Recommend manga thread

I propose that we have one thread to go to where people describe the manga they have read and describe how difficult it is to read and any other tidbits they feel should be added. For example:

Manga Title Difficulty: ***** (1 means easiest to 5 stars means hardest )

Just generally describe why you like it, and any other tidbits you feel you would like to mention.

Text light/medium/heavy:

Furigana: yes/no (PLEASE include this!)

Difficulties: Write about what you found to be difficult in this manga, could be culture references, language used, etc etc

Any suggestions on improving this thread are welcome, and hopefully this will become successful as an easy reference for manga hunters.

Discussion in this thread is allowed and encouraged.

Updated: 10/08/2014 - added しろくま カフェ Polar Bear Cafe, Nagasarete Airantou, Nukodzuke!, 篠崎さん気をオタしかに! and Pluto.

Manga list: (alphabetical)
ふ = Has Furgiana

20th Century Boys ****
Akira ****
青の祓魔師 *** ふ
赤色エレジー ***
Azumanga Daioh **
Beck ** ふ
Berserk **
Black Jack no rating
Bono Bono
Chibi Maruko **/*** ふ
Chi’s sweet home * ふ
Crayon Shin-Chan *** ふ
だめっこどうぶつ **/*** ふ (sometimes)
Death Note ****
Detective Conan/Case Closed ** ふ
Doraemon Plus * ふ
Dragon Ball *** ふ
不安の種 ** ふ
Fullmetal Alchemist **** ふ
GA 芸術科アートデザインクラス ***/****
学校怪談 ** ふ
Great Teacher Onizuka ***** ふ
Golden Time *** ふ
Hayate no Gotoku **/*** ふ
Hayate X Blade ****/***** ふ
Hidamari Sketch ***/****
Hikaru no Go ** ふ
Ichigo Mashimaro ***
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha *** ふ
犬神博士 ****
Inuyasha ** ふ
Kannagi ***** ふ
Keroro Gunso ***/****+ ふ
Kimi ni Todoke *** ふ
K-ON! ***
Life ** ふ
Love★Com ** ふ
Master Keaton *****
Minami-Ke ***
Millennium Snow * ふ
Monster ****
Monster ****
Moyashimon ****/*****
Mushishi ***
夏目友人長 ** ふ
謎の彼女X ** ふ (sometimes)
ながされて藍蘭島 (Nagasarete Airantou) ** ふ
Neighbourhood Story ** ふ
Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo ****
ぬこづけ! (Nukodzuke!) * ふ
One Piece *** ふ
ore no imouto ga konna ni kawaii wake ga nai ***
男子高校生の日常 **
Ouran High School *** ふ
Parasyte **
Pluto ***
Rurouni Kenshin ***/**** ふ
Sailor moon **** ふ
篠崎さん気をオタしかに! *** ふ
Sengoku Youko ***
Shingeki no Kyojin ** ふ

しろくま カフェ Polar Bear Cafe ** ふ
Silver Spoon **** ふ
Sora no Manimani ***/*****
Spirit Circle ***
宇宙兄弟**** ふ
Vinland Saga ***** ふ (first two volumes)
WitchCraftWorks ***/****
Yotsubato ** ふ 
Yotsubato */** ふ
Yu Yu hakushou ***/**** ふ  
Edited: 2014-08-10, 6:50 am
Is that *** out of 3, or out of 5? Might want to mention that Tongue I'm rating it out of 5.

宇宙兄弟 Difficulty ****
A story about two brothers who want to become astronauts. One is already an astronaut, the other is just beginning. An almost slice-of-life story about overcoming difficulties, friendship, family and hard work. And engineering. Oh boy, there's lots of engineering.

I love the story and the humor of the manga, and basically blitzed through it. It also has an anime adaptation which I highly recommend, and you might want to watch it to get the technical jargon.

For the most part the language is quite ok, though occasionally some characters are harder to understand (関西弁, Jamaican-sounding) + lots of random katakana words which can be quite confusing. The real problem is the technical jargon. Gets quite intense, and I'm not sure how fictional it is or not. Sometimes there's pages and pages of describing technical difficulties. Can be a bit overwhelming at times. Not as much furigana as you'd expect.

男子高校生の日常 **
It's silly, it's simple and it's fun. Slice of life about some highschool boys being silly. Very fun.
I'd be tempted to rate it even lower in difficulty, but due to the occasionally exaggerated speech it can be a bit hard to catch the rather simple sentences which are actually being said.

ちはやふる ***(an extra * for full enjoyment)
A story about かるた, a card game which involves the poems from the 百人一首. You don't actually need to know the game, nor the poems to enjoy it (in face ちはやふる has single-handledly raised worldwide interest in the game), but for full enjoyment you should start getting familiar with them. They do make it quite easy to understand, and even released a guide to undersanding the game.

It is a beautiful, beautiful manga <3. And I'm grateful for it introducing me to 短歌。I've found recordings from actual かるた matches and the IRL readers are rarely as enticing as the ones in the anime (in the recordings, at least), which is a shame.

The language is simple enough, but it often reverts to talk about the game. Story-wise, it's the normal language that pushes the action forward, but to actually understand aspects of the poem, not see the poems as just random writing on the screen, etc. you'd have to dabble in knowledge about classical Japanese literature (and there are occasionally page-full of explanations about Heian poetry and court life... though not as often as you might think).
Rating seems like it's gonna be very arbitrary but I'll try.

One that always gets recommended towards beginners is Yotsubato, but it's fun regardless. It's about a crazy five-year-old girl having moved with her father to a new city, how she discovers life together with friends and neighbors, and how others are influenced by how her naive and eccentric personality clashes with the surroundings. It's aimed towards a general audience.

Rather than a long continuous plot, each chapter is a very simple short-story, which means that you could keep reading on even if there are chapters of which you wouldn't understand the Japanese. Simple but non-formal slang based language, furigana on everything.

I do remember someone on here saying that they'd studied Japanese exclusively formally for two years and found this manga difficult, while most people that are already somewhat familiar with anime/manga seem to say it's very easy. I'd encourage beginners not to read this while systematically analyzing its grammar or something and instead just let it be a very good ice-breaker.

