Best Fantasy Manga of All Time
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, our attention this time turns to those with a fantasy focus. From gritty worlds to saddening adventures, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Berserk – Kentarou Miura
Berserk is an amazing dark fantasy epic written and illustrated by the late Kentarou Miura. It’s about a man named Guts who joins a syndicate to fight on a noble warrior named Griffith’s side. After fighting many battles for Griffith’s cause, Guts gets promoted to a commander role and receives a lot of praise for his effort. However, things take a drastic turn that Guts will wish he saw coming.
Berserk offers readers a gory, action-packed experience. Miura applies wonderful shading techniques and line work that will make his medieval fantasy setting look more grim and intense. The monsters and individuals who traverse its world are cruel as can be.
From lustful horses to shrieking human beings, you can expect to see a lot of nightmarish imagery while reading this manga. Berserk is a dark, complex, and emotional series that fantasy fans should take the time to read.
Witch Hat Atelier – Kamome Shirahama
Witch Hat Atelier follows a girl named Coco who adores witches and magic. She spies on a witch named Qifrey and notices her picture book is actually a magic book in disguise. She practices various spells hidden within it and chaos ensues. Thankfully, Qifrey arrives, rescues Coco, and offers to train her since she might be key to tracking down the Brimmed Caps.
These people like to experiment with taboo body-altering magic and spread artifacts to citizens. Before he can tangle with them, he must teach Coco the ways of the mystic arts. Coco is a likable and optimistic character. Many will find her journey to discover the secrets of magic engaging and heartwarming. Other characters possess distinct personalities and grow throughout the story.
This story feels magical, explorative, and grandiose. The manga tackles themes like knowledge, morality, and perseverance. Witch Hat Atelier produces enough obstacles for our characters to triumph over and readers will equally enjoy seeing their failure to defeat specific challenges. If you want a magical story that doesn’t too heavily on usual tropes to tell a great narrative, check out Witch Hat Atelier.
Claymore – Norihiro Yagi
Claymore is as brutal and compelling as other dark fantasy tales. It follows Clare, a female Claymore who is on the hunt for a Yoma (monster in the Claymore world) who slays her master many years ago. She’ll embark on a long quest with her male companion Raki to find and bring this individual down. Despite harboring intense powers, Clare’s fights won’t be a cakewalk.
She’ll need to rely on her intellect and physicality to overcome her obstacles. Clare will stop at nothing to make evildoers pay for their misdeeds. On that note, Clare will befriend numerous allies who’ll help her become a better warrior. These characters have great personalities and rich backstories and will push Clare forward toward her goals.
This story offers some well-illustrated character designs and backgrounds that fit with Claymore’s fantasy setting. If you’re on the hunt for a stellar fantasy manga that will keep you on your toes, give Claymore a read.
The Girl From The Other Side – Nagabe
The Girl From The Other Side is a captivating work of art. It follows two characters named Shiva and Teacher. Shiva is a little girl while Teacher is a demonic beast. Their world is split between two realms called the Inside and Outside. Shiva airs from the former while the Teacher lives in the latter. Those who stem from the Outside have abilities to curse anyone they touch.
Despite their differences, Shiva and Teacher wind up living in the same forest, and you’ll get to see them develop a strong and wholesome bond over time. This story offers a great blend of suspense, mystery, and drama. Its pacing is a bit slow, but this allows Nagabe to delve deeper into his characters and their motivations. The artwork will evoke beauty and horror.
Its black and white artwork perfectly captures the story’s eerie and unsettling atmosphere and the characters are drawn with a level of detail that brings them to life on the page. Both characters have excellent personalities and backgrounds that will draw you into the world further. With its compelling story and stunning artwork, The Girl From The Other Side is sure to leave you with a lasting impression.
Marry Grave – Hidenori Yamaji
Marry Grave had the potential to become a masterful fantasy work but got cut too short. This led the manga to have a rushed conclusion, but Hidenori Yamaji made sure to tie up some loose ends to give the story a decent finish. Despite finding happiness with his wife, Rosalie, our protagonist, Sawyer, now walks the Earth carrying her coffin on his back.
He traverses a demon-filled world, looking for ingredients to the “Deadman’s Recipe” that will be able to bring Rosalie back to life. Although this is a mere rumor, Sawyer knows it’s legitimate since his wife used it to make him an immortal being. Although the odds are stacked against Sawyer, he’s determined to collect these ingredients to bring his dead wife back to life.
Unlike most fantasy-themed works, Marry Grave presents readers with an authentic end goal of pairing two lovers up again. Sawyer’s joyful persona clashes with the manga’s horrid tone well and some readers may forget about the setting. Yamaji also inserts some clever details that will make re-reading the series fun and exciting. Even though it didn’t receive the best ending due to external matters, Marry Grave is worth looking back on with fond memories.
