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Four Manga Series You Need To Read

Jennifer Fuerte, Staff Writer

Most people know what anime is in this day and age: Japanese animation, typically in the form of multi-episode series. On the other hand, only a small percentage of people know about anime’s comic cousin, manga. Manga is essentially the comic book version of anime, but it has a completely different vibe to it, which makes it worth the read. If you’re in need of a starting point or just need some good recommendations, reference this informative list of manga that I believe all people should consider reading at some point in their lives.

Hunter x Hunter

To start off, this is my all-time favorite shounen manga and anime series! Before you go around excitedly talking about the series, it’s not pronounced “Hunter x Hunter” but “Hunter-Hunter”. I’m just saving you the embarrassment you get when an old fan corrects you on your pronunciation because that has happened to me in the past. That aside, Hunter x Hunter is a classic manga that was popular in Japan and should be more popular within the U.S. because it’s amazing. However, be aware if you plan on reading this first because it will set your standards for all anime and manga astronomically high, ruining your expectations of other series because it’s that good.

The exposition of Hunter x Hunter is similar to a lot of shounen anime/manga series. It opens up with a young, optimistic boy protagonist with huge dreams and ambitions for the future. He might be weak at the moment, but he either shows great potential or has an unusual skill or power. Our protagonist, Gon Freecs, is a combination of these things, but his initial goal is to become a hunter, which is referenced in the title. Within the story, a hunter is not someone who kills animals for a game, but a hunter is a highly respected professional under the Hunter Association. To become a hunter, a person must first pass the Hunter Exam, a notorious test known for testing the limits of humanity through physical battles, intelligence tests, and even written exams. Those who pass all rounds of the test come out as victorious and they are granted a Hunter license, which makes them elite members of humanity. As a hunter, they are given special privileges that allow them to do essentially anything they want in the world. They also get a ton of money. The only expectation the Hunter Association has of them is for hunters to specialize in a specific field that generally intends to protect nature, people, and knowledge.

The aspect of the Hunter Association controls a lot of the plot movement in the story, so most of the events that occur in it revolve around Gon’s adventures of becoming a hunter along with his best friend Killua Zoldyck, who also happens to come from a family of assassins. It heavily focuses on the development of their friendship, and eventually, they become close enough for Gon to tell Killua that “in [his] next life, [he] wants to be [him] and meet [Killua] again”. While their friendship is plenty exciting, for me at least, just hearing the premise of the story is already exciting and was enough to get me hooked. To not spoil anything, the story combines the elements of detailed world building and colorful characters. The circumstances that they are put in and the powers they possess drive the story forward, and this makes it hard to put down. Just know that there are many unexpected twists in the story and plot points that are like fun intellectual puzzles for the reader to solve alongside the characters. Out of all manga I’ve read in the past, I genuinely feel like Hunter x Hunter is one of the only series to be the perfect combination of adventure, action, likable characters, and detailed world-building with a sensible power system, unlike series like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z where power seems infinite. That being said, give it a try, and maybe you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did. However, you should be aware that while the current collection of chapters is large, the rate of new chapters has slowed significantly due to health issues of the writer. Nonetheless, read it and experience a whole new perspective of media.


Haikyuu!!, or otherwise abbreviated as HQ!!, is the obligatory sports manga of this list! While I acknowledge that there is the classic basketball manga and anime Kuroko no Basuke to stand, I think that HQ!! is much more appealing to manga readers of our generation.

To summarize, HQ!! focuses on the story of a boy named Shoyou Hinata who wishes to follow in the footsteps of his role model in the world of high school volleyball. The only problem is that he’s really short in comparison to most players, which gives him a natural disadvantage he has no control of. That, and he ends up on the same team as Tobio Kageyama, the setter whose team destroyed his own in a decisive middle school tournament. Although the odds are stacked against him, Hinata and Kageyama develop a technique together that gives their team an edge. From there, the story develops as they get closer to their team, challenge difficult players, and participate in intense high school volleyball tournaments.

What makes this series especially appealing is the placement of vibrant characters in a competitive environment. Naturally, the competitive environment makes the series more thrilling and inviting to watch just by knowing the basic premise, but the addition of interesting characters locks readers into the fandom. As the chapters go by, you’ll feel yourself relating to the wide variety of characters, and most times, as I did, you’ll end up rooting for a certain character or team. Essentially, you’ll be trapped because the characters are that lovable. Either way, if manga isn’t your preferred medium of entertainment, there’s always the anime series that is just as good plot-wise with the added bonuses of high-quality animation and voice acting. Currently, its third season has been completed and its fourth season is in production.


