As a serialized storytelling medium, it is natural for a manga to run for a huge number of volumes. That’s why finding a short and sweet manga with a captivating story could be a great challenge.
Below are some of the best super short Seinen Manga from 10 different genres, which means you could expect some complex and engaging storytelling here. And since it’s seinen, it is aimed predominantly for adults.
Seinen is usually reserved for men, but I think I’ve compiled a rather universal list here. So I hope you ladies could enjoy these titles as well.
But if you plan to give one of these titles to your little ones, well, don’t.
And one more thing, there will be affiliate links for every title below. Those links would take you directly either to the relevant Amazon or RightStufAnime page. If you decide to buy the manga through the links, there will be a small bonus for me, at no additional cost to you.
Anyway, let us begin!
1. All You Need Is Kill by Takeuchi Ryousuke & Takeshi Obata – Action
Keiji has been relieving the same day, the same week, over and over again. For some reason, he is stuck in a time loop. Within a day that begins by waking up in a barracks and over in a blood bath, killed by spike-spouting monsters, he needs to find a way to find answers to this endless misery.
Have you ever seen the SciFi Tom Cruise’s movie called “The Edge of Tomorrow”? That movie was adapted from a Japanese novel by Sakurazaka Hiroshi called All You Need is Kill. Well, this is a much more faithful manga adaptation of that same novel.
The time travel, the monster, the blood, the violence, the powered suit, the subtle romance, and the colossal axe, everything is here. It is not an exaggeration to say that this version is far superior than the movie version.
2. The Book Of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka – Classic
A group of students encounter a mysterious tree deep within an island on the outskirt of Japan. They experience lots of odd occurrences there, but the strangest of them all is the fact that they now wield supernatural powers. Powers beyond their wildest dreams and it would soon destroy their life.
This work of the legendary mangaka, Osamu Tezuka, is a story filled with ambitions, betrayals, and regrets. The Euphrates Tree manages to balance its supernatural aspect with the human drama in a compact story.
And for those of you who’ve seen a movie called “Chronicle”, well, the story of that movie is eerily similar to this manga.
3. Domu by Katsuhiro Otomo – Horror
There’s been a string of unsolved deaths in a public housing complex for the past few years. Nobody realizes that one of their least suspected tenants has been using a supernatural power to spread fears among the people. That is until a new tenant comes in and makes his life miserable.
Domu is a manga made by Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira. As such, you will see lots of resemblances between them both. The supernatural powers, the violence, blood, destruction, grand action sequences, all of it is like some kind of a foreshadowing for Akira that is yet to come at the time.
The main difference between both works is the tone and the atmosphere. This one feels more creepy and suspenseful than Akira. I wonder why nobody ever tried to make a movie out of it yet. Or at least an anime. It would look awesome on a big screen.
This is the link to the Amazon page for Domu.
4. Tropic Of The Sea by Satoshi Kon – Thriller
There’s a legend about a mermaid’s egg in a Japanese rural village. They say that a mermaid asked the people of the village to take care of her egg for sixty years. In exchange, she would present the bountiful sea to them.
Is it true? Or is it simply a silly myth? So, is it safe to destroy the mermaid shrine and build a resort on top of it? Would she and the sea retaliate for her missing egg?
Satoshi Kon is a renowned director that has created classic anime movies such as Paprika and Perfect Blue. And this is one of his early manga that feels just as amazing and suspenseful as his motion pictures.
Once you open up this book, your eyes will be glued to this suspenseful mystery.
5. Memories Of Emanon by Kajio Shinji & Tsuruta Kenji – SciFi
Memories of Emanon is about a conversation between a college student and a woman who holds the memories of living for six billion years on earth.
Have you ever seen one of those “walk and talk” movies? Such as “Before Sunrise” or “Midnight In Paris”? Those types of movies focus more on the conversations more than anything. Well, Memories of Emanon is the manga version of such movies.