Difficulty: 1 or maybe 2 out of a total of 5

Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo
Inspired by the author's experiences as a Japanese language teacher, teaching foreigners. The title refers to weird questions about obscure Japanese that only foreigners would ask. This one's also structured into short-stories, dealing with cultural perceptions (although mostly stereotypical) about Japan, and some cultural differences, along with general comedy. Not as educational as I'd hoped but fun nonetheless. Note that there's a TV-show adapted from this, but it's quite different. It's of course aimed towards Japanese people, so the way they portray foreigners with live actors as opposed to manga characters is... Well I liked the manga while I hated the show.

The vocabulary is rich for a manga, but everything has furigana. And like mentioned--short-stories.

Difficulty: 3 or 4 out of 5 maybe?
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Doraemon Plus (Difficulty *)

This is a 5-volume series that I started reading with. The stories are great and a lot of adults tell me how they appreciate the storytelling. The short series length stops you getting sucked into the mammoth Doraemon library if you just want something to get you going.

I've been reading Naoki Urasawa lately, although he's technically an illustrator. These are the two I've got through so far.

Master Keaton (Difficulty *****)

Keaton is a ハーフ ex-SAS archeology professor who does investigative work (オプス) for Lloyds on the side. It's written in a kind of mini-story format where each chapter is a separate assignment or event in the Keaton world. The stories usually include a mix of history and interesting facts with a bit of McGuyver-style improvised survival mixed in.

No furigana and wide-ranging vocabulary due to the diverse settings, characters and inclusion of historical elements. Heavy on text, and some non-jouyou kanji also pop up, but many of the challenging words can be guessed or skipped over without consequence.

Monster (Difficulty ****)

A gifted Japanese neurosurgeon working in 80s Germany saves a young child who turns out to be a psychopathic killer that he then has to hunt down. It's really compelling and I was back-and-forth to Tsutaya with this. I don't rate it as highly as Master Keaton because it kind of trails off towards the end. There is a (72 episode) anime available, and also rumours of a HBO series for anyone interested though.

No furigana and wide-ranging vocab due to the large number of characters. I rate it lower than Master Keaton because I could read through these in a day or two, whearas I can't get Master Keaton back to Tsutaya in time (found them for ¥105 in Book Off luckily Big Grin).
Edited: 2013-06-09, 8:26 am
Keep in mind here, I'm absolutely crap at writing up descriptions of books, so these are going to be really brief.
Life (Difficulty **)
A shoujo series that deals with the topics of bullying, self-injury, and sexual assault, Life is a very emotionally intense series. The manga series really picks up as the friendship between the main character and her new best friend deepens, and the head bullies' emotional instability starts to rear it's ugly head. What starts off as a feel-bad manga ends up becoming very touching. Highly recommended.

Neighbourhood Story (ご近所物語) (Difficulty **)
Anyone familiar with the manga Paradise Kiss or Nana should check this one out. It focuses on a group of art students, in particular fashion student Mikako Kouda. Mikako dreams of starting her own fashion line, Happy Berry, while at the same time tries to figure out her feelings towards her childhood friend Tsutomu. One of my favourite things about Ai Yazawa manga is that her characters mature, learn from their mistakes, and become more confident in their relationships, and Neighbourhood Story is no exception. Plus the art is unique and beautiful, and there are some really cute clothes on display.

Oh, and both series contain furigana, so they're suitable for upper-beginners.
Whoops I must of deleted the part where I explained the rating system, lets just go with what zgarbas said, 1 being easiest 5 being hardest. I realize the rating system is person specific, but its just for a quick glance, the description is there to explain why you think its easy/hard.

I want to add that people should mention if it has furigana or not as that seems an important part to many.

I am moving my ratings to this post and will write a list and links to each person recommendations.

Ichigo Mashimaro Difficulty: ***

" a Japanese manga series by Barasui about the adventures of four elementary school girls and their older sister-figure. " Ichigo mashimaro is my favorite manga so far. It is very funny with great characters especially Miu who has the most crazy personality. Reading wise it doesn't have any furigana which increases the difficulty , but the grammar, vocab and speech patterns are very easy and are generally clumped into small sentences.

This was actually the first manga I ever bought (had it for 2 years now) and I still read it every now and again, and still makes me laugh. I am currently trying to find other mangas that are similar.

Kannagi Difficulty: *****

About a Tree god who has appeared in a human body, trying to stop a blight spreading since the sacred tree she was protecting was cut down. It is an interesting story with nice art with comedic parts with some serious aspects. The reason the difficulty is high is because of the way the main character talks which is confusing to say the least, and has led to me many times not being able to find the words in a dictionary.

It does have furigana which does help with the simpler sentences but dammit does she talk in a complicated (and I assume old) way.

ore no imouto ga konna ni kawaii wake ga nai Difficulty: ***

Description: About a girl who likes ecchi games who seems to have many problems and has a sister loving brother. This one is not too bad, the story is pretty simple although the art is surprisingly dirty, which I don't like so much but hey ho it is something to look at I suppose. Language wise is pretty normal speech but comes with some furigana which is why it gets three stars. This is a good manga to start on if you are looking to make the switch away from furigana.
Edited: 2013-06-09, 10:39 am
BECK (Difficulty **)

About High School boys trying to form a rock band, from the perspective of the youngest member. In the beginning of the series, he's only 14 but quickly develops in years and ability. Since a lot of the story is about him growing up, this series is very slice-of-life-y.

