Manga are Japanese style comics. If you’re expecting spandex and super friends, you’ll be sadly disappointed though.
Manga spans a much wider spectrum than mainstream Western comics, with everything from accountancy exams to grand romance making its way into manga. Correspondingly it has very wide readership in Japan, with Bleach getting estimated weekly sales of around 387,000 for the latest edition, compared with Naruto’s 741,000 or One Piece’s 2,075,000! Whoa! That’s a lot of manga fans.
All three competitors today are long running shonen series that have long been vying for the top spot. Shonen manga gets its name from being aimed at young men (shonen), but really for most shonen series the emphasis is on cool fight scenes, friendship based stories and lots and lots of humour. It’s not hard to see why it’s popular with middle aged businessmen, young women and everyone in between! So which is best? Which should you read? It’s grim reapers vs ninjas vs pirates!
What Is It? Ichigo Kurosaki is just an ordinary high school student who can see ghosts until he meets Rukia Kuchiki who destroys evil spirits and sends good spirits to the afterlife! Through spoilers Ichigo ends up having to help Rukia out and kick some supernatural ass himself too!
Who’d Like It? If you enjoy Dragon Ball or (just for the oldies) Yu Yu Hakusho you’ll enjoy fight-y shonen action that Bleach has in spades. If you’re an avid reader Bleach has really amazing plot twists and turns for those who stay with it.
What Is It? Lots and lots of ninjas! Naruto Uzumaki is determined to become the best ninja ever, but unfortunately a mythical 9-tailed fox was sealed in his body when he was a baby after killing lots of ninja villagers! So things aren’t going to be plain sailing, but that’s OK because he has his best friends Sasuke and Sakura to help him on his way.
Who’d Like It? Do you love ninjas? Epic sagas? (We really mean epic!) Naruto might be for you.
What Is It? Monkey D. Luffy sails the sea with his motley crew in search of the One Piece, what it is, where it is, why it is are all mysteries to be revealed!
Who’d Like It? If you want your shonen to give you a little bit of street cred, you could do worse than One Piece! Famous for being a favourite of Uniqlo flannel wearing, design loving, Casa Brutus reading types across Japan, as well as the Jump! hardcore crowd, we recommend this one for introducing friends to manga.
Which is best!?
Each is a classic shonen series, so we think you should read them all!