Manga Starter Pack: 8 Super Short Manga for New Readers

So you want to get into Manga but you simply don’t know where to start? You browse around the net and look into dozens of articles, but none of them seems to be what you are looking for? 

If that describes who you are, then you’ve arrived at the right place. I’ve been reading manga for more than two decades so I believe I know what it is that you new readers want and need. I’ve prepared several titles that I think you would certainly enjoy in this manga starter pack. But before that, let’s get several things straight.

First, all of the titles below are single-volume manga. I believe as a new reader to the medium, there’s no need for you to commit both your precious time and money to a long series that you might not enjoy. So let’s start slow and try to read one short manga at a time.  

Second, manga is divided into four big demographics. Shounen for teenage boys, shoujo for teenage girls, seinen for adult men, and finally josei for adult women. Therefore, I also divided the titles below into these four demographics. 

No matter how long you’ve been living on this earth, I believe you’d find your demographics within these four categories. Can you read beyond your demographics? Yes, of course, you can. In fact, I urge you to do so. But as a newbie, I believe it is best to start with something closer to you. 

And one more thing, there will be affiliate links for each titles below. This means if you decided to purchase a manga from the provided links, there will be a small bonus for me, at no additional cost to you.

Alright then, with that out of the way, let’s get to the list. 

A. Shounen

The mark of a shounen manga is usually the tale of friendship, adventure, and lots of action. The pace is usually quite fast while the story tends to be straightforward. If you want something to pass the time, you won’t go wrong with a shounen manga.

1. Sandland by Akira Toriyama

Sandland cover mangadigest

In the barren desert world of Sandland where all kinds of species live and starve together, an old sheriff goes on a journey with Beelzebub, the prince of demon, in search of a mystical lake. 

This is a short story from the mind behind one of the best shounen manga ever written, Dragon Ball. And as such, Sandland has all the elements that make Dragon Ball great. It is an action-adventure manga with great worldbuilding, action sequences, quirky characters, and a dash of humor.

You can easily immerse yourself into the world of Sandland and lose track of time. This is a lighthearted story that could be enjoyed by everybody. 

You could read my full review of Sandland here and click here for the Amazon page.

2. Laughter at the world’s end by Yellow Tanabe

Laughter at worlds end cover mangadigest

When a demon appeared years ago, it left its curse to thousands of people. It gives power to them while also cursing their body with its mark. A pair of siblings, one of whom was also cursed, travel from town to town as a bounty hunter to kill those who bear the mark of the demon.

This one is a stark contrast to the previous one. It is a much more serious, contained, and somber story. Yet it still retains the excitement that has become the trademark of a shounen manga. 

Although it’s not as flashy as Sandland, this manga also has its fair share of action sequences and funny moments, which brings a nice change of pace.

Click here to visit the Amazon page.

B. Shoujo

Shoujo manga is usually all about drama, romance, and also friendship. Similar to Shounen, the pace is also pretty fast and the story usually has a clear-cut feel to it. If you want to kill some time while enjoying all the feels at the same time, then a Shoujo manga is your friend.

1. Utahime by Aki

Utahime mangadigest

To keep the kingdom from falling into despair and raging war with its neighbors like it used to, a system was created in which a songstress from all regions of the kingdom would sing together every day. 

The songstress was always a woman and it is a position inherited by a daughter from her mother. That is until the news broke out that one of the songstresses is actually a man. 

Utahime has one of the most peculiar premises of a manga that I’ve ever read. And I can gladly say that it is one of the most interesting Shoujo manga as well. Not only the premise, but also the character, the story progression, and the world are all interesting. 

The atmosphere of Utahime is somewhat similar to the Laughter at the World’s End, somber and subdued with a heavy undertone to it. 

Click here to visit the Amazon page.

2. All my darling daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga

All my darling daughters mangadigest

All my darling daughters is a collection of loosely connected short stories about a mother, her daughter, friendship, and also romance. This is a sweet, slice-of-life story with dramas that you’d find in your everyday life.

This is, by all means, a grown-up tale. You will find lots of relatable elements in this manga. You might even know people in your life with the same life story as some of these tales.

But despite the theme, settings, and characters, story-wise it is still truly a shoujo manga. It is a heart-warming tale of life, love, and relationship that deserves and needs to be read not only by teenage girls but also by everybody out there. 

This is an easy-going manga with a profound message behind it. A great book to read while chilling under the spring breeze.

Click here to visit the Amazon page.

C. Seinen

The story in Seinen tends to be a tad more complex than that of a Shounen. And it usually took some time to build the pace. Not only that, there will be some content that is only suitable for adults, such as nudity, sex, violence, etc. Not to say that all Seinen have that tag, but more often than not, it will exist to some degree. 

