Netflix has made Japanese animation a major focus of development. The platform has already launched more than a dozen original series in the genre, notably adapting successful franchises such as “Transformers”, “Pacific Rim” or soon “Resident Evil”. A way of competing with specialized platforms like DNA, Wakanim or Crunchyroll which exclusively import some of the anime phenomena of the moment.
Manga is such a part of our daily lives that some readers have even chosen their ideal husband among the characters of manga. Otherwise, you just have to see the success of anime movies like, Demon Slayer, or the hype around the next movie JujutsuKaisen 0 to see how popular this format is.
1. Dragon ball
We start easy with the legend of Akira Toriyama and the variations of Goku’s adventures. With Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT (yes even that one) and recently Dragon Ball Super. Not to mention the many OAVs and the film Dragon Ball Super: Broly released more recently. You know the story Son Goku, an alien from the race of Saiyans who is sent to Earth, since monsters and fighters from all over the universe take their turn to come and get their butt kicked by the hero. Kaméhaméhas and transformations at the rendezvous.
2. One piece
Now classic, designed by the great Eiichiro Oda, who will soon be entitled to live-action on Netflix. One Piece is a masterpiece centered on the character of Monkey D. Luffy, a straw hat pirate. Where Goku only wants to mess with everything that has Ki, Luffy has a specific goal, to become the King of the Pirates.
An exceptional universe made of travels, fights and strong emotions to help build the character of each character. A master class in storytelling with many historical references, magnificent fights and originality always present. We know that 921 episodes to catch up is a little scary, but we assure you that it’s worth it, you just have to skip the fillers.
3. Attack on Titan
It is now one of the best-selling and manga of all time. Written by Hajime Isayama, the animated adaptation of Shingeki no Kyojin is a huge production to fan and critical acclaim. We discover a dystopian world where technologically limited humans live locked behind the walls of their cities in fear of the Titans, giant humanoids whose only desire is to eat humans.
The action centers around the young Eren Jaeger, after seeing his mother devoured by one of these monsters, Eren will enlist in the exploration battalion. Elite soldiers who come out of the enclaves in an attempt to limit or even eradicate the Titan threat. An animated mix that mixes up a fight, a totally crazy but mastered scenario, a dark universe from which reflections on history, politics.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist
FMA is the crazy story of two brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric in search of the Philosopher’s Stone imagined by Hiromu Arakawa. In this animated series, it is the power of Alchemy that rules the world. After the death of their mother, it is thanks to this power that the heroes will try to bring her back despite the formal ban on doing this kind of thing. Obviously it does not work and it pays cash, Edward loses his leg and his little brother his whole body, the latter will be sealed in massive armor by Edward who finally sacrifices his right arm to save his brother. This is where their quest begins. What can we say except that this is an excellent, addicting anime that is both funny and dark.
Released in 1988, Akira written by Katsuhiro Otomo is quite simply THE benchmark of the genre for many mangakas and has contributed to the entry of manga into global popular culture. The cult animated movies is a mainstay in animation history with a colossal $ 9 million budget. In an alternate future, we follow a biker gang in a Neo-Tokyo including Shotaro Kaneda and Testsuo Shima. The latter finds himself after an accident involved in a mysterious army program aimed at developing psychic powers.
At the same time the mysterious name of ” Akira»Echoes in Japanese society, a messiah for some, a threat with immense powers for others. Testuo goes in search of Akira after escaping in order to understand the powers that consume him. A very good SF film to see not only for its action scenes and its incessant revelations not to mention the revolutionary animation for the time, but also for the historical imprint it leaves on the manga, and the many references which will be made thereafter.
6. Death Note
Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeishi Obata. Death Note is a breathtaking psychological thriller. The fascinating man in this anime is Light Yagami, a little genius in high school who happens to discover the Death Note, a book with supernatural power, all you have to do is write a name for this person to die. We will therefore follow Light’s megalomaniacal quest to purge the world of individuals he considers morally unworthy in order to create his utopian world. There follows a game of cat and mouse, or rather a game of chess with the Japanese police forces, especially the mysterious detective L, the only one who seems able to stop Light.
Berserk is the baby of Kentaro Miura, a manga with an illustration as magnificent as gore in a universe of violence. We follow Guts and Griffith, a mirror cabinet and an ambitious swashbuckler, mercenaries in the pay of the kingdom of Midland. We therefore follow the adventures of this duo with complex relationships and their troop in the middle of a cruel world ravaged by war where nothing is spared us: massacres, rape, pedophilia, monsters, sex. A magnificent highlight and rising human relations, vices and hopes of humanity.
