by Rakka • Tags: manga recommendations list
Some manga recommendations, categorized by general “feel”. The divisions are fairly arbitrary and many of the series could move between sections easily.
Keep an eye out for updates; I’ve left out entire categories for this initial update.
- Updated 2020/09/13 with Hoshi Mamoru Inu.
- Cute & Comfy
- Hyakunichikan!! (100 Days!!)
- Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko (She and Her Cat)
- Machida-kun no Sekai
- Madoromi-chan ga Iku (Go! Go! Madoromi-chan)
- Majo to Neko no Hanashi (The Story of Witches and Cats)
- Ninja Shinobu-san no Junjou
- 一天 (One Day)
- These Two Will Be Married in 100 Days
- Tsurezure Children (Tsuredure Children)
- Boku no Kanojo wa Saikoudesu! (My Girlfriend Is The Best!)
- First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage
- Hanging Out With A Gamer Girl
- Himeno-chan no Koi wa Mada Hayai (Love Is Still To Early For Himeno-chan)
- Hitoribocchi no ○○ Seikatsu
- Pseudo Harem
- 她们的故事/SQ：从你的名字开始 (Their Story; Tamen de Gushi; SQ: Begin W/ Your Name!)
- Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai (Please Love the Useless Me)
- Hosaka-sensei no Ai no Muchi
- Kase-san and… (series)
- Last Game
- Otome Danshi ni Koisuru Otome (The Maiden In Love With The Maiden Boy)
- Taiyou no Ie (House of the Sun)
- Zense Coupling (Past Life Coupling)
- Tonikaku Cawaii (Fly Me To The Moon)
- Futari Ashita mo Sorenari ni
- How Do We Relationship?
- I’m Nearly 30, But This Is My First Love
- Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku
- Hoshi Mamoru Inu (Star-Protecting Dog)
- Jumyou wo Kaitotte Moratta. Ichinen ni Tsuki, Ichimanen de. (I Sold My Life For 100,000 Yen Per Year; Three Days of Happiness)
- Kami-sama ga Uso wo Tsuku (The Gods Lie)
- Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)
- My Girl
- My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness/My Solo Foreign Exchange Diary
- Shimanami Tasogare (Our Dreams At Dusk)
- “Watashi ga Inakute mo Shiawase ni natte Kudasai” Nante, Fuzaken na (“Please Be Happy Even If I’m Not Here,” Don’t Screw With Me.)
Cute & Comfy #
Warm, fluffy, romantic and/or comedic stories that don’t necessarily have much plot or progression. My favorite in this category is Tsurezure Children.
Finished publishing, completely translated:
Hyakunichikan!! (100 Days!!) #
- Author/Artist: NATA Konone
- Scanlators: Timeless scans (unlicensed)
Shuto, a high schooler, is suddenly told by his parents to take care of Chiho-chan, the five-year-old daughter of a colleague of theirs, while they go overseas on a business trip. While initially Shuto has no idea what to do and Chiho is reluctant to get near this stranger, by the end they’re completely inseparable as they become, essentially, siblings. Read this for the heartwarming friendship.
Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko (She and Her Cat) #
A oneshot manga adaptation of an early animated short from SHINKAI Makoto, director of the hit films Your Name, Weathering With You, and Five Centimeters Per Second. The story follows the life of a young office worker from the perspective of her cat, who can’t understand her words, but supports her regardless through her struggles with work and life. From unwelcome suitors to uncertain feelings about family to past friends, we witness a few scenes of Miyu’s life through the eyes of her cat. This manga lacks the visual splendor and dramatic romance of Shinkai’s other works, but retains that same sense of connection between two individuals, this time between a cat and his master. It’s definitely worth a read for its new perspective, and for dealing with the struggles that newly minted corporate adults face, a change of pace from the usual grade school stories.
