Welcome to my personal list of the 5 best seinen manga.
In recent years, I have been reading more and more seinen manga. Probably because I am of that age where I am not a teenager but not yet a full-fledged adult so the realistic yet not realistic aspects of seinen manga is really entertaining.
Just like the other genres of manga I have listed on this site, I’ve decided to put down my 5 best manga from my personal collection.
My collection of seinen manga isn’t very huge which I mostly attribute it to the fact I started this particular genre a little late (17-18 years of age) so I haven’t a huge collection that is as big as my shoujo and shounen ones. However, I don’t think that should stop me from sharing my fav manga with all of you (*^▽^*)
In any case, I hope you enjoy reading my list of seinen ranked #5 to #1! (“⌒∇⌒”)
Note that like the other ‘5 Best ____’ lists I have on this site, this list is subject to change as new titles come out and I read more manga of this genre. Don’t worry! I will definitely put updates on my social media and on this post when I do any updates.
Related post: What is Seinen Manga?
5. Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil)
What if the greatest person you have to fear in times of war is a little girl?
An unnamed atheist, a Japanese salaryman who was murdered by a disgruntled ex-colleague fired due to poor performance at work meets an entity (whom the man calls ‘being X’) who has the ability to stop time. Dismayed by the man’s lack of faith, the entity punishes him by making him reincarnate in the body of an orphaned girl, Tanya Degurechaff, in a world similar to WWI or WWII Europe where besides guns and weapons of war, there is magic involved. Being X also stipulates that if Tanya does not die a normal death or does not develop faith in Him, her soul will never reincarnate and be sent straight to the depths of hell. Tanya is having none of this not-reincarnating nonsense so she decides to rise through the ranks of the military so that she will be as far away from the battlefield as possible. With her analytical mind gained from her previous life, Tanya will not let anyone stand in the way of her goals, even going so far as killing them to ensure that.
This title is on this list because of the unusual premise that the author of the series decided to go with. A faithless man is punished for being faithless by being put somewhere so dangerous that he has to turn to faith to keep sane. This manga is an adaptation of a light novel which also has an anime adaptation as well.
Despite the religious themes the manga has, it is anything but. This manga talks about war which is pretty clear once you read more into the story.
The flow is pretty interesting because Tanya is essentially a child soldier of her own violation trying to avoid her fate by sticking to her principles as much as possible but being X is not going to let her off the hook for her past sins just yet. We, readers, know she is an adult male on the inside but her devious nature really hits on the head when right in front of you is a little girl who speaks with a lisp and is more than half a normal soldier’s height.
With an unusual premise and plot, this title is #5 on my list.
4. Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Romance between two equally proud people? No way that will happen so easily…so let’s add some comedy in the mix and see what happens.
Student Council President Shirogane Miyuki and Vice-President Shinomiya Kaguya both have feelings for each other. In other normal circumstances, one of them (or both) will confess and they will end up being a couple. However, both Kaguya and Miyuki refuse to be the first one to do so, thinking that they would lose to the other if they did. These two proud individuals try their hardest to get the other to confess which brings much fun to the boring days in the Student Council.
I was surprised that this is a seinen title but after reading it, I can see why. It doesn’t have the fluffiness of a shoujo series, relying on comedy to portray the intense emotions that Miyuki and Kaguya have for each other. Not all seinen series have mature themes which is a little refreshing, to be honest. After reading title after title that portrays gore and angst, a little laughter can do much for the soul. It is also romantic to boot which is always a plus in my book.
3. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (A City Only I am Missing)
If you had the chance to change the past, would you?
Fujinuma Satoru is an aspiring mangaka but at the age of 29, he is working part-time as a pizza delivery driver while barely getting any manga-related work. It is safe to say that Satoru is living a pretty dead life and he knows it. One day though, during his normal work hours, he discovers he has the ability to rewind time and prevented an accident from occurring. From then on, Satoru’s life changes drastically. When he is implicated in a murder he didn’t commit, he goes back in time to his days in elementary school and vows to solve a murder that has continued to plague him to this day. Satoru realises that this murder was the start of everything and he vows to catch the killer.
Called Erased in international publications, this title an exciting one to read. It has action, mystery, adventure, thrill, and some psychological horror elements to spice it up. The mangaka has done a phenomenal job in voicing out Satoru’s thoughts of helplessness, determination, and his quick wit in order to save those he failed to save long ago. We are pulled into the psyche of Satoru himself as he does all these tasks all by himself.
The time travel adds an element of supernatural that we all love which suits the mysterious theme that surrounds this title. It would be up higher on my list had I read no more wonderful titles but this one will be one of my personal favourites of this genre.
2. Tokyo Ghoul
What if not zombies, it’s a whole other species of humanoid creatures that you have to run from?
Kaneki Ken is a regular college student whose life changes completely after he goes on a date with a beautiful woman only for her to turn into a monster and attack him. He barely survives as the woman’s organs were transplanted into his body but his entire physiology changes completely into that of a Ghoul’s, a humanoid creature that feeds on human flesh to survive. Kaneki now has to adapt to living his life as a ghoul. Will he be able to do so, knowing that these creatures are the ones responsible for the recent murders in Tokyo?
This title is number two on my list for two reasons:
1. The gothic horror art style
2. The portrayal of dark fantasy
The art style is not like any other I’ve seen in the years I’ve been reading manga. It is of the gothic horror art style which brings out the sombre mood that this manga puts you in. I’m not lying when I say that this manga is pretty depressing only because the art makes all the horror and desparing scenes all the more impactful…and I love it!
Dark fantasy is more gore, less story in popular culture these days. This manga actually had a lot more going on besides all the dark stuff. Moral dilemma and tragedy are also prominent themes in this title and not just murder happy time. Tokyo Ghoul is not just an urban horror fantasy, it is an adventure of understanding other sentient creatures (in this case, the Ghouls) and aiming to find some middle ground between the two species.
1. Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (Our Happy Times)
Two depressed people discuss the meaning of life. That’s really all to this series.
Adapted from a Korean novel, this manga talks about a young woman, Mutou Juri, who has attempted suicide multiple times as she believes that there is nothing worth living for as everything and everyone in her life has made her so unhappy. She is a pianist but has not performed for years due to her mental health issues and her dark past. Juri is recruited to talk to a prisoner on death row who has murdered three people. This prisoner, Yuu, is like Juri in more ways than one. He has attempted to kill himself as well because there is nothing that can make living any more bearable. Surprisingly, to both of them, talking with each other helped and they both grew closer, understanding how important their lives really are and aspire to live.
This title is depressing. All in good reason because the story is meant to discuss the meaning of life for those who have been hurt during the course of their own lives. Those who weren’t lucky to live joyfully wonder if it is worth all that suffering, if ending it is better because it frees them. However, in the end, Juri and Yuu are just people who need someone who will simply listen to their story and that’s what saves them when all is said and done.
Even though the manga ends on a bittersweet note, there is some weight lifted off the reader’s shoulders. This title is really aimed at getting their viewers to reflect on the events in their lives and boy did I reflect haha. I stared at the wall for a long time after I finished it, not sure on what to make of the ending and how I felt about it.
I really love series that make me think because it allows me to be fully immersed in the themes of the story. The art also helped with its soft undertones and sketch-like style.
I really hoped you enjoyed reading this list of my personal favourite seinen manga. Some titles are a little depressing but it’s not the sad parts I aim to read, it’s the story flow and themes that I’m looking at.
As always, if you have any opinions on my personal choice of seinen manga, feel free to comment down below, I’d love to hear it 🙂