8. Cowboy Bepop
Cowboy Bebop is a Space-Western of unparalleled quality created by Hajime Yatate. Reference in the genre of science fiction, the action takes place in 2071 ten years after a serious accident that made planet Earth uninhabitable and humanity therefore turned to the remains of the planets and moons of the solar system.
To ensure justice in this new framework, the institutions recruit bounty hunters called “Cowboys”. We therefore share the point of view of a team of bounty hunter, crew of the Bepop spaceship, in particular Spike Spiegel, former member of a criminal organization whose route he will cross again. The series is honestly better than most sci-fi movies today, with great depth in the characters and their relationships.
9. Yu Yu Hakusho
Manga and therefore an adaptation that is relatively unknown to the general public released in 1992, Yu Yu himself inspired by Dragon Ball will have inspired his successors such as Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Bleach, etc.
Yuyu Hakusho is the adventure of a rather turbulent 14-year-old teenager named Yusuke Urameshi who dies saving the life of a little boy. Bad luck for Yusuke, he was not expected to die so soon and there is no place for him in either Heaven or Hell. For his good deed, a proposal will be made to him, the possibility of regaining his carnal envelope after a series of tests. Then once resuscitated, to become a detective of the spiritual world, in charge of tracking down and hunting down the entities which would come to interfere with the human world thanks to his new powers. Shonen rule requires, we will witness the evolution and power up of the hero. A scenario therefore not exceptional, an animation a little aging but always stylish fights and a series in the service of the action.
10. JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure
Jojo’s is the story of several characters from several different eras whose acronym is JoJo. These will mainly face the series antagonist Dio Brando. This one appears in the first season against Jonathan Joestar in England at the end of the 19th century. After being taken in by the Joestar family, Dio tries to take Jojo’s place as the family heir. After the failure of his plan Dio resolves to use a magic mask that will transform him into a vampire.
It is therefore from this moment that Jonathan Joestar and his descendants will fight against Dio’s dreams of domination. Hirohiko Araki’s manga is incredible for its unique chara-designs inspired by great fashion designers, quirky humor, fights and many references to Western pop culture. Don’t be put off by Season 1 which can seem a bit dingy at times. In addition you will finally understand all these same jojo that abound on the internet.
11. Hunter x hunter
Hunter X Hunter, or “hunta hunta” as the Japanese will tell you, is the shonen people tend to pass by, and what a mistake! Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga is a nugget of the genre just like the anime. In this story, we follow Gon Freecs, a 12 year old child who wants at all costs to become a “Hunter”, an unparalleled adventurer who excels by his powers or exceptional abilities in combat and other fields.
Gon wants to find his father, whom he never knew and who would be one of the greatest hunters of all time. So let’s go for a great adventure totally original whose characters you will love and which will only improve, do not let yourself be discouraged by the beginning. Fights, a well-built universe, suspense, you take?
How to miss Naruto, THE manga of the 2000s and worthy successor to Dragon Ball. Masahi Kishimoto’s manga has become a legend ever since schoolchildren around the world had fun making Rasengan in their playground. Naruto is the story of the eponymous character in a traditional Japanese world dominated by clans of ninjas with incredible fighting skills. We find there the classic spring of surpassing oneself towards an almost unattainable goal. Here Naruto Uzumaki a child from the hidden village of Konoha will not stop growing stronger in order to become Hokage, the chief and protector of his village.
13. My Hero Academia
If Naruto is the successor to Dragon Ball, then My Hero Academia is definitely the heir to Naruto. Created by Kohei Horikishi and Hirofumi Neda, My Hero Academia is the new heavyweight of Shonen, it takes place in a contemporary world where the majority of humans are endowed with extraordinary powers, in the genre of X-men.
The best of them are destined to become heroes, fighting to bring justice to light and oppose humans who have power but who are not very kind. The central character of this Shonen is Midoriya Izuku or Deku, an ordinary child who is born without any power. But his fighting spirit, his insatiable desire for justice and his boundless admiration for All-Might the number one hero, will lead him to have a meeting that will change his life and make possible his dream of becoming the greatest hero. It’s cute, beautiful, full of good intentions, characters not very very thorough but anyway, we don’t care, we want the fight and that’s what we are given.
