Manga in Japan is what we call comics in America. It is a social phenomenon in Japan, where all sorts of subjects exist—from social issues, romantic stories, to science fiction. Reading manga is one of the most successful comic book experiences globally, as weekly manga revenue in Japan is equivalent to the annual returns of the American comic industry.
Manga began to conquer the world during the 1980s. Its most famous classics include Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Sniper,” Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece,” Masashi Kishimoto’s “Naruto,” Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball,” Gosho Aoyama’s “Detective Conan” and Tite Kubo’s “Bleach.”
Most manga titles, published in lengthy volumes, have been adapted into anime series, and many best-selling manga stories have been translated into different languages. Together with the most popular manga series, the anime versions have remarkably spread worldwide and become a favorite of youth and teenagers both in American and European counterparts (e.g. France, Spain, German, etc.) as well as in the Arab world.
In this article, we’d like to share with you ten of the most popular manga and anime, which today’s youth have followed extensively and which contributed significantly as people’s source of entertainment and imagination.
It is a long and highly popular manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto and directed by Hayato Date. It revolves around the adventures of teenage ninja Naruto Uzumaki, who found himself castaway by the people of his village. Naruto decided to seek the title of Hokage, the village leader, to gain the recognition and the respect he deserves.
The series was first published in Japan in 1999 in Weekly Magazine and has produced dozens of manga volumes. Later, Tokyo TV and Piero Studios turned the manga into anime and premiered it on Tokyo TV in October 2002. The first part of the anime under the name Naruto consisted of 220 episodes. The second part came under the name Naruto Shippuden, which began in February 2007 and has so far released more than 360 episodes in 15 seasons.
Several Naruto seasons have been dubbed into numerous languages worldwide. As one of the most popular manga series worldwide, Naruto enjoys high viewership across all ages.
Detective Conan, one of the world’s most famous private investigator figures, is the Sherlock Holmes of the manga and anime world. What’s interesting is that the character Conan himself was named after Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Detective Conan, or Shinichi Kudo (his real name), used the alias after the gang forced him to take a drug that reduced his size to back to his six-year-old body.
Conan appeared in the manga world in June 1994, became an anime in 1996 with more than 720 episodes in multiple seasons as well as 14 films.
Conan’s most important feature is the elaborate plot of the crimes and their discovery. The unfolding of the ending is always complex and innovative, which creates tremendous excitement to any viewer or reader, making it one of the most popular anime and manga series to this day.
3. One Piece
This Japanese manga series was written by Eiichiro Oda and was published in 1997 and turned into an animation in 1998. There have been more than 900 episodes of manga and anime, and it has been translated and dubbed in many languages and released in different parts of the world.
In 2008, One Piece was ranked as the world’s most popular manga series. In 2010, more than 260 million volumes of this manga were released. Volume 61 set a new record as the highest first edition of any book in Japan with 3.8 million copies, surpassing the previous record of Volume 60 with 3.4 million copies, ranked as the first book to sell more than 2 million copies on its opening week.
One Piece is currently ranked as the world’s best-selling manga, selling more than 345 million copies worldwide and receiving widespread critical acclaim mainly for its art, character development, humor, and plot. Creator Eiichiro Oda estimates that the series will finally come to an end by 2025 or 2026.
4. Death Note
Death Note is one of the world’s most popular manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The series revolves around Light Yagami, a high school student who found a note with a superpower that enables him to kill anyone by simply writing their name on the note and conjuring up an image in his mind.
Light, the son of the police chief in his city, decides to use the idea to get rid of criminals worldwide to make it a better place. There is a conflict between him and the world’s most famous investigators at the time, who believes that fighting crime in this manner is the worst kind of evil and that an evil-free world cannot be created by force, else it becomes a world of fear and of hypocrites.
Death Note discusses profound theological and philosophical ideas, the most important of which is how the world looks without evil. What happens if a human being has the right to end human life by the decision? What happens if God is a human subject to all sorts of whims? Is it reasonable to make people refrain from making mistakes because they are afraid to die? Other ideas are meditative; thus the series is far more valuable and attractive to young people and adolescents than to children.
5. Captain Tsubasa
If you are a football fan, you have undoubtedly seen this anime series. It tells the story of a football team focused on the character of Tsubasa Oozora, a boy with a great talent in football and whose dream is to be a professional and famous footballer and lead his country’s feeble team towards the world.
Released in 1981 by the talented Yōichi Takahashi, the manga was converted into anime in the 1990s in several seasons. The series was a great success in many countries’ anime circles and was fully dubbed for English, French, German, Arabic, Spanish, and other popular languages.