The world of seinen manga is diverse and there are so many different types of series and genres you can explore, from psychological manga to historical manga, sports manga to comedy manga, horror manga to sci-fi manga and more. In addition to having sophisticated and more violent subjects, they frequently examine their main characters from psychological and existential perspectives. Their attention is divided between the growth of the plot and the growth of the characters.
Not all seinen manga are action-packed and violent, but many are. Some are slice-of-life or drama-focused, so there are series within seinen that don’t focus on battles that may interest you more, depending on what you are into. Many of them focus on a battle of wits rather than brawn, so there are a lot of intellectual series to get into also that oftentimes delve into topics like human nature, mortality, and more. There’s just so much to get into in the wonderful world that is seinen manga and I truly believe that it has something for everyone.
Seinen has allowed me to enter excitingly surreal but also realistic worlds. They’ve made me question and think about things in different ways, and there’s a dark beauty to them that never fails to draw me in. There’s something just so incredibly relatable about the characters in seinen series and the struggles they face that make it a truly refreshing category in manga.
I love seinen manga, so I’ve read a ton of series over the years, and many of the series on this list are some of the best manga of all-time. There are many more manga series I want to eventually include in this post. Seinen is such a vast category of manga and there’s so much to explore, so I’ll continue to add more series to this list overtime.
That all being said, here are the best seinen manga you can read! I hope you’ll find a series or more you are excited about checking out.
1. Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei
Blame! is one of my favorite sci-fi horror, seinen manga with a cyberpunk setting to release so far as well as one of my top manga of all-time. One of the biggest factors that keeps me invested in a manga is if it has a rich and well-thought-out world that pulls you in and immerses you in its story, and while a lot of manga have good world-building, few do it as well as Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame!.
There’s no denying that Tsutomu Nihei is a force, and while he has a lot of incredible works, including Knights of Sidonia, Biomega, Abara, and Aposimz, none of them have been quite as influential as Blame!. And while I enjoy all of his manga for different reasons, even after all of these years, it is still my favorite manga of his to date.
Blame! is a story about Killy. He is making his way through this giant superstructure that is far bigger than we could ever imagine in search of something called the Net Terminal Gene. Over the course of his journey, he meets new allies and people, but he also comes across opposition from the Safeguard and the Silicon Life. There is so much more to this story, though.
There are two main reasons as to why Blame! is so successful: Tsutomu Nihei’s world-building and his art. Blame! features some of the most incredible art I’ve ever seen in a manga. When we read manga, we often look at panels that mangaka have spent hours if not longer working on for mere seconds at a time, but Tsutomu Nihei’s manga pushes you to pay attention to all of the details.
Tsutomu Nihei is a master at what he does and there’s just something truly sinister about the way that Silicon Life in particular look and the feeling you get as Killy is making his way through this dark and cold world. Blame! was the first manga to prove to me that a story doesn’t always have to be told with words, but that it can be done through art instead. It’s a really unique read and one that I highly recommend all manga collectors, no matter what you are fan of, check out, because there’s no series quite like it.
You can collect Blame! with English translation via the singles or the Master Editions!
2. Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki follows Shinichi Izumi, who’s your everyday, average high school student. His life changes forever one day when an alien creature called a Parasite invades his body. Somehow, he manages to prevent it from infesting his entire body, containing it only in his hand.
No longer the same, with his hand under the control of a murderous alien named Migi, Shinichi will have to face this new reality head on. Others who have been infested by Parasites have not had such luck and have been taken over by these otherworldly beings. Their bodies now hosts under the control of the Parasites, who morph their bodies into horrifying visions and use their bodies to hide within the crowd as “humans”. The only one who knows of their secret is Shinichi, so he will have to find a way to warn humanity of the horrors to come.
It’s a series that was released over 30 years ago and is still highly influential and loved to this day. It’s a sci-fi horror classic that has withstood the test of time, and it’s without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best seinen as well as the best horror manga to release so far. On top of that, it has some of the most horrifying alien designs I’ve ever seen as well and it has some of the most effective body horror in all of manga.
