The anime world often spoils us with adaptations of the best manga, allowing readers to experience the series all over again. Nowadays, it feels like every great series has been lined up for an anime. However, we’ve uncovered these best manga that don’t have an anime yet.
Whether you’re looking to get ahead of the game or simply find a new story to dive into, these relatively hidden gems are definitely worth checking out!
Dandadan is one of those great series that blends action and comedy perfectly, making it a really easy series to binge-read.
The series starts with an argument between Momo and Ken; Momo believes that ghosts are real but not aliens, while Ken believes the opposite.
To settle their debate, they both seek to disprove each other’s beliefs, only to find out that both ghosts and aliens exist.
What follows is a shounen series full of both supernatural and sci-fi elements along with plenty of comedy between the two stars.
Dandadan, despite being a relatively new series, has received glowing praise from fans and critics alike. Many people believe an anime adaptation is a matter of when, not if, and when it arrives, its bound to be huge!
There have been fans calling for an adaptation of Yotsuba to for years. However, the mangaka Kiyohiko Azuma (who also created Azumanga Daioh) believes that the unique atmosphere of this charming slice-of-life would be lost, hence no adaptation yet for this great series.
The series follows the fun-filled adventures of Yotsuba Koiwai, a young girl living in a new city. The chapters follow her and her friends on various small adventures as the child discovers the world.
As you can imagine, it’s a story filled with all the charm and innocent laughs you would expect.
While not as popular internationally as more mainstream action shonen titles, Akane-banashi has won over a wave of domestic fans already, despite only launching in February 2022.
The rakugo-based story follows the daughter of a popular but ultimately unsuccessful rakugo performer. In an old-fashioned, male-dominated industry, young and fashionable Akane Osaki is determined to avenge her father and achieve the success that he deserved.
While rakugo doesn't immediately strike people as a popular subject, it is well-trodden ground thanks to hugely successful anime such as Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and Joshiraku.
Akane-banashi has already received great reviews, so expect to see this become a hugely popular anime series in the future!
The Horizon is technically a Korean webtoon, created by Ji-Hoon Jeong. However, given the growing popularity of webtoons and recent anime adaptations, there are growing calls to see what is classed as one of the medium’s masterpieces on the silver screen.
The dark tragedy takes place in a world ravaged by war. Surrounded by rubble and the bodies of the dead, a boy and girl walk together across a long, empty road towards the horizon.
The story is relatively short but incredibly poignant and touching. If there is ever an animated version announced, it’ll be a very emotional journey.
Blue Box is one of Shonen Jump's freshest series, combining a traditional sports story with teen romance.
The series follows Taiki, a middling badminton player, and his upperclasswoman Chinatsu, a popular basketball star.
A twist of fate forces Chinatsu to move in with Taiki's family as her parents leave the country, and Taiki is determined to get closer to her by matching her ambition to get himself to the nationals.
Blue Box has been nominated for various upcoming manga awards since it was first published in 2021. It has also garnered a strong international following on MANGA Plus, and rumours abound about an anime adaptation already being planned.
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey
Akiko Higashimura is a popular mangaka behind the cult classic anime Princess Jellyfish. However, many fans argue that her best work is this autobiographical tale about a young girl forging her manga career.
Kakukaku Shikajika follows a young Akiko Hayashi who has very detailed dreams about writing manga in high school and marrying her favourite voice actor.
However, joining an art class led by the hardline Kenzou Hidaka, who has no interest in manga, opens her eyes to new challenges.
Many readers see Blank Canvas as a more realistic and heartfelt version of the hugely popular shonen Bakuman.
Perhaps now is the perfect time for a new, female-led anime series about the hopes and realities many people experience in their relationship with manga and anime.
Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty
This shoujo manga is a new, modern retelling of the classic fairytale with added supernatural elements. It’s a wonderful blend of romance and the supernatural that would make for a truly beautiful anime if ever created.
Tetsu Misato is a young, timid boy who takes a job as a cleaner in a famous mansion at the top of a hill. While there, he meets Shizu Karasawa, a young girl living alone in a small building at the end of the garden.