This is the manga I used to start reading, even before Yotsuba, because the anime really grabbed me and I figured I had a heads up knowing the story. Even if you didn't watch the anime, I think this is good for beginners because there's a lot of katakana to help you keep up with the story (since the band is trying to "hit in the USA," and the leader of the band is "fluent" in English) and there's furigana for everything.
Hikaru no Go: (Difficulty: * * )
It's a manga about the game of Go. This manga apparently was quite influential just for it's beautiful layout/design. The visual impact of reading it is very engaging. The characters are life-like, especially when they are coniving.
Plot: Hikaru, kind of a rabble-rouser kid who gets bad grades, discovers an ancient blood-stained Go board in his grandfather's attic. He touches the board and out comes the ghost of Fujiwarano Sai, a genius Go player only Hikaru can see who used to teach Go to royalty a thousand years ago. Hikaru goes from being dismissive of the game, to everyone around him discovering that he has an innate talent. He rises in the ranks chasing his rival, the kid prodigy, Touya Akira.
The anime is good as well and mirrors the manga well. I don't think it's too hard to read, there is furigana, and many terms that are specific to the world of Go.

I guess everyone knows Death Note. Difficulty ***/****

And then there are Chibimarukochan and good old Sazae-san (** and * difficulty, respectively). Chibimarukochan is aimed at kids, but I find it's not as easy as Yotsubato or Hikaru because there are less visual clues for the plot and lots of dry humor dialogue. It's a huge long-running franchise like Doreamon so try to get the old stuff.

@Twomorecharacters, I haven't read Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo yet, but I enjoyed the show. Taken with a grain of salt, it's pretty edutaining. Sometimes I like to watch something before I read it, that way I know if I'll like the book and I won't be upset about how they interpreted it for the screen. Also, if you watch the movie or anime first, then you can read the book and gain more insight into the characters' back stories.

Sorry I don't have a lot of manga experience so I can't recommend too many.
Edited: 2013-06-09, 3:23 pm
謎の彼女X by 植芝理一 i(Difficulty: **)

Quirky coming of age tale about a teen boy and the odd, scissor-wielding girl who's grooming him to be the taker of her virginity. Very accessible informal Japanese. Occasional furigana when names are first introduced and for harder words. A great learner's manga, IMO.
Tip: Use Ctrl + F to find a specific manga quickly

Glad to see someone else had taken the initiative to start this thread! I have been keeping notes about various manga I’ve read in hopes of making a similar thread one day but I never got around to it.

I welcome any changes/additions to what I have. Text light/medium/heavy refers to how much writing a page tends to have. It has nothing to do with the difficulty [though naturally, the more text there is, the longer it will take to finish reading it]

I know this is supposed to also be a recommendation thread but I figure since I already have this information, I might as well put it all up; especially since each of these series is bound to have at least one person interested in it. Hope this is okay.

Note to new readers: If this will be your first time immersing in native media even the “easy” manga will have difficult parts so don’t stress about it. The difference between the ‘easy’ manga and the ‘harder’ manga is that you will be working your way over a hill rather than trying to climb Mount Everest right away.

For new readers, I’d recommend: Yotsuba, Inuyasha, Detective Conan (<--written mostly in standard Japanese so it’s easier to read than most manga but it is very text heavy so it will take a while to get through) and Millennium Snow (I personally didn’t care for it but its easy to read and only has two volumes). I’ve heard Doraemon is good for beginners as well.

Berserk Difficulty Rating: ** though it lacks furigana so I wouldn't recommend this to beginners.
(This one was quite hard to rate, I almost rated it at *** but with how text light it is, I felt it deserved **)
Description: “Set in a medieval Europe-inspired fantasy world, the story centers around the characters of Guts, an orphaned mercenary, and Griffith, the leader of a mercenary band called the Band of the Hawk. Themes of isolation, camaraderie, and the question of whether humanity is fundamentally good or evil pervade the story, as it explores both the best and worst of human nature. Both the manga and anime are noted for their heavy violence.” (From wikipedia)


Text light/medium/heavy: Very Light

Furigana: no

Difficulties: abbreviated speech/casual speech 通さぬぞ --> 通さないぞ
と思ってんの ----> と思っているの

Example Page:

Detective Conan/Case Closed Difficulty Rating: **
Description: “The story follows the adventures of Shinichi Kudo (also known as Jimmy Kudo in Case Closed), a young detective prodigy who was inadvertently shrunk into a child's body due to a poison he was force-fed by members of a criminal syndicate..... He goes to live with his childhood friend Ran Mouri and her father, Kogoro, and tries to use Kogoro's detective agency as a way to find the people who shrank him — without letting Ran figure out who he really is.” (from detectiveconanworld)

Text light/medium/heavy: Heavy

Furigana: Yes

Difficulties: Sentences tend to be simple/ use standard Japanese.

Comment from another thread: “The language seems fairly polite for manga. I'm surprised by how many grammar points from my JLPT2 books that I bump into in Conan.”

Crayon Shin-Chan: Rating: ***

Description: “Shinnosuke Nohara, aka Shin-chan, a combination of Dennis The Menace and Howard Stern, is a 6-year-old growing up in Tokyo in this animated series. His foul mouth and rude behavior constantly scandalize his parents (although his father seems to be a big influence), his teacher, and everyone else with the bad luck to cross his path. “
(from imbd)
Took me about half a volume to begin to like it so I’d recommend reading a whole volume before you decide if you don’t care for it.

Text light/medium/heavy: Medium

Furigana: yes

Difficulties: Characters speaking in a different dialect is not uncommon. Casual abbreviations.
Slang such as ショバ
ええわい instead of いいわ
おこりんぼ rather than おこりんぼう
Cultural references such as: childhood songs (such as 象さん), random bit’s like ティモテ from an old (1985) shampoo commercial and references to historical/popular people.

Ect: He says/does things wrong rather often but another character usually corrects him or there’s a dot next to misspoken words.

Example Page:

Chibi Maruko Difficulty: ** or ***
(Only considered for three because it's extremely text heavy, otherwise its rather straightforward)

Description: “Maruko Sakura is a young elementary school student growing up with her parents, grandparents and elder sister in this animated series based on the producer's childhood in the 60's. As Maruko grows up and learns the ways of the world, she and her friends get themselves into an assortment of predicaments, but with Maruko's ingenuity (and the help of her grandfather) they usually finds her way through.”(from imdb)

Text light/medium/heavy: Very heavy

Furigana: Yes except for author’s notes (though she only uses simple kanji)
Has author notes but the writing is very easy to read

Authors Notes: Yes and these tend to be a full page.

