Best Thriller 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 thriller. From chilling realistic scenarios to strange supernatural occurrences, 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!
Sanctuary – Buronson
Sanctuary is a mature and political thriller manga. It follows two friends named Akira and Chiaki who witness the corruption of Japan’s population. They vow to create a new Japan with a new approach to politics. To start, Akira ventures to seize control of the Yazuka while Chiaki pursues the Prime Minister position. This manga’s known for having a gripping storyline and suspenseful atmosphere.
The story is engaged and unpredictable. Chiaki and Akira’s journey won’t be an easy one, as it will be brimming with espionage, assassination, and corruption. Buronson knows how to keep readers guesstimating by introducing several delightful twists that will get your heart pumping as you read. Chiaki and Akira are multifaceted individuals with unique character arcs and motivations.
The story’s villains can be just as compelling as these two. The pacing is great for what Buronson wants to achieve in Sanctuary. The artwork is excellent and perfectly captures Sanctuary’s mood and atmosphere, appropriately. From its well-drawn action scenes to its well-detailed environments, every panel feels like a work of art in Sanctuary. Give this a read if you want something deep and mesmerizing.
My Dearest Self With Malice Crime Aforethought – Hajime Inoryuu
My Dearest Self With Malice After Aforethought is an excellent manga that handles mental disorders with care. It delivers a captivating story about a character undergoing severe Dissociative Identity Disorder. It features an enticing mystery with hints of foreshadowing elements, making it a work that many people will adore formulating theories about.
The story’s plot isn’t fully unpredictable and some characters don’t receive much development, but if you can stick through with it to the end you’ll walk away feeling satisfied. Our story follows Eiji, a college student who likes spending time with his friends and wants to secure a girlfriend. After partying hard, Eiji discovers he has a girlfriend and has been exposed as the son of a serial killer.
With all these issues surrounding him, Eiji embarks on a quest to resolve them all. This manga will take you on a mind-numbing and thrilling loop that you don’t want to miss. Characters receive great development alongside the mysteries Hajime Inoryuu implements in his tale. Give this a shot if you’re looking for something deep, thoughtful, and intriguing to read.
Back When You Called Us Devils – Takashi Sano
Back When You Call Us Devils is a thrilling manga that will keep readers at bay from beginning to end. It has a well-crafted and intricate narrative and can feel unpredictable at times. The story offers multiple twists and turns that’ll keep readers guessing. Our tale revolves around Yusuke, a high schooler who can only recall the last six months of his life.
He’ll be confronted by many people who claim he did horrible things to them in his past life. This entices Yusuke to embark on a quest to recall what he did to them and to redeem the former self of his mistakes. Yusuke receives great development over the course of the story and readers will adore following his quest for redemption.
Takashi Sano’s illustrations are superb from the well-detailed backgrounds to the atmospheric settings. They have a level of sharpness that adds to the manga’s dark and gritty nature. This manga’s pacing is just right for the story Takashi Sano wants to tell. Its fast-paced nature contributes to the sense of urgency and anxiety that builds throughout the narrative.
The Drifting Classroom – Kazuo Umezz
The Drifting Classroom is a mature manga that’s extremely short. It’s a tale about ordinary humans struggling to survive in an unfamiliar world. It follows Shou and his other 6th-grade classmates who get teleported to a barren landscape. He and his friends will endure long food shortages and other external threats that want to make a meal out of him.
Our characters will tap into their survival instincts multiple times in this work. You can expect them to engage in thoughtful conversations and complain about minuscule things. Umezz’s illustrations capture the horror and dark elements of The Drifting Classroom’s world significantly.
From its terrifying close-ups to its empty settings, you’ll always feel like something is amiss about this manga. Heartbreak, tragedy, and turmoil await you in The Drifting Classroom. If you can stomach seeing children struggle to live, then give this story a read.
Moriarty the Patriot – Ryousuke Takeuchi
Moriarity the Patriot grabs readers’ attention with its excellent storyline, characters, and artwork. The storyline is gripping and captivating. It follows the exploits of William James Moriarity, a brilliant and calculating master criminal, as he composes numerous heists and schemes to disrupt the corrupt and unequal society of Victorian England.
Royousuke Takeuchi inserts multiple plot twists and turns continuously, making the storyline feel nearly unpredictable. The characters have engaging backstories, personalities, and abilities. While Willaim steals the manga most of the time, his supporting cast is equally fascinating with their diverse weaknesses and strengths. Willaim’s combatants are also intelligent and complex too.
The artwork is exceptional but nothing too noteworthy. However, the series feels well-researched, with the setting and clothing accurately depicting London in the late 19th century. Hikaru Miyori, the artist for Moriarity the Patriot, attributes great shadowing techniques that contributed to the manga’s darkness and tension well. For those looking for a great manga with an excellent cast, Moriarity the Patriot should satisfy you.