14. Demon Slayer
It is the youngest of the Shonens published by the Shueisha. Demon Slayer tells the story of Tanjiro in Taisho-era Japan, the nicest guy in the world who will see his entire family slaughtered by a demon except for his sister who is herself transformed into a demon. Then begins a quest for Tanjiro to heal his little sister Nezuko and make her human again. He will quickly meet the Demon Slayers, a caste of swordsmen who dedicate their lives to fighting and killing demons, that’s when his apprenticeship begins. A very classic Shônen, but with very neat animation, where you can let yourself be carried away quietly, perfect for relaxing.
15. One Punch Man
One Punch Man is a breath of fresh air in the manga, satyr and the antithesis of a Shonen. As in My Hero Academia the universe is dominated by heroes, humans with incredible powers who this time fight against an endless tidal wave of monsters. The genius of author ONE is that here, Saitama, the bald hero of the series, already seems to be the end boss, the most powerful being that exists, and settles all his fights in a single blow of fist. We therefore follow the comic adventures of a completely jaded character who gets pissed off more than anything else during his numerous fights which present no challenge.
16. Great Teacher Onizuka
If you’re tired of anime that is all about fighting and surpassing oneself with fights packed with magical power to boot, rush to GTO if you haven’t already. Toru Fujisawa will make you laugh and maybe cry with the story of Ekichi Onizuka, a young professor with a sulphurous past in modern Japan. Onizuka clashes with his teaching methods which completely go beyond the framework imposed by Japanese society, he is given a class whose specialty is to make each new teacher crack. GTO will therefore use his humor, his physical abilities and his extraordinary personality to conquer his students.
17. Ghost in the shell
Recently adapted very moderately to the cinema with Scarlett Johansson in the main role. Ghost in the shell is above all excellent animated films and a very good series (Stand Alone Complex) created by Masamune Shirow. In a cyber future, we are a spectator of a team of Japanese special forces, Section 9, which has to solve many criminal cases in this futuristic society where cyborgs, robots, androids and unmodified humans coexist. The Major, main character and team leader of Section 9 is an almost totally cybernetic woman. The action is gripping and the characters are both mysterious and charismatic, but it is above all the ethical reflections that each episode raises on the future, robots, cybernetization, the individual, the soul, love, etc.
18. Promised Neverland
It’s hard to tell you much about Kaiu Shirai’s manga without spoiling the surprise. We observe an orphanage that seems perfect in 2045, and more particularly 3 very intelligent children, Emma, Norman and Ray. Everything seems to be going well in this orphanage, the children live there happily but cut off from the outside world by immense walls and doors. They are kept there and pampered by a manager called “Mum”.
But one evening after “adopting” one of the children, Emma and her friends find out the truth about their situation. Only one season for the moment, but a series with a lot of potential, and above all a very good management of the tension and the dramatic intensity. The series further proves that you can put together a thriller without a lot of action but based on psychological springs. Michael Scoffield likes this.
19. Hajime no Ippo
If the fights completely exaggerated by powers are often one of the prerequisites of manga, Hajime no Ippo returns to the essence of the fight. In this creation by Jōji Morikawa, we follow the evolution of Ippo Makunouchi, a shy high school student always helping his mother at work, in the world of boxing.
The storyline is simple but solid, the characters including Ippo’s boxer friends are very endearing, and humor is very present in the series. The fights and their stakes are extremely well staged and it is a real discovery of the professional world of boxing with historical references and techniques that we glimpse throughout the manga, moreover still in progress and yet started in 1989. One of the best sports-themed anime.
A direct competitor of Naruto in the 2000s, you certainly know at least the name Bleach, created by Tite Kubo. As in almost every Shonen we follow the adventures of a teenager, here Kurosaki Ichigo, able to see ghosts and spirits. Quickly he will meet Rukia, a shinigami, a fighter who protects humans by facing evil spirits: the “hollows”. Following this meeting, Ichigo will develop his own powers and take part in the defense of the human world, but also of Soul Society, the parallel world where the souls of the dead and the shinigamis live. From there it’s gone for a mess, served by a good animation and always more stylish power-ups.
21. Detective Conan
Definitely a manga classic, and with a sci-fi tinge to classic mysteries, Detective Conan follows the exploits of a brilliant teenage detective prodigy who is turned into a child by an unknown drug, but continues in his investigative ways. Conan has always remained one of the most popular manga in Japanese history.
22. Slam Dunk
Unlike the rest of the top five, the Slam Dunk basketball themed series did not have as warm a welcome outside of Japan, save for some European countries (including Italy) or Taiwan which marks a memorable success. However, it has set the record with the most popular of sports manga and is very popular in Japan. Third place for Hanamichi.