Machida-kun no Sekai #
- Author/Artist: ANDOU Yuki
- Scanlators: Let's Not Fall In Love (unlicensed)
A warm, comforting look at life through the eyes of Machida-kun, a boy who helps and loves everyone around him. He may not be gifted academically or physically, but he’s patient and caring, and those around him adore him, too. The series doesn’t quite have a plot, being mostly an exploration of Machida’s relationships with and effect on the people he knows, so you’ll find this a calming and relaxing read. There’s also a little bit of romance, though it’s not the main focus at all.
Madoromi-chan ga Iku (Go! Go! Madoromi-chan) #
- Author/Artist: namo
- Scanlators: tukiscans (unlicensed)
A cute slice-of-life about Madoromi, a young girl with horns, and Taichii who takes care of her. Similar in feel to Yotsuba&!. There’s pretty much no plot in this story, just lots of hijinks that come from raising a child.
Majo to Neko no Hanashi (The Story of Witches and Cats) #
- Author/Artist: SHINOMIYA Shino
- Scanlators: Lovely Strange Dark (unlicensed)
A short fantasy series following four teenage witches as they summon their familiars, and how those witches and their cats help each other grow into their roles and prepare for what comes next in life. Has a bit of a Kiki’s Delivery Service vibe, down to the talking cats and general style.
Ninja Shinobu-san no Junjou #
A slice-of-life about Shinobu, a perfectly average and normal girl, and Hitoyoshi, the classmate who insists she is secretly a ninja. Comedy ensues as Hitoyoshi does his best to expose Shinobu, while Shinobu avoids him and considers her own feelings towards him.
一天 (One Day) #
One Day is a collection of stories about chance meetings of people in a city: a bookshop employee and a random traveler, who wish they could meet again; a tomboy and the classmate she has a crush on; and an office worker, struggling to move on after being dumped by her boyfriend. While short, you’ll find a peaceful, relaxing reflection on the coincidences and choices we face in life.
Also a nice way to practice your Chinese reading skills.
These Two Will Be Married in 100 Days #
- Author/Artist: HATA Kenjirou
- Scanlators: Tonikaku Scans (unlicensed)
Part of a “100 days” trend that emerged in 2020 where an artist would post a short comic on Twitter for 100 consecutive days. This follows a recently unemployed salaryman and an idol who meet and get married within the 100 days. Given the timeline, this story has the fastest plot progression you’ve ever seen, as well as lots of cute flirting.
From the same mangaka as Tonikaku Cawaii below.
Tsurezure Children (Tsuredure Children) #
A 4-koma (4-panel comedy) series following the hijinks and troubles of several couples at school. With the number of couples, keeping track of everyone can be difficult, but you’ll appreciate the rapid-fire comedy and the range of relationships and characters on display—there’s something for everyone, and ultimately everyone is adorable, from the “love master” going around helping other couples while running from his own romance, to the girl who plays guitar only with a mask on in order to hide from her overbearing and traditional family.
Also partially adapted into an anime short.
Boku no Kanojo wa Saikoudesu! (My Girlfriend Is The Best!) #
- Author: Iori
- Artist: TAKADA Takami
- Scanlators: Kougeki Scans (unlicensed)
A slice-of-life about an average man and his amazing girlfriend, based on the author’s own life. It’s lighthearted and mostly comedic, one of several series here that focus on slice-of-life moments from couples who are already intimate and familiar—we get the actual relationship, so for once you won’t be disappointed because the story ends at “I love you”.
First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage #
- Author/Artist: Niichi
- Scanlators: Moe and Friends (unlicensed)
A slice-of-life about a recently engaged couple. First Comes Love is more down-to-earth than Boku no Kanojo above, but manages to be funny and heartwarming with all those little moments in a couple’s daily life.
