With hundreds of new manga titles released each year, some titles capture the hearts of readers, break into the mainstream and sell millions of copies, while others crash and burn almost instantly into fleeting oblivion.
It is easy to overlook some amazing titles from the past with international hits like "The Promised Neverland" or "Sword Art Online" produced every year. Still, to me, it would be a huge shame if the next generation of otaku (Japan nerds/geeks) missed out on the countless great anime, manga, and video games from previous decades.
At the risk of sounding like an old geezer, I feel it’s part of my duty to pass on essential manga reading to the next generation.
While there are many, many more than five must-read titles from the 1990s, I am focusing on more obscure manga. Therefore, I won’t be mentioning titles like "Dragon Ball" or "Sailor Moon" since they are popular series nearly all self-respecting otaku know.
All the manga on this list are available in both English and Japanese and we’ve listed where to find them, too.
1. 20th Century Boys (1999)
One of the most interesting manga I’ve read in a long time, "20th Century Boys" is a love letter to late Showa Era (1960 – 1989) Japan. From the 1969 moon landing and Y2K to analog radios to the American rock music influence and more, this manga is filled with memorable historical points and culture of 20th century Japan.
From award-winning writer and illustrator Naoki Urasawa comes a story of action, coming-of-age, dystopia, sci-fi and even a little romance thrown in. It’s mind-blowing how many genres Urasawa manages to skillfully combine into a single manga masterpiece.
Where the manga truly shines is in the mystery at the center of the story: a sinister cult trying to spread a deadly virus all over the world and its unknown leader who goes only by “Friend.”
Best described as a mix of "Stand By Me," "War of the Worlds" and "The Hunger Games," "20th Century Boys" follows Kenji Endo, a young convenience store owner who realizes that the cult’s logo is the same symbol he and his friends created together in their childhood.
- Genre(s): dystopia, mystery, sci-fi, steampunk, thriller
- Available on: Vol. 1 of "20th Century Boys" is available on Amazon
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