Best Psychological Manga of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Best Psychological 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 strong psychological focus. From gripping crime dramas to a heartbreaking slice-of-life series, 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!

Monster – Naoki Urasawa

Monster is a well-written crime drama with enticing thriller aspects. It revolves around a proficient surgeon named Dr. Kenzou Tenma, who is stuck in a tight predicament. He must choose to save the life of his mayor or a child. Kenzou winds up choosing the child’s life and gets ridiculed for it. To make matters worse, the child grows up to become a serial killer.

This encourages Kenzou to leave behind everything he held dear to him to pursue the child he regretfully saved. This story’s known for offering many compelling twists and great tension. Every character gets a moment to shine throughout the story, making them feel memorable and pleasing to the audience. The story’s pacing can feel slow at first, but it picks up quickly at given moments. With its well-written characters, intricate twists, and appealing art quality, you’re in for a stellar time with this one.

Dragon Head – Mochizuki Minetaro

In Dragon Head, our three protagonists Seto, Aoki, and Takahashi are train accident survivors. They must overcome hunger, loneliness, and an overwhelming sense of loss if they hope to remain living. Mochizuki Minetaro knows how to keep people on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Each chapter has our cast thrown into increasingly dangerous scenarios and hopeless situations.

Mochizuki’s artwork is captivating and captures the characters’ gritty and natural emotions. This manga also offers some favorable fights between its characters that look intense and brutal. The characters receive incredible depth and attention that makes them feel like real people than just plot devices. Therefore, Dragon Head is an incredible action manga that’s worth reading for its gripping plot, intense action scenes, and deep character development.

Parasyte – Hitoshi Iwaki

Aku No Hana – Hitoshi Iwaki

Aku No Hana is a manga drenched in mystery and suspense. It contains intense drama between our protagonist and several female characters that many will find enticing. You’ll wind up conjuring multiple theories regarding the story’s future events. It follows an anti-social middle schooler named Kasuga. He loves books and has a crush on his class idol, Saeki.

One day, Takako stumbles upon a fellow classmate named Nanako’s gym clothes. He’s overcome with a weird sensation that causes him to steal her clothes. Sawa notices his actions and plans to make his life a living nightmare. This manga knows how to build tension with its psychological themes and many people will grow to sympathize with Takao, despite his crude behavior. If you’re searching for a manga that will continuously have you at the edge of your seat, Aku No Hana is worth checking out.

The Climber – Shinichi Sakamoto & Yoshirō Nabeda

The Climber is a unique story since it’s based on a real-life mountain climber named Buntaro Kato and a novel written by Jiro Nitta. What starts off as a typical sports manga transforms into a story with depth and maturity. The climber offers a wonderful examination of Mori Buntaro’s life goals and internal issues.

Readers will love seeing Mori contemplate his life’s accomplishments and what makes him move forward. This is what makes The Climber a unique sports manga. The sport takes a backseat in favor of honing in on our protagonist’s mentality. Furthermore, the writing may have seen a dramatic step up due to Nabeda leaving the project after the third volume.

This allows Shinichi Sakamoto to step in to make the manga feel more atmospheric and grand. Furthermore, the artwork is astonishing and many readers will get lost in the imagery. From its wide landscape shots to its dramatic group shots, you’ll be bewildered by the amazing scenery our authors insert into The Climber. Give it a read when you find some spare time.

MPD Psycho – Eiji Otsuka

Eiji Otsuka’s MPD Psycho is a gripping and intense psychological manga. Otsuka delves deep into the human psyche, exploring the idea of multiple personality disorders and the various illnesses that plague the human mind. Audiences will feel like the handling of its deeper topics is well-researched and the creative execution of its themes captivating.

This story isn’t for the faint of heart. It offers a lot of gore and sexual imagery, but Otsuka skillfully handles these elements in ways that it’ll appeal to its core audience. The disturbing visuals, graphical violence, and unsettling themes Otsuka and his artist, Shouu Tajima, implement will add to the story’s depth and momentum.