Hanging Out With A Gamer Girl #
- Author/Artist: Niichi
- Scanlators: Moe and Friends (unlicensed)
Kaoru’s meets up with his online friend Nanami, who doesn’t know he’s actually a guy in real life (as he always plays a girl in games), and likewise, Kaoru doesn’t know Nanami was actually a girl. After their initial shock, since Nanami already told her parents she was inviting a girl home, Kaoru agrees to dress up as a girl…
While there’s a little bit of romantic progression in this series, the focus is mostly on crossdressing comedy and on Kaoru slowly helping the extremely shy Nanami break out of her shell.
Himeno-chan no Koi wa Mada Hayai (Love Is Still To Early For Himeno-chan) #
- Author/Artist: Yuzuchiri
- Scanlators: Poniente Scans (unlicensed)
Fourth grader Himeno has a crush on her classmate Ouji-kun, but can’t properly express herself. In this lighthearted series, kids are just kids, and you’ll love watching the slightly precocious Himeno and entirely clueless Ouji slowly fumble through figuring out what it means to like someone.
Hitoribocchi no ○○ Seikatsu #
- Author/Artist: Katsuwo
- Scanlators: Doki Fansubs (unlicensed)
Hitori Bocchi has always had extreme social anxiety. Now that she’s entering junior high, her only friend Yawara Kai leaves her, giving her an ultimatum: make friends with every classmate, or they can’t be friends anymore. Despite the perhaps dramatic setup, Hitoribocchi is an endearing 4-koma about a girl building up the courage to break out of her own shell, and finding she’s more than capable.
Also adapted into a TV anime.
(Note: nearly every character’s name is a pun, e.g. Hitori Bocchi is 一人ぼっち, “loneliness”, and Yawara Kai is 軟らかい, “soft” or “gentle”.)
Pseudo Harem #
Rin teases her senior in the drama club, Eiji, with a variety of personas from cheeky to cool to tsundere using the power of her acting. You’ll get to see every romance personality trope crammed into one story, but you’ll also see the two characters manage actual romantic progression of their own.
她们的故事/SQ：从你的名字开始 (Their Story; Tamen de Gushi; SQ: Begin W/ Your Name!) #
The story of the budding friendship and romance between Sun Jing and Qiu Tong. Another slice-of-life comedy series; the romantic progression falls off a cliff after some point (usually blamed on either Chinese censorship, or an overly conservative publisher), but the enjoyment from their daily high school antics remains.
Slightly more serious stories with actual progression, that are still overall happy/warm. I absolutely adore every story in this category.
- Author/Artist: AKI Eda
- Scanlators: Easy Going Scans (unlicensed)
A chance meeting brings together two residents of the same apartment complex, Ozawa and Oyamanda. Ozawa takes an interest in the eccentric (and somewhat of a loner) Oyamanda, and the two of them begin their friendship.
Read this for: a warm story of actual adults getting into an actual relationship, with reasonable worries and no melodrama.
Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai (Please Love the Useless Me) #
- Author/Artist: NAKAHARA Aya
- Scanlators: Phoenix Serenade Scans, AcceleOrderAO (unlicensed)
Shibata, lacking a job, bets everything on her romance with a younger man, sacrificing even meals to buy him clothing and accessories while her savings slowly dwindle. One day, she finds out he was never actually interested in him in the first place. Struggling to find a job, she bumps into Kurosawa, a former manager of hers that she used to dislike, who offers her a place to stay and a job in his café.
The best reason to read this series:
In all seriousness, DameKoi stands out for character development—we get to see Shibata develop her own confidence and skills, while she tears down the wall around Kurosawa and grow closer to the person inside, not the manager she used to fear.
Hosaka-sensei no Ai no Muchi #
- Author/Artist: KURUMATANI Haruko
- Scanlators: Timeless scans (unlicensed)
An endearing story about an nursery teacher with a scary face, and the senior teacher who helps her overcome her shame over this. There’s lots of fluff as she deals with the kids, and romance as Kawai-sensei learns from Hosaka-sensei, but there’s also more serious topics as the teachers do their best to protect—and nurture—their students.