Monster – Naoki Urasawa
Naoki Urasawa is a marvelous storyteller. His stories are littered with compelling characters and numerous twists that will leave you speechless. Monster is one of his highly regarded works. It follows Dr. Kenzou Tenma, a surgeon known for his wonderful skills and clean record. Although some people aren’t fans of Kenzou, he doesn’t let it get to him too much.
One day, Kenzou must make a difficult choice. He must save a child or his mayor’s life. Kenzou opts to save the child resulting in the mayor’s death and many people shunning him for his decision. To make matters worse, the boy turns out to be a maniacal serial killer going by the name Johan Liebert. To clear his name, Kenzou abandons his current life to murder Johan.
This manga feels utterly nerve-wracking and grounded. You’ll be stunned by how far Johan is willing to make people suffer. From enticing a child to murder himself to manipulating countries, he’s a force to be reckoned with and a worthy adversary for Kenzou.
Side characters receive wonderful development and personalities. You’ll be cheering for them to overcome their own struggles while Kenzou focuses on his own. Give this a read if you haven’t dabbled into Naoki Urasawa’s previous work.
Blood on the Tracks – Shuuzou Oshimi
Blood on the Tracks features haunting imagery, heartbreaking scenarios, and mature themes. It’s not for everyone as its female lead will do everything in her power to make your blood boil. She’ll ruin her son’s livelihood to the point where you’ll want to abandon the manga for a bit to contemplate what you just read. Shuuzou Oshimi’s art style fits well with Blood on the Track’s disturbing tone.
To well-drawn facial expressions to her clever use of manga panels, you’ll feel like this story is based on a real narrative. For those curious, we follow Seiichi, a lonely boy with loving parents, friends, and a middle school crush. From the sound of it, everything feels fine. However, that’s far from the case. Seiichi’s mother is overprotective, strange, and toxic.
She’s so attached to Seiichi to the point that people think little of him. It takes Seiichi a while to realize his mother’s manipulative tactics, but when he does, he vows to do everything in his power to escape her grasp. Unfortunately, he’ll have to undergo severe psychological trauma if he hopes to achieve his goal.
Death Note – Tsugumi Ohba
Death Note is a popular thriller manga that took off due to its stellar adaptation by Studio Madhouse. It has intelligent characters, a delightful narrative, and strong twists that will pull people deeper into it. It follows Light, a smart high schooler who stumbles upon a weird book called Death Note. By writing a person’s name and the cause of death in it, you can kill them.
Light has a strong hatred for criminals, so he uses Death Note’s power to massacre many evildoers under the alias, Kira. Light gets insanely popular due to his actions, resulting in many people treating him as a hero. Light’s happiness would come to a halt when a young detective named L aims to bring him to justice. Therefore, we follow the epic mind battles between L and Light.
This psychological cat-and-mouse dynamic between the two is what grabs readers the most. It’s a blast seeing how L or Light triumphs or thwarts the other’s line of thinking. The side characters receive some nice development, but these two characters steal the manga. For those looking for a fun supernatural crime thriller with great characters, check out Death Note.
Summer Time Rendering – Yasunori Tanaka
Summer Time Rendering is a fairly new supernatural mystery manga. It received a marvelous adaptation that didn’t receive much attention due to Disney. Nonetheless, it offers an exciting and mysterious storyline that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. In it, we follow Shinpei, a boy who lost his parents and gets adopted by the Kofune family.
He leaves his home to pursue his studies. Eventually, Shinpei returns and learns his stepsister Ushio perished. After analyzing her neck, Shinpei finds something strange about Ushio’s corpse. Suddenly, more strange phenomena take place involving strange Shadow-beings. Therefore, Shinpei must unravel the mysteries of his home if he hopes to protect his remaining sister from dying.
Summer Time Rendering delivers well-developed characters with engaging personalities that blend into the storyline. Each character has an intriguing backstory that readers will unravel with each chapter.
The manga’s eerie atmosphere will also add to readers’ adoration for this work since you’ll see residents undergo severe paranoia and unease. In addition to having great pacing and breathtaking artwork, Summer Time Rendering is a great story that’s worth your time.
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning – Kyou Shirodaira
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning delivers a spectacular experience for mystery fanatics. It starts off feeling like your usual murder-mystery-themed story but spirals into something that will leave you wanting answers right away. The story is about the brother of a famed detective named Ayumu. His brother, Kiyotaka, left his wife, Ayumu, and a message about the “Blade Children” behind.
More bizarre instances occur around Ayumu like him getting blamed for murdering a fellow student. After learning about the Blade Children’s involvement in the incident. Ayumu discovers that this eerie faction has closer ties to his brother than he realized. The storyline is deeply immersive and thought-provoking. Eita Mizuno, the series’s artist, has a wonderful art style.
The manga’s imagery isn’t the best at the beginning, but Mizuno improves her craftsmanship over time. It evokes a strong shoujo vibe compared to most shonen works. Nonetheless, if you can overlook its artwork, you’re in for a story that will keep you guessing until its conclusion.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best thriller 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!