Best Of 2020: Manga Series

Best Manga 2020

2020 was another banner year for the manga industry. The industry just continues to grow as it has never been more popular than it is now. There are new records set with number of chapters released and sale numbers across the board. That growth is even noticeable here in the United States as companies like Viz Media, Dark Horse, and Kodansha Comic have been adding more titles to their library of manga offerings throughout 2020. With so many great titles Rokk and I have put together a list of the titles that stood out most in 2020 that everyone should be reading, if you aren’t already.

BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATION

Boruto Nartuo Next Generation Chapter 51 Cover

Click for full view of the color cover for Boruto Nartuo Next Generation Chapter 51

Creative Team

Writers: Ukyō Kodachi and Masashi Kishimoto

Artist: Mikio Ikemoto

2020 Chapters Released: Boruto: The Next Generation Chapter 42 – 53

Boruto: Naruto Next Generation has been a wonderful sequel manga. Ukyō Kodachi wrote Chapters 1-51. Then, the man himself Masashi Kishimoto took over the writing duties with Chapter 52. Boruto was an excellent read in 2020, but I have a feeling that 2021 is going to be even better. Mike Ikemeto provides the artwork for this manga. Ikemoto does a solid job in making Boruto a nice looking manga with each chapter.

Boruto Uzumaki is a wonderful main character. This manga manages to deliver some quality teen angst without ever falling into the trap of being annoying whininess. The character work is quite strong on this manga. All of the characters are pretty cool. Of course, Boruto is not just about nice character work. There is also tons of great action and adventure in this manga.

What makes Boruto particularly enjoyable is that the reader does not need to have to have read all 72 volumes of Naruto in order to enjoy this manga. This was a brilliant and intelligent move. Making Boruto new reader friendly makes it even easier for me to recommend this manga. – Rokk

CHAINSAW MAN

Chainsaw Man Chapter 85 Cover

Click for full view of the color cover for Chainsaw Man Chapter 85

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Tatsuki Fujimoto

2020 Chapters Released: Chainsaw Man Chapter 53 – 97

Chainsaw Man has been my favorite manga of 2020. And it has not even been close. You can check out some of my reviews of past chapters of Chainsaw Man. Chainsaw Man is not your typical horror manga. Tatsuki Fujimoto has added bits and pieces from other genres to make Chainsaw Man a horror manga that has aspects of fighting manga as well as a teenage boy coming of age manga, too. Of course, the foundation for Chainsaw Man is strong character work with plenty of small character-driven moments that make this manga such an enjoyable read.

Each chapter of Chainsaw Man offers the reader a deeply immersive experience. Chainsaw Man is a manga that can equally provide incredible action as well as an intelligent story. Chainsaw Man is a study in phenomenal long term plotting and the ability to construct a complex story full of varying plot lines that all meld together in a coherent and intelligent fashion. Chainsaw Man is a manga that should appeal to readers who like action as well as readers who demand good character work.

Currently, this manga stands at 9 volumes. This makes this an easy manga to hop onto and consume. – Rokk

DEMON SLAYER: KIMETSU NO YAIBA

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Chapter 200 Cover

Click for full view of the color cover for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Chapter 200.

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Koyoharu Gotōge

2020 Chapters Released: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Chapter 189 – 205

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is the hit manga from Koyoharu Gotōge who handles both the story and the art. This legendary manga ended May 18, 2020. The last volume was released in America on December 4, 2020. The plot is set in Taisho-Era Japan, i.e., around the beginning of the 19th century. Tanjiro Kamado is our protagonist and this story begins with him learning that his entire family, except for his sister, have been murdered. Tanjiro’s sister? She has been turned into a demon who is hungry for human flesh. However, Tanjiro’s sister, unlike most demons, has retained some capacity for human emotions.

Tanjiro is an excellent main character who is relatable and strong. Tanjiro is known for working and fighting hard for his family. Demon Slayer boasts intricate world-building. This is the type of setting that is immersive and pulls the reader seep into the story. This manga also has excellent character work. The reader gets to watch the growth of each of the characters in an n-depth manner. The story allows our characters to navigate this world and meet unique and interesting people. The story moves forward with steady plot progression.

Now that Demon Slayer has concluded, I would highly recommend going out and purchasing all 23 volumes. You will not be disappointed. – Rokk

DRAGON BALL SUPER

Dragon Ball Super Volume 14 Cover

Click for full view of the color cover of Dragon Ball Super Volume 14.

