Anime Underground

13 Anime That Are Better Than the Manga 

Leo Reyna
Updated June 14, 2019 7.8k votes 3k voters 74.8k views 13 items

List Rules Vote up the anime that make you forget the manga ever existed.

Many anime purists will advise more casual fans to “not say you love the anime if you haven’t read the manga,”  but how justified is this statement? After all, many manga series don't achieve their full potential until they're brought to life with motion and color.

Whether it’s a typical, hot-blooded Shonen Jump action series, or a comfy musical about high school life, some stories need to be seen and heard, not just read. Some anime adaptations are actually capable of improving upon flaws that hampered the source material. While this often amounts to the expansion of popular plot points, in extreme cases, a good anime adaptation will rewrite a controversial scene to make it feel more satisfying. 

While many still consider it a faux pas to like an anime series better than the corresponding manga, it's worth giving props to the shows that take their reference material to new (and often more interesting) places. 

Yu Yu Hakusho is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 13 Anime That Are Better Than the Manga
Photo:  Yu Yu Hakusho/Studio Pierrot

Yu Yu Hakusho is regarded as one of the best Shonen Jump series out there, and for good reason. The story of a troublesome teenager getting a second chance at life by beating up demons makes for an entertaining and emotional ride.

What makes the anime version of Yu Yu Hakusho so great is that it cuts to the chase almost immediately. Despite this, the show doesn't sacrifice impactful moments of character development, such as when Yusuke helps his former rival keep a promise to a friend in the afterlife.

In addition to breathing life into all the manga's amazing fights, the Yu Yu Hakusho anime deserves credit for strengthening the final story arc of the series, which many fans consider to be the weakest part of the source material. 

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Attack on Titan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 13 Anime That Are Better Than the Manga
Photo:  Attack on Titan/Wit Studio

Attack on Titan is a series that’s begging to be watched, rather than read. The larger-than-life battles between humanity and the wretched Titans aren’t fully realized until they are animated, as it's hard to capture the scope of the conflicts in individual manga panels. 

The anime's seamless blend of 2D and CGI animation flows nicely with the crazy, full-throttle action of the series, making each colossal takedown thoroughly satisfying to watch. The series isn't just visually stunning; the adrenaline-pumping score makes the viewer feel like they are fighting alongside the soldiers. 

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Gintama is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 13 Anime That Are Better Than the Manga
Photo:  Gintama/Sunrise

The key to telling a good joke lies with the line's delivery. For that reason, the anime version of Gintama is superior to the original manga. Much of the manga’s written humor plays noticeably better in the anime, thanks in part to the wonderfully hilarious performance of the Japanese cast.

In particular, jokes that break the fourth wall are way funnier when fans actually get to see Gintoki Sakata look directly through the screen to question what’s happening. Additionally, the fight scenes are unarguably more fun to watch than they are to read.

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Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 13 Anime That Are Better Than the Manga
Photo:  Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid/Kyoto Animation

When you have a powerhouse anime studio working to adapt your creation, the end result will probably be grander than what you originally envisioned. With this in mind, it's no wonder that the anime version of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is superior to its manga counterpart.

The studio Kyoto Animation always delivers artfully entertaining anime, and they didn't pull any punches just because they were working on a comedy. For the adaptation, they amp up all the  action scenes in order to fully display the destructive power of the series's cast of dragons. In the quieter, slice-of-life scenes, the composition of certain panels is changed to better reflect the themes of loneliness, love, and family.