You can collect Parasyte with English translation via the Parasyte Full Color editions or the singles released by Kodansha! Not sure which to pick up? Check out my comparison of the editions below!
3. Homunculus by Hideo Yamamoto
Hideo Yamamoto’s Homunculus is one of the best psychological horror series as well as one of the best seinen manga ever created. Seven Seas recently announced that they will be releasing Homunculus with English translation in an oversized omnibus format. Homunculus is a highly-wished-for and long-awaited series, so this is exciting as well as much-anticipated news.
Homunculus follows Susumu Nakoshi. One day he’s in a lavish hotel, the next he’s living in his car. He is approached by Manabu Ito, a 22-year-old medical student, who tells Nakoshi that he’s a perfect candidate for an experimental surgery. At first, everything seems normal for Nakoshi following this experimental surgery, but everything changes when the effects kick in and he begins seeing the homunculus in every person. Manabu and Nakoshi’s interactions and their complex relationship are a big reason why Homunculus is such an intriguing series.
Since Nakoshi undergoes an experimental surgery, it leaves him seeing the world in a strange and unexpected way. It’s hard to know how much is real and how much isn’t as you read, so there’s a real mystery to this series. Because you follow Nakoshi as he works to understand what’s going on and come to terms with his new reality, you really feel like you’re experiencing the story with Nakoshi as a result.
While there’s a supernatural feel to the series, Homunculus is rooted very much in reality. It’s a relatable read that explores the psyche of its main character, but it also explores emotions and the human condition in a more abstract way. This is explored even more in Nakoshi’s interactions with homunculi.
The artwork in Homunculus is simple yet beautiful as well. Hideo Yamamoto’s ability to use symbolism and create an interesting story is one of a kind.
4. No Longer Human by Usamaru Furuya & Osamu Dazai
No Longer Human by Usamaru Furuya, who you may also know as the creator of Lychee Light Club, is a manga that broke me even more so than another series on this list, Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano. No Longer Human is the saddest manga I’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the best.
No Longer Human is inspired by Ozamu Dazai’s novel of the same name. It’s one that will gut punch you from the very start, and like the original novel, it will pull you into a pit of despair. It isn’t an enjoyable read by any means and it’s one of the most heart-wrenching series out there, but if you aren’t faint of heart, it’s one that you will be glad you experienced by its end. It’s one of the few manga series that I feel confident in calling a masterpiece.
The story follows Ooba Youzou and his life as it spirals further and further out of control. He fears others, so much so that he hides himself from the world. He makes attempts to connect with others, but only superficially, as a means to protect himself, but also to protect others from him and his seedy ways. In order to be hated or loved, one must reveal their true self to the world, and this is something he wants to avoid at all costs.
This is very much a story about a young man who lives outside of the human fold yet so desperately wants to be part of it, or at the very least attempt to understand it, and this is a big part of the reason as to why it’s such a tough read. Humans are flawed, and even sometimes downright despicable, and No Longer Human explores this extensively.
No Longer Human is a short read that’s expertly crafted. But it’s not just how Usamaru Furuya tells this story through words that will capture you, it’s how he tells it through his art, and the symbolism in his panels, that will engross you in its pages as well. It’s the best adaptation of No Longer Human to release so far. It brings the popular classic into the modern day world, while at the same time, maintaining the same feel of and respecting the original.
It used to be difficult to collect in English, especially given that the individual volumes are out of print as well as expensive to buy, but Kodansha recently released a No Longer Human Complete Edition that you can shop now!
5. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin by George Abe & Masasumi Kakizaki
While Rainbow: Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin, or Rainbow for short, is not a feel-good story, it’s a truly effective one that’s an absolute masterpiece through and through and the connection and friendship that grows between the characters does shine some light in the dark. With amazing art by Masasumi Kakizaki (Green Blood, Bestiarius) and a phenomenal story by George Abe, this is one you definitely don’t want to miss.
Rainbow has never been printed in English, but it has been printed in other languages, including French. I’m starting to think a print release with English translation may be a pipe dream given that the anime was released in 2010 and the manga was completed in the same year, but I still remain hopeful, because it’s one of the most wished-for as well as best seinen titles to ever be released.