Kase-san and… (series) #
A yuri story about the quiet greenery committee member Yamada and the cool & popular track star Kase. There’s lots of personal growth for both characters, and while there’s some drama, it remains low-key; overall, it’s a pleasant, happy read.
Also see Okazu’s review. Also has an anime film adaptation. While listed under “completed”, there’s a continuation story being published, Kase-san and Yamada.
Last Game #
- Author/Artist: AMANO Shinobu
- Scanlators: multiple (unlicensed)
Wealthy and accomplished Yanagi has never been bested academically or socially, until the plain Kujou transfers to his elementary school and begins beating him in grades and in sports. He makes it his goal to beat her, but ends up falling in love with her instead, following her into high school and college. Finally, he realizes he’s actually fallen for her…
If you want to see the guy being tsundere and the girl being as dense as a bag of bricks, this is the series for you. It remains fairly comfy, without massive drama (but still enough conflict to keep things moving).
Otome Danshi ni Koisuru Otome (The Maiden In Love With The Maiden Boy) #
- Author/Artist: SHIMAZAKI Mujirushi
- Scanlators: ElPsyKongroo (unlicensed)
A heartwarming (you’re gonna get that word a lot) tale about Mayu, a girl afraid of men, who falls at first sight for Yuki, a crossdressing boy. Like many manga, this series treats crossdressing fairly lightly—and to be clear, this is not a story about trans women—but there’s still a strong message of self-acceptance for Yuki, and an endearing tale of Mayu overcoming her fears.
Taiyou no Ie (House of the Sun) #
House of the Sun is about Mao’s struggles with her splintered family and her love for her childhood friend, Hiro. As the name implies, it’s warm & comfy series with an adorable cast, and as with many of the series here, it avoids melodrama while still providing enough conflict and trouble to keep things moving and keep you interested. Also, the side characters get real development—the cast feels fully fleshed out, and you’ll find yourself caring about everyone, instead of cursing them for distracting from the main couple as is sadly all too common.
Warning: the main couple has an age gap, though the author explains it as based on her own life.
Zense Coupling (Past Life Coupling) #
- Author/Artist: KAKITSUBATA Waka
- Scanlators: Komorebi Scanlations (unlicensed)
Zense Coupling follows four couples now reborn into the modern day, some of whom have their past memories intact. You’ll find lots of comedy along with steady romantic progression, as their past life intrudes on their current day, helping them along. The concept doesn’t overstay its welcome, and you’ll feel fulfilled at the end.
Warning: two of the four couples have an age gap, though it’s handled reasonably.
Tonikaku Cawaii (Fly Me To The Moon) #
In some sense, an isekai story: Nasa, about to be hit by a truck, is saved by a beautiful girl; in the moment, he asks her to marry him before passing out. She, of course, disappears, and he starts work while waiting for her return. One night, she shows up, introduces herself as Tsukasa, and declares herself his wife. The rest of the story is just slice-of-life moments about their married life. While there’s occasional hints of an actual plot involving Tsukasa’s background, you’ll quickly forget all of that while watching them flirt and pout. If all you want is to overdose on cute & funny married couple life, grab this series now. (Of all the married couple series here, this one is my favorite.)
Futari Ashita mo Sorenari ni #
- Author/Artist: Suzuyuki
- Scanlators: Shurim's 3am scanlations (unlicensed)
Another slice-of-life romantic comedy, this time focusing on a couple in their twenties who have moved in together. This one is more down-to-earth and focuses mostly on comedy; there’s slow but steady progression in their relationship over time.
How Do We Relationship? #
A yuri romantic comedy about two college students in a band. This series has a little more drama; Miwa is rather shy and working on coming out fully, while Saeko has no shame and has to adjust to Miwa’s pace. It’s still a fun & funny read, and as they’re in quite a different stage in their lives and relationships, Saeko’s and Miwa’s relationship is interesting to follow even if you feel overloaded on slice-of-life romance manga by now.