What was I going to do? Not include probably the most recognizable and most popular anime and manga series to date? Hate all you want, but Naruto is a necessary read for people who want to truly understand the manga and anime culture. Again, if I wanted to mention shounen classics, I could’ve included Bleach, One Piece, or even Dragon Ball, but I feel like Naruto is universally known among all ages and all people.

Naruto, as we all know, starts by following the story of a kid named Naruto Uzumaki. He dreams to be a ninja, but he lives with multiple social disadvantages. To start, both of his parents are dead because of an accident in the past, everyone in his village excludes him, and he’s treated as an outcast at his ninja school. He doesn’t have many friends, but as the events of the manga progress, he becomes closer to his ninja unit team, which includes the edgy Sasuke Uchiha and obsessed-with-Sasuke Sakura Haruno. To not give away many details of the story, the manga follows the plot more strictly as opposed to the anime series, which tends to go off track with filler episodes. Furthermore, the manga is a little bit more detailed in terms of explaining events and characters, but it does feel long at times because the number of chapters is pretty high. Basically, the story is about Naruto and how he becomes powerful while dealing with themes of friendship, morality, and loyalty.

When I read Naruto, I felt like it was longer than it should’ve been, but it’s somewhat understandable that the writer would extend it because of its popularity. At the same time, there is great value in reading the manga because you get to understand lots of references in the anime and manga culture, as I have mentioned before. While the series is good on its own plot-wise and character-wise, reading the manga will definitely allow you to understand the base values of a typical shounen anime. Naruto is legendary just like Naruto’s iconic catchphrase, “Dattebayo”, and it continues to pass on its legacy to series following after it, like Boku no Hero Academia, which I’ll explain next.

Boku no Hero Academia

As I mentioned in my Naruto section, I believe that Boku no Hero Academia is a continuation of the line of iconic shounen manga series. The stories and characters, however, are widely different, and each series has their own special element that distinguishes them from other series. Along with it becoming an iconic series, Boku no Hero Academia bridges similar themes between the old and the present, making it a connection between generations of manga.

Boku no Hero Academia first begins with an exposition of the universe and its rules. For this specific world, people are born with special powers called Quirks. This line of evolution was spontaneous, and it all started when a baby in China was born with the power to literally light up. The series skips over to the present, and through the incorporation of powers into the institution and culture, there are now facilities dedicated to managing Quirks and the similar. In particular, U.A. High School is a place where the most elite kids attend school to become superheroes, which has become a regular thing in this world. The main character, Izuku Midoriya, starts off the series wishing to go to the school, but the main catch is that he doesn’t have a Quirk. Only a really small percentage of the population is born without one, but somehow, despite having parents with powers, Midoriya, unfortunately, has to live in a world where social status is determined by how powerful you are. Additionally, Midoriya is constantly bullied by his childhood friend turned bully, Katsuki Bakugou, who was born with a strong explosive Quirk. With the social pressure of not having powers, Midoriya struggles to pursue his ambition of becoming the top superhero, but this all changes one fateful day where he meets his role model. From this moment on, his life changes forever, and he’s given a chance to chase his dreams amid all the chaos that surrounds U.A. High School.

While I think Boku no Hero Academia lacks a little bit in depth, the cast of characters is really diverse in personality and appearance. The series incorporates many of the elements from typical shounen mangas, but I feel like it does a better job at focusing on teaching values like hard work, determination, courage, and perseverance because the protagonist has to work his way up the chain of power. Katelyn Tiu, someone I wouldn’t consider to be an avid manga reader, said that “the premise of the story was really weird since there was some muscular guy training a high schooler to be a superhero, but you should read it anyway.”

With all the varieties of manga in the world, most people don’t know where to start or which series they should read next. Hopefully, this list provides you guidance or narrows down your search for your next read because each listed manga succeeded in entertaining me, both by teaching me lessons of morality and by showcasing an art form rare in the Western world.

Graphic courtesy of WEHEARTIT.COM

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Four Manga Series You Need To Read