While most other parts of the world refer to them as comic books, in Japan they are mostly considered to be manga. Between comic series and graphic novels, manga have not only become popular in Japan but have left their mark on the rest of the world. Many of the most popular ones are adapted into anime series, which helps to boost sales of the manga.
There have been countless manga series throughout the years, but only a handful really stand out as being the most popular worldwide. If you’re new to manga and want to know which ones to get into, it’s best to dive into the most popular. Here are the five that have sold the most copies, what they’re about, and what other forms of media they’ve been adapted to.
The best-selling Manga, One Piece, is the most popular of all the Japanese comic books. One Piece was created and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda in 1997. The manga is based around the loveable character Monkey D. Luffy who accidentally consumes a Gum Gum Fruit that gives his body the ability to stretch and bend to a superhuman degree.
Luffy follows his dream to become king of pirates. He and his crewmates, named the Straw Hat Pirates, set sail to seek the “One Piece”, a treasure sought after by all. Over half a billion copies have been sold worldwide, hammering home the fact that people truly love One Piece no matter what form, but especially in manga.
Not surprisingly, the Dragon Ball series is the second most popular and best-selling manga series today. Created, written, and illustrated by Akira Toriyama in 1984, the manga was heavily influenced by the Chinese novel “Journey to the West” and martial arts films.
The 42 volumes of the Dragon Ball manga follow Son Goku throughout his childhood, to adulthood. He spends his time training martial arts while seeking out the 7 widely sought-after dragon balls that summon a wish-granting dragon when collected. The series has seen many developments and changes with the multitude of movies, new series, and video games spawned from the original manga.
The third best-selling and most popular manga series of today is the Golgo 13 series. It was created, written, and illustrated by Takao Saito way back in 1968. The series follows the events that unfold around the life of a mysterious professional hitman, who goes by the alias Duke Togo.
The series has seen an anime adaptation, and a live-action adaptation, and continues to wow audiences worldwide. Sadly, Saito passed away in 2021. Though he wished for the series to continue on without him.
Case Closed/Detective Conan
The fourth best-selling and most popular manga on our list is the Case Closed(also known as Detective Conan)series. The manga, which has more than 100 volumes, was created, written, and illustrated by Gosho Aoyama in 1994.
The series follows high school detective Jimmy Kudo(Shinichi Kudo)who is fed an experimental drug by a crime group in an effort to end his life. Though the drug ends up having an odd effect and turns Kudo into a child. Kudo ends up living with a friend and tagging along to investigations with his friend’s detective father.
The fifth best-selling and most popular manga of all time is the Doraemon series. It was created, written, and illustrated by Fujiko F. Fujio in 1969. The 42-volume series follows a robotic cat named Doraemon who travels back in time to help a struggling boy named Nobita Nobi. Nobi has a difficult time in school and finding motivation in general. Doraemon ensures Nobi does better for himself so his future bloodline has a more fruitful life.
The series had a nice run as an anime series in 1973, 1979, and 2005. The series also saw great success with over 40 anime films and multiple video games for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Nintendo DS.