To Your Eternity – Yoshitoki Oima
From the mind who brought you the emotional, bullying-themed work, A Silent Voice, To Your Eternity is another fantastical gem from Yoshitoki Oima’s line-up of work. It offers an engrossing narrative, tense drama, and a unique protagonist. It’s become a big hit for select audiences as it gives off the same energy as the critically acclaimed horror flick, The Thing.
It follows It, an orb that can change forms and become entities whose It’s reflection’s captured. It was tasked with traveling to Earth to observe its life. The being takes on the form of a wolf and befriends a wandering boy. It gathers intel on the boy’s dreams, but unfortunately, the toddler ends up in a critical state.
This results in It taking the boy’s form, adopting the name Fushi, and doing more exploring. Readers will find Fushi’s interactions with troubled lifeforms engaging and touching. Similarly to Parasyte’s Migi, you’ll adore seeing Fushi adopt more human traits during its exploration. For those looking for a calm and entertaining fantasy manga with a peculiar protagonist, To Your Eternity shouldn’t disappoint.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End – Kanehito Yamada
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is shaping up to be a fantasy classic. It’s receiving incredible praise for its unique spin on the fantasy formula by focusing on our characters’ journey after vanquishing a mighty tyrant. Furthermore, it doesn’t fall prey to typical fantasy tropes like heroes seeking revenge or implementing too much fan service to attract specific readers.
What readers can expect from this story so far is a thought-provoking, depressing journey about an eternal elf named Frieren. She must live with the fact that her party doesn’t harbor a long lifespan as herself. She’ll witness her allies die before her eyes, but before her pal Heiter goes, he entrusts his human apprentice Fern to her.
The story focuses on Fern and Frieren’s journey, revisiting old locations that she and her former allies once traveled through. As the memories rush through her mind like a speeding bullet, Frieren will be overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. With its unique premise and wonderful handling of its depressive themes, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is a great manga to catch up to if you want something refreshing, engaging, and heartbreaking to read.
Land of the Lustrous – Haruko Ichikawa
Land of the Lustrous places us in a futuristic world where crystal lifeforms called Gems roam its surroundings. They must defend what remains of their homeland against evildoers called Lunarians who want to use them for decorations. Phos, our protagonist, is a young human who wants to help in the war but gets denied the chance to fight.
She’ll meet a wise gem named Cinnabar, and the two venture off to find suitable roles for themselves. This manga delivers incredible world-building with its beautifully-crafted mythos, intruiging concepts, and stunning visuals. The artwork is breathtaking, fantastic, and distinct. Characters exhibit fluid, delicate movements on the page which fits with their gem-like origins.
Its landscapes evoke a strong sense of wonder that’ll draw readers in so they can immerse themselves in the story. The characters display unique personalities and receive excellent backstories. You’ll adore seeing our cast grow stronger and wiser throughout their journey, thanks to the situations Haruko Ichikawa inserts them in.
Made In Abyss – Akihito Tsukushi
Made In Abyss is a phenomenal dark fantasy manga. The world is as graceful and cruel as some of its characters. It follows the journey of two children named Reg and Riko. They explore the deep abyss in the center of their world to uncover hidden secrets regarding Riko’s mother and Reg’s past life. The deeper they go, the more heinous their endeavor becomes.
Reg and Riko will find themselves face-to-face with many powerful beasts and humans. From the impulsive Bondrewd to the broken Nanachi, Riko and Reg will encounter many people who’ll help them grow and become more acquainted with the abyss’s harsh environments. Not everything in the abyss will appear grim to readers, though.
There are many locations that many will find appealing. From the enchanting Iruburu Village to the chilling Ido Front, the abyss offers various memorable locations that will have our characters experience new and unforgettable events. However, the story isn’t for the faint of heart. Riko and Reg will get roped into dreadful situations that’ll shatter anyone’s hearts, especially if they cherish children’s lives. It’s best to go into this manga with the knowledge that things won’t always be alright.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – Hayao Miyazaki
Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind is an excellent fantasy manga that goes more in-depth than the film. The story takes place in the future, with Earth having been destroyed by the “Seven Days Of Fire.” Humanity is barely holding on and has been reduced to small groups thanks to toxic jungles spreading poisonous spores and giant insects lurking about.
In the middle of this conflict is our protagonist, Princess Nausicaa, who aims to understand the jungle instead of fighting it. Two clashing factions will be at odds end with each other, resulting in Nausicca stepping up to the plate to save the day. This manga offers phenomenal world-building with its intricate cultures, technologies, and political structures.
Nausicaa comes off as a strong and likable hero. She’s compassionate and willing to put her life on the line to protect people. She evokes a strong sense of optimism and hopes in a world full of darkness and turmoil. This story touches upon themes like war, environmentalism, and love. Hayao Miyazaki handles each theme in a mature and intelligent manner, leaving readers with much to ponder after they’ve finished reading through it.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best fantasy manga of all time!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!