Best Sci-fi 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 focus on sci-fi. From a cheerful slice-of-life series to thought-provoking epics, 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!
Pluto – Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka
Pluto is a marvelous sci-fi manga. It serves as a dark retelling of one of Osamu Tezuka’s finest arcs in Astro Boy. It’s jam-packed with many intriguing characters, a delightful setting, and wonderfully-drawn action sequences. It takes place in a world where humans and machines mourn the death of a famed robot named Montblanc.
He was loved for his lovely personality and dedication to nature conservation. Gesicht, our protagonist, is investigating Montblance’s death and stumbles upon Pluto, a mysterious creation. After doing further research, he learns someone is planning to dismantle eight specialized robots that participated in the war Montblanc fought.
Therefore, Gesicht must defend the coexistence between man and machine by thwarting this villainous group’s plans. Pluto merges Tezuka’s incredible sci-fi world with Urasawa’s clever and gripping storytelling techniques. Expect a lot of foreshadowing and plot twists to ensue in this sci-fi epic.
Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo
Although the film is a classic, many prefer Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira manga. The manga sheds more light on Tetsuo and Kaneda’s characters and fills in blanks that the film didn’t touch upon. Nonetheless, fans of the film can expect our characters to feel well-written and more rounded than their anime counterparts. Furthermore, the manga has some engaging twists and great tension.
It takes place in 2019, 31 years after the dreadful explosion wiped Tokyo out. In Neo-Tokyo, we examine two bikers named Tetsuo and Shoutarou, who are fierce rivals and best friends. To prove himself as Kaneda’s equal, Tetsuo pulls a charade that brings forth the government’s Akira secret. This manga offers great themes regarding power, social collapse, and rebellion.
The gun battles and psychic bouts look spectacular in the manga. Thanks to the manga giving our characters more time to bond and grow than in a 1-hour animated film, the Akira manga is the best way to enjoy this unforgettable gem.
Aria – Kozue Amano
Aria is an atmospheric slice-of-life manga that will touch your heart. It’s set in a futuristic time when humans fled to Mars to start up a brand-new civilization. Nonetheless, people remain on Earth. Our protagonist Akari is a new resident of Mars and wants to become a tour guide for it. She joins the Aria Company to help her further her goals.
This story is all about honing in on Akari’s life in her new habitat and exploring the new bonds she forges here. This manga engulfs readers with a relaxing atmosphere. The environment may not house a lot of people, but it helps the areas evoke a tranquil and serene aura. It makes the world feel more peaceful, quiet, and free of treacherous issues.
The characters in Aria are likable and full of life. Akari likes to view Mars through an optimistic lens and often likes to sophisticated takes on the things she sees. If you’re searching for a calm sci-fi manga to read that will free you of your worries, Aria is worth adding to your catalog.
Planetes – Makoto Yukimura
From one calm sci-fi story to another, we arrive at Planetes. This manga highlights the daily antics of astronauts in space. From its quirky chief clerk Phillipe to the mysterious Edelgard, fans can expect our characters’ personalities to clash. Some activities they indulge themselves in are peaceful and slightly comedic. This manga’s character-driven at best.
It contains some drama. As you continue reading through its contents, Makoto Yukimura will slowly reveal our characters’ past lives and current goals. This will help readers forge a strong attachment to the characters. Along with its characters, Planetes likes to tackle deep subjects. Topics like war and peace, environmentalism, and economic disparity come to mind.
Instead of expressing these concerns through dialogue, Yukimura likes to tackle these heavy issues through imagery. This gives readers something to ponder and makes for a refreshing experience. If you’re looking for a deep and compelling sci-fi narrative with a mix of wholesomeness and thought, check out Planetes.
Space Brothers – Chuya Koyama
Space Brothers is a fun slice-of-life story about two ambitious brothers who want to become astronauts. They carry strong determination and resolve, making them feel memorable and inspirational. The side characters are just as entertaining as our protagonists. They have unique personalities and goals that will make them feel interesting to follow alongside our lead characters.
Space Brothers explore the ins and outs of astronaut life. You can expect Chuya Koyama to tackle several aspects of the career regarding training regimes and selection processes. The story contains some neat drama that will bring in more tension to avoid feeling bland or dull. Nonetheless, readers will enjoy Space Brothers’ lighthearted elements just as much as its dramatic ones. For those looking for a compelling narrative about two brothers striving toward their sci-fi-themed careers, read Space Brothers.