The two characters would talk about history, science, fiction, psychology, philosophy, and many more while sitting and walking around a moving cruise ship. If you want a relaxing read to kill some time, this is the best one for you.
6. Onwards Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki – History
This is the story about the post-world war II Japan captured in two different parts, decades apart. One is months after the atomic bomb hit the land. One is set in modern Japan.
The first one is about the life of a family that is still struggling to lead a decent life amidst the unknown disease caused by the radiation of the bomb. The second one is about a man who survives those terrible tragedies yet still can’t seem to heal the scar and sadness of that fateful day.
Most of the story regarding the event that takes place after the end of world war II is mainly about the success story of how Japan rose back from the ashes. But this manga is one of the few that actually shows how terrible the situation really was for the common people at the time.
7. The God’s Lie by Ozaki Kaori – Romance
A cheerful boy meets an aloof girl. They are both middle schoolers in the same school but rarely have the chance to talk to each other. The boy starts to hang out with the girl and her little brother in their house.
Apparently, they both live in a rundown house. Apparently, they both live alone with no adults in sight. Apparently, there’s a skeleton buried in their backyard.
As you can see, this is not your ordinary boy-meet-girl kind of romance. This is a much more deeper and depressing story than what you might’ve accustomed to. It’s about parents, children, life, death, love, and survival.
8. Solanin by Asano Inio – Tragedy
Solanin is the story about a young couple and their brave decisions to finally pursue their dream amidst the busy and boring city life. This is about their journey, their struggle, their hope, and their tragedy.
As you might expect from the genre tag, it is a tragedy. But it doesn’t mean everything gonna end in a bad way. So if you’re worried that you would read something with a bad ending, well, don’t you worry about a thing. It ended the same way as it started. But you would certainly feel your heart wrecked along the way.
Asano Inio is a master in depicting the charm in a mundane everyday life. His works manage to capture the hearts of regular people living in this modern life. And that’s why his works are so damn relatable. Well, most of them.
9. Disappearance Diary by Hideo Azuma – Autobiography
This is the autobiographical manga recounting the three stages in the life of the author. His first time being homeless, his second time being homeless, and finally his time at the rehab as an alcoholic.
As an author who works mainly on the comedy genre Hideo Azuma chose to depict this depressing story in a rather lighthearted manner.
There are times when he has to sleep with a tattered blanket underneath a tree, times when he has to rummage through other people’s trash just to find food, and also times when he hallucinates because of alcoholism. All of it is depict through a tinted lenses of comedy.
This is a manga about a man who’s overworked, depressed, and struggling to find some sort of balance and peace in his life. This is a very relatable story and I believe everybody should read it at least once in their life.
10. A Journal Of My Father by Jiro Taniguchi – Slice of life
After 15 years, Yoichi finally came back to his hometown for his father’s funeral. He’s never close to his father. His mother left them when he was a child and he always blamed his father for it.
But that night, accompanied by the people that were close to them and knew his father very well, he began to hear stories about his father. He finally sees for the first time what his father went through and what actually happened between his parents decades ago.
This is a story that would be very familiar to most people. The feeling of not coming back to your hometown for a long time and not being really close with your parents, I bet lots of people have that kind of experience.
This manga would show you the post-world war II life of the Japanese people and how different the world would look from the eyes of an adult and the point of view of a young child. Read more.
Because this list consists of titles that come from different genres, I believe this could be a good starting point for those of you who’s still fairly new to manga.
Using this list as your starting set, you could easily explore different directions that a manga could take you. If you find yourself gravitating towards a certain genre, then you could dive deeper into that one. Manga has all kinds of stories that I believe you would love no matter what your preference.
If you want to start with something a bit broader, then I suggest you read my article on manga recommendations for new readers. You would find recommended titles from four different demographics there.
This is the first part of a short manga recommendation series. You could read the second part, this time aimed for the Josei (women) audience, by clicking here. Also read, top 12 manga box sets you should have in your collection.