As most of you already know, a significant portion of famous anime from Astro Boy to Naruto are based on hit manga (pronounced mahn-gah and NOT main-guh), or Japanese comics. A good percentage of anime that do adapt manga do their best to stay faithful to their source material, such as Monster, and the recent adaptations of the long-running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure saga.
Then there are some anime titles that do catch up to the manga and the studios keep the series going by giving filler episodes, which Naruto and Bleach has (in)famously done throughout its broadcast. Then, there are those that stray away from the original manga, such as the 1992 Sailor Moon series (due to premiering a month after the manga debuted, but the story behind how that happened is practically an article by itself).
And last, there are anime, such as Deadman Wonderland, that end where the manga starts getting good and that material has yet to be animated for inexcusable reasons (that subject itself would probably be a nice future list).
For this list, we will cover hit manga throughout the generations that have yet to receive any full anime adaptation.
10. Pokemon Adventures (Pokemon Special)
- Episodes: Ongoing
- Aired: 1997 – present
Everybody knows Pokemon, but what makes the Pokemon Adventure different? Tajiri Satoshi, co-creator of the original game, claims this manga is an excellent representation of the world he wants to convey through the games. In addition, its story structure allows it to follow the games more accurately.
The manga is also slightly darker than the present anime and it could appeal to more mature audiences. The current anime is great, but Adventures has a distinct flavor for the gamers and its action sequences would be great in anime form.
- Episodes: 2001 – present
- Aired: 28
From the legendary Tamura Yumi, who became famous in the 1990s through Basara, is her present masterpiece, 7SEEDS, the story of mankind trying to revive itself after an unfortunate meteor strike. With current technology now being able to anticipate such disasters, world leaders got together to create a survival plan called the Seven Seeds Project.
The plan is for each country to freeze a select few to survive the disaster (is this why Walt Disney froze himself?), with Japan creating five groups of survivors and placing them in various regions of the nation. Years pass after the incident and the groups wake up only to survive in a whole new world they do not recognize.
Despite being in publication the past fourteen years, being a hit seller and an award winning title, its only adaptations have been through radio dramas. Even though Tamura-sensei’s art style is relatively rough for the Shoujo genre, it has this very raw feel that is beautifully expressive and feminine.
Certain styles are difficult to transition to anime these days without coming across as grainy (which is the case of Slam Dunk in the 1990s with Inoue-sensei’s more realistic approach), but the expressions are very emotional. If it does get an anime, should it go the route of Parasyte and have designs that totally depart from the manga? On the plus side, the environments would look very nice with today’s HD technology.
Granted, survival stories can be found within any country’s form of art and entertainment, 7SEEDS presents something that is maternal, complex, and ultimately optimistic which has the potential to capture audiences.
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: 2006 – 2008
Want to go to a school that teaches magic? If Hogwarts isn't your cup of tea, then maybe Seinagi High School might be the place for you in this manga by Kano Yasuhiro. The main character is Kuzumi Taiga, when asked during his interview for admission if he were to have magical powers, what would he do with it, his answer was to take over the world.
As a result, he doesn't get accepted. But after some hijinks and weird circumstances when wanting reasons for his rejection, he incidentally gets accepted under the condition he cannot use magic. However, many of his classmates are under the impression his level is that of a grand wizard and is forced to keep up this charade.
Considering its sit-com like atmosphere, a lot of what happens can be more openly and effectively expressed through animation. With the right angles, panning, music cues, and seiyuu cast members, this could become a very exciting anime to watch. The characters and the consequences of their ordeals are very relatable, and the character and costume designs are simple, which makes it easy to make into an anime.
The main reason why it may never become an anime is despite its popularity with a good number of western readers, it wasn't a big hit in Japan and was cancelled.
7. Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer (Hoshi no Samidare)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: 2005 – 2010
Amemiya Yuuhi is just your average college student who wants to get through school and go onto the monotony of seeing a career salaryman. However, his life has changed for the weird when a talking lizard chooses him to save the world from an evil magician, who wants to destroy it with the almighty “biscuit hammer.” At first, Yuuhi shows no interest, but hearing that there is a princess, he does find some motivation. Things get even stranger when the princess only wants to save the world so she can destroy it herself!
