8 Most Popular Manga to Learn Japanese

8 Most Popular Manga to Learn Japanese - EDOPEN Japan

Most people definitely like to read manga or comics from Japan, with various genres. Japanese manga is indeed the best friend to spend time relaxing with, so reading a comic or manga can actually be an efficient method to learn a foreign language, of course it’s wrong.

Manga contains stories that are factual and very close to everyday life in Japan. These interesting stories are sure to help you learn Japanese quickly, accurately and, of course, with fun. Compared to reading a book, memorizing kanji over and over again will certainly take up your energy and time.

You need a lot of consistency to really learn the standard way. Manga, on the other hand, is a great help because it provides a story and makes it easier for you to learn kanji, hiragana, and katakana in context.

You also don’t have to worry if you don’t have a strong Japanese base, such as kanji knowledge. Manga usually have furigana listed next to the kanji. Don’t worry, you’ll master kanji in no time! Please consider reading the following manga if you want to learn Japanese through manga!

In addition, if you need more resources to improve your Japanese in a deeper and more comprehensive way, check out our excellent resource recommendations below!

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Why should you learn Japanese from manga?

Why should you learn Japanese from manga? - EDOPEN Japan

Manga is a Japanese style of comics and graphic novels. Learning media through manga is usually presented shares a unique visual style and then many mangas whose stories become the basis for anime. The reason why reading manga is ideal for those of you learning Japanese is the following:

Manga has less words and more pictures

At a beginner level, manga is simply the Japanese version of a comic book, and most people can remember enjoying reading comics as a child. Comics are easy for children to read because there are many pictures and much less text than in a regular book. From this perspective, it makes sense for learners of Japanese to read the manga.

Manga is a good first step in learning Japanese

It’s unrealistic to learn Japanese and then expect to understand newspaper articles about politics. So, manga is a good first step to continuing your learning journey. You’ll also see a lot of Japanese onomatopoeia and many short and simple sentences. There is a variety of manga, with audiences ranging from children to teens to adults. In this case, you don’t have to be embarrassed to read manga because you won’t be considered childish.

Manga has an entertaining story

Manga is a great way to develop Japanese reading skills. As well as the stories are very entertaining. Manga contains short sentences with illustrations showing what’s going on and often includes furigana, which is especially useful for learners of Japanese.

Manga develops Japanese literacy and Kanji

Readers, especially beginners in Japanese, can use furigana as an aid. Of course, it’s never an aid for foreign readers, but you’re the one who benefits the most when you start learning a foreign language as a beginning reader and learner, and Japanese is no exception. Surely, If you’re reading a manga and see the furigana for a particular kanji character, you’ll be able to read that character, which is widely used in a manga. This is an easy and simple way to learn kanji or to learn Japanese at the beginning of your Japanese studies.

Manga develops Japanese literacy and Kanji

Manga develops Japanese literacy and Kanji - EDOPEN Japan

As mentioned in the column above, manga uses more furigana in each dialog. Furigana are Japanese reading aids in the form of smaller kana (hiragana & katakana). They’re usually placed to the right or above the kanji or other characters to show how to pronounce them.

Furigana can also be referred to as yomigana (読み仮名). In Japanese, the furigana is used as a tool to determine how to read a kanji that’s rarely or ambiguously used. When the furigana is horizontal, it’s called yokogaki (横書き). Furigana is also used in books for children who don’t yet know enough kanji, but can understand the word when it is written in hiragana.

It’s quite common in Shōnen (少年漫画) manga whose audience is aimed at teenagers, such as Detective Conan, Dragon Ball, etc. Furigana is also used to indicate the pronunciation of a person’s name or the name of a place.

So manga written with furigana is a very good medium for learning, because not all kanji are easy to understand. Even among the Japanese themselves, there are still many who don’t understand some of the kanji, especially children. Therefore, manga is a perfect medium for you to start learning Japanese.

Top 8 Highly Recommended Manga to Learn Japanese

Top 8 Highly Recommended Manga to Learn Japanese - EDOPEN Japan

Now, here is the list of top 8 highly recommended Manga that you should try to read in order to improve your Japanese. If you have read the manga that I have shared below, please tell me which one and share to use your impression? Thank you!

(1) Totoro

Do you have a basic knowledge of Japanese? Don’t worry, you can improve your ability to read Japanese characters by reading a comic book by Studio Ghibli, namely “My Neighbor Totoro.” The language is still child-friendly Japanese, so it’s easy to understand.

We recommend this manga for those who want to expand their vocabulary, read faster, and understand simple sentences. Besides, the story of this manga is anything but boring.

Even if you read it for a long time, you won’t fall asleep so quickly. Honestly, my personal experience reading this manga is curious and very easy to understand with the basic skills of a beginner learner. Yup, you can learn Japanese in a fun way that suits your hobbies. Prove that reading manga doesn’t always have a negative effect, okay?

(2) Shirokuma Cafe

For those who particularly enjoy slice-of-life and comedy genre stories, there is a manga in Japan called Shirokuma Cafe. So, what can we learn from this manga? First, you can learn vocabulary related to animal names. Shirokuma Café (しろくまカフェ), also known as Polar Bear Cafe, is read by many Japanese learners, especially beginners.

