10 Best Manga From The 80s
Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between.
With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to find the “Best of” for any chosen topic.
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, we’d like to highlight the 10 best manga from the 80s. From the action-packed Fist of the North Star to the motivational Hajime No Ippo, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below!
Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira is widely regarded as one of the best manga series from the 80s. This post-apocalyptic tale is set in futuristic Neo-Tokyo and has captivated audiences since its debut. One reason it stands out as a fine manga from the 80s is its dashing artwork. Otomo’s attention to detail and fluid illustrations bring this complex world to life, showcasing the advanced technology and intense action scenes.
Akira’s narrative is an engaging and thought-provoking exploration of power, corruption, and the impact of technology on society. The story follows the struggles of a gang led by Kaneda and their encounters with psychic abilities, government conspiracies, and a destructive force. Through this gripping plot, Otomo masterfully explores themes of identity, morality, and the conflict between one’s wishes and the greater good.
Dragon Ball – Akira Toriyama
Dragon Ball, created by well-beloved manga author Akira Toriyama, is one of the greatest manga from the 80s. Its enduring popularity and impact on the industry are testaments to its success over the prior decades. Many adore this work for its visceral action, stunning artwork, captivating adventurous narrative, and amusing comedy.
The series follows Goku, a young martial artist who embarks on a quest to find the magic Dragon Balls with his friends. He’ll encounter many noteworthy foes from the cunning Emperor Pilaf to the dastardly Demon King Piccolo. Each foe Goku and his friends face will help them grow as martial artists and people.
In addition to spanning multiple sequels, video game adaptations, and feature films, Dragon Ball deserves a spot on this list.
Fist of the North Star – Yoshiyuki Okamura
Fist of the North Star is a captivating, action-adventure series that screams manliness. This post-apocalyptic manga has left a grand impact on the industry through its blend of action, fascinating characters, and gripping plot. Tetsuo Hara, the series’s artist, gives the characters muscular features and dramatic poses that have impacted many authors prior to Fist of the North Star’s release.
The blood-soaked action scenes, coupled with the intriguing martial arts techniques, further amplify the manga’s thrilling and violent nature. The story delves into many interesting themes from justice to morality.
With its complex and morally ambiguous characters and influence on future projects, Fist of the North Star has earned its spot here.
Maison Ikkou – Rumiko Takahashi
Taking a break from action-heavy tales, we’d like to acknowledge Rumiko Takahashi’s Maison Ikkou. With Maison Ikkou, Takahashi waves a heartwarming and humorous tale of romance. Set in a boarding house, we follow the daily encounters between a Ronin student named Yusaku and the lovely Kyoko.
This manga excels at exploring the depths of human connection. It showcases the love. friendship, and personal growth of its cast with utmost sincerity and complexity. Takahashi’s expression and charming character designs, breathe life into each panel. This allows readers to connect with the diverse cast and take in the rich locales presented in this work.
In addition to implementing Kyoko, Yusaku, and the other characters in relatable situations, Maison Ikkou stands out as one of the best manga from the 80s.
Lone Wolf and Cub – Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima
Lone Wolf and Cub is a historical epic. It contains a powerful tale with breathtaking illustrations and well-written characters. Set in feudal Japan, we follow Ogami, a former executioner turned assassin, and his son, Daigoro. The series delves into topics like honor, loyalty, and revenge. It examines the bond between this father and son duo well, giving readers a gripping tale to sit through.
The illustrations are out-of-this-world. You’ll appreciate the level of detail given to its landscapes, characters’ armor and weaponry, and the battles that ensue within the work. Coupled with intense drama and moments of introspection and emotional resonance, Lone Wolf and Cub is a historical piece that’s likely to impress you.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Hirohiko Araki
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a fascinating adventure series that’s still popular with folks today. It’s spawned numerous memes, characters, and iconic moments that fans can’t get enough of. With its distinctive art style, memorable cast, and complex storyline, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has captured the attention of audiences worldwide.
One of its defining aspects has to be Hirohiko Araki’s art style. The exaggerated character designs, detailed backgrounds, and dynamic poses create a visually memorable experience for readers. Araki’s attention to fashion and aesthetics enhances each character’s individuality. The way he portrays them in combat is equally pleasing to the eye.
In addition to tackling core themes like friendship, greed, and ambition, it doesn’t look like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s popularity will dwindle anytime soon.
Parasyte – Hitoshi Iwaaki
Parasyte is a fantastic sci-fi series by Hitoshi Iwaaki. The series gained traction in the mid-2010s thanks to Studio Madhouse’s phenomenal anime adaptation. The story follows Shinichi, a boy who wakes up and discovers an alien named Migi has taken refuge in one of his hands. Migi warns Shinichi that more parasites (like himself) will be arriving on Earth to conquer it soon. It’s up to Shinichi and Migi to stop them.
This tale is loved for its well-developed characters and excellent themes. Shinichi and Migi undergo incredible growth throughout the series. From Shinichi converting into a stud to Migi and other parasites learning what it means to be human, you’ll be bewildered by how well-written these characters are.
Furthermore, Parasyte contains some intense action-centric scenarios that’ll please you. If you’re looking for a story that delivers grand fights, phenomenal character-driven scenarios, and wonderful themes, check out Parasyte.
Berserk – Kentarou Miura
Berserk is a masterful fantasy epic. Set in a medieval world of demons, war, and revenge, Berserk is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential series to have released during the 80s. Kentarou Miura skillfully weaves a tale of tragedy, survival, and vengeance by delving into his protagonist Guts’s life. The series explores the darkest corners of humanity, presenting readers with a wicked world.
The world-building and character development in Berserk is top-notch. Readers will find themselves fully invested in Guts’s journey and will root for him to overcome the odds set in front of him. The artwork is impressive, vivid, and imaginative. From its highly-detailed battle sequences to its fabulously creative character designs, you’ll fall in love with the world Miura created here.
Hajime No Ippo – George Morikawa
Hajime No Ippo is a fantastic boxing manga that’s likely to inspire folks to chase their dreams. In it, we follow Ippo, a timid boy who often gets bullied because of his weak stature. After meeting a professional boxer named Takamura, Ippo changes his ways and trains for a while. When he impresses Takamura, Takamura takes him to a gym where he trains.
Ippo meets Takamura’s coach, which kicks off his quest to becoming a professional boxer. Many fans love this manga for its well-established cast. Morikawa gives each boxer enough likable traits to help them stand out. From Ippo’s shy demeanor to Takamura’s rowdy behavior, you’ll love seeing their personalities clash.
In addition to having incredible illustrations that capture the raw spirit of boxing, Hajime No Ippo is an 80s classic.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Ghibli may be known for its films, but Hayao Miyazaki’s dabbled into other mediums during his time. Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind is one of his grand works. It’s set in a world where humans struggle to survive among toxic forests and warring kingdoms. It follows the compassionate princess, Nausicaa, who is a capable female who will do everything in her power to protect those in need.
In this tale, Miyazaki weaves together intricate plotlines and explores themes such as environmentalism, pacifism, redemption, and compassion in a war-ravaged world. The manga wonderfully blends action, drama, and political intrigue, creating a tale that’s engaging for multiple audiences.
In addition to having a lovely art style that captures the beauty of the world’s landscapes and wildlife, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a must-read 80s gem.
So, there we have it, our picks for the 10 best manga from the 80s!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!