Example Page:

Dragon Ball Difficulty Rating: ***
Description: “As a big summary, Dragon Ball is about fighters with super powers saving the world against very mean monsters with super powers too. All of them can fly, throw ki blasts (kinda like fireballs), and find their enemies by sensing their spirit. But some have their own techniques.” (from dragonball-multiverse)

Text light/medium/heavy: tends to be light though sometimes it’s medium

Furigana: Yes

Difficulties: The old man’s (Master Roshi) speaking patterns will be very difficult for a beginner to understand.
Mostly use simple kanji
Some slang/casual speech and lots of dialects:
Big guy slurring:ちいせえwhich isちいさい
Weird speaking pattern of some characters (よぐ instead of よく) あんれま which is あらまあ
ほんど instead of 本当
のうなった --->なくなった
a lot of colloquial/casual phrases ~なきゃなんねえ which is the colloquial for ~なければならない

Example Page:

Fullmetal Alchemist: Difficulty Rating: (Including Omake pages) ****
Description: “The Elric brothers' mother is dead and their father has long since abandoned them. Deciding to perform a forbidden human transmutation to bring their mother back, they end up losing their bodies. Now Edward must join the military in order to gain certain alchemical privileges, with his one goal being to restore his brother to his original state. But with war on the horizon it's only a matter of time before they are both forced to question their morals and ultimately decide the value of human life.”(imdb)

Text light/medium/heavy: Tends to stay in the Medium or light area.

Furigana: It has furigana for most of it except for tiny side comments (such as other random citizens talking in the background) and the authors extra/omake pages don’t have furigana so that could easily become frustrating. Also the sections that don’t have furigana are also handwritten, so it can be hard to read some characters.

Difficulties: There are casual versions/abbreviations of words that if you have enough
background in Japanese you’ll know what they mean but for a beginner it would be nightmare to look it up. (Not as common as in some other mangas but definitely still there)
Like the manga Mushishi, it starts out with a page of archaic Japanese
Didn’t have many made up words.

Great Teacher Onizuka Difficulty Rating: *****

Description: “Onizuka is a reformed biker gang leader who has his sights set on an honorable new ambition: to become the world's greatest teacher... for the purpose of meeting sexy high school girls. However, strict administrators and a class of ruthless delinquents stand between Onizuka and his goal and they will use any means, however illegal or low, to drive the new teacher away. Perfect, because Onizuka's methods won't be found in any teaching manual.” (from myanimelist)

Possible Trigger Warning: mentions of rape/ at least one near rape scene

Text light/medium/heavy: medium to heavy

Furigana: yes

Difficulties: “heavy use of slang (gyaru & bosozoku galore) and numerous (obscure to a foreigner?) cultural references”
Some text is very small.

Inuyasha Difficulty Rating: **

A good introduction to slang, imo. Some volumes/chapters are closer to ***
At times, Shippo and Inuyasha will use quite a bit of slang/colloquialisms to the point that I considered rating it a ***, however they (Inuyasha especially) tend to use the same colloquialisms/slang over and over again. You’ll also become very familiar with やがる especially in ざまあみやがれ(ざまあみろ+やがる)

Description: “Higurashi Kagome, after being pulled down a well by a demon, finds herself in Feudal Japan, where she learns that a powerful jewel has been reborn inside her body. After the jewel shatters in an attempt to retrieve it from one of the many demons who was after its power, Kagome must join forces with the half-demon InuYasha to track down the shards of the jewel before its power falls into the wrong hands.” (from myanimelist)

Text light/medium/heavy: Light though sometimes medium

Furigana: Yes

Authors Notes: None

Difficulties: colloquialisms/slang and the occasional dialect. However, the majority of the colloquialisms/slang are used constantly throughout the series; so although the first few volumes will be a bit hard for a beginner, it will get easier after a few volumes. Also, the majority of the slang/colloquialisms that you’ll find in Inuyasha will pop up in most manga. I’ve given examples and explanations of some of the most common one's you’ll find in here:

One of the most common:
四魂のかけらもってたの!? ―――>四魂のかけらもっていた[past tense of -ている]
かけら持ってる妖怪を倒してまわってる じゃ。 ―――>
かけら持っている妖怪を倒してまわっている [sentence ending particle: じゃ=だsentence ending particle typically used by older individuals which shippo likes to use]

きつねじゃ----> きつね sentence ending particle typically used by older individuals which shippo likes to use
知らねえか ―――> 知らない
。。。じゃねえ ――>。。じゃない

知らでよろしい ―――> 知らないでよろしい
めーら ――――> おまえ
正体見せやが ―――> 正体見せやが
。。井戸がなくなりゃ。。。ーーーー> 井戸がなくなれば
なにすんのよーーー> なにするのよ 
めーなーーー> うまい
しょーがねえ ―――>しょうがない
どーゆータイプがいいの?―――> どうゆうタイプがいいの? (どういう)
こおら ―――>こら

Though there are occasionally less common things such as:
それで四魂の玉がどないしたんや ―――>んだ―――>のだ

Example Pages:

Millennium Snow: Difficulty Rating: *
(Disclamer: Although I had the notes below to use as a reference, Millennium Snow’s difficulty rating was partly based off my memory, so this might be a ** though I’m rather certain it was a *. I remember being surprised that it didn’t use much slang/colliqualisms and was relatively simple overall, thus why it got a *).

Description: “Millennium Snow focuses on Chiyuki Matsuoka, a high school girl hospitalized with a heart problem. Since birth her heart has been very weak and she was told that she would probably live to be only fifteen. However, one day she meets Tōya Kanō, a vampire, with the opposite problem: Tōya lives for about one thousand years.” (from wikipedia)
[I personally didn’t care much for this manga but it’s rather easy so it can be encouraging for a beginner to read]

Text light/medium/heavy: Light

Furigana: Yes

Handwritten: Author notes (only a column to the side)
Authors Notes: Yes but these are only columns that are occasionally on the side of a page
Difficulties: Rather straightforward (uses standard Japanese) though it does occasionally have casual abbreviations/slang.