With its complex plot, fascinating characters, gorgeous yet nightmarish visuals, and exploration of complex psychological issues, MPD Psycho is a must-read for anyone craving an elaborate manga to read.

The Drifting Classroom – Kazuo Umezz

The Drifting Classroom is a known psychological manga that delivers a story about a group of students who find themselves transported to a mysterious, abandoned wasteland after an earthquake occurs. These students must endure multiple hurdles if they hope to survive. From scavenging for food to settling internal disputes, you’ll be hoping they all make it out alive.

Kazuo Umezz engulfs readers with the story’s eerie atmosphere and the tension only increases the further you advance through the story. Despite its short length, Umezz knows how to keep his cast on edge, making it hard for readers to lose their grip on the story. The Drifting Classroom also explores the effects isolation and desperation have on the human mind.

Since the characters are forced into a hopeless situation, you’ll see them struggle to confront their inner demons. Some will call it quits and lose their remaining hold on reality, while others become more resilient. On top of having unsettling and suggestive artwork, The Drifting Classroom is a masterful work that every horror fanatic should read.

Phoenix – Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka’s known for being the godfather of anime and manga. He’s made many iconic works like Unico, Astro Boy, and Phoenix. Phoenix feels like an anthology series, but each story connects to the godly bird you see in the cover image above. It offers a collection of loosely-connected stories set in different time periods throughout history.

These tales explore human emotion, psychology, and spirituality. In each tale, Tezuka showcases why he’s a master at exploring complex human emotions in his works. Each of Phoenix’s tales presents a variety of characters who tackle obstacles that will challenge their beliefs, morals, and desires. Tezuka hones in on his characters’ psyches, and brings forth their deepest hopes, fears, and regrets.

However, each story revolves around the pursuit of this phoenix, whose blood can grant one eternal life and wisdom. The manga’s artwork is stunning from the design of the phoenix itself to the backgrounds. While the story can be serious, Tezuka isn’t afraid to throw in some funny jokes to lighten the mood. If you’re looking for a fun and deep story to read from one of manga’s finest creators, check out Phoenix.

Real – Takehiko Inoue

Real is another basketball manga by Takehiko Inoue. It respectfully captures the spirit of basketball and offers a gripping narrative that will move you. Inoue’s realistic art style from Vagabond and Slam Dunk transfers over to this work, too. From our characters defined bodily characteristics to the way they move across the page, you’ll feel totally immersed in this tale.

Our story revolves around Tomomi, a former basketball captain, and student. He feels responsible for ruining a girl’s life in a traffic accident and spends his life helping her out. One day, he loses in a basketball match between himself and a wheelchair-bound girl named Kiyoharu. While you’d expect him to feel ashamed, this loss motivates Tomomi to pursue the sport he once abandoned.

This manga delivers a touching, thought-provoking tale. The characters have a unique perspective on life and their struggles with disabilities, loss, and trauma fuel the narrative, creating a plot that’s psychologically enticing. With its well-detailed artwork, examination of the human psyche during intense hardship, and uplifting message about finding hope, Real is as real as it gets.

Goodnight Punpun – Inio Asano

Goodnight Punpun isn’t for the faint of heart. The story oozes dark themes, despite what its cover art wants you to believe. Inio Asano is known for writing tragic and heartbreaking stories with thoughtful characters. His artwork is magnificent in capturing a different array of emotions from happiness to depression. It features some of the most mind-shattering events ever adapted into a manga.

It’s a tragic yet beautiful work that may never receive an anime adaptation due to the harsh imagery depicted within it. The story follows Punpun Onodera, an idealistic and romantic child who doesn’t like conversing with others. His life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Aiko Tanaka, a new transfer student. Punpun develops strong feelings for Aiko, but his soul is tainted with hardship.

He lives a terrible life with strict parents. Punpun will replicate what he learned from his family onto Aiko, resulting in unspeakable events that are hard to put into words. While it has its joyous moments, Goodnight Punpun is a story that will drench you with its saddening and hurtful scenarios. From child abuse to molestation, it’s best to stay clear from this one unless you have the stomach to handle all the pain.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best psychological 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!

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