A classic question that comes up in the art of entertainment is which medium does someone prefer: books, or movies? Do you prefer to watch something or read about it? While there are many examples of anime out there that succeed in visually telling a story, there are also plenty of examples of manga as well. There will often be a clash as to whether the anime version of a story that originated as manga did that story justice. However, there are still a number of amazing stories in manga that have yet to be adapted into anime, especially when it comes to manga that focus on adventure.
In adventure manga, the character or characters begin what may be a long journey either to aimlessly explore the world they live in or in pursuit of something that means everything to them. As the adventure unfolds, the character(s) visit many places, meet new people, encounter trials of various sorts, or discover new things about themselves, such as new abilities, certain weaknesses, and who they truly are, good and bad. Many of the best adventure manga (whether adapted to anime or not) successfully have these elements in their story in a way that makes the reader feel a range of emotions as well as get sucked into the adventure themselves. Here are the Top 10 Adventure Manga.
10. Vinland Saga (Vinrando Saga)
- Mangaka: Yukimura, Makoto
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Historical, Seinen
- Volumes: 18
- Published: 2005 – ongoing
Thorfinn may be among the best fighters in Askeladd’s band of mercenaries, but his reasons are not for the joys of killing and fighting in war, but rather to kill Askeladd himself in a fair duel. However, Thorfinn does not yet possesses the skills to defeat him; as a result, Thorfinn spends his boyhood honing his skills on the battlefield among the Danes. However, when Askeladd receives word that Canute, the Danish prince, has been taken hostage, he comes up with a scheme that soon puts himself, Canute, and Thorfinn on a course that will decide the next King of England as well as change their lives forever.
Set in 11th century Europe, Vinland Saga is violent to say the least. With its overarching arc of Thorfinn’s desire for revenge turning into redemption, an emotionally driven cast of characters, and being firmly grounded in realism, one would not be surprised to see comparisons of this manga to Game of Thrones. The amount of bloodshed and violent fights that takes place are perfect for those that love to fight and torturous for everyone else just trying to survive. However, there is certainly a strong sense of adventure as we are introduced to the world, the motivations behind the main cast of characters, and the journeys they go on to wage war in what they believe to be are the right reasons. The journeying may be war based, but it still proves to be adventurous in the sense that you never know what’s going to happen at the next battle.
9. Until Death Do Us Part (Shi ga Futari wo Wakatsu Made)
- Mangaka: Song, Ji-Hyung (Art), Takashige, Hiroshi (Story)
- Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Seinen
- Volumes: 26
- Published: 2005 - 2015
With the power to read the future granted to a special few known as “Precogs”, it’s no surprise that those in power will seek out Precogs no matter what. When it becomes known to a certain organization that a young girl known as Tohyama Haruka has these gifts, she turns to a blind swordsman named Hijikata Mamoru in order to protect her, who agrees in the direst of circumstances. But the lengths that Mamoru will go in order to do this will put his skills to the test…
Mamoru, Haruka, and Mamoru’s tech-savvy friend Igawa end up travelling together as they try to protect innocent people, do odd jobs from time to time, and avoid the organization after Haruka. The journey-man style of adventuring mainly comes through in this aspect. A lot of the story is based on events tied to the plot as opposed to the characters driving it, as Igawa tends to be a smart-ass with his quips, Mamoru tries to come off as the badass (mainly since he does most of the fighting), and Haruka is your typical middle school girl apart from the whole “reading the future” aspect. Still, with their encounters as well as the art style used to convey the story, Until Death Do Us Part does succeed in the end in delivering a solid adventure where the characters experience growth throughout.
8. Tower of God (Sin-ui Tap)
- Mangaka: Jong-hui, Lee
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery
- Volumes: 2 (currently)
- Published: 2010 - ongoing
Twenty-Fifth Bam is a young boy who has been trapped underneath a mysterious tower his entire life. Living in a cave all alone, his only friend is the girl that comes to visit him, Rachel. When Bam goes searching for her one day, he is able to find a door that leads him into the Tower, where Bam soon learns that only by climbing the Tower will he receive answers…
While this may be a South Korean webtoon, the sense of adventure one feels as Bam climbs the Tower, starts learning what exactly is going on, and meets other people climbing the Tower can’t be ignored. With a vast world present on every floor Bam reaches, it becomes apparent that there is more out there than Ba could ever have imagined, and we find ourselves rooting for Ba and friends to ascend as well as wondering what they will find on the next floor as well as how to get there all the way to the top. As this is currently ongoing, it’ll be interesting to see what happens at the conclusion.
