Top Ten Romantic Japanese Manga

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Top Ten Romantic Japanese Manga

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Removed_Pajonas_ebook_200x300Ever think about checking out manga? This is your chance!

Oh, Japanese Manga, how I love thee? Let me count the ways that you suck me in, run up my credit card, and leave me in a ball of laughter and tears. There are many ways that my Nogiku Series are like manga. I like to write strong, complex characters that win you over with a wink or a blank look. I can think of countless moments in manga where a whole page is devoted to one brief moment, and it’s the moment you fall completely in love with a character. If you don’t feel the same way about the moment when Sanaa holds a sword for the first time or when Jiro asks Sanaa out for a date, then I’m doing something wrong as an author.

Before I give you my top ten picks for Japanese romantic manga, let me explain that there are two basic types of manga: Shonen and Shojo. (Actually, there are many more, including more explicit types like hentai and yaoi, and several others I won’t get into here. Google, if you’re interested.)

Shonen manga is marketed towards a young male audience, 10 – 18 years old. It includes more kicking of butt, fighting, etc. Shojo manga is marketed towards a female audience, 10 – 18 years old and includes more relationships (not always romantic), school situations, and fantasies.

For the purpose of this list, I chose all Shojo manga, which I love! I’ll admit it. I’m sucked into manga easily. And if I don’t have a book I’m reading, you’ll find me reading manga.

10. Vampire Knight – for my first recommendation, I’m presenting a manga I haven’t read yet, but everyone RAVES about and is in my queue. This one’s about a vampire boarding school where the normal people come to class during the day, and the vampires come at night. There’s a whole backstory with the main character, Yuki, having been saved by a vampire as a young child, and the story includes lots of love interests. The story is now complete, so you can get them and be assured of an ending!

9. Nana – This is another I have not read but I hear is beautiful and sweet, and this is also in my queue (I really need more spare time). It’s about two young women named, Nana, who accidentally meet and become roommates in Tokyo. It chronicles their lives trying to make it in the big city. The author was sick for a while but, from what I can gather, is finishing the series.

8. Boys Over Flowers – This was a super popular manga that was turned into a Korean drama that is probably one of the most talked about and first recommended Korean dramas of all time. Seriously, if you ask anyone, “I want to start watching K-dramas, where should I start?” Most people will respond with Boys Over Flowers. Just remember it was a Japanese manga first!

7. Maid-sama! – I only got halfway through this series before I was sucked into revisions on my own books and it is truly a gem. The plot of this one cracks me up. The lead, Misaki, is a tough-as-nails heroine trying to reform her school that is only recently a co-ed school. She rails against all the bad boys! I love her! But she’s poor and needs to make money so she hostesses at a local Maid Cafe (Do you know about these? There’s one in Manhattan now!) The school hot boy finds out and strikes a deal with her. You’ll need to read to find out.

6. High School Debut – I love this manga so darn much, it’s sick. Haruna is a former softball player, kind-of jock type girl, that knows nothing about romance. So she convinces Yoh, the coolest boy in school, to coach her in romance. So many hijinks ensue and all the time you are rooting for them to get together. Sigh. It’s fantastic.

5. Fruits Basket – This manga is a classic and been around now for ages (since 1998). What I love about this one is that the members of the family the heroine, Tohru, goes to live with are all possessed by members of the Chinese Zodiac. How random is that? And it’s such a great plot device. She becomes a positive influence on their lives and helps them break the curse that’s bestowed on them. If you need a long manga with lots of episodes, this one is for you. It goes on and on for a very long time.

4. Kyou Koi wo Hajimemasu – Plain Jane meets Cool Luke. I’ll admit that this one is hard to find and the English translation of the name, “Today our love begins”, is awful, but oh my, the hero is so fine. If you like the chiseled men in your romance go with this. It’s also one of the few shojo manga I’ve read where the couple goes all the way, and the drawing of it is enough to make you fan yourself.

3. Kimi no Todoke – The premise behind this one cracks me up. Have you seen Ringu, the original Japanese horror film that came before The Ring? The female main character in Kimi no Todoke, Sawako, looks exactly like Sadako from The Ring, so she gets called Sadako and everyone is afraid of her. But she’s super sweet and shy and totally harmless. There are so many great moments in this manga where the other characters are freaked out by her and she’s like giving them chocolate or something sweet and nice. A cool boy totally falls for her but she’s awkward and doesn’t know what to do. Totally cute and heartwarming.