Ect: bat talks in made up language though it should be easy to catch
です ―――>でやんす sort of minor, easy to understand change.

Monster Difficulty Rating: ****

Description: “Kenzou Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon in Germany, had it all.....until he chose to save the life of a young boy who got shot in the head. A short time later, the hospital director and the doctors that replaced him were murdered, and once again he was catapulted back onto the top. But as the chief suspect of the murders, Tenma did not get a easy life. As a matter of fact, it seems that the boy he saved was much more than he had appeared to be... Now to clear his name and to correct his past mistake, Tenma must get to the bottom of these and other murders, and investigate the truth of the Monster who is behind all of this.” (from animenewsnetwork)

Text light/medium/heavy: Medium to Heavy

Furigana: no

Authors Notes: no

Difficulties: Medical terms/technical jargon, expected casual abbreviations/slang

Example Page:

Mushishi Difficulty Rating: ***
Description: “They differ from other forms of life such as the micro-organisms and the fungi. Instead they resemble the primeval body of life and are generally known as "Mushi". Their existence and appearance are unknown to many and only a limited number of humans are aware of them. Ginko is a "Mushi-shi" who travels around to investigate and find out more about the "Mushi". In the process, he also lends a helping hand to people who face problems with supernatural occurrences which may be related to the "Mushi" (from imdb)

Text light/medium/heavy: Medium

Furigana: no

Authors Note: At the very end and handwritten

Difficulties: Like Fullmetal Alchemist, it starts out with a page of archaic Japanese.
Casual/abbreviated Speech
すげえ versus すごい
くたばらねえ versus くたばらない
ふつうにいきりゃいいんだよ versus  ふつうにいきればいいんだよ

Example Page:

One Piece Difficulty Rating: ***

Description: “Enter Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy that defies your standard definition of a pirate. Rather than the popular persona of a wicked, hardened, toothless pirate who ransacks villages for fun, Luffy’s reason for being a pirate is one of pure wonder; the thought of an exciting adventure and meeting new and intriguing people, along with finding One Piece, are his reasons for becoming a pirate.” (From myanimelist)

Text light/medium/heavy: Medium to Heavy

Furigana: Yes

Authors Note: Yes

just the usual abbreviations/casual speech you’d expect in a shounen:
要らん -----> 要らない

Example Page:

Ouran High School Difficulty rating: *** or ****

Description: “Haruhi is a poor tomboyish student at a school for the ultra-wealthy, able to attend because of a scholarship, and unable to even afford a uniform. One day, she stumbles across the decidedly peculiar but very popular Ouran Host Club. She tries to leave, but accidentally breaks a vase, and unable to pay for it, she's told that she'll have to stay and do odd jobs. That is, until they decide she would be more valuable as a club member.” (from animenewsnetwork)

Text light/medium/heavy: Medium to Heavy

Furigana: Has furigana except for the extra characters comments or extra dialogue from the character. Also the author’s notes don’t have furigana so it can be difficult to read. Everything that doesn’t have furigana is in handwriting.

Authors Notes: Yes but these are only columns that are occasionally on the side of a page
Difficulties: Expect to see things such as:
Quite a bit of slang/casual abbreviations

Example Page:

Parasyte: Rating: ** (Not recommended for beginners since it lacks furigana) Almost gave it a rating of *** because of the political conversations/newspaper clippings that show up occasionally. However it doesn’t have much slang/abbreviated speech and is pretty straightforward so I ended up giving it a **.

Description: An alien attempts to take over Shinichi Izumi’s body but due to a chain of events, ends up only taking over one of his arms instead. This results in the two having little choice but to adjust to each others existence and differing perspectives. Over time the two develop an odd friendship and Shinichi slowly begins to question his own morality and sense of self.


Text light/medium/heavy: Usually light

Furigana: No

Difficulties: Occasional, brief news clippings can be a bit hard to anyone not accustomed to reading news articles in Japanese but this was one of the easier mangas to read.

Example Page:

Rurouni Kenshin Difficulty Rating: *** possibly **** but leaning more towards ***

Description: “Himura Kenshin is a vagabond with a dark past and sunny disposition. Not a ronin but a rurouni, he was never a samurai, but an assassin of utmost skill in the Meiji restoration, who in the turning point of the war simply walked away. His travels lead him to Tokyo in the 11th year of the Meiji era, where he befriends a female Kendo master, a former thief, a brawler and a doctor all with their own secrets. Together they fight off the enemies surfacing from the dark past that Kenshin cannot escape.” (From animenewsnetwork)

Text light/medium/heavy: Medium to heavy

Furigana: Yes

Authors Notes: Yes

Difficulties: abbreviated/casual speech
たしゅけ= たすけて
Stuff like バーロー スカタン
regular abbrevation, 撃つわけないだろう turns into うつわけねーだろ
Uncommon words like 狐狼 and words used mainly in the edo period.

Example Page:

Sailor moon Difficulty Rating: w/o authors notes: *** or **** w/ authors notes:****

Description: “The protagonist of Sailor Moon, Usagi Tsukino, an ordinary, ditzy, 14-year-old girl — or so she thinks — discovers a talking cat named Luna, who reveals Usagi's identity as "Sailor Moon", a magical warrior who is destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Usagi must now find the Moon Princess and protect Earth from a series of antagonists, beginning with the Dark Kingdom that appeared once before a long time ago and destroyed the Moon Kingdom.” (from wikipedia)

Text light/medium/heavy: Mostly stays light/medium (not counting the long authors notes)

Furigana: Mostly furigana except for the authors notes (which are handwritten). Side
comments/background noise tend to be handwritten as well.

Authors Notes: Yes. These are typically page(s) long. Her handwriting is sloppy at times so it can be hard to read. Also her habit of writing in a ‘cutesy’ way can also make some sections a bit harder to read.

