along with it. It may be a little hard to buy the fact that the author had this planned out from the get go, but nothing in the series that I can recall discredits the twist so it is plausible. I do love the fact that the twist really does ensure that calling the cops would have helped. I won’t let you readers forget this fact. Logically though, the twist is a bit of a mess as I don’t see how it would not have leaked by then. The twist wasn’t really needed and the series could have had a more exciting climax without it. The cliffhanger could have still been squeezed in.
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Overall, Liar Game is definitely an all star title. The great mind games and extremely complex matches that the characters play make for an incredibly engaging read. I don’t expect that I will ever read such a complex story again. It’s the kind of title that I would have liked to have seen reach 50 or more volumes, but I realize that thinking up that many games would be difficult. Not to mention that the reasons for having more and more people show up to the rounds would probably get contrived after a while. If you have not checked this title out yet, then I would certainly recommend doing so. One thing’s for sure, you will never look at musical chairs the same way as you once did!

Overall 9/10