2. Shinobi Life – This is the one manga that I fell in love with after the very first few pages. In fact, I named a character in the Nogiku Series, Beni, after the main character in this one. A time traveling ninja thinks that ordinary, modern-day Beni is a princess and must protect her. There’s a curse on her family and lots of time traveling back and forth between feudal Japan and modern-day Japan. It blew my mind with the craziness, but I was sooooooo in love with Kagetora, his sword, his mystery, his… *fans self* Let’s just say that it’s well worth the read!

1. Love*ComAnd finally my number ONE… Lovely Complex or Love*Com for short. This one wins first place because it’s not only romantic but it is funny as hell. I had to stop reading it in bed at night because I was waking my husband with all my giggling. Risa (I named another character in Nogiku Series after her!) is the tall girl in class and Atsushi is the short guy. Their teacher constantly jokes that they’re a comedic act like “All Hanshin Kyojin“, and, though the ribbing gets on their nerves, they manage to get along for quite some time. Then they fall for each other. This manga has the great, amazing, heart-stopping moments that make you believe in true love. I cried reading it several times because it was so perfect. You won’t be disappointed with this one.

It would be remiss of me to not point out how to read most of these. Many I bought from Amazon but there is also a great app for both iPhone, iPad, and Android called MangaStorm. It has many of the manga I’ve listed above. Read and enjoy!

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S. J. PAJONAS is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile.
Unexpected. Unique. Real.

        
  • Alessa Hinlo

    High School Debut! That’s one of my favorite shoujo manga.

    • Yes! Omg, that was such a great story 🙂 So super cute.

  • Stephanie

    I have read all of these except #3,7 and 9. All so good!! I think I’ll go check out Maid Sama now. It’s cool to find a writer who shares my first name and loves the Japanese language, culture and manga as much as I do!

    • Aaaah! I love Kimi ni Todoke. It was such a fun manga. I hear there’s a movie out based on the manga now and I have to figure out some way to watch it. If you love more Japanese culture, stick around because I’ll be publishing tons of Japanese blog posts during June, July, and August to celebrate book three in my Nogiku Series. Stay tuned!

  • shounen

    what about l-dk i love that manga so much. but ive run out of english versons and im not to good with translating it either.

  • NEW_ANIME_ADDICT

    Lovecom is the best of em all, i just can’t discribe how i felt when it ended *snif*snif* anyways..All Hanshin Kyojin will always be on my mind♡

    • It’s my favorite too! I want to go get my books out of storage and read them again. Maybe in the new year 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • FluffyUnicornsLikeKimchi

    I love Vampire Knight and Kyou Koi Wo Hajimemasu the most on this list. I think I’m going to try Shinobi Life. Thank you so much for making this list, it was so helpful!

    • I’m so glad it was helpful! I hope you enjoy all the new manga you try 🙂

  • nina

    hmm..i was surprised that skip beat! was not on the list 🙂

  • Mei chan

    Iv ever read 9 / 10 of it and u love them all

  • Aigasubetedesu

    I’ve read the mangas, but in my opinion Nana to Kaoru is the most romantic one i ever read! The main characters performing their love in such a cute way. That it is about S&M it isn’t a problem because it is no hentai at all.

    • I’ll have to find that one and check it out! Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Aigasubetedesu

        The manga still continue but if you read it there is also Nana to Kaoru: Arashi. I think you should read this after chapter 120 of the main story, it fits there very well.

  • DarkAngelz

    I completely disagree with this list. All the manga you mentioned are mainstream series that everyone knows of. Though that in itself has merit, this list completely neglects to mention any of the hidden gems that ransack the manga industry. These are also all teenage hetero love stories. Are there no boyxboy series that could compete with these series? Are there no older relationship centered series that can compete? Are there no historical romance series that can compete? Why must all the series on the list be school life teenage boyxgirl series? It’s possible that this list was indeed made with the consideration of these other types of series, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.
    Mind you this is a rant surmised from the title of this ranking, which is “top ten romantic japanese manga”… if you want to focus on shojo series, then please title your list more appropriately like: “top ten SHOJO romantic japanese manga” cause otherwise it seems much less fitting. Also, shinobi life does count as historical to some degree. Try Basara or Red River. Those two are fantastic.

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