Rainbow follows 6 teenagers who are imprisoned in a Juvenile Detention Center and meet Sakuragi, who is the oldest of the group and entered juvie before them. He’s good at boxing as well. He takes these boys under his wing, helping them navigate this extremely corrupt and messed up world they are in, helping them grow.
Rainbow is a brutal read, especially given that many horrible and unbelievable things happen to the characters in this manga. Even though it has a dark tone, the relationship between these seven as well as the incredible storytelling and art that’s present in this series keeps you reading. It’s one of my top series and I hope you will give it a read if you have yet to do so!
6. Holyland by Kouji Mori
Holyland is a mixture of many different delinquent stories that I enjoy, with a focus on street fighting. The characters’ fighting styles vary from boxing to Judo, so the protagonist is constantly fighting opponents that force him to think differently, and adapt quickly to the situation, and this makes the story unique from other manga with similar themes.
Holyland follows Yuu Kamishiro, an introvert that’s bullied by his classmates. Tired of enduring so much pain, he stops going to school and heads out into the night, in search of something that will make him feel alive. He begins to train himself in martial arts at home and discovers he has a knack for it. He takes what he learns and uses it in the streets to fight against street thugs.
Yuu, from Holyland, is a character who has a rather typical backstory — the kid who gets bullied and wants to become stronger — but the way he goes about becoming stronger is not so typical at all. He heads out at night into the streets, waiting for someone to try something with him and then fights them one on one. Yuu doesn’t back down even though people think of him as weak and it’s inspiring to watch him grow over the course of this series.
Eventually, he attracts the attention of thugs everywhere and they dub him the “Thug Hunter”. Other fighters recognize his face and target him, so bigger and stronger opponents come out of the woodwork to challenge him. He also gains the attention of Masaki Izawa, a talented boxer who hangs out in the streets. Izawa is amazed by Yuu’s raw talent but recognizes his flaws, so it’s not just Yuu that makes this story but those he meets along the way as well.
I found Holyland to be a very educational experience because it gives you all the information you need to understand what’s going on without bogging you down with unnecessary details. The story unfolds beautifully, getting straight into the thick of things while still giving you enough backstory that connects you with the characters. Our main character is highly relatable as well.
Holyland is a story that hits harder than most. It leans heavily into psychological themes and it’s one of the most unique sports series you’ll ever read. On top of all that, it’s one of the best seinen manga of all time that you can read as well.
7. Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida
Dorohedoro is a dark manga that doesn’t necessarily feel like one and it’s one of my favorite series of all time. Despite it being choked full of gruesome fights, blood and gore, and messed-up developments, you still feel warm and fuzzy while reading thanks to the dynamics between the characters and its sense of humor, which, while dark, lightens the mood of the series. Later on, though, the series’ tone changes, so while it’s fun to read, it’s dark as well, thanks to the world and the issues these characters have to overcome.
In Dorohedoro, sorcerers practice their magic on the inhabitants of the Hole, who don’t smoke, and as a result, can’t use magic. Our main characters are Caiman, a guy that’s in search of the sorcerer who turned his head into a lizard head, and Nikaido, the owner of the Hungry Bug who finds Caiman lying in an alley one day. The two develop a really close friendship.
We not only see their relationship grow but also their relationships with their friends in the Hole. They cross paths with Shin and Noi, the Cleaners of the Sorcerer’s World, leading family, the En family, which brings the two worlds, the Hole and the Sorcerer’s World together in this story.
Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida is one of those once-in-a-lifetime manga series that is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. With some of the best manga characters and a world that’s dark and gruesome yet never feels it, it’s a fun and adventurous read that’s full of over-the-top violence and gore.
Read up more on why Dorohedoro is one of my favorite manga of all-time!
8. Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue
Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue, who is also the creator of Slam Dunk and Real, features realistic art and a story that, while rooted in history, feels larger-than-life. Not only that, but the series has a strong cast of characters that grow and develop in a way that’s not just relatable but interesting as well.
