Friday Funsies: Lumi’s Top 5 Manga of All Time (For Now)

I’ve read a LOT more manga than I’ve watched anime recently. Like with any top of anything list based on opinion, this highly subject to change as my taste in manga changes with the seasons. Does manga even have any seasons? Like, now that I think about it, is Weekly Shounen Jump’s presence in the market a different source of consistency for the manga industry as opposed to the seasonal shift that anime started adapting in the late 2000s?

I’m getting off-track, the point is, manga’s great but there’s a lot of it and now I have to narrow all of that down to an arbitrary five because lists are fun and easy to read, plus it helps me get my thoughts in order. Oh, and I’m only counting FINISHED manga. I won’t be putting ongoing manga because there’s a chance it might get really good or really bad.

I’ve reviewed each of the manga below on my site before, so just click the links on the numbers if you want my full thoughts on them.

5. Emma by Kaoru Mori

“It’s the turn of the 20th century, and Victorian era England plays host to a poignant and emotional saga of love between two individuals of thoroughly different societal standing. Working class maid Emma and wealthy aristocrat William Jones find themselves falling for one another despite their allotted positions in life, and it is their persistent efforts to traverse the dangerous minefields of wealth, power, and staunch tradition, that provides the gripping emotional drama of Kaoru Mori’s Emma.”

What really sets Emma apart from a lot of other romance manga is the fact that this isn’t simply just a love story, but also a legitimately captivating historical drama, with a heavy focus on all the goings of the time. It’s not just a love story between Emma and William, but also a love letter by Kaoru Mori to the past.

I did not expect a straightforward romance/Victorian Era period piece to be my cup of tea, but Emma manages to break through that with a compelling main couple, some absolutely gorgeous artwork, and a story that’s timeless, even if the time it’s set in is a huge part of what made Emma a fantastic read. You can read my full review by clicking the link above!

4. My Brother, The Shut-In

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Every family has its share of problems, be they big or small. Shino Tadakoro has the perfect high school life, full of romance and friendship. Her biggest problem is her shut-in brother Tamotsu. She stubbornly keeps his existence a secret, telling even her closest friends that she is an only child. Oblivious to Shino’s concerns, Tamotsu suddenly declares that he is giving up the shut-in lifestyle. Is there still time? The curtain rises on a tale of family reconstruction!

(Source: Kodansha Comics USA)

This is a relatively obscure one, but I REALLY want more people to read it. I’m a sucker for character dramas set in the “real world”, and this scratches that itch. This manga got pretty hard to read at certain points for me , because the main character was basically me for huge chunk of my first two years in college. It got uncomfortably close to my own, immature perspective on friendships and romance thanks to me stunting my own growth by not making more friends and never confronting that part of me that’s afraid of rejection.

This manga, more than any other manga on this list (yes, even the number 1 later), feels the most “real”. Nothing over-the-top or silly happens, really, but that doesn’t make the manga any less interesting. It’s an honest look at one part of this family’s life. The author made it very clear she was pulling from her own experiences with her brother, and it shows through their interactions and the situations they find themselves in. It’s really good at capturing the differences in how an introvert and an extrovert deals with their problems, and the inherent flaws in the way they do so. Most importantly, there’s no melodrama. Every problem that arises come about reasonably, due to a character’s flaws, or situations out of their control.


If you’re looking for a good character drama, I highly recommend this manga.

3. Onani Master Kurosawa

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Fourteen-year-old Kakeru Kurosawa is an antisocial junior high school student who looks down on his classmates—but beneath his superiority complex is a hopeless young teenager who uses masturbation as a pastime. Using erotic thoughts of his female classmates as stimulus, he locks himself daily in a seldom-used girl’s bathroom at school to do his dirty deed.
One day during class, Kurosawa witnesses the popular girls bullying the timid Aya Kitahara. In a daring move, he steals the uniforms of the bullies and dispenses his “white justice” over them.
Although satisfied with his exploits, Kurosawa’s troubles are only just beginning. While going about his daily routine, he is suddenly confronted by Kitahara, who identifies him as the culprit behind the uniform incident, and blackmails him into terrorizing the other girls in the class the same way he dealt with her bullies. Left with little choice, Kurosawa agrees, and thus begins a coming-of-age story that deals with consequences, bullying, and people’s ability to change.