Creative Team

Writer: Akira Toriyama

Artist: Toyotarou

2020 Chapters Released: Dragon Ball Super Chapter 56 – 67

Dragon Ball Super is written by the legendary Akira Toriyama. The manga is illustrated by Toyotarou. What is amazing is that Toyotarou’s art looks nearly identical to Toriyama’s art. This means that Dragon Ball Super retains that trademark Toriyama look. Dragon Ball Super showcases the further adventures of Son Goku as he faces even more powerful adversaries with each story arc.

What can you expect with this manga? I mean…it is Dragon Ball. You know what you are going to get! And I love it! This manga places a premium on wild action scenes that jump off the page at the reader. Dragon Ball Super offers enough of a storyline to serve as the connective tissue to the reader meat of the manga is which are the every challenging fights for Goku.

There are currently 14 volumes of Dragon Ball Super making this a manageable title to hop aboard. – Rokk

HAIKYU!!

Haikyu Chapter 402

Click for full view of the color cover from Haikyu Chapter 402

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Haruichi Furudate

2020 Chapters Released: Haikyu!! Chapter 379 – 402

Much like Prince of Tennis, Haikyu!! starts with us following the journey of Shoyo Hinata as he attempts to become a great volleyball player while overcoming his height that would normally make him too short to play the sport competitively. The manga largely sticks to us following the growth of Shoyo as his determination makes him achieve his dream. In the process we get to quickly learn more about the rest of the players on the team. Over the course of the series we get to see them all grow individually and together as a team, specifically Shoyo’s rival and teammate Tobio Kageyama.

Having already told the story of Shoyo’s time in high school Haikyu!! Haruichi Furudate spent the remaining chapters of the series in 2020 to tell an epilogue story about where Shoyo and his teammates ended up. The timeskip was much more focused on Shoyo’s journey as he fully transitioned into becoming a professional. It was definitely a victory lap as we got to the final chapter of the series. And that was all worth it with the payoff that we got with Haikyu!! Chapter 402 as we got to see achieve his ultimate dream. – Kevin

KAIJU NO. 8

Kaiju No. 8 Chapter 14 Cover

Click for full view of the color cover for Kaiju No. 8 Chapter 14.

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Naoya Matsumoto

2020 Chapters Released: Kaiju No. 8 Chapter 1 – 21

Kaiju No. 8 has been my second favorite manga of 2020. This new manga came out of the gate like a ball of fire. You can check out some of my reviews of past chapters of Kaiju No. 8. Naoya Matsumoto has created an exciting shonen manga that delivers kick-ass action and wonderful comedy through some instantly likable characters. Kafka is our main character and he gives off strong Peter Parker vibes. This makes Kafka a character that any reader can easily enjoy and identity with in short order.

Matsumoto does a wonderful job balancing world-building, character work, and action. Readers who love action mangas with strong character work and good comedy are sure to enjoy Kaiju No. 8. Matsumoto also consistently delivers some phenomenal artwork. Seriously, Matsumoto dials it up a notch and delivers action scenes that completely blow the reader away. Matsumoto’s panels crackle with energy.

This is a young manga, but it is definitely one that you need to immediately start reading. – Rokk

MY HERO ACADEMIA

My Hero Academia Chapter 279 Cover

Click for full view of the color cover of My Hero Academia Chapter 279.

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Kōhei Horikoshi

2020 Chapters Released: My Hero Academia Chapter 256 – 295

Kōhei Horikoshi took My Hero Academia to a whole new level in 2020. Until this year a normal My Hero Academia story arc would be between 10 to 25 chapters. The one exception to that until 2020 was the Shie Hassaikai Arc that was 41 chapters long, and most recently adapted as part of My Hero Academia’s fourth anime season. Now there is a new benchmark for longest story in My Hero Academia as the Paranormal Liberation War Arc has been taking place all year with a current total of 43 chapters, with 40 of those chapters releasing over the course of 2020. And the Paranormal Liberation War Arc is still not over as we enter 2021.

The length of the Paranormal Liberation War Arc should tell you how game changing the current story that Horikoshi is telling. The way this arc has flipped the hero society of the My Hero Academia Universe on its head has been fascinating to see play out. With each new chapter that is released the concern around every character, from fan favorite to minor character, continues to grow. It is all a testament to how great of a job Horikoshi has done to make you as the reader and viewer care about this universe.