If you are new to Vagabond, the story follows Miyamoto Musashi on his journey to become the greatest swordsman. Because of his brutish and violent ways, a lot of people think he’s something like a demon, but we, as the reader, know he’s so much more than that and we really see him develop and grow over the course of the volumes.
The people he meets along the way add so much to this story too, and they not only affect us but Musashi as well. Vagabond is a story based on the real-life swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, but while it has roots in history, it feels like this larger-than-life tale as mentioned prior. Also, as far as samurai stories go, it’s one of the most unique, relatable, and engrossing I’ve ever read.
If you are looking to pick up the series, there are two ways to collect Vagabond with English translation, the individual volumes and the Vagabond Vizbig Editions!
9. Gantz by Hiroya Oku
Gantz follows Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, two high school students who die in a train accident and become part of a semi-posthumous “game” in which they and other recently deceased people are forced to track down and kill aliens armed with a handful of futuristic equipment and weaponry. The missions they go on typically result in the brutal and gory deaths of their targets as well as their teammates, with the survivors being returned to their daily lives until their next mission.
On their missions, they can rack up points, which allow them to revive a lost teammate, return to the real world for good, or upgrade their weapons. However, there are plenty of twists along the way — which I can’t spoil.
There are a lot of different elements at play in this story. It also keeps you interested because you’re always trying to discover more about the Gantz world along with the characters. There’s even some romance involved as well. There are some twists that pop up along the way that makes the story more intriguing and gives it even more weight than it already has. So, on top of having a story that is constantly evolving and always throwing new developments and characters into the mix, it’s one that is relentless in terms of its approach as well.
There are a lot of different elements at play in this story. It also keeps you interested because you’re always trying to discover more about the Gantz world along with the characters. There’s even some romance involved as well. There are some twists that pop up along the way that make the story more intriguing and give it even more weight than it already has. So, on top of having a story that is constantly evolving and always throwing new developments and characters into the mix, it’s one that is relentless in terms of its approach as well.
One of Gantz’s biggest strong suits is its art. I do want to say that the art starts out well, but you really see Hiroya Oku’s art evolve over the course of the series, especially when it comes to the characters and their facial expressions.
Hiroya Oku is one of my favorite artists of all-time and he is on another level when it comes to his panels. He has created some of the most crisp and highly-detailed panels I’ve ever seen in a manga. He really emphasizes the feeling of a moment and the gravity of the situation in his art, so they often evoke an emotional response.
10. Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura
Vinland Saga is, as its name would suggest, a saga, but it takes you on an incredible journey and every chapter engrosses you more and more in its story. Vinland Saga is a story about Vikings that’s told realistically, but it’s told in an artful and impactful way and it offers a lot of insight into the plight and struggles of the people who lived in this harsh, war-driven world. While reading Vinland Saga, you are very much transported back to this time period through Makoto Yukimura’s art and storytelling.
Vinland Saga follows Thorfinn, who sat at Leif Ericson’s feet and listened with delight to wild tales of a land far to the west. But his dreams were shattered by a mercenary raid… Raised by the Vikings who murdered his family, Thorfinn became a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band’s leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Sustaining Thorfinn through his ordeal are his pride in his family and his dreams of a fertile westward land — a land without war or slavery…the land Leif called Vinland.
Character development is one of Vinland Saga’s strong suits. There are a lot of characters in Vinland Saga with strong motivations that make them interesting. So, while it is a story about Vikings with plenty of blood and gore, it’s full of substance as well.
For me, though, it’s Thorfinn, who is being torn between two worlds, that’s the most compelling part of the series. You’ll see him hell-bent on avenging his father’s death, but his father gave up being a Viking and vowed to never kill again, so he has that running through his head as well. It is this struggle within him that really gives this series some weight.
Since it’s a historical manga about Vikings and the time they lived in, you’ll see the Vikings pillage villages and kill whoever stands in their way, but you’ll get so much more than that, especially with characters like Askeladd, who’s craftiness is entertaining to watch. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, everything from the scenery to the battle scenes to the grotesque gore in Vinland Saga is beautifully-drawn.
11. Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida
Tokyo Ghoul is one of the most talked about and most popular seinen manga series, but for good reason. It makes you think about the true nature of the whole good vs. evil narrative in a situation where there are gray areas that make the depiction between the two not all that clear.
Tokyo Ghoul follows Ken Kaneki, who was an ordinary college student until an encounter with a ghoul, a humanoid that survives off human flesh, transforms him into the first half-human, half-ghoul hybrid.
He is thrown into a whole new world, where he now must work to fit in and understand his new powers, all the while struggling with the fact that he now has one foot in the human world and another in the ghouls. One of Tokyo Ghoul’s biggest strong suits is that its main character, Kaneki, exists between these two worlds, which places him in the middle of the two. Which side will he choose? One or the other, neither, or perhaps both?
An everyday kid, who could have been any one of us, struggles to find out where he belongs and this is very relatable. Tokyo Ghoul explores two types of battles: a mental battle that’s waging within the psyche of our MC, Kaneki, and the physical battle waging between the humans–more specifically, an organization called the CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul)–and the ghouls. So, on top of being psychological, it’s action-packed and full of horror too.
Tokyo Ghoul may be dark, bloody, and violent, but it follows characters who dream of a peaceful world and aspire to be better, so it has a light side as well. On top of having one of the best MC’s and stories in all seinen manga, Sui Ishida’s aesthetic and art style is one of the most unique you’ll ever witness.
You can collect Tokyo Ghoul with English translation via the singles, the manga box sets, or the Tokyo Ghoul Monster Editions!
12. Monster by Naoki Urasawa
Monster by Naoki Urasawa, the creator of a number of other manga series like 20th Century Boys and Pluto — two of my favorite sci-fi manga of all time — is an incredible psychological thriller that features a game of cat and mouse between a neurosurgeon Dr. Kenzo Tenma and a true monster, but it’s also very much a story about people coming together to right wrongs, overcoming one’s inner demons, and how our choices, whether big or small, can have consequences far beyond anything we could ever imagine. Dr. Tenma made a choice to save someone, and because he did so, a monster lived on.
Framed for murder by the one he saved, Dr. Tenma must evade the authorities all the while searching for answers to clear his name and uncovering the true identity and origin of the monster he operated on. Naoki Urasawa is well-known for creating stories that are full of mystery and suspense, but he is also a master at weaving together different timelines.
His manga is also very much a story about people. Each character is given a rich backstory, whether they hold big or small roles. However, one could argue that no characters in Naoki Urasawa’s stories have small roles, because they each affect the people as well as the plot points in his stories in their own ways.
The complex and starkly different personalities of our two main characters are also important factors in Monster's success. On the one hand, you have a good-natured doctor who would do anything to save a life and genuinely wants to help others, and on the other, you have an intelligent and deranged young man who sees people as a means to an end and uses them without hesitation to bring about violence, chaos, and havoc wherever he goes.
It would be simple to say that a monster is a monster, but Monster delves deeper into more philosophical questions and examines the psychological factors that contribute to their creation. What causes a person to become a monster, and who is the true monster in this story? Who created the monsters, or the people who created them?
We get a glimpse into the psychology of a sociopath in Monster, while others stories just showcase the horrible things they’ve done. They take a look at the how, but not the why, and it’s the why that’s the most intriguing of all.
13. Kingdom by Yasuhisa Hara
Kingdom is a manga that has been long-wished for by fans, but it has for some reason never been printed in English despite its extremely high demand. It’s one of those highly-rated yet still underrated series that’s somewhat similar and is always compared to another favorite, Vinland Saga, so if you enjoyed it, you will most likely enjoy Kingdom too.
Kingdom is a story of war and politics set in China's Warring States period, with the focus on Xin, a young war orphan who fights to become the greatest general under the heavens in order to unify China for the first time in 500 years.
