The 15 Best Starter Manga To Check Out If You Only Watch Anime

List Rules
Vote up the manga you'd recommend to someone just starting out on their reading journey.

Are you an anime fan who wants to start reading manga but isn't sure where to begin? That's understandable—there's a lot to choose from, and it can be overwhelming. This guide, which features some of the best manga for beginners in a variety of genres, is here to make the process easier. 

While plenty of good manga resulted in terrible anime adaptations, a fair amount of manga maintain solid working relationships with their anime spawn. Being familiar with anime is a great way to get into the complexities of manga; some of the best starter manga started out as anime.

If you like Naruto but find it difficult to wade through all the for-TV filler, you might want to check out the more straightforward manga version. Other great series for people just starting their manga journeys include single-volume tales – similar to graphic novels – that tell a great story without being overwhelming.

Whatever your tastes, there is plenty of awesome manga out there for you to try. 


  • Cells At Work is one of the most popular anime from the summer 2018 anime season, but it was actually a manga first. The anime does a great job introducing the world of microscopic characters working together to keep a human body functioning, but the manga has far more stories to tell.

    If you want to see White Blood Cell battle more bacterial enemies, check out the manga—the worst that can happen is you'll learn too much about biology.

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    If you're the type of person who appreciates art by watching how it's made, check out Bakuman. The story follows the trials and tribulations of becoming a manga artist, written and drawn by people who know that world on a deeply personal level.

    It's not whiny or preachy; instead, it's informative, entertaining, and a great way to gain an understanding of the medium.

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    Photo: Viz Media

    Though Junji Ito's work has been adapted into anime, the resulting series is largely unsuccessful and not regarded as a good introduction to Ito's work.

    If you're an anime fan who's into horror, you don't want to miss out on his intense and macabre stories; the best way to get your Ito fix is to actually read his manga. One of the best examples is Uzumaki, which tells the story of a town cursed with a recurring pattern that does a lot more damage than one might imagine.

    At first, the main character's parents become obsessed with spirals, leading to their untimely deaths. Then snail people enter the equation, and things start to get really wretched. 

  • Fruits Basket
    Photo: Yen Press

    Whether you actually watched Fruits Basket when it came out in the early 2000s or simply know of its existence, Fruits Basket is a great manga to get you started in the shojo genre.

    The anime only deals with the first few volumes, so even if you've seen it, you'll have tons of new material to keep you interested. The story follows Tohru Honda as she becomes embroiled in the lives of the enigmatic Sohma family.

    It shows how emotionally vibrant – yet also how dark and disturbing – the shojo genre can get. 

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    Photo: Viz Media

    If you're into anime at all, you've almost certainly seen at least some of Naruto. One common complaint about this shonen giant is it's bogged down with hundreds of filler episodes, making it hard to appreciate the larger story.

    Naruto's journey from lonely orphan to great leader is inspiring, and the world around him is rich with detail. The Naruto manga allows you to absorb the complex fantasy tale without having to deal with all the interrupting filler.

    What better way to get into an unfamiliar medium than with characters you already sort of know?

  • Though Battle Angel Alita does have an anime alternative, it's a short OVA that doesn't even begin to cover the full span of the story.

    A cyborg named Alita is found in a trash heap with no memories except a vague recollection of a mysterious figure called Panzer Kunst. This detail leads her to become a bounty hunter.

    If you're looking for a dark cyberpunk series, Battle Angel Alita is sure to become one of your favorite manga.