The best Seinen manga for comic and graphic novel fans

Fans of Western comic series and graphic novels such as mainstream Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse titles are generally familiar with Japanese manga, as they are the general equivalent of the comic industry. Some comic book fans embrace both worlds, while others may balk for various reasons. Maybe manga seems juvenile to them, or they don’t like black and white art or right-to-left reading style.


Luckily, the world of Japanese manga is extremely large and has something for any potential audience, including comic book fans. Any comic collector who prefers mature and serious stories to lighter fare like Pokémon or Fairy tail he’s encouraged to try a handful of well-regarded seinen titles instead. These select series are more like Western comics in their tone, content, and graphics, making them a great entry point for comic fans.

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Monster is a medical thriller set in West Germany

An image of a portrait from Monster Manga Volume 1

Manga author Naoki Urasawa has written many popular titles, including the medical thriller Monster be considered his best. This tense thriller series takes place in West Germany and stars young Japanese doctor Kenzo Tenma, who rescues a brother and sister in his hospital at the cost of another patient’s life. The brother, Johan Liebert, grew up to be an assassin and Dr. Tenma faced his wrath nine years later.

Johan killed his sister’s adoptive parents and another patient of Tenma, leading the doctor to take it upon himself to save this monster’s life. She soon learns of Johan Liebert’s twisted origins and why exactly he is a human monster, all with Dr. Tenma grappling with his own guilt over his role in it all.

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20th Century Boys pits a gang of friends against a cult

20th century kids

Author Naoki Urasawa has another successful seinen manga title to his name, that being Boys of the 20th century. This series stars a group of friends who grew up in 1960s Japan, who form their own club with their own Friend mascot, complete with an eye symbol and an upturned hand.

On New Year’s Eve 1999, the grown friends realize that someone has stolen their friend persona and turned it into a sinister reality, leading a fanatical cult determined to remake the world with acts of terror, biological weapons and more. . The middle-aged friends gradually reunite to face off against their childhood friend one last time, which may remind some Western fans of Losers Club from IT.

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Berserk is the pinnacle of the Dark Fantasy manga

Berserk cover 14 of the manga

All fantasy manga fans know this Berserk, the long-running dark fantasy series from the late author Kentaro Miura. Any comic fan who likes stories like The Lord of the Rings, game of Thrones and the like will appreciate Berserkwith this popular title featuring nightmarish monsters, intriguing medieval-style politics, compelling characters and a sweeping story of ambition, revenge, personal loss and love.

The story is still not complete after more than 30 years of publication, but it is picking up now and the current content still tells an epic tale that any comic book fan with a strong stomach could love. Kentaro Miura’s art has to be seen to be believed, and the lore and characters feel deeper with each reading, making it a rewarding experience.

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Vinland Saga is a semi-historical tale of revenge, exploration and hope

warriors of the Vinland saga

The epic seinen manga from author Makoto Yukimura Vinland Saga it plays fast and loose with real-life European history in the Viking Age, but can still feel familiar to history buffs while there’s plenty to enjoy for comic book fans. Historical figures such as Thorfinn Karlsefni, his wife Gudrid, Leif Erikson and Prince Canute unite in a part history, part fiction tale of medieval warfare and revenge, but there is more to Thorfinn’s life than rage and swords .

Vinland Saga is an epic deconstruction of medieval warfare, criticizing the futility of warfare and violence in favor of constructive pursuits such as founding a peaceful colony, such as Vinland, in a new land where warfare and slavery are a distant memory.

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Vagabond takes a step back to feudal Japan

Musashi draws his sword in the Wanderer, in some of manga's best artwork

Author Takehiro Inoue is known for his basketball manga series such as True And Crushedbut also created a dazzling historical seinen manga titled Tramp. Like it Berserkthis manga isn’t complete yet, but it has 37 volumes in publication, plenty of material for comic fans to test the waters with. Tramp takes place in the last years of the feudal era of Japan, following the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, also known by the name of Takezo Shinmen.

Takezo survived the historic battle of Sekigahara with his comrade Matahachi, and soon after they go their separate ways. What follows is a breathtaking, mature, and incredibly well-drawn manga epic of a swordsman’s rise to fame and power in a difficult time in Japan’s past. It’s perfect for comic fans with a love of history.

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