Kingdom is a story that is action-packed, but since it’s about war, it’s very political as well. Even so, it never feels boring in any way and manages to keep your attention throughout. It’s one that gets better and better with each chapter and the battles as well as the strategies used in them are thrilling. On top of having a fascinating story and premise, the art in this series is beautiful and detailed.
14. Grand Blue Dreaming by Kenji Inoue & Kimitake Yoshioka
Grand Blue Dreaming is a seinen comedy manga and it’s the most hilarious manga I’ve ever read. It has made me laugh out loud more times than any manga and has, on many occasions, made me cry from laughter. The humor in this one is absolutely absurd, and downright ridiculous, but in the absolute best way possible, so if you are looking for a fun and out-there in the best way possible read, you’ll want to check this one out.
Some may waver on picking up Grand Blue Dreaming, because they think it’s a manga about diving, and while it is, it’s more so a comedy than a sports manga. This manga is about partying as much as it is about diving, so there’s a lot of drinking as well as goofing off that goes on in this series. The story follows main character Iori Kitahara, who moves in with his Uncle at his diving shop to go to college.
He's wide-eyed and optimistic about his new life, and he's ready for a new beginning. He intends to meet college girls and enjoy his life to the fullest. When he arrives, however, he discovers a group of naked men playing rock paper scissors with a hilarious twist in his Uncle's diving shop. Later on, he joins a diving club that is as much about partying as it is about diving. He becomes engrossed in their antics, heightening the comedy.
Apart from being my favorite comedy manga of all-time, Grand Blue Dreaming is one of my top seinen manga of all-time as well. It has perfect comedic timing, amazing art, great character dynamics, and more. It will make you laugh more times than you can count, but, as you head beneath the surface and explore these beautifully-drawn and rich underwater worlds, it awes and awakens something within you as well.
15. The Climber by Shin-ichi Sakamoto
Shin-ichi Sakamoto is a manga creator that never ceases to amaze me whether it be through his work on The Climber or in his others, like Innocent and Innocent Rouge. Unfortunately, as of now, The Climber has yet to be translated in English, but it has been translated in a number of different languages, from French to Italian. I hope Shin-ichi Sakamoto’s works are printed in English one day, because his art and stories are something to behold.
The Climber follows Mori, a guy who likes to keep to himself, who discovers he has a passion for climbing one day when his classmates egg him on to climb the side of the school’s building. He scales the side of the wall with ease and is a natural talent. We also discover he’s quite fearless, because he does so without a harness on. This moment awakens something within him and he finds a new calling.
Of course, nothing is ever this simple though, because this manga is very psychological as well. Mori won’t just have to overcome the physical mountains that stand before him, but the ones that are in his mind also.
The story of The Climber is told primarily through art, especially later in the story. But, with art as beautiful as that seen in The Climber, it's difficult to complain. The panels are breathtaking, some of the best manga panels I've ever seen, and they elicit an emotional response when viewed. As a result, they've really honed in on how these moments must feel to Mori. Everything about it is so well-done and well-executed.
The Climber is one of the best sports manga, let alone one of the best seinen manga of all-time. Not only does it highlight a sport that’s not commonly touched on in manga, climbing–more specifically free solo climbing and, later on, alpine climbing–it’s also done in a way that feels relatable even though the main character is doing these larger-than-life things many of us could never fathom doing. It also delves a lot into self-reflection, which makes it feel a lot like another favorite of mine on this list, Vagabond.
If you enjoy seinen sports manga that have a unique perspective, like Holyland or Real, or you like series that delve into the mental plight of its main character, like Vagabond, The Climber is one you’ll want to check out!
16. Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano is a series I put off reading for months, because, time and time again, I was warned about how sad of a read it is. I don’t want this to put any of you off from reading the series, because it’s one of the best manga I’ve ever read, but you definitely need to be in the right headspace before you get into this one.
It’s one of those series you have to reach for on the shelf without hesitation, because it is one of the toughest series you’ll ever read. And if you picked this one up off the shelf, because you thought it would be a heartwarming story about a cute bird character, you are in for something else entirely…
Goodnight Punpun is a coming-of-age story about Punpun Onodera. Punpun’s parents’ marriage is falling apart. His dad goes to jail and his mom goes to the hospital. He has to live with his uncle, who everyone thinks is a failure. He later meets a girl who lives in a cult, and he falls in love with her. He turns to God about his problems, but God ends up being a jerk. Punpun hopes things will get better, but it seems like everything just keeps getting worse and worse.
