- The best fantasy manga offer immersive and captivating experiences with detailed worldbuilding and intriguing premises.
- Fantasy is a broad genre that allows for virtually any type of story to be told, from dark ones that focus on the negativity and horrific potential of humanity to cheerful ones set in entirely fictional colorful worlds.
Land of the Lustrous
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End
offer unique and thought-provoking takes on the genre, exploring themes of life, death, and personal growth, while
Hunter x Hunter
deliver darker and grittier fantasy stories.
As manga perfectly lends itself to creative and imaginative stories, it should be no surprise that the best fantasy manga are some of the medium’s most popular titles. Set in worlds of unbound potential, these works present readers with delightfully immersive and captivating experiences that no other medium can replicate.
Fantasy is a broad genre that allows for virtually any type of story to be told, from dark fantasy ones that focus on the negativity and horrific potential of humanity to cheerful ones set in entirely fictional colorful worlds. There’s even urban fantasy that offers a new take on modern life with slight magical influences. Yet what they all have in common is the presence of detailed worldbuilding and intriguing premises.
For the purpose of this list, “fantasy” manga is intended as any series taking place in an imaginary world or that heavily brings fantastic elements into a realistic setting.
10 Made in Abyss (2012)
Story & Art by Akihito Tsukushi
The story of Made in Abyss revolves around the titular Abyss, a massive cave system that remains largely unexplored, holding ancient relics and long-forgotten secrets. Even though it contains myriads of topics to investigate and treasures to find, only a few Cave Raiders are actually brave enough to confront its dangers, especially given the existence of the Curse of the Abyss, which virtually traps those who descend to the lower floors. Yet even without any safety net, Riko and Reg choose to go into the Abyss together, each for their own reasons. From its unique setting to the detailed worldbuilding, this title is truly one to remember.
9 Land of the Lustrous (2012)
Story & Art by Haruko Ichikawa
Land of the Lustrous is one of the most unique and captivating titles of all time, telling an entirely original story that only grows more intriguing as it goes on. Its world is inhabited by crystalline lifeforms known as the Lustrous, who, under the guidance of the wise yet mysterious Kongo-sensei, must defend themselves from Lunarians who seek to defeat them and turn them into decorations. Moreover, each of the gems has their own unique characteristics and attributes, largely inspired by their real-life counterparts. Visually impactful and surprisingly profound, there is plenty to love about this compelling action fantasy title.
8 Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (2020)
Story by Kanehito Yamada & Art by Tsukasa Abe
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is a revolutionary fantasy title that surprises fans who consider themselves familiar with the genre by placing its focus on previously unexplored themes such as the meaning of life and death. The story revolves around the titular Frieren, an elf mage who was once part of the heroic party that defeated the Demon King. However, she remained all alone as her companions passed away, due to her lifespan making her nearly immortal. Now, she embarks on a journey to collect new magic spells and confront her own memories and regrets, as she comes to terms with the differences between herself and others. With the recent anime adaptation already becoming a hit, there is no better time to check out the original.
7 Dorohedoro (2000)
Story & Art by Q Hayashida
Dorohedoro is a truly original and unconventional title, telling a story set in a bleak and hopeless world, where no one’s safety is ever guaranteed. Magic Users use the Hole as somewhat of a testing ground, performing cruel experiments and mutilating defenseless humans. However, there are some who would dare to oppose them, including the cursed protagonist Caiman and his mysterious companion Nikaido. In spite of its gritty setting, Dorohedoro manages to successfully incorporate comedy elements as well. Furthermore, for those looking for more gruesome yet comedic stories, Q Hayashida has also authored Dai Dark, which may not reach the same heights but still remains a delightful experience.
6 Pandora Hearts (2006)
Story & Art by Jun Mochizuki
Set in a vaguely historical fantastical world, Pandora Hearts follows the story of Oz Vessalius, a cheerful boy who is unjustly condemned to the Abyss, accused of a sin he has no memory of. There, he meets Alice, a mysterious Chain who accompanies him on his search for the truth. Telling a surprisingly dark and complex story through distinctly compelling visuals, this memorable work never fails to leave an impact on its readers. Furthermore, for fans of the title, it should be noted that Jun Mochizuki has also authored another excellent title with a similar fantastical historical setting that should not be overlooked, namely The Case Study of Vanitas.
5 Tokyo Ghoul (2011)
Story & Art by Sui Ishida
Tokyo Ghoul is a dark and gruesome urban fantasy title, revolving around protagonist Ken Kaneki as he is thrown into the world of ghouls, man-eating beings who are otherwise indistinguishable from normal humans. When an unfortunate incident turns him into a half-ghoul, the innocent and reserved boy has no choice but to adapt to his new environment, which results in a remarkably captivating story of growth through unspeakable trials and shocking events. Furthermore, readers should be happy to know that they are getting the best experience, as this title represents one of the cases where the manga is arguably better than the anime adaptation.
4 Hunter x Hunter (1998)
Story & Art by Yoshihiro Togashi
Hunter x Hunter revolves around the titular Hunters, licensed individuals who have proven themselves capable of slaying the mightiest of beasts and finding precious treasures. As one such hopeful Hunter, Gon Freecss seeks the path of peril and adventure to follow in his father’s footsteps. Coming from the author who previously introduced people to the world of anime and manga through YuYu Hakusho, this title is widely recognized as one of the best and most influential shonen stories of all time.
Story & Art by Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist is set in the fantastical world of alchemists, humans who are able to manipulate and transform matter so long as they follow the most important rule, the Law of Equivalent Exchange, according to which something of equal value must always be sacrificed in exchange. Having broken this rule, Edward and Alphonse Elric embark on a perilous and engrossing journey. Although the author has also created other titles that many fans hold in high regard, such as the profoundly emotional Silver Spoon, Fullmetal Alchemist is recognized as the best one by far, having reached a level of prestige that few other works in the medium could ever hope for.
2 Berserk (1989)
Story & Art by Kentaro Miura
Berserk follows the journey of Guts, a former mercenary known as the “Black Swordsman,” whose life is defined by tragedy and trauma. After a scarring childhood, he finally finds a semblance of peace, only for that to be taken away from him during a horrific betrayal. Yet nothing is enough to break his spirit and determination. Berserk is a fantasy title unlike any other, telling a uniquely dark story set in one of the most brutal worlds across all types of fiction. Although it may not directly aim to terrify readers, its shockingly dark events also make it one of the best horror manga titles of all time.
1 One Piece (1997)
Story & Art by Eiichiro Oda
One Piece is one of the most well-known and highly-regarded fantasy titles of all time, and rightfully so. The story revolves primarily around Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, as they set out on an epic journey in search of the titular One Piece, the legendary treasure whose owner would become known as the King of Pirates. Sailing the vast ocean in hopes of achieving their personal dreams, they come across a variety of interesting characters and events. One Piece‘s deep and nuanced 25 years-long (and still going) story, along with its unparalleled commercial success, has made it the most popular franchise of its generation.