20th Century Boys – Naoki Urasawa
20th Century Boys is a great sci-fi adventure manga with a phenomenal cast. It follows Kenji, a store manager who wants to live a fulfilling life. Strange things start happening in his surroundings due to a cult leader named Friend. When Kenji connects Friend to the death of his childhood friend, Donkey, Kenji joins forces with his friends to save the world from Friend’s wrath.
This is another great psychological work from the gentleman who brought you Billy Bat, Monster, and Pluto. Its world feels vaster and the stakes feel higher than in previous works.
Furthermore, this manga has a larger cast, but Urasawa makes sure the characters receive enough panel time and development to feel memorable. The manga’s ending may not suit everyone’s tastes, though. However, if you can overlook its mixed conclusion and some strange plot points, you’ll adore what Urasawa offers with 20th Century Boys.
Eden: It’s an Endless World – Hiroki Endo
Eden: It’s an Endless World (Eden) is a sci-fi drama with great thrills and mysteries. It involves people trying to survive after a catastrophic event. It explores how this world’s society grows and changes after the terrifying phenomenon occurs. The cast will embark on multiple sub-missions to unravel the hidden secrets behind this world-changing occurrence.
Hiroki Endo gives each character a chance to shine. They all have clashing ideals and personalities that will make you understand their takes. For those looking for more thought-provoking sci-fi manga to binge, Eden: It’s an Endless World is worth your time. It’s set in a worldwide pandemic that kills 15% of the human population. A secret organization (Propater) seizes control over the nation.
Some kids find themselves immune to the toxin, get ambushed by Propater, but escape. 20 years later, one of the escapees becomes a drug lord and teams up with his son and several others to fight the Propater. Therefore, it’s best to go into this story expecting an all-out battle between the drug cartels and Propater.
Blame! – Tsutomu Nihei
Blame! takes place in a world where society has isolated itself into small territories to avoid being picked off by menacing beasts. Killy, our protagonist is the only one brave enough to traverse the monsters’ domain. He possesses incredible strength and a rare beam that allows him to vanquish beasts with ease. His goal is to find a human with the Net Terminal Gene that will restore the world.
Killy will meet many people and kill more monsters as he gets closer to completing his goal. Blame! feels like the drawn version of “show and don’t tell.” The manga offers very little dialogue, so readers will need to piece together events by paying attention to the way characters react to people and their surroundings.
You’ll conjure up different interpretations of things that may clash with a friend’s view of the story. The artwork is fitting for the world’s gloomy and gritty atmosphere. You’ll see characters wandering large labyrinths and dark hallways with only the sounds of machines echoing throughout each area. These are only a few of the manga’s defining aspects, as you’re certain to encounter more things to enjoy about the story when you read it.
Yokohama Shopping Log – Hitoshi Ashinano
For something that’s more laidback, sci-fi enthusiasts should check out Yokohama Shopping Log. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and follows an android named Alpha. She’s in charge of running a cafe while the owner is away, but decides to explore her territory with her scooter and camera to make new friends and craft intriguing memories along the way.
Yokohama Shopping Log is a slow-burn, lighthearted tale with impressive world-building and charming characters. It explores themes like the meaning of life and the acceptance of loss and change. The story offers more thought-provoking concepts that will make you think deeply about your own experiences in life. Alpha receives incredible development throughout the course of the series.
Considering she’s a robot, she’ll grow to appreciate the small things she stumbles upon in her endeavors. While some side characters don’t receive as much exposure as Alpha, they’re given enough traits to make them feel slightly unforgettable. Give this story a shot when you have the chance.
Battle Angel Alita – Yukito Kishiro
Battle Angel Alita is a classic sci-fi manga with emotional dialogue, incredible action, and well-written characters. The protagonist, Alita (Gally), endures extreme hardship throughout the story and fans will find themselves cheering her on without hesitation. Battle Angel Alita delves into themes surrounding human nature, the ethics of artificial life, and technology’s impact on society.
It also presents readers with something to contemplate regarding humans coexisting with robots. Battle Angel Alita’s artwork is visually stunning to look at from the author’s use of shading and perspective which adds more depth to his illustrations. Readers will enjoy the fights just as much as the intense drama involving its protagonist and other side characters. If you’re looking for a fabulous sci-fi manga with beautiful artwork, an engaging sci-fi world, and multiple-rounded characters, give Battle Angel Alita a shot.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best sci-fi manga through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!