Difficulties: Expect to see things like:
かあっこいーい instead of かっこい
まっさお instead of まさか
そーぞー  instead of そうぞう(想像)
ママも あんなにおこんなくたっていいのに which is ママも あんなにおこらなくていいのに
This was a surprisingly difficult at times (ESPECIALLY if you’re planning on reading the author notes as well).

Example Page:

Silver Spoon Difficulty Rating: ****

Description: “It depicts the daily life of Yugo Hachiken, a student from Sapporo who, unlike his new classmates, has no intention of following an agricultural career after graduating. Instead, he decided to study there under the misguided notion that he could easily be the top student in the class.” (from wikipedia) Has been surprisingly deep/interesting despite how boring it sounds. From the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Text light/medium/heavy: switches between medium and heavy

Furigana: yes

Authors Notes: Yes and it has omake pages too (these are handwritten and lack furigana)
Difficulties: Every rare once in a while it will have a technical passage (which is supposed to sound difficult/ technical to the average Japanese reader).

Casual abbreviations/slang I believe was decently common, I believe there were some dialects as well but I can’t remember for certain.

Example Page: (most pages aren't this text heavy though)

[I got the same ratings for Yotsuba as TwoMoreCharacters, though hopefully some of the extra information in here will be useful to potential readers]
Yotsubato: Rating: ignoring adults * Not ignoring adults: **

Text light/medium/heavy: Very Light

Furigana: Usually has furigana but sometimes doesn’t (such as side comments that are outside of the speech bubbles)

Authors Notes: None

Difficulties: Yotsuba is one of the easier manga’s to read though the adults conversations tend to be more advanced ..... like ておく changing to とく
Some casual speech might confuse a new learner likeとっといた (which is 取っておいた)
If the reader is mostly ignoring the adults conversations the main thing that I believe would trip up a beginner is when yotsuba sings. For example: なっつ やっす みー which is なつやすみ and when something occasionally like こえー pops up (this ended up meaning こわい which was clear from the context).

Example Page:

Yu Yu hakushou: Rating: *** or ****

Description: "The series tells the story of Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent who is killed by a car while attempting to save a child's life. After a number of tests presented to him by Koenma, the son of the ruler of the afterlife Underworld, Yusuke is revived and appointed the title of "Underworld Detective", with which he must investigate various cases involving demons and apparitions in the human world. The manga becomes more focused on martial arts battles and tournaments as it progresses." (from wikipedia)

Text light/medium/heavy: Varies from light to medium.

Furigana: yes

Authors Notes: I remember there were occasionally pages where the author would talk about a funny thing that happened in his life or he had given instructions to make a game. Handwritten (but not sloppy).

Difficulty: An easier version of many of the difficulties faced in Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO).
Slang, culture references, casual abbreviations
Edited: 2013-06-16, 4:06 pm
Great post, HotPotato, thanks for taking the time to write it.
I've only really enjoyed two manga, so I'll post them.

Azumanga Daioh Difficulty **
Description: A comic strip, so even if the story is ongoing it's told in four-panel chunks. A comedy about high school girls going through their three years of high school. The author has a really amazing sense of comic timing, and the characters are awesome. I've read it a million times and it still makes me laugh.

WARNING: Absurdity

Text light/medium/heavy: Light

Furigana: No

Difficulties: A lot of jokes based on cultural concepts. No furigana. One character
speaks Kansai-ben, and there are a lot of jokes about Kansai-jin. There are some strips that are completely without dialogue, so it could be really enjoyable even for low-level learners.

Love★Com Difficulty: If you don't know any Kansai-Ben ****, otherwise **

Description: A short boy and a tall girl who are friends try to find someone to date in high school, but ultimately fall in love with each other. A great coming-of-age romantic comedy, also with great characters and good timing.

WARNING: Written for 13 year old girls (but is actually amazing)

Text light/medium/heavy: Light

Furigana: Yes

Difficulties: Almost entirely in thick over-the-top Osaka-ben. But, the dialogue is all about regular life, school, and dating, so that side of it is easy.
Thank you to everyone who so far has contributed, and especially a big thanks to hotpotato for that huge post, which is also well layed out so I will try and use that as a template.

Also I would like to add that discussion is more than welcome in this thread, as there are no worries of posts being buried.

@hotpotato Thank you again for the large submission, "I know this is supposed to also be a recommendation thread" I feel my title is a bit miss leading, it can be any manga you read so I may change title accordingly.
@babyrat No worries, looking back it seems obvious that posts about any manga would be fine; I had just been reading it too strictly at the time since I had been up for 20+ hours (insomnia). Sorry that my ratings were a bit odd for some of them, it's been a while since I've read a few of them so I was having a hard time guesstimating some ratings.

@babyrat and Stansfield123 Glad that it seems like they’ll be a helpful addition, thanks for the kind words!
@Babyrat: I believe in the use of manga to improve one's reading, vocab, etc. So I'm dumping this list on you. Big Grin

Golden Time (ゴールデンタイム)

Difficulty: ***

Description: Tada Banri lost all of his memories just as he was about to graduate from high school. One year later, on the way to his law school entrance ceremony, he meets Kaga Kouko, who is beating the guy he just met with a bouquet or roses. By the author of ToraDora! Manga version of the novels. (Great story, IMO.)

Text: Medium.

Furigana: YES! (If you read the books/manga, you may get this joke!)

Hayate no Gotoku (ハヤテのごとく!)

Difficulty: **, sometimes *** when it gets all "plotty," but that's not often. This was the first manga I bought in Japanese, and could muddle through it with basic skills. You can get by with * skill even, if you're patient.

Description: Ayasaki Hayate is sold to the yakuza by his parents to settle a 150M yen debt, then is saved by 13 year-old Sanzenin Nagi, who falls for him even though he tries to kidnap her (she misunderstands), then he becomes her butler, and 400+ chapters of hijinks ensue.

Don't look for a plot. There is one, but really, don't look for it too hard. Comedy.

Text: Light to Medium.

Furigana: YES!

Moyashimon (もやしもん)

Difficulty: **** for basic enjoyment, ***** if you want to get all of the biology references.