Second, you can also learn about conversations related to everyday life. This Manga published between 2006 and 2013 are ideal for beginner learners. The stories include conversations on random topics with animals such as polar bears, pandas, and penguins.

The manga depicts everyday Japanese life with humor, simple phrases, and the Japanese way of speaking. By reading this manga, you will not only improve your Japanese, but you will also learn about Japanese culture.

(3) Yotsuba

The title of the manga is “Yotsuba To!”. Kiyohiko Azuma has created a manga that can be enjoyed by all ages. The language is quite simple and the vocabulary is very helpful for beginners as young children experience everyday life and everyday problems. The story revolves around an energetic and active 5-year-old girl named Yotsuba and her everyday experiences.

Japanese learners of all ages and levels will enjoy this manga. They will be invited to follow his very interesting daily life. When you read this manga, you will be reminded of your childhood and, of course, you will get to know the world better.

Yes, this manga continues until today. You will also feel a sense of waiting for the updates of this comic and be interested in the continuation of the story. There is no doubt that the content of this manga was awarded the Excellence Award at the Japan Media Arts Festival 2006.

(4) Doraemon

Doraemon, one of the most famous and popular cartoons and animations for the whole family, has been a favorite of children since 1969. To this day, we’re used to seeing Doraemon animated films on TV that are dubbed. Therefore, they cannot learn the Japanese language from this anime. However, this changes completely when they read the Japanese version of the manga.

The story of Doraemon is about Nobita, a primary school student who neither likes learning nor sports and who’s problems with his friends and teachers almost every day. And his partner, the advanced painting robot Doraemon, helps him with various futuristic gadgets. This Doraemon manga can also be used as an interactive learning medium for children interested in Japanese.

With the interesting content of the story and the fun characters, your child won’t get bored easily later on. Since the Japanese in this Doraemon manga is at a basic level, we can say that the level of Japanese in this manga is very easy and children can learn the latest technology introduced in this manga.

(5) Dragon Ball

Long before Naruto existed, the 80s generation was very fond of this Japanese manga. Dragon Ball once dominated worldwide manga sales, selling more than 230 million copies. The legendary action and adventure manga penned by Akira Toriyama consisted of 42 volumes published between 1984 and 1995. The Dragon Ball manga is set in the story of a journey to the West, but with a very futuristic twist.

The story follows the adventures of Son Goku as he collects the Star Dragon Balls (Dragon Balls), which grant wishes. Goku encounters fearsome enemies such as Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu. His adventures and the various fight scenes are mainly presented in Japanese, which makes it easy to find your way around the manga. And you can learn a lot from the many scenes depicted in this manga.

(6) Slam Dunk

‘Slam Dunk’ is one of the legendary manga that’s a favorite of manga readers all over the world! If you’ve just watched the anime, now is the perfect time to read the manga version. You’ll also learn some special terms from the world of basketball. This manga has 31 volumes that you can read every day.

Hanamichi Sakuragi, a high school student with no sports experience, decides to play basketball in the high school division and hurries to improve his skills with his teammates. You can learn Japanese intensively with this slam dunk manga.

However, this manga uses Japanese at an intermediate level, so you need to have a basic level beforehand to enjoy and learn this manga.

(7) Naruto

Naruto (ナルト) is a manga series by Masashi Kishimoto. The protagonist, Uzumaki Naruto, is an active, cheerful, and ambitious ninja who wants to realize his desire to attain the title of Hokage, the leader and strongest ninja in his village. The Naruto manga has been translated into several languages, not just the original.

The popularity of the Naruto manga has spread all over the world. Some people have created cosplay scenes, and of course, there’s also an anime. The level of language is still understandable. Therefore, it’s a very enjoyable experience for Japanese language learners, especially for true lovers of this Naruto manga and anime series.

(8) One Piece

Whether manga or anime, manga should always be mentioned as a good medium for learning Japanese. The manga is very popular in Japan itself and has spread to loyal aficionados all over the world. ONE PIECE is a manga and anime that tells of the adventures of a group of pirates in search of the legendary treasure, One Piece.

One Piece was created by Eiichiro Oda in the Shonen Jump issue of Shueisha in August 1997 and is still current. The anime version began in October 1999 and has now reached over 500 episodes. To date, One Piece is the best-selling manga in Japanese history, with over 260 million copies sold. One Piece is on everyone’s lips and is loved by people of all ages.


Last but not least, I would like to conclude this article with the following bonus tips for you to learn Japanese with Manga:Finally, we would like to close this article with the following bonus tips for learning Japanese with manga:

  • Try to prepare the note and a dictionary when you read a manga. Here is a great app that you can use as a dictionary.
  • Write down the sentence you do not understand and try to memorize it.
  • Read the manga again to familiarize yourself with it and review what you learned.

See you in the next article, we hope you find this article useful!


Representative Director of Reboot Japan Co., Ltd., which operates EDOPEN JAPAN. Founded the company in 2018, which provides Japanese language education and assistance for studying in Japan. Started the company after living with international students at a Japanese language school. He enjoys learning about new people and cultures and has lived in Australia and Malaysia. Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, Sophia University.