7. Lone Wolf & Cub (Kozure Ookami)
- Mangaka: Koike, Kazuo (Story), Kojima, Goseki (Art)
- Genres: Action, Historical, Samurai, Seinen
- Volumes: 28
- Published: 1970 - 1976
Ittou Ogami was once the Shogunate's chief executioner, but that soon ceases when he is framed for treason by Yagyuu Clan, who covets Ittou’s position. Disgraced, Ittou’s life only takes a turn for the worse when his entire family, including his wife Azami, is murdered, with the exception of his only child, Daigorou. Nowhere else to turn, Ittou becomes an assassin for hire as he travels the countryside with his son, seeking the complete annihilation of the Yagyuu Clan…
It is due to the travelling that Ittou and his son undergo that the “Lone Wolf & Cub” moniker comes about. More importantly, it is due to the travelling that we get to see an in-depth look into Ittou and his son as well as the other characters they meet. Don’t let the fact that this manga was written in the 70’s fool you. With a complex story as well as some long action sequences, Lone Wolf and Cub will ride the roller coaster of emotion as it reaches its end, but its most definitely a roller coaster worth riding.
6. Pluto (Puruutou)
- Mangaka: Urasawa, Naoki (Story & Art), Tezuka, Osamu (Story)
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2003 -2009
If you’re a fan of Monster, then Pluto should be right up your alley. Gesicht, a Europol detective, tries to uncover the mystery behind the murder of 1 of the 7 most powerful robots in the world. As he progresses in the case and a string of recent robot and human deaths occurrs, however, it soon becomes apparent (and puzzling) that the suspect behind the murders may be a robot, something that hasn't occurred in years. As Gesicht seeks to bring the murderer(s) to justice, the very nature of robots and humans as well as the recent war starts to come into play…
One of the unique aspects of this particular manga is the fact that this story is based off of a story arc from Osamu Tezuka's Tesuwan Atom, otherwise known as Astro Boy. Even though there are strong sci-fi and thriller aspects to the story, the sense of adventure is still there as Geischt travels to meet a wide cast of people. It may not be the same type of adventure as others on this list may be, but it certainly is up there in terms of making you want to know what happens at the end of the journey.
5. Cage of Eden (Eden no Ori)
- Mangaka: Yamada, Yoshinobu
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Ecchi, Fantasy, Shounen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2008 - 2013
A group of classmates are travelling on a plane that all of a sudden crashes on an island. As the survivors come to, they soon realize the island is inhabited by monsters thought to have been extinct. As some of the classmates are eaten alive, others kill each other in order to survive and the rest try to escape from the island, one thing seems to be certain: death is the only escape.
Similar to LOST and High School of the Dead, Cage of Eden’s sense of adventure lies in the fact that survival is #1. It’s not so much in the style of “travelling from one place to the next” but rather the “what’s going to happen next?” aspect. The fact that we see multiple students killed early on makes it pretty clear that not everyone is going to live, and with each attempt to get off the island failing, you start to wonder what exactly is going to work. Maybe not an adventure in the “traditional” sense, but certainly one that shakes things up in the genre.
4. I Am A Hero (Ai Amu a Hiirou)
- Mangaka: Hanazawa, Kengo
- Genres: Action, Drama, Horror
- Volumes: 21
- Published: 2009 - ongoing
Hideo Suzuki, a 35 year old mangaka, is forced to become a mangaka’s assistant when his own series fails due to low sales. He also comes to realize that his girlfriend may be cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend as well as how mundane his life is overall. However, Hideo decides to visit his girlfriend’s house to apologize for his inquisition. Only to slowly realize that the world has infected with a disease that turns people into homicidal maniacs that attack the first thing they see…
There’s certainly a difference between an adventure you choose to go on and an adventure you’re forced to go on, and I Am A Hero is definitely a combination of both of those themes. As Hideo struggles to survive, he encounters people on his journey that will join him, helping him grow as a person. Unfortunately Hideo has to make tough moral choices as things get more dangerous and sacrifices have to be made. Definitely an ongoing manga worth checking out.