Description: Sawaki-kun can see microbes. They look like little cartoon characters, and this fact alone causes him all kinds of problems throughout his life, until he goes to college. Then it gets crazier. (Including childhood friend cross-dressing!) Lots of talk about fermentation. No, really a TON of talk about fermentation. Fun read even if you can't hack the vocab.

Text: Heavy. OMG Heavy sometimes.

Furigana: NO.

WitchCraftWorks (ウィッチクラフトワークス)

Difficulty: ***, sometimes ****

Description: Honoka-kun isn't very strong, tall, or smart, yet the tall, powerful witch Kagari takes an intense interest in him. Chaos ensues. (I love the artwork in this series. It's nuts.)

Text: Medium to Heavy.

Furigana: NO.

Minami-Ke (みなみーけ)

Difficulty: ***

Description: The 3 Minami sisters live alone: the oldest is a mom-like high schooler, the middle is the "mood maker"/troublemaker/instigator in middle school (boke), and the youngest is the smart, snarky kid in elementary school (tsukkomi). Lots of personality-based comedy. Tropes galore, but still well-written and amusing.

Text: Medium.

Furigana: NO.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (いなり、こんこん、恋いろは。)

Difficulty: ***

Description: Inari loves Tanbabashi-kun, so she makes a wish to Uka-sama, the local deity to look like her classmate, who she thinks is beautiful. A total mess ensues, as Inari winds up with part of Uka-sama's deity power, and becomes a deity herself. Sort of. But she's still not very good at love, relationships, or anything else. (Being a deity in this case doesn't make you any better than you were before!)

Text: Medium

Furigana: YES!

Kimi ni Todoke (君に届け)

Difficulty: ***

Description: Sawako is often mistaken for the horror movie Sadako, because of her long hair and reserved manner. She's just really shy. Watch her make friends and break out of her reclusive shell! It's shoujo-riffic!

Text: Light to Medium.

Furigana: YES!

Sora no Manimani (宙のまにまに)

Difficulty: *** for basic, ***** for astronomy terms/astrophysics.

Description: Ooyagi Saku returns to the place he lived from kindergarten until 2nd grade, and meets Akeno Mihoshi, his childhood friend from that time. She's really into astronomy, he likes to read books. Quietly. Mihoshi drags him into the Astronomy Club, and lots of astronomy, comedy, and some drama happens.

Text: Medium to Heavy (when explaining astronmy stuff.)

Furigana: NO!

Hayate X Blade (はやて×ブレード)

Difficulty: ****/***** (This is a tough read for me sometimes. She likes to use strange readings for kanji, seldom with furigana, and laced with obscure jokes. In spite of that, it's funny as hell sometimes.)

Description: At an all-girls school, there is a group of students who compete to be in charge by fighting in wooden sword battles. (The Hoshitori.) Lots of stupidity and hijinks ensue. It has serious-ish moments, but it's generally a comedy. Doesn't require a lot of thought. (Well, reading it can be challenging.)

Text: Heavy.

Furigana: NO.

GA 芸術科アートデザインクラス (Wrote out the title because otherwise you'll never find it.)

Difficulty: *** for basic, **** to get all of the art terms.

Description: 4-koma primarily about a group of 5 friends in the art dept. at a high school (with an attached college). Lots of art terminology, so it's good if you want to learn about art. Other groups get followed as well. Comedy. Nothing heavy at all. Some of the jokes are a little 4-koma-ish, so they may not always be that funny. Can get a bit bogged down if you try to look up everything.

Text: Heavy at times. (When Kyouju lectures about art, she can pound out the words.)

Furigana: NO. (Except the joke below.)

Note: totally ruined how I see 素描 (そびょう). Now I always see it as 素猫 (す・ねこ!)

Hidamari Sketch (ひだまりスケッチ)

Difficulty: *** for basic, **** to get all of the art terms.

Description: 4 (later 6) art students live in the wacky Hidamari apartments while commuting to the school next door to study art. Some art, but mostly hijinks ensue. 4-koma, so 4-koma warnings apply.

Text: Medium.

Furigana: NO.

K-ON! (けいおん!)

Difficulty: ***

Description: I've seen promos for this book/show all over Japan. Especially Lawson. Anyway, a group of 4, later 5, HS girls form a band. 4-koma ensues. Comedy. Not a very difficult read for intermediate level.

Text: Medium.

Furigana: NO.
Being a fairly low level reader myself, I don't know if my difficulty judgements will be particularly accurate, so if anyone disagrees with them, feel free to speak up.

Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人)

Difficulty: ** If you are used to action manga terms, you'll probably have no trouble with the vocabulary.

Description: After being attacked by giants, the remainder of the human population gathered in one space, around which they built walls. After a hundred years of peace, a new war between humans and giants begins.
I'm terrible at summarizing, but the anime is popular enough that you shouldn't have any problems finding a better description. I'm two volumes in and it's still got my attention; it's pretty good for it's genre, so far. I can't really say if it gets worse over the course of the ten volumes already released, but...

Text: For the main story: Medium. For the backstory between chapters: High

Furigana: Yes.

Spirit Circle (スピリットサークル)

Difficulty: *** possibly; I don't really know since I haven't read much of it in Japanese yet.

Description: Boy relives his past lives to understand the inter-life grudge a girl has towards him.
I really can't do this justice with a short description. It's by my favorite mangaka, 水上悟志 (Mizukami Satoshi), who also did 惑星のさみだれ (a.k.a Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer) as well as the next manga I'll be suggesting. It's currently being released monthly in Young King Ours and only has one volume out so far.

Text: Medium

Furigana: No

Sengoku Youko (戦国妖狐)

Difficulty: ***... I think

Description: I give up. Here's the description from
""Stop your evil deeds and take the right path!" That is the creed of Youko Tama and her younger step brother, Jinka Sendou. The two demon siblings travel the country to stop the deeds of all evil doers, along with a scaredy-cat swordsman they picked up along the way, Hyoudou Shinsuke. During their travels, they will come across a monk organization with more then suspicious methods and they'll soon be at war."
Once again, it doesn't really do it justice. I suggest checking these out if you are even remotely interested. This is also by 水上悟志 and is also quite amazing in my opinion. It hasn't gotten boring after eleven volumes and is still going monthly in Comic Blade.

