If you think the world of comics is diverse then take a look at what manga has to offer. Over in Japan, the audience for manga is far more diverse than what the U.S. has to offer comparatively, and publishers have released hundreds of equally diverse series to match readers' needs. In the last 70 years, thousands of manga titles have been released, but only a handful can call themselves best-sellers.
As manga becomes more global, sales within the industry have rocketed whether they be global or domestic. Iconic titles like Dragon Ball helped kick off the revolution in the 1990s and publishers like Shueisha and Kodansha have helped carry that momentum forward.
Here at ComicBook, we've dug around to show off manga's top-selling titles. From Naruto to Astro Boy, these series represent some of the best things about the medium, and they are definitely worth investing in if you need a good winter read these days.
How many of these best-sellers have you read? Hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to let me know and talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!
You can’t talk about popular manga without bringing up Doraemon. The series is one of Japan’s most enduring, and its adorable robotic cat has plenty to do with its success. The series tells the story of Doraemon, a time-traveling cat who was sent to guide a boy named Nobita Nobi whose prone to misfortune. The episodic series follows the protagonists as Doraemon uses his many futuristic gadgets to solve Nobi's problems, but the robo-cat often makes things worse with his fumbling assistance.
Created in 1969, Doraemon has become one of Japan’s most easily recognizable series. The children’s manga was created by Fujiko Fujio who agreed to publish it through Shogakukan. The series has sold more than 100,000 units with 45 collected volumes.
Astro Boy was one of the first manga titles to find success abroad, and its sci-fi themes helped the series transcend borders. The story has been around for decades, but fans can still relate to Astro Boy and his adventures. The robotic hero was made by a scientist following a tragic accident, but Astro Boy could not ease his creator's grief. After being sold to a circus, the hero is rescued by an elderly man named Ochanomizu who helps Astro Boy settle down with an android family of his own.
The series, which was made by Osamu Tezuka, dates back to 1952. Kobunsha published the shonen title until it wrapped in 1968. With 23 collected volumes to its name, Astro Boy’s original run as sold more than 100,000 copies to date.
If you are looking to get a supernatural fix, you need to check out this best-selling manga. Bleach is considered to be one of the most famous shonen titles ever, and it follows a boy named Ichigo Kurosaki after he discovers his Soul Reaper powers. The high schooler is a normal boy until he come across a woman named Rukia who hails from the Soul Society. After taking her powers by accident, Ichigo must assume Rukia’s duties until she is able to protect the city again, but things get complicated when Ichigo’s mysterious past rears it heads.
Bleach was created by Tite Kubo back in August 2001 and published by Shueisha. The manga was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump until August 2016 once it reached 74 complete volumes. To date, the manga has sold 120 units worldwide.
Do you like sports? Do you need a long manga to read? Then you need to check out Slam Dunk. The series is known as a seminal sports title but even the most clueless basketball fans can jive with this manga. It tells the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, a gang leader who meets a girl who is interested in him during his first year of high school. Once she introduces Sakuragi to the Shohoku's basketball team, the protagonist joins the squad after some wild twists, and he learns how camaraderie can lead to lifelong friends.
Takehiko Inoue created Slam Dunk way back in 1990, and the series ended in 1996. The shonen title was snatched up by Shueisha for publication and has a total of 31 volumes so far. As of right now, Slam Dunk has sold 121 million copies.
Have you ever heard of Oishinbo? If not, there’s no need to fret. The title is not an overtly popular one abroad, but Japan has embraced the foodie series for years now. The long-running manga follows a man named Shiro Yamaoka who works as a culinary journalist. The protagonist works with his coworker-turned-wife to create an ‘Ultimate Menu’ for Tozai News, and the series spends much of its time highlighting various gourmet dishes.
The seinen series may not be an action-packed one, but it has a loyal fanbase. The manga was created in 1983 and is still on-going. Creators Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki are the ones responsible for the manga which has sold more than 130 million units to date.
If you are interested in slice-of-life series, then KochiKame may have what it takes to nab your interest. The series is a massive one, and it is all about the everyday life of a cop named Kankichi ‘Ryo’ Ryotsu. The episodic series often follows the cop as he comes up with money-making schemes, but his plans never go as expected. Ryo gets in over his head with slapstick comedy as he searches for a quick buck, and the manga’s cast of side character have to help him when things go south.
Created in 1976, KochiKame is not very well-known outside of Japan, but it ran for a long time abroad. Creator Osamu Akimoto oversaw the series for decades before it ended in 2016. The manga collected 200 volumes before wrapping and has sold about 157 million copies to date.
There is nothing better than a good thriller, and Golgo 13 proves the saying works with manga. The long-running series tells the story of an assassin called Duke Togo, and his bloody history has been laid out over more than a hundred volumes. The mysterious mercenary keeps all his personal information under-wraps, but fans stick around for his impressive kills. The episodic manga follows Duke as he goes on unsanctioned missions around the world and overtakes its criminal underbelly.
The seinen series was created by Takao Saito back in 1968. So far, the manga has been collected in 186 volumes, but there are more to come as the series is on-going. Its publisher Shogakukan says Golgo 13 has sold just over 200 million units to date.
Who needs Sherlock Holmes when you have someone like Detective Conan? The pint-sized detective may not look tough, but he’s taken on enough cases to strike fear in the hearts of every bad guy. Conan’s titular manga tells the story of a high school detective named Jimmy Kudo who gets turned into a kid by the Black Organization. Assuming a new kid-friendly alias, Jimmy assumes the name Conan and recovers his detective legacy by taking on new cases with his elementary school friends.
Created by Gosho Aoyama, Detective Conan has been around since 1994. The series is an on-going one with more than 90 collected volumes to its name. The shonen series has sold over 200 million copies and spun off a hugely popular anime franchise in Japan.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Naruto, it is about time you educated yourself on the series. The fan-favorite manga helped usher in a new shonen era in the early 2000s, and it has Naruto Uzumaki to thank. The series tells the hero’s underdog story as he dreams of becoming his village’s strongest ninja. Despised for the demon he holds within him, Naruto must prove to his people and the world that he can lead them, and he faces all sorts of obstacles on the way to becoming Hokage.
Masashi Kishimoto created Naruto back in 1999, and the acclaimed manga ended years later in 2014. With 72 collected volumes under its belt, the Shueisha has sold 220 million copies of the manga to date.
If you’re a fan of the shonen genre, then you have heard of Dragon Ball before. The iconic manga debuted more than twenty years ago, but it still ranks as one of the industry’s most popular. The series tells the story of Son Goku as the hero trains to become a strong fighter. Goku started off fighting Earth-bound baddies like the Red Ribbon Army, but as he grew older, the hero learned he was really a Saiyan warrior from space. The discovery opened up a new world of power to Goku, and he went on to fight big time villains such as Freeza.
The world famous manga was introduced to the world in 1984 by Akira Toriyama. Dragon Ball came to an end years later in 1995 after collecting 42 total volumes. Its original run has sold more than 240 million copies to date.
There can only be one top-selling manga, and that title belongs to One Piece without contest. The iconic series has outsold all its competitors with ease, and One Piece doesn’t plan to slow those sales anytime soon. After all, the series tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy, a young sailor who is determined to become King of the Pirates. After gathering a crew, Luffy goes on a journey to find a fabled treasure called One Piece, but the gang is not the only group after the boon.
The ever-popular manga was created back in 1997 by Eiichiro Oda. The series, which is published by Shueisha, is an on-going one with 87 volumes under its belt. As far as sales goes, One Piece is far ahead of its competitors as it has sold 430 million units worldwide.