The closest thing it has to an anime is a Drama CD, but with its silly, but enjoyable story and cute character designs to compliment it, it would make a very entertaining anime. Like some other manga, because this title found most of its popularity overseas as opposed to its native Japan, an anime may not be possible in the immediate future.
Considering that in the Drama CD, Yuuhi is voiced by German born Kakihara Tetsuya, also famous as, Kain Fury in Fullmetal Alchemist, Natsu in Fairy Tail, and Masato in Kyoukai no Rinne, it would be a waste of great talent. And to make things more awesome, Asahina Samidare is voiced by Mizuki Nana, the Japanese voice of Paz from the Metal Gear Solid franchise and a talented, top selling J-pop singer.
Metal Gear Solid fans have probably been exposed to her great singing through the Peace Walker song, Koi no Yokushiryoku. Imagine if she did the songs to an anime.
- Episodes: 6. Ongoing
- Aired: 2011 - Present
Despite having something that was more like a promotional animated series, considering that the manga’s length and ending sometime ago, it is time it gets a full animated adaptation. This is one of Japan’s first e-mangas, and published by the famous RPG developer, Square Enix.
Ever felt you had to put on a front to those around you? Do you ever feel like you're not the true you? Do you always feel misunderstood? This story of Hori Kyoko and Miyamura Izumi is a great story about that.
Kyoko and Izumi have this really great relationship that starts a little shakey, but has positive turns. Considering that anime has a much more marketable influence internationally as opposed to manga, a full adapted series would be great. The themes are universally relatable and people can connect to the main couple on what its like to conduct yourself around different groups of people, and finding that special person who will accept you for who you are.
- Episodes: 16
- Aired: 2007 -2010
This manga is by Iwashiro Toshiaki and tells the story of Yoshina Ageha, a “problem solver for hire” who is about to cash in what he hopes is the biggest score he has ever seen. After a mysterious call at a pay phone, he finds a business card with Psyren written on it. After a series of events, Ageha unravels the mystery of Psyren, a future of mayhem, chaos and people with psychokinesis abilities. It is up to him and his new comrades to save the world.
This series has tremendous potential as an anime because of its unique cast of characters and exciting story. It progresses at the pace appropriate to its length and the characters are very relatable. Ageha can be naïve, but he is good natured and when it counts, looks at things optimistically. I feel that at some bare minimum, the nature of the story and the character design with Ageha, is his gakuran as it pays homage to Babel II.
It would be nice to hear the characters voices chosen for them, as well as seeing some of its action sequences, the anime would be awesome with some heavy guitar riffs. Its art style can easily transition to the small screen and present special effects technology can make the abilities come to life.
4. Bloody Monday
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: 2007 – 2009
This manga is written by Ryunon Ryo and illustrated by Megumi Kouji. It tells the story about the murder of a Russian spy on Japanese soil, and the only sole clue to his death is a memory chip found in his belongings. Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency recruits Takagi Fujimaru, a teenage hacktivist who is also the son of an official within the agency to unravel this conspiracy. But once he gets in on the job, things go from bad to worse and it is up to him to stop an international crisis.
With its success as a manga, it went on to be a hit J-drama with two seasons starring Miura Haruma (from the live action Attack on Titan movies and season 3 of Gokusen) and Sato Takeru (from Rurouni Kenshin), which would later win acclaim as the Japanese version of Fox’s hit series, 24. One of the main reasons why it can work as an anime is because its art style is rather simple and friendly with modern animation technique and rendering technology.
Death Note and Monster are pure proof that anime about intense conspiracies with worldwide consequences are easy for audiences to get into. The drama is really exciting to watch, but it would be nice to see a more pure adaptation of the manga that only anime can offer.
- Episodes: Ongoing
- Aired: 1998 – present
Most famous worldwide for Slam Dunk, Inoue Takehiko takes a break from basketball and writes a historical fiction about the legendary samurai, Miyamoto Musashi. Based on the 1935 novel called Musashi by Yoshikawa Eiji, it explores the exploits of the Musashi after the historical Battle of Sekigahara. Inoue-sensei wrote this story to explore Musashi’s more vulnerable days before he became the respected warrior that would go onto write, The Book of the Five Rings.