3. Psyren (Sairen)
- Mangaka: Iwashiro, Toshiaki
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Romance, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Super Power, Supernatural, Psychological
- Volumes: 16
- Published: 2007 - 2010
Ageha Yoshina is your typical high school student who one day finds a strange calling card with the word "Psyren" on it and decides to keep it. The next day, Ageha discovers that his classmate, Sakurako Amamiya, has the exact same calling card, and realizes something is wrong when Sakurako goes missing. In order to figure out what happened to her, he calls the number provided on the calling card, ultimately hearing a mysterious voice ask him: "Would you like to go to Psyren?" Thus begins a life or death game within a strange world known as "Taboo." Granted psychic powers known as "PSI," the duo must use these abilities to fight in order to return home…
Definitely an adventure in the sense of a larger scope that is developed throughout the story. The manga first begins in your typical high school setting, only to shift dramatically multiple times, very much keeping in line with anime such as Hunter x Hunter and Bleach. If you’re into the type of adventure where things can radically shift into something completely different, this would be the go-to manga.
2. Dragonball (Doragon Booru)
- Mangaka: Toriyama, Akira
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Martial Arts, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Super Power
- Volumes: 42
- Published: 1984 - 1995
Son Goku was living alone in the mountains when one day he encounters a high school girl named Bulma Briefs, who is looking for something called a “Dragon Ball”. According to legend, if all 7 Dragon Balls are collected, Shenron the Eternal Dragon can be summoned to grant the user one wish. As luck would have it, Goku possesses the 4 Star Dragon Ball, but refuses to part with it, as he believes the spirit of his Grandpa still resides in it. Bulma is able to strike a deal with Goku where she’ll “borrow” it once she’s collected the rest and Goku can travel the world with her to help find them. Thus beginning one of the greatest known adventures in manga…
If you’re a manga fan, chances are at some point or another you’ve read this story, and if you haven’t, then you’re missing out. Before Dragon Ball Z became what it’s known as today, it started out as a modern retelling of the Chinese legend “Journey to the West”. With Goku being super strong and possessing a unique weapon and Bulma having incredible tech skills as well as numerous gadgets, they’re able to overcome many obstacles, obtain new items (as well as Dragon Balls), and make new friends along the way as they try to summon the Dragon. As cool as the rest of the story is, there’s something to be said about the 1st original adventure that led to many more adventures in the series.
1. One Piece (Wan Piisu)
- Mangaka: Oda, Eiichiro
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Shounen, Super Power
- Volumes: 83 (currently)
- Published: 1997 - ongoing
Gol D Roger was the Pirate King, the strongest pirate to have ever sailed the Grand Line. When he was finally hung from the gallows, his final words sparked a new age of piracy as many raced to be the first to find One Piece, Gol D Roger’s treasure. Years later, a teenager would set out on his own exciting adventure to meet new people, form his own crew, and become King of the Pirates. That pirate’s name? Monkey D Luffy.
The standard definition of an adventure manga, One Piece has everything you would hope for and more in an adventure. As you travel with Luffy as he forms his crew, you encounter so many different kinds of people, animals, weird powers, unique items, and a complete variety of places. It also helps that as Luffy’s crew slowly builds, you get to see growth in all of the crew members while at the same time continue to experience what makes them special, be it their humor, insight, abilities, and so on, leading to a wide range of emotions throughout the story. The fact that this adventure started in 1995 and is still on-going almost all but guarantees that this will go down as the biggest adventure manga ever written, and it couldn’t be a better adventure. It will truly be a shame when the adventure finally comes to a close.
Adventure manga tends to be the gateway for a lot of manga (and anime fans), and for good reason. Many fans eventually develop different tastes and begin to explore the more thought-provoking manga in other genres or wish to read about simple everyday situations set in familiar settings. Yet the chances are that all of that began with the thrill of going on a journey not knowing who you’ll meet, what you’ll find, or what will generally happen. There will be plenty of amazing adventure manga to come. For the time being, however, here are the Top 10 Adventure manga. What are your guys’ thoughts? Do you agree with the #1 choice? Should FMA have made this list? Is there another manga you would have liked to see on this list? Let us know in the comments!