We follow Punpun as he ages, and we see firsthand how he develops and his life changes over the years. It’s a very difficult experience, because you first meet Punpun as a kid, and watch how the events in his life shape and continue to affect him in his teenage years and throughout young adulthood.
In life, we make new friends and grow apart from others, and this is mirrored in Goodnight Punpun. People that come into our lives can affect positive or negative change, and this is explored also. It follows our characters in realistic settings and situations and showcases the dark and harsh reality of life.
There is one thing I want to mention because those of you who are unfamiliar with Goodnight Punpun may be surprised to learn that the main character, Punpun, and everyone in his family are depicted as birds, while everyone else is depicted as their normal human selves. This is done to separate Punpun and his family from the rest of the characters in the story. Those around us don't always see us for who we truly are or notice what we're going through, and I believe this is an example of that.
It also allows Inio Asano to present Punpun's various mental states in an abstract and interesting manner. When we see him as a bird, he's fine, but he has a variety of other forms that reveal how Punpun is feeling on the inside. This is an extremely unique way to showcase our main character's inner emotions, and it is one of the main reasons Goodnight Punpun is one of the most brilliant manga of our time.
Inio Asano’s series are cynical, harsh, and bleak, so if you are someone who prefers to read lighthearted series, Goodnight Punpun is not for you. It dives into difficult topics and really explores mental health in a way that few other series have ever done before. It isn’t a pretty series by any means–even though the highly-detailed and beautiful panels often make it feel like one.
It’s a masterpiece that showcases the cruel dark nature of the world through a realistic lens, and while it isn’t an easy to read, feel good series, it’s a masterpiece that will change the way you think about the world as well as manga entirely.
17. Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Berserk is a no-holds-barred series created by Kentaro Miura that features elaborate art, an absorbing story full of carnage and sacrifice, and a protagonist, Guts, who is one of the most brutal and unrelenting characters in all of manga. And it’s a series that’s been a force in the industry for a little over 30 years and one that’s held the mantle of my top manga since the day I read it.
Berserk is a dark fantasy as well as a seinen manga, but its pages are full of so much horror that it also landed a spot on my top horror manga of all-time list.
Berserk is a story about so many things; Human nature, struggle, one’s own will vs their destiny, the sacrifice we make for others, but also those we make for ourselves, and so much more. It’s set in a brutal world that’s plagued by war and our main character, Guts, is quite literally born into it.
Later on, in the Golden Age Arc, he joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk that’s led by Griffith, a charismatic leader. This is the arc where things really take off in the story. But this is, of course, a dark fantasy, so something happens later on that changes everything for Guts and the story develops in a way that continuously keeps you invested.
One of the things I love about Kentaro Miura’s artwork is that a lot of the panels he draws are full of chaos, because a lot of the time the characters are in the thick of battle. Even so, while there’s so much going on in these moments — swords are clashing, spears or arrows are flying, there are people on horseback, people charging on the ground — you can still tell what’s going on. There’s what feels like 100’s, if not 1000’s, of people at a time in action in his panels, yet you still know where your main focus should be thanks to the way he highlights his characters.
If you are looking for a series that has just as incredible of a story as it does art, look no further than Berserk by Kentaro Miura. It’s an absolute masterpiece through and through, and in my opinion, it’s the best seinen manga as well as the best manga to release of all time. You can read Berserk by Kentaro Miura via the singles or the Berserk Deluxe Editions released by Dark Horse!
Berserk is continuing on with supervision by Kouji Mori, a close friend of Kentaro Miura and the creator behind another must-read title on this list, Holyland.
These are the best seinen manga that have been released so far! As more incredible new seinen manga releases, I will continue to update this post, so stay tuned. In other manga news, check out all of the new manga you have to look forward to in 2023!