If you haven’t given these Japanese graphic novels a go then you’re really missing out. Manga is not only the PERFECT binge read, but it also has some of the most beautiful artwork and swoon-worthy characters.
WARNING: Serious fangirling may ensue if you start reading any of these titles. You’re welcome.
1. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
How many volumes? 23
What is it? A slightly ditsy but lovable girl called Tohru happens up the Sohma household who all happen to change into animals of the Chinese zodiac. Much drama and fun follows.
For fans of… Stephanie Perkins, Jenny McLachlan, Rainbow Rowell
Notable characters? Kyo and Yuki Sohma.
Anime option? Yes! And it’s a pretty good adaptation too! As beautifully drawn as the books, that’s for sure.
2. ‘Black Butler’ by Yana Toboso
How many volumes? 23 (so far)
What is it? The young Ciel Phantomhive is tasked with solving crimes in London for Queen Victoria. However, he’s also trying to solve his own mystery surrounding the murder of his parents. Not to mention the demon enslaved to him who is “simply one HELL of a butler”. Victorian gothic fun time.
For fans of… Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Gail Carriger
Notable characters? Grell Sutcliffe.
Anime option? Heck yes. And it is everything. It is life.
3. ‘Loveless’ by Yun Koga
How many volumes? 12 (so far)
What is it about? Ritsuka is struggling to come to terms with his brother’s death two years ago, but new dude on the block, Soubi claims to know something about that mystery. There’s cat ears and magic and spell battles involved. It’s awesomesauce. A little bit on the ‘Josei’ side (aimed at an older YA audience, slightly more sexually explicit).
For fans of… Erin Hunter, Jandy Nelson, Stephen Chbosky
Notable characters? Soubi Agatsuma.
Anime option? Yes! It’s a little hard to find, but it’s out there. And it’s awesome. It deviates from the manga since however the manga isn’t finished yet.
4. ‘Ouran High School Host Club’ by Bisco Hatori
How many volumes? 18
What is it about? Haruhi is accepted into a private school where she is mistaken for a boy and after accidentally breaking something expensive has to pay back her debt by become a “host” in an exclusive club where girls pay for their company. Many laughs, much romance, so much fun!
For fans of… Louise Rennison, Holly Smale, Ally Carter
Notable characters? Tamaki Suoh
Anime option? Ohhh yeah. And once you’ve finished binge reading the manga you’ll be binge watching the anime. It’s proper LAUGH OUT LOUD stuff.
5. ‘Samurai Deeper Kyo’ by Akimine Kamijyo
How many volumes? 38
What is it about? A feared samurai is after his body after his soul is trapped inside the body of his rival.
For fans of… Lian Hern, Jay Kristoff, Amanda Sun
Notable characters? Demon Eyes Kyo
Anime option? Yep! But the plot veers wildly from the manga.
6. ‘Hana-Kimi’ by Hisayo Nakajo
How many volumes? 23
What is it about? Mizuki gets herself transferred from her American high school to a Japanese one where her sports idol attends. The catch? It’s an all-guys school. Cross dressing chaos commences! If you’ve seen the film ‘She’s the Man’ then you get the gist.
For fans of… Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison, Jenny McLachlan, Zoe Sugg
Notable characters? Shuichi Nakatsu
Anime option? No, but there is a television show instead. Neat huh?
7. ‘Fushigi Yugi’ by Yuu Watase
How many volumes? 18
What is it about? Miaka is transported back to ancient China where she must gather the seven celestial warriors. She falls in love with one of them. So, HEA? Not quite. Her BFF follows her and embarks on the same quest, born out of jealousy and much drama.
For fans of… Marie Rutkoski, Kristen Cashore, Alyson Noel
Notable characters? Celestial Warrior Tamahome
Anime option? Yessiree! It might be a little harder to track down, but it’s a sweet adaptation.
8. ‘Bleach’ by Tite Kubo
How many volumes? 74
What is it about? Ichigo becomes a soul reaper (sort of by accident) and embarks on an almost neverending quest against the hollows and bad people determined to invade the earth realm, or kill him, or kill his friends.
For fans of… Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Anthony Horowitz
Notable characters? Kon
Anime? Ohhh yes. One of THE BEST animes out there. Truth.
9. ‘Attack on Titan’ by Hajime Isayama
How many volumes? 20 (so far)
What is it about? Post-apocalypse SF type setting where the world has been ravaged by giant humanoid “titans”. The remaining humans have been living/hiding behind a massive walled city. But alas, the Titans are coming.
For fans of… Moira Young, Dan Wells, Peadar O’Guilin
Notable characters? Mikasa Ackerman
Anime option? Only probs the best anime you’ll ever watch.
10. ‘Vampire Knight’ by Matsuri Hino
How many volumes? 19
What is it about? Yuki attends a prestigious academy with a dark secret. By day the classes are for humans and by night? For vampires. Cue twisted, complex relationships and drama. Much romance. Much hotness. Much mystery!
For fans of… Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Stephanie Meyer
Notable characters? Zero and Kaname
Anime option? Binge watch it all. It’s FAB!
11. ‘Death Note’ by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
How many volumes? 12
What is it about? In a nutshell. A student gets hold of a book dropped by a bored shinigami where if you write down someone’s name in it they will then die.
For fans of… Lish McBride, Derek Landy, Darren Shan
Notable characters? Ryuk
Anime option? Yes! And an awesome live action movie too!
12. ‘Skip Beat!’ by Yoshiki Nakamura
How many volumes? 39
What is it about? Kyoko follows her boyfriend to Tokyo to support him in his goals for stardom. However, upon finding out he’s only using her she ditches him and vows revenge by beating him at his own game. But she gets the acting bug… and often forgets why she started this crazy adventure in the first place.
For fans of… Sophia Bennett, Perdita & Honor Cargill, Sarah Dessen
Notable characters? Ren Tsuruga
Anime option? What DOESN’T this series have? Anime and live action coming out of its ears!
Which is your favourite? Is there a series we should have included? Tell us in the comments below!
- QUIZ: We zoomed in on some of our favourite YA covers. Can you work out what they are?
- Can you handle 30 seconds in ‘Cell 7’?
- Quiz: we recommend a classic read based on your fave YA
- 21 must-have accessories for your planner!
- 8 reasons ‘Cell 7’ needs bumped up your TBR
- 9 Harry Potter spin-offs we’d read in a heartbeat
- Quiz: Are you a witch or nah? Find out if your power to enthrall is more or less supernatural
- MP! Bookish Awards: We know what Marie Rutkoski is writing next + WIN the ‘Winner’s’ trilogy!