Text: Medium

Furigana: No

I may think of more later, since I read a lot of manga, but these are probably the big three I'd recommend right now. Feel free to suggest better descriptions if you've read any of these.
I disagree with the ratings for Yotsubato and One Piece. I have a volume of both, and as a beginner in Japanese, I can tell you, One Piece is impossible to read for me at this level, partly because of the slang, more obscure vocabulary and general all around difficulty.
Yotsubato is the only manga I can read without reaching for a dictionary every two seconds, not because I can understand everything but because of the more everyday vocabulary and the easy to follow stories.
I suggest moving Yotsubato from ** to * and moving One Piece from ** to ***
Hirakana Wrote:I disagree with the ratings for Yotsubato and One Piece. I have a volume of both, and as a beginner in Japanese, I can tell you, One Piece is impossible to read for me at this level, partly because of the slang, more obscure vocabulary and general all around difficulty.
Yotsubato is the only manga I can read without reaching for a dictionary every two seconds, not because I can understand everything but because of the more everyday vocabulary and the easy to follow stories.
I suggest moving Yotsubato from ** to * and moving One Piece from ** to ***
There is a big difference between what you think you understand as "easy to follow" and what you really understand. Take the first chapter of よつばと!, remove the illustrations, and see how well you can follow what is going on in the discussion between, for instance, 風か and 小岩井. I don't mean to sound rude, but a lot of readers, when they read 漫画 in particular, gleam a lot of "comprehension" from the imagery and fail to understand a lot of the nuance beyond that. Which, considering these are works of fiction written by natives, for natives, is fair to expect.
Fair enough, but I think we can agree that Yotsubato and One Piece cannot be considered the same difficulty.
The rating system is a hard thing to standardize due to everyone's various perspective, unfortunately I can not think of any better quick-glance system for rating manga. We could completely get rid of it but I would like something that makes it easy for someone browsing to quickly garner which manga to look deeper into.

Thanks everyone for the new submissions, and thanks Rich f for that huge list, they make me happy! I need to get more manga so I can add to this list!
Edited: 2013-06-11, 8:50 am
Looking back, I agree one piece should have been ***. Thanks for catching that mistake Hirakana. I’d agree with yotsubato being overall a *as well (though the adult conversations seem a bit advanced for complete beginners).
Edited: 2013-06-11, 10:24 am
Normalish highschool life setting with outcast main character who sees 妖怪. Currently 15 volumes. Anime version follows stories fairly closely, though in a different order (on Crunchyroll, bad sub IMO though). Medium text, lots of furigana. 小説形もある。

Bono Bono
Stories about an otter and his forest friends. 8 volumes total (in small version). Anime version on Youtube matches manga fairly well (skip the movies though). Medium text, easy language (can't remember furigana frequency), both childish and some more subtle humor.

Really odd story about socially defective anthropomorphized animals. 6 volumes total. Anime version on youtube mostly matches verbatum. Medium text, few furigana, teen/adult humor.

Rebellious kid learns he is satan's child, becomes a exorcist vowing to destroy satan. 10 volumes total. Anime version alternately matches and diverges wildly from manga until mid season, then departs entirely (on Crunchyroll). Medium text, medium furigana, lots of odd words, accents, and dialects.
i'm also a low level reader myself, so the things i read are always a compromise between what i can read and what i really want to read.

学校怪談 **

this is the first manga i read. a collection of short horror stories and urban legends, each around ten pages long. it's a bit harder than yotsubato, mostly because you get a lot more vocabulary. at 650yen for 400 pages i feel it's a good value for money. has furigana, except for author's notes(but they're pretty simple).


similar to 学校怪談, but even shorter stories, around five pages. urban legends, as told by locals. each story has a picture and name of the place where the incident supposedly happened. stories range from silly to some really creepy ones. has furigana and there's a movie coming out this year.

赤色エレジー ***

this is actually quality manga. it's partly autobiographical story about an animator trying to make his own manga. told in a non-linear way, with often stream-of-consciousness passages and inventive drawings. resembles french new wave films a lot and is probably one of the most famous independent manga from japan.
unfortunately, seiichi hayashi is best known for making illustrations for 小梅 sweets and influencing that guy who created 'tatami galaxy'.

vocabulary and grammar are actually pretty simple and it's not text heavy, but three starts go for the absence of an obvious plot. sometimes i would get confused about who is saying what and to whom. no furigana.

犬神博士 ****

this is one of the best from suehiro maruo and the only one i read in japanese. it was a tedious read, because he uses a lot of old style kanji and obscure vocabulary. five(or six?) horror stories about demons and black magic. it's ero-guro style, so if you don't like explicit sex and violence, avoid it. but maruo is one of the best manga artists and his drawings here are simply amazing. no furigana.

ps. i would be grateful if anyone could recommend some authors like seiichi hayashi or maruo, i.e. non-otaku stuff with non-generic manga drawings(like pointy hair and big eyes). i have two taiyo matsumoto books, but they are written in kansai-ben and are a bit of a pain to read.
Edited: 2013-06-11, 3:38 pm
Black Jack

A sexy, morally ambiguous surgeon who travels the world and toys with human existence, what is there not to love? He's like a non-murderous version of Hannibal, a pathological saver of life. One of Osamu Tezuka's finest IMO.

The regular editions you can buy at book-off for 100yen and they're bound novel style so they fit in your bag for unexpected reading opportunities.

I have to look up the medical terms the first few times they're mentioned in this manga. JLPT N2 for kanji, N3 for basic comprehension I suppose. No ruby unless it's a pun or something like that.

Incidentally, this on-line dictionary is very useful if you're reading something with a lot of slang.
I keep seeing these on Amazon, do you know if they're related? It's Black Jack and doctors, but I've not had the inclination to read through one to see if they're any good. Free can be a turn-off in some instances. lol

"Give My Regards to Black Jack"