1. Domu by Katsuhiro Otomo

Domu mangadigest

In a big housing complex in the suburb, there have been more than twenty mysterious deaths over the span of three years. The residents live in constant terror while the authorities are baffled by the lack of concrete evidence. 

Nobody realizes how one of the least suspected tenants is actually the perpetrator. And the bad guy himself would never imagine how a newcomer to the building would ruin his life forever. 

This manga was created by Katsuhiro Otomo before he wrote his masterpiece, Akira. There are lots of elements from Domu that would, later on, appear on Akira. The thrill, the mystery, the mind-blowing action sequences, and of course, the gripping tale that would keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish.

It is an exciting read that was beautifully drawn and you won’t be able to put down this book once you start reading it.

Click here to visit the Amazon page.

2. Tropic of the sea by Satoshi Kon

Tropic of the sea mangadigest

On a small island on the outskirts of Japan, there’s a crystal ball-like item that is enshrined in a temple. The legend says that it is a mermaid’s egg and the villager is supposed to protect it for 60 years in exchange for a bountiful sea. 

None of the villagers actually believe such a thing. That’s why most of them agree with the plan to modernize the village even if it means destroying a crucial part of the temple. And that is when the sea began to rage. 

Satoshi Kon is the director of some of the best anime movies ever made, such as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and more. In his spare time, he also creates equally impressive manga, such as this one. 

Compared to Domu, Tropic of the sea is a slow-burn thriller that would take its time in reeling you into its mystic and mystery. 

Just like every other story from Satoshi Kon, this manga also walks the thin line between fantasy and reality. You won’t know what it is actually about until after you turn the last page. 

Click here for the Amazon page.

For more titles, check out my ten single-volume seinen manga recommendation.

D. Josei

A Josei manga usually talks about some heavy things in life that an adult woman has to face. Marriage, grief, work environment, etc. But just like a Seinen, the degree to which some of those things appear might be different from one title to the next. Another similarity is the complexity of the story and the pace that tends to be a slow burn.

1. My Broken Mariko by Waka Hirako

my broken mariko cover mangadigest

My Broken Mariko is the story of how Shiino Tomoyo deal with the loss, grief, and guilt of the suicide of her best friend, Mariko. It is a very raw and emotional journey of Shiino as she tries to bring Mariko’s ashes to the one place that they haven’t got the chance to visit, the sea.

The story of Shiino and Mariko is one that is all too familiar to us. I’m sure there might be some of you who know people that lead a similar life to them. That’s why the story is that much more devastating because of how relatable it is. 

This heart-wrenching debut manga from Waka Hirako would grab your foot and slowly drag you into the abyss. You would still relive the story and the moments in My Broken Mariko, long after you closed the book.

Click here for the full review of My Broken Mariko and click here for the Amazon page.

2. Haru’s curse by Asuka Konishi

harus curse cover mangadigest

Haru’s curse also talks about the feeling of loss and guilt of a loved one, but unlike My Broken Mariko, it is also a story about relationships and romance. 

Haru has been fighting against her illness for a long time, but unfortunately, she died. Leaving behind her sister and her fiance. As it was an arranged marriage between the two families, her sister is now forced to take her place as the new lover for her fiance. 

This manga was initially published in two volumes in Japan, but it was published as one omnibus volume for its English version. As you might expect from the premise, there is lots of drama and conflict within this story.

Although it is not as strong and straightforward as My Broken Mariko, Haru’s curse is also a highly relatable manga that would play around with your emotion. Another fine read to keep you company through the lonely time.

Click here for the Amazon page.

When you look for “manga recommendations for beginners”, I’m sure you’ve come across lists that are more grandiose than the one that you are currently reading. They named some of the most popular manga in history and they also boast a greater number of items. 

10, 20, and even 50 manga for newbies…

In the face of such fierce competition, you might ask yourself why you should pay any attention to a list with a measly 8 titles like this. 

Well, for your first foray into a new kind of cuisine, I think it should be a carefully curated full course meal, rather than an all-you-can-eat mukbang, don’t you agree?

All of the titles in this list are some of my personal favorites. I carefully selected each and every single one of them because I believe they are interesting, different, and most of all, representative of what’s great about both the demographics and manga as a whole.

I wish for at least one of them to turn a non-reader into a new reader. If this list could do that, then I am more than satisfied. 

So, have you read any of this title? If so, then please tell us what you think about it in the comment section below. Or maybe you have a recommendation for beginners that suits the spirit of this list? If so, then please, do tell us. 

This article is a part of a larger series of articles that focused on new manga readers. If you are totally new to this medium, then please check out this article where I talk about things that you need to know before reading a manga.

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