I’m Nearly 30, But This Is My First Love #
- Author/Artist: 310
- Scanlators: Tritinia Scans (unlicensed)
Yet another slice-of-life romantic comedy, this time focusing on two couples in their thirties (are you amazed yet?). Weirdly enough, everyone acts more like a grade schooler…because if your first relationship isn’t until you’re 30, then of course you still have no clue what’s going on at all right? That aside, you’ll still find this a comfortable read, and this series still gets points for showing the relationship instead of just the buildup (no time to waste!).
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku #
Yet another slice-of-life romantic comedy about working adult couples. What sets Wotakoi apart is the camaraderie of the cast; they really feel like friends and it’s easy to get invested in their antics together and cheer them on as they progress through life. Where the characters of many of the other series above are more down-to-earth and low-key, Wotakoi features a cast of strong personalities, keeping things interesting. Also, the characters are weebs (or well, otaku), making them presumably more relatable.
Stories about food and cooking, which may have romance or comedy on the side, but focus primarily on feeding your stomach over your heart. My favorite in this category is Misoshiru de Kanpai!.
Kumika no Mikaku #
- Author/Artist: ONONAKA Akihiro
- Scanlators: Helvetica Scans (unlicensed)
A mildly sci-fi story following the alien Kumika, an immigrant to Earth who does not normally need to eat. However, her coworker Chihiro introduces her to food after she falls ill one day, and she begins to explore this entirely foreign landscape. There’s some mild romance here, but mostly this series is pictures of food and occasional descriptions of how to cook it.
Tonari wa Nani o Kuu Hito zo #
- Author/Artist: FUJITSUKA Yuki
- Scanlators: Jailbreak Scans (unlicensed)
A fairly simple romance between two college students: Inaba, who’s trying her best to have her college debut but who can’t figure out how to live alone; and Seto, a reserved but dependable cook who happens to be her neighbor. After setting off the fire alarm one day, Seto comes to help Inaba, and she slowly learns to cook from him while growing closer to him as well. Every chapter includes a recipe that you can try to follow along with, and you’ll actually get a romantic payoff to boot!
Misoshiru de Kanpai! #
- Author/Artist: SASANO Sai
- Scanlators: Sol Café Scans (unlicensed)
Another cute & comfy childhood friend romance. This time, Yae can’t stand to see Zenichirou always eating pre-prepared and instant foods, so she decides to take the place of his mother and try cooking him breakfast. This series also tends to include a recipe with chapters, many of which resolve around miso or miso soup (as the title implies). Romantic development is, however, quite slow.
Shinmai Shimai no Futari Gohan #
- Author/Artist: HIIRAGI Yutaka
- Scanlators: Yuri-ism (unlicensed)
After Sachi’s father remarries, she finds herself with a new little sister, Ayari, who she doesn’t get along very well with…until she discovers her love of cooking. As their parents travel a lot and send lots of interesting foods home, the two of them have lots of chances to experiment and learn. The foods here are a mix of the everyday and the more exotic/advanced, with everything from strawberry milk to foie gras on display. No romance here, of course—just food!
Sadder and/or yet more serious (and not necessarily romantic) stories. I also absolutely adore every story in this category.
Hoshi Mamoru Inu (Star-Protecting Dog) #
At times heartwarming, at times heartbreaking, Hoshi Mamoru Inu follows life through the lens of a dog who remained with his master until the very end. The series then continues with a look at various other characters who crossed paths with them along the way.
- Author/Artist: SAHARA Mizu
- Scanlators: Blue Flor, Lovely Strange Dark (unlicensed)
A brief magical realism oneshot that’ll nevertheless leave you devastated. Toki hasn’t had the best life, taking care of his sick grandmother without his parents in the picture. His school tries to help him out, and he ends up living with the art teacher Itsuya-san and the her relative Kon. Itsuya-san, however, has a bit of magic—she can blow on her drawings and bring them to life—which she uses to help those around her, including Toki and Kon.