All the moments that the Pro Heroes, Izuku Midoriya, and rest of the UA students have in this arc has been note worthy. The heroes side have had plenty of hype moments. But what has made the Paranormal Liberation War Arc so fascinating is the developments with all the major villains of this series. Outside of Tomura Shigaraki and Kai Chisaki the villains of this series have all had a slow build to their arcs. That completely changed with all the things that we see villains like Twice, Dabi, Himiko Toga, and Mr. Compress do throughout this arc. A strong argument can be made that Dabi in particular steals the show with the actions and revelations he makes that will have as big, if not bigger, of an impact on the My Hero Academia Universe than Tomura Shigaraki’s transformation.

Given where My Hero Academia ended its fourth season and where the manga is currently at I’m even more excited to see how the anime brings all these stories to life starting with the fifth season. For those who only watch the anime, strap in because the Shie Hassaikai Arc was just an appetizer for what is to come. – Kevin

SPY X FAMILY

Spy x Family Special Illustration

Click for full view of the holiday 2020 special illustration of Spy x Family

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Tatsuya Endo

2020 Chapters Released: Spy x Family Chapter 19 – 38

Of all the comics and mangas that I read in 2020 Spy x Family was the most fun I had reading new content from. This series that features a little girl, Anya Forger, who has psychic powers and used it to get adopted by an international spy, Loid Forger, who then she leads into marrying one of the best assassins, Yor Forger, has been pure fun.

What is most impressive about the work Tatsuya Endo does with Spy x Family is that you never forget that Anya is a child. At no point does Endo break that reality by trying to make Anya the most competent character in Spy x Family just because she is the series lead. Anya is first and foremost an elementary school kid, and that is the perspective we get to view this world from. Having this consistency with Anya has made the way both inner monologue and breaking the fourth wall with Anya’s psychic powers a unique spin that elevates what we see go on.

Adding to the fun is the fact that when it comes to their jobs both Loid and Yor are always portrayed as the best spy and assassin, respectively. The way they are able to perfectly do their work makes the character flaws, specifically when it comes to how they interact as a married couple, another great hook for this series. And with this year’s chapters we got to see how Loid’s spy world in particular comes into play with his current status quo. The introduction of an old partner from Loid’s past in particular added another fun character to look forward to see play a bigger role in future chapters. – Kevin

WE NEVER LEARN

We Never Learn Chapter 187

Click for full view of the color cover for We Never Learn Chapter 187.

Creative Team

Writer and Artist: Taishi Tsutsui

2020 Chapters Released: We Never Learn Chapter 142 – 187

The harem genre in the manga and anime world is not something I normally get into. The ones I have partially read or watched have never grabbed my attention. Which is why We Never Learn has stood out so much from the pact. Taking more of a slice-of-life approach with the story revolving around Nariyuki Yuiga tutoring Fumino Furuhashi, Rizu Ogata, and Uruka Takemoto so they could enter their desired universities was a good place to start.  Taishi Tsutsui made the development of what motivates each character, including the two other leads that would eventually be introduced, easier to get into. That made the transition into more of the romantic angle the second half of the series took more fun to get into.

And what makes the chapters in 2020 such a stand out is that this entire year was spent giving us six different endings for the series. Rather than ending with Nariyuki Yuiga officially getting with Fumino Furuhashi, Rizu Ogata, Uruka Takemoto, Mafuyu Kirisu, or Asumi Kominami we are instead treated to a bunch of What if…? scenarios. This makes the official ending of the actual story of We Never Learn to take place in chapter 140 of the series. Everything after that basically gives us a look at different scenarios of how Nariyuki would end up with one of the girls.

In the fandom this was controversial at first since we didn’t know that Tsutsui would go with this six route ending for We Never Learn. But once this direction for how Tsutsui was to end We Never Learn we just got to enjoy the different futures of these our leads getting their own happy endings. Some will view this as a copout, which you can see with some of the reaction in the fandom, but I genuinely enjoyed all the routes that Tsutsui wrote. It all had a choose your own ending for fans to be able to have their ending with the relationship they shipped over the life of We Never Learn. Personally, the routes with Fumino Furuhashi and Mafuyu Kirisu were the standouts. But that is the fun of this, fans get to choose their ending after We Never Learn’s 140th chapter. – Kevin


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