Granted, manga and stories about Miyamoto Musashi are not at all collectively original, but Inoue-sensei makes him more wild as opposed to formal personality. Despite the portrayal of Musashi and his exploits being labeled controversial, Inoue-sensei rather embraces it and loves to challenge the mainstream. What would make this a great anime is it just has an amazing story that has been told numerous times, but feels so fresh.
In addition, it has intense action sequences that would be so awesome to some in color, motion, and under an animated moonlight. The fight with Sasaki Kojiro would be awesome to some animated. I say its biggest difficulty is its rather unique art style that is very realistic and not really in tune with more trendy big eyed styles that anime is known for.
The way that anime is colored and rendered, the design of the manga with its more Japanese oil painting influences which feels more traditional to what you see in scroll paintings, would probably not compliment each other, but you never know.
2. Yotsuba&! (Yotsubato!)
- Episodes: Ongoing
- Aired: 2003 - present
Made by Azuma Kiyohiko, the creator of the critically acclaimed Azumanga Daioh, Yotsuba&! Is a coming-of-age/comedy series about the bubbly Koiwai Yotsuba. At five years old, Yotsuba is trying to understand the world.
Why this series has not become an anime is beyond comprehension to all fans who demand for one. For some reason, Azuma-sensei claims that the style and stories are not suited for animation. However, there are reasons why fans can quickly disagree. Has he heard of Chibi Maruko-chan, one of Japan’s longest running anime series? Like Yotsuba&!, it tells episodic stories about a little girl, her friends and her family, and the art style of that series is much more simplistic!
Or maybe deep down inside, Azuma-sensei has concerns about being accused of ripping off that series? Who knows, but considering the success of the manga and that fans can see images of the character around, Akihabara, an anime adaptation has so much potential to reach audiences around the world. And I can so imagine Kaneda Tomoko, the voice of Chiyo from Azumanga Daiho, as the voice of Yotsuba. Plus, a vocaloid soundtrack could work with this anime.
1. 20th Century Boys
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: 1999-2007
This manga series is brought to you by Urusawa Naoki, also famous for Master Keaton and Monster. The series tells the story of how a group of friends who grew up in the late 1960s made up their own stories called “The Book of Prophecies.” It is about how the world will be attacked and how these group of friends will save it. 30 years later in the late 1990s, strange events are happening and everything these group of friends made stories about is now coming true. To make things worse, an L.
Ron Hubbard like cult leader named Friend has won major influence in Japan and has gotten the country to side with him, but our group of heroes know he's up to know good. Now it is up to these childhood friends to unite and Dave the world!
In addition to its hit success as a manga, it also has a hit movie trilogy directed by Tsutumi Yukihiko, who also directed live action adaptations of H2 and Kindaichi Case Files. Considering that a movie trilogy could not cover all 24 volumes and the changes to the third movie, it is only natural that it has an anime adaptation to give a faithful adaptation like Monster.
Despite the manga ending eight years ago, it has yet to have one. Considering its musical influences that the live action movie manages to convey to some minimal degree, copyright issues is a possible theory on why an anime hasn't happened. Urusawa-sensei’s simple but mature art style is very easy to transition to animation and it would be great to see some of the Prophecy events happen in motion, color, an accompanying background track and with vocal reaction. Plus, there are many capable seiyuus out there that can capture the essence of the characters, and if copyright issues can be handled, this anime could have a soundtrack that rivals all.
In addition to this list, some honorable mentions are long-lasting classics such as Lone Wolf and Cub, Worst, Azumi, Gundam Crossbones, and Life. Manga is undeniably fun to read, and anybody who visits and/or resides in Japan, knows people of all ages can be seen reading it on a train or at a local McDonald’s or Starbucks. Sometimes, in addition to just seeing it in motion, hearing a quality voice cast and an appropriate soundtrack gives it a new life.
If JoJo stayed as a manga forever (and never getting a game adaptation as well), who knows how ZA WAARUDO would have sounded like. Many manga fans feel that there are capable studios, seiyuus, and composers of making these manga work as anime. The last question is, what are your favorite manga titles (excluding story arcs from other titles that had an anime adaptation that have yet to be animated) that were not listed and have the potential be a great anime?