Introduction

It can be tough to add a series to a collection or recommend it to a reader when it’s unfinished or cancelled, so this list is made of only completed manga series. Some are longer than others, but all of them were completed by their creators.

Backstage Prince

Kanoko Sakurakoji

Cover Image

Those looking for a short and sweet romance manga can find what they seek in Backstage Prince. Akari is an ordinary high school girl who gets swept up into the world of rien (kabuki theatre) when she follows a stray cat into the back door of the theatre. Little does she know that cat is not a stray, but belongs to one of the rising stars of kabuki Shonosuke Ichimura, which is the stage name used by a heartthrob upperclassmen at her school Ryusei Horiuchi. When a deal is made for her to work as Ryusei assistant, Akari gets a crash course in kabuki and in the way of the heart.

Appeals to

Shojo lovers will get all the drama and tropes without the commitment of a longer series.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Golden Kamuy

Satoru Noda

Cover Image

Saichi, a former soldier, decides to pursue a legend of gold connected to the Ainu people to try and honor a promise he made to a lost comrade, which starts with finding the map that happens to be tattooed on the backs of prisoners. This leads him to Asirpa, an Ainu girl, he sets off. Their story will quickly become entangled with others' and eventually lead to deciding the fate of the Ainu people as a whole. It's a sweeping and multifaceted story of revenge, redemption, and family.

Appeals to

What makes Golden Kamuy distinct, aside from its focus on the Ainu culture, is that it blends humor so well into darker and more difficult topics. It also doesn't shy away from showing scenes of things like butchering an animal for meat, and more gruesome acts of human or animal violence. It's an excellent choice for fans of Vinland Saga or Steel of the Celestial Shadows, but I could also see it having appeal for fans of Dan Da Dan for the wacky adult humor.

Content Notes

Depictions of violence and gore, discussions of PTSD/the effects of war, some nudity

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Hell's Paradise

Yuji Kaku

Cover Image

Hell's Paradise really has it all, from art that depicts the beauty and brutality of the characters' experiences to interesting fight scenes, and going all the way to philosophical discussions on the nature of life and immortality. Also, the world's most unexpected wife guy is one of the main characters, Gabimaru. Follow this hollow-eyed ninja with his stiff executioner chaperone Sagiri through a lush and strange fantasy that ends (no spoilers) actually surprisingly happily considering that most of the story doesn't feel like it will.

Appeals to

Because of the mix of wonderful and horrifying, it's hard not to suggest Hell's Paradise to readers of series like Hellsing or Berserk, and the historical angle pulls in readers of Blade of the Immortal, while the presence of ninjas means it might be an interesting suggestion for fans of Naruto who are looking for something a bit more intense.

Content Notes

Many scenes of dismemberment or bodily harm and blood, as well as body horror and disturbing monsters.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Restaurant to Another World

Junpei Inuzuka

Takaaki Kugatsu

Cover Image

Food and fantasy meet in this story about a restaurant that cooks western food in a Japanese style that has a secret. Every Saturday, a door to another plane opens in the restaurant and the chef devotes himself to feeding and entertaining this exotic clientele, which involves many fantastical types like elves, demons, and dragons that you might see in a D&D campaign or fantasy novel. in the first volume we meet Aletta, a demon girl who is unable to find a job in her world because of the long standing hatred and discrimination against demons. She stumbles on the door to the restaurant and after being treated to a lovely meal by the chef, he offers her a job as a waitress serving the customers who come in on Saturdays. One word of advice, don't read this book hungry!

Appeals to

Foodies and fantasy fans alike will love this title.

Content Notes

Mild language, implied nudity

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Run On Your New Legs

Wataru Midori

Cover Image

Shouta went from being a promising soccer player to a shut-in after an accident meant the loss of one of his legs. Now he's at the school he got into thanks to soccer and can't play, and he pushed away his best friend. Then an odd prosthetist named Chidori sees Shouta running through a train station and offers him an unexpected bit of hope. If Shouta helps Chidori's business, then while he may not be able to return to soccer, Shouta could give track, and even the Paralympics, a try.

Appeals to

Though this is a sports manga, it does a lot of discussing disability, prosthetics, and the Paralympics so an interest in track and field isn't necessary as a reader. There's also the fact that this manga takes place as the COVID-19 outbreak began, and it talks about the effect that had on student athletes (and teen life in general). It's funny, sweet, and informative, making it an easy suggestion for many kinds of readers.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Missing Limb |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Soul Eater

Atsushi Ohkubo

Cover Image

Soul Eater is an action manga that follows 2 pairs and 1 trio of students who attend the Death Meister Weapon Academy, a school for training people with the special ability to turn into weapons and their wielders to rid the world of evil-corrupted souls. The manga follows the journey of Maka, Soul Eater, Black Star, Tsubaki, and Death the Kid and his twin weapons Patty and Liz on their mission to collect 100 corrupted souls and one witch soul so that their weapons can become a death scythe, the most powerful type of weapon among weapons and meisters.

Appeals to

For those looking to get into shounen/action manga, this title is a great place to start, as a lot of the tropes and cultural aspects of the title are easy to find out in context.

Content Notes

Language, violence, nudity, sexual situations

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

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  • Tayla

    | She/Her Branch Librarian

    Features Writer

    Tayla Cardillo (she/her) is the Branch Librarian of the Oaklawn branch of the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI. She is also a member of the ALA Graphic Novel and Comic Round Table and the chair of the Rhode Island Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.

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