New to manga? Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry! We’re here to help!
If you’ve already read our Beginner’s Guide to Manga, then you should be familiar with some of the basic categories that Japanese manga fall under. If not, here is a brief summary.
Japanese manga is primarily categorized first by gender and age, then by genre. There is manga specifically geared towards young boys (shonen), young girls (shojo), adult men (seinen), and adult women (josei). Of course, there are manga that cross boundaries of gender, age, and genre, however, these are the four most prominent categories. Manga is then categorized by genre. A mystery manga aimed at young boys would be categorized as a shonen mystery whereas one aimed at young girls would be a shojo mystery.
Traditionally, manga is released on a monthly or weekly chapter-by-chapter basis through a manga magazine service. Should a series prove to be popular, then the chapters will be collected into small volumes called tankōbon volumes, which usually feature a few chapters of the overall story.
Some series might even be collected into an omnibus; a collection of two or three volumes published together into one jumbo form. Older series are often reprinted in omnibus form, which might alter the listed number of volumes. For example, Junji Ito’s horror manga, Gyo: The Death-stench Creeps was originally released as two volumes, however, both volumes were reprinted into one omnibus, which is the copy the library currently owns. Omnibuses are convenient because they hold multiple volumes in one edition, however, they can sometimes be a bit cumbersome to carry due to their size.
Some series can be relatively short at fewer than ten volumes while others can balloon up to more than 100 volumes. Osamu Akimoto's Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo, otherwise known as KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops, currently holds the record for most volumes in a manga series at 200 volumes.
Popularity is a big factor in determining how long a series will go on for. For that reason, some of the most well-known manga series might produce dozens and dozens of volumes over the course of decades. Getting a hold of every volume might prove challenging if the series is out of print or unavailable overseas.
If you’re new to manga, then you might be intimidated out of reading some series because of the volume number. Oftentimes, well-meaning friends might recommend one of their favorite titles or a popular series without taking into consideration the length of the series or the original target demographic. For example, an adult new to manga might be recommended Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball due to the series’ long-lasting influence on popular culture. The original run of Dragonball was aimed at the shonen, or young/teen boy, audience, and the entire series clocks in at 42 volumes. You might not consider that beginner friendly.
We’ve gathered here a list of manga that are either stand-alone, self-contained omnibuses, or feature a relatively small number of volumes. Some of the manga listed here are presented in omnibus form as these are the editions that the library currently owns.
These titles are primarily intended for teens 16+ and adults, however, if you are looking for manga for younger audiences, check out our Manga for Middle-Graders post.