Manga is a medium that can be hard to get into, especially when most popular series are more than 20 volumes long. Unlike most American comics which are a volume long, a lot of manga series require way more commitment, due to their length. This can put off newcomers interested in diving into this vast and magical medium.
However, there’s a way to overcome his volume barrier and it’s quite simple. Start with some single-volume manga first. These are a great entryway for people just starting with manga.
Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White
(by Taiyo Matsumoto)
The story in Tekkonkinkreet follows two orphans, Black and White as they fight their way through waves of yakuza trying to take over their city. The city in question is “Treasure town”. A run down steam-punk inspired town, where gangs run rampant. However, Black and White are not your average street kids. Black is an extremely violent and dark child, while his brother White is pure and innocent. The themes covered in this book range from abandonment and loss to the contrast between light and darkness. Beware that this is a manga intended for a mature audience and can quite gritty sometimes.
(by Hajime Ueda)
This manga is based on the six-episode anime of the same name. And like it’s anime counterpart, the manga adaptation is no less weird or crazy. The story follows a young prepubescent boy named Naota, who lives a boring life in a town where nothing happens(oh besides the giant iron standing on the hill). All this changes however when a woman driving a Vespa runs him over and before he knows it, begins living with him and his family. This leads to a lot of bizarre scenarios. For example a robot pops out of Naota’s head and become’s the family’s house servant. And that’s not even the strangest thing that happens. Overall, FLCL is a must-read manga for people who enjoy weird and quirky humor.
(by Satoshi Kon)
It should come as no surprise that a manga from Satoshi Kon is on this list. If you’re not familiar with who Kon is, well he’s undeniably the greatest anime director that has ever lived. Before his passing in 2010, Kon directed four feature-length films and one anime series. However, what some people might know is that Kon was also a mangaka before he started working on anime. And although unfinished, Kon’s Opus stands miles above series with tens to hundreds of volumes. Although a meta manga at heart, it also deals with themes such as existentialism and predestination. If you’re a Satoshi Kon fan or just someone looking for a meaningful read, definitely pick this one up.
(by Hiroaki Samura)
Ohikkoshi is a stand-alone manga from renowned mangaka, Hiroaki Samura of “Blade of the Immortal” fame. There are three one-shot stories compiled in this manga whose genres range from romance and action to slice-of-life.
- The first story “Ohikkoshi” follows a group of university students as they deal with the themes of adulthood: love, lust and doing the right thing.
- “Luncheon of Tears Diary”, the second story focuses on a young woman who only wishes to become a successful mangaka. We see her grow from a young and innocent girl into a hardboiled femme fatale.
- The last story is Kyoto Super Barhopping Journal (Bloodbath at Midorogaike). It’s an autobiographical short that follows a day in the life of the author, Hiroaki Samura on a trip to Kyoto.
(by Inio Asano)
Solanin tells the tale of Meiko Inoue and her boyfriend Taneda. This young couple has no goal nor plans for the future. After quitting her boring office job, Meiko decides to join Taneda’s band. The manga perfectly illustrates the struggles of the band in their day to day lives and their dealings with the music industry. It’s a touching story about having to come to terms with real life and making the right choice.