I adore the author (Sahara Mizu) and wish she’d get more recognition. Here’s to hoping…
Jumyou wo Kaitotte Moratta. Ichinen ni Tsuki, Ichimanen de. (I Sold My Life For 100,000 Yen Per Year; Three Days of Happiness) #
- Author: MIAKI Sugaru
- Artist: TAGUCHI Shouichi
- Scanlators: vgperson (unlicensed)
A young man who has no hopes or wishes in life stumbles on a shop that offers to buy his lifespan, time, or health from him. He decides to sell his lifespan, and has to deal with the consequences. I can’t say much else without spoiling the story, but I will say things don’t quite unfold like you might expect.
A manga adaptation of a light novel (and by the way, I adore the author too). I’d also file this under “magical realism”, though I just use that to mean any sort of magic or supernatural ability that isn’t really questioned or acknowledged by the characters.
Kami-sama ga Uso wo Tsuku (The Gods Lie) #
Content warning: child neglect
Another quick oneshot. Natsuru’s ignored by the girls in class since he turned one of them down on Valentine’s day, but Suzumura, an oft-neglected girl in his class, one day talks to him, and so he learns her secrets.
Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) #
Content warning: suicide/attempted suicide; bullying
Nishimiya Shouko, a deaf girl, transfers into Ishida Shouya’s class. While at first everyone gets along, eventually Ishida begins to lead the class in bullying her, until she transfers out. The class then turns on him as the ringleader, ostracizing him. Over the years, he’s driven to the brink, without any friends or hope for the future, but he decides to try to reach out to Nishimiya one last time and try to redeem himself.
Also has an anime film adaptation from Kyoto Animation, which you should absolutely watch—it does a good job of slimming down the story while leaving the core of what makes it so special intact.
My Girl #
- Author/Artist: SAHARA Mizu
- Scanlators: (various) (unlicensed)
Kazama, a single 23-year-old, leaves work one day to find a girl claiming to be his daughter. He realizes she’s the child he had with his past lover, who moved abroad and passed away without explanation several years ago; now his daughter is in front of him, and both of them must try to move on from the person they knew and loved while trying to grow into being a family.
I haven’t commented on art so far much, but of all the artists here, the pastels and watercolors of Sahara Mizu stand out the most—especially here.
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness/My Solo Foreign Exchange Diary #
Content warning: self-harm; eating disorders; NSFW content
An autobiographical look at the author’s struggle with working life, self-harm, eating disorders, self-acceptance, and discovering her sexuality. Despite the title, and the notoriety it gained from the author writing about her experience hiring a lesbian escort, the focus of these volumes is more on, essentially, struggling with fitting in and being a good, productive member of society, of which her sexuality is one part.
Shimanami Tasogare (Our Dreams At Dusk) #
Tasuku, a high schooler, is terrified that he’s been outed as gay at school. Standing on the edge of a cliff, he sees a woman jumping off and instead rushes over to try and help her—but he finds the mysterious Anonymous-san perfectly fine. She brings him to a group of people, all struggling with problems much like his own. Unlike many manga, which depict LGBTQ+ experiences in a fetishistic or overly romanticized way, Our Dreams At Dusk stays grounded and serious, developing a full cast of characters and depicting their struggles without defining them by just one aspect of themselves.
Also check out Erica Friedman’s review.
“Watashi ga Inakute mo Shiawase ni natte Kudasai” Nante, Fuzaken na (“Please Be Happy Even If I’m Not Here,” Don’t Screw With Me.) #
- Author/Artist: Kogetsu
- Scanlators: nocturne scans (unlicensed)
A brief reflection of a man’s memories of his girlfriend, who one day left him without explanation or trace, after he finally receives her diary and finds out she had passed away after struggling with illness. It’s a short, focused tearjerker, yet it develops their relationship quite well in its scant eight chapters.