This manga is a very hard sell. The premise alone is probably enough to turn most people off, but trust me, that’s not what makes the manga good. It’s interesting because unlike a lot of other manga I’ve read where the protagonist has some redeeming qualities even early on, our protagonist is definitely meant to be unlikable. In fact, with some of his later actions, I’d say it’s downright despicable what he did. However, while my love of flawed people doing terrible things is highly apparent throughout this post, I wouldn’t recommend this if the protagonist was just human trash.

What makes the story captivating is seeing this genuinely terrible person slowly realize their own terrible nature. Kurosawa is a deconstruction of the “Hachiman” type characters in manga and anime, the cynical snarker with a sharp with and zero social skills. The girl, Kitahara, is also a solid characterization of what actual bullied people are like.

If you can get past that ridiculous premise, Onani Master Kurosawa is one of the best stories of redemption and coming-of-age you’ll read in recent years.

2. Chikan Otoko

Based off a real story which was posted on 2ch, Chikan Otoko is the story of how a man is mistaken for a stalker. Slowly, they overcome their personal challenges while slowly growing closer to each other. “Molester Man” and “Miss Understanding” are simply pseudonyms (false names to hide real names) used by the author of the manga.

Yes, that is the real title, give me a chance!

For those not in the know, Chikan Otoko translates to Molester Man

Japan’s weird, give them a break.

Anyways, despite that admittedly awful title, this manga is my favorite romcom manga, period. While the humor is zany and highly self-aware of the ridiculousness of typical romcom tropes, it also manages to give a lot of depth to the characters without sacrificing the biting wit present in the original 2chan story. The story is straightforward but it gives us a few twists along the way that really shake up the characters’ interactions with each other and helps sell the idea that this story really DID happen.

Real story or not, I cannot deny how well the author portrayed a rather realistic romance story, misunderstandings, regret, triumphs and all and try as I might, I can find NOTHING to dislike about it. I could choose to nitpick for flaws, but I don’t want to nitpick such a fluffy, simple and straightforward romance.

1. Oyasumi Punpun

The face of a tortured soul

Punpun Onodera is a normal 11-year-old boy living in Japan. Hopelessly idealistic and romantic, Punpun begins to see his life take a subtle—though nonetheless startling—turn to the adult when he meets the new girl in his class, Aiko Tanaka. It is then that the quiet boy learns just how fickle maintaining a relationship can be, and the surmounting difficulties of transitioning from a naïve boyhood to a convoluted adulthood. When his father assaults his mother one night, Punpun realizes another thing: those whom he looked up to were not as impressive as he once thought.

Oyasumi Punpun. Where do I even start with this manga?

Do I start with the intentional usage of a silly bird as our main character to personify the fragile nature of childhood and how we sometimes perceive ourselves as more approachable than we really are?

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The contrast of a simple cartoon pasted onto the real world with real people supposed to give us a barrier to lessen the impact of the horrible things that happens to our characters as the story moves along?

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The exploration of how a person can change according to their environment but at their core are still the same person with the same flaws, and that even a change of company is not enough to change who you are if you aren’t willing to do it yourself?

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That no matter how awful your life gets, it can always get worse and there’s no promise that it can ever get better, and so the only thing we can affect is how we deal with it?

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How after all you’ve been through and all the people you’ve met, no matter how important it was to you, you aren’t anything special, and whatever you do has no real impact to the world at large?

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Why God looks like a barista I saw in a Starbucks once?

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So many questions.

That’s only SOME of the feelings and questions I had going through the emotional free fall that is Oyasumi Punpun. It’s a fantastic manga with gorgeous artwork, a compelling narrative, and a deep message of what the human experience is like, for better or for worse.

That concludes my list, and again, it’s highly subject to change. Maybe being a in a grim mood lately makes me biased towards realistic character dramas. Who knows?

– Lumi

9 thoughts on “Friday Funsies: Lumi’s Top 5 Manga of All Time (For Now)

  1. Thanks for sharing this list. I’m lately diving into a little bit more Manga than I used to in the past, and it’s always nice to get some recommendations. I have to admit that both Oyasumi Punpun and My brother the shut in, sound amazing. The artwork on the former looks absolutely stunning, but it’s the storylines that really appeal to me. Thank you again! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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