It’s hard to believe that 2019 is almost over; it feels like December has been going by in a blur. And not only are we approaching the end of the year, but also the end of the decade! I’ve been seeing a lot of people putting together lists of their top movies or anime of the decade and I considered doing something similar for manga, but that seemed way too ambitious, so I decided to keep it simple and put together a list of my picks for the top manga of the year instead.
For this list I only considered manga that started being released in North America in 2019. Also, this is a personal top 10 list so my selection is, obviously, limited to manga that I have personally read. If there are any great titles that you think I’ve overlooked, please be sure to let me know in the comments so that I can check out any manga gems that I might have missed out on this year.
Now without further ado, here are my top manga picks for 2019, in no particular order:
1. For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams: This is a new mystery/thriller manga series from Kei Sanbe, the mangaka of Erased. It follows Senri Nakajou as he tries to track down the man who murdered his parents and his twin brother when he was a child so that he can take revenge. It’s a dark and exciting story and each volume has kept me on the edge of my seat. If you enjoyed Erased, then this series is a must read!
2. 10 Dance: This BL series is the king of the slow burn romance! Sugiki and Suzuki are professional dancers that specialize in different styles of dance. They agree to teach each other their specialties so that they can both enter in the 10 Dance: a competition where contestants compete in both Standard Ballroom and Latin dancing. The sexual tension between these two competitive men is palpable from the start and they are drawn to each other more and more as they work together and grow closer. This is definitely my favourite new BL series to come out this year!
3. Yuri is my Job!: This manga is just plain cute! Hime is a cheerful and friendly girl who is adored by everyone, but those around her don’t realize that this is a carefully crafted act that she puts on because she wants to be liked. Hime winds up taking a job at a theme café where the waitress’s pretend to be students at an all-girls academy and put on little skits that imply that they all have romantic feelings for each other. But one of the other employees is an old friend of Hime’s who had betrayed her when they were in grade school by revealing to their classmates that Hime was always putting on an act. Will the two be able to work out their differences? And just what caused the rift between them in the first place? The little skits the girls put on while they’re working in the café are a hilarious riff on classic yuri stories, which are frequently set in prestigious all-girls schools. The real life drama going on between all the characters is also very engaging and this combination makes for a really fun series.
4. Witch Hat Atelier: With beautiful art, an interesting world and great characters, Witch Hat Atelier is one of the most charming fantasy series I’ve read in a while. The magic system, where spells are cast by drawing symbols in different combinations, is fascinating. New spells can be created by changing how a spell is drawn or by adding in new elements, and this allows for a lot of creativity in how the young protagonist and her fellow witches-in-training can solve problems. There is also an intriguing mystery element to the story, as a shadowy group of witches is constantly scheming in the background and causing trouble. I can’t wait to discover what their motivations are!
5. Aria: The Masterpiece: These are technically new editions of a series that Tokyopop had partially published years earlier, so some might not consider is a new series, but whatever. Aria is a slice-of-life manga about a group of girls who are training to become gondoliers on the terra-formed planet Mars, which has been renamed Aqua. Featuring picturesque scenery and a delightful world to explore, this is a soothing story that focuses on the simple pleasures of everyday life and I love the world-building and the gentle pacing to the story. Check out my review of the first volume for more of my thoughts on this series: Aria The Masterpiece Vol 1 Review
6. Snow White with the Red Hair: This shojo romance didn’t immediately wow me, but I found myself enjoying it more and more as new volumes were released. At this point in the story I’ve been completely won over by the series’ sweet romance and the strong and intelligent heroine. This manga just get better with each new volume and I love watching Shiroyuki work towards her goal of becoming a palace herbalist and seeing her grow closer to the Prince. You can read what I thought of the first volume here: Snow White with the Red Hair Vol 1 Review
7. Beastars: This psychological drama about anthropomorphised animals struggling with the social tensions between carnivores and herbivores has been a griping read from the first scene, which featured the murder of an herbivore student at the high school that the main characters all attend. I’ve been having a great time reviewing each volume as it’s been released and you can read my full thoughts on the first volume here: Beastars Vol 1 Review
8. Paradise Kiss 20th Anniversary Edition: This entry is another one that might be considered cheating, as this is a new edition of a series that has already been released in English twice. But this was my first time reading the series so I’m going to count it anyway. A dramatic and beautifully illustrated coming of age story, Paradise Kiss is a mature josei manga with a bitter sweet, but wholly satisfying, conclusion. You can read my full review of this classic series here: Paradise Kiss 20th Anniversary Edition Review
9. Saint Young Men: The concept behind this slice-of-life comedy is simple: What is Jesus and Buddha came to earth and got an apartment together? This hilarious buddy-comedy follows best-friends Jesus and Buddha as they enjoy every day adventures, like going to the pool or to an amusement park. It’s an amusing read and I’ve even learned some things about Buddhism and Christianity that I didn’t know before thanks to the translation notes. I plan to post a full review of the first volume later this week, so look forward to it!
10. Become You: From the creator of the hit shojo series Orange, Become You is a poignant and emotional series about teens struggling with the reality of how difficult it can be to achieve ones dreams. Only one volume has been released so far but, based on what I’ve seen, I think this is going to be just as a good a series as Orange! I’m eagerly awaiting the next volume so I can discover what’s become of these idealistic teens now that they’ve entered college and see if they’ll be able to make their dreams come true. Check out my review of the first volume here: Become You Vol 1 Review
Well, those are my top 10 picks for the new manga released in 2019. I’ll be putting together a list of my most anticipated new manga series scheduled to be released in 2020 in the near future, so look forward to that. In the meantime, what do you think of my picks? Are there any series you think I’ve overlooked? Let me know in the comments.