Tetsu and Shizu get to know each other, and Tetsu slowly learns about the mysterious illness that leaves Shizu confined to her building. When strange supernatural phenomena begin to happen to Shizu, Tetsu’s left wondering how much he really knows her.
The series is quite small, spanning only 26 chapters. That’s perhaps one reason why no anime has been created yet. Still, we can live in the hope that more great shoujo manga get adaptations in future!
The Summer Hikaru Died
Despite having only three volumes and only being released in English in 2023, The Summer Hikaru Died is arguably the hottest new manga outside of Shonen Jump right now.
The horror romance follows two teenage boys, quiet Yoshiki and lively Hikaru, who are close friends in a rural Japanese town; Except that the Hikaru we see isn't Hikaru at all but a mysterious monster that has replaced him following a mysterious accident in the mountains.
Desperate to stay with his friend, Yoshiki agrees to play along with the monster's act and let him experience human life. However, the deeper Yoshiki gets involved, the weirder and more dangerous the situation becomes.
With artwork citing Tokyo Ghoul as an inspiration, Mokumokuren's debut work has gone viral across manga communities in Japan, China and now the US. After topping the iconic 'Kono Manga ga Sugoi!' manga list in 2023, this series is definitely on track for anime stardom.
Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare
Shimanami Tasogare is one of the very best, and as Japan and the world opens up a little more, perhaps we’ll see this story given some light in future.
Our Dreams at Dusk follows Tasuku Kaname, a high-school student considering suicide due to fear of being exposed as gay. However, when he sees someone jump off a building and survive, he is knocked out of his thinking.
Tasuku ends up forming a relationship with the person, known as Anonymous – a non-binary individual that runs a meeting house for people with similar problems.
The series is an exploration of various issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces. With a host of characters from across the spectrum, this touching seinen manga shines a spotlight on lived experiences.
Spirit Circle is another of those manga that is easy to overlook, but when you dig deeper, actually contains so much more than the sum of its parts.
This action-comedy follows Fuuta – a boy with a birthmark on his cheek who can see ghosts – and Kouko, a girl with a scar on her forehead accompanied by a ghost.
Kouko declares Fuuta to be her sworn enemy and attacks him with a weapon known as the Spirit Circle. After previous incarnations of himself flash before his eyes, Fuuta is tasked with discovering his and Kouko’s shared past to understand why they are enemies in the present.
The series was nominated for one of Japan’s biggest science-fiction awards in 2017 alongside the acclaimed and already adapted manga Erased.
Spirit Circle has been praised for its entertainment value but also a deep and complex plot that engages even the most experienced sci-fi readers.
Umarekawatte mo Mata
There’s something special about romance stories that make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Umarekawattemo Mata, Watashi to Kekkon shitekuremasu ka (Will you marry me again if you are reborn?) is one of the best examples of this and would surely make for an incredible anime experience.
The story is told by an elderly couple as the husband, Toranosuke, is bedridden in a hospital. He and his wife, Kaoru, reminisce about their life spent in love with each other, from childhood sweethearts through to adulthood. As their time nears the end, the question is asked, but they both know the answer is a resounding yes.
Almost everybody who has read this manga says that they cried after every chapter. You can’t help but feel this would make for a special 13-episode anime at some point in the future.
Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You
One of the most exciting seinen manga of the last few years, Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You offers an identity-shifting twist on the classic worker's romance with genuine adult leads.
Sasaki is a salaryman ground down by his work for an exploitative company. However, he finds salvation in the cheery demeanour of a cashier at the local supermarket named Yamada.
After arriving late and missing Yamada's shift, he is invited to the smoking area around the back of the store by Tayama, a confident and mischievous woman who noticed Sasaki's affection for the cute cashier.
Unbeknownst to Sasaki, Tayama and Yamada are the same person. Initially annoyed that Sasaki didn't recognise her without her uniform, Yamada decides to play on his obliviousness.
Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You won the Next Manga Award's Web Manga category in 2022, following in the footsteps of Kaiju No. 8, The Dangers in My Heart and Spy x Family, all of which have since received anime adaptations.
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