20 Best Underrated Manga To Read (Our Top Picks)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
There are literally tens of thousands of manga and billions of volumes available to us today.
Great titles are quite easy to be overshadowed by a lot of others.
Searching for a good but non-mainstream manga to binge can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
I’ve gathered a bunch of these titles here, and there are only two rules: it has to be really good, and it has to be not so popular.
20. Soul Catcher(S)
I can imagine how difficult drawing music can be.
But for some reason, there are still a lot of musical manga out there.
What’s rather uncommon is manga about an orchestra.
Soul Catcher(S) tells the story of a boy who can see people’s hearts. He uses this ability to conduct music that moves them.
Even though the protagonist has a supernatural power, the fantasy ends there. Mixed in with well-placed humor, this manga can easily blow you away.
19. Kenshirou ni Yoroshiku (Give My Regards to Kenshirou)
There are a lot of revenge manga out there. But there’s no other like Kenshirou ni Yoroshiku.
The protagonist has suffered in the hands of the Yakuza, but not for typical reasons.
He’s not beaten, tortured, or the like. Instead, his mother elopes with a member of the Yakuza and leaves him at a very young age. That has convinced him that the Yakuza is the reason for his suffering.
He consults with the holy book (read: Fist of the North Star) and follows Kenshirou’s training. When the time has come, he sets an ambush for the Yakuza and shows him the legendary technique. That’s when he learns that that kind of thing doesn’t work in real life.
You’ve probably guessed by now that yes, this is a comedy manga.
The protagonist’s absurdity and exaggeration brings out hilarious bits.
18. Sousei no Taiga
Time travel is an interesting idea to pick on. But what if you get sent into the time when Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens are still fighting for survival?
That’s right: Sousei no Taiga is about a group of college students who get sent into the past without an inkling about anything.
Although the art isn’t really that noteworthy, the story line very much compensates for it.
Dumped in a surreal circumstance, the main characters are forced to maximize their knowledge of the future while amassing new knowledge from the past. All for the sake of survival.
17. Kokou no Hito
What’s interesting about manga is the range of topics it covers.
It’s not just about sword wielding heroes hacking and slashing monsters to oblivion.
Every so often, you’ll get to see titles like Kokou no Hito.
It’s about wall and mountain climbing, but it somehow manages to show it an exhilarating and blood-pumping light.
It’s also interesting to see how the characters develop and seek solace through climbing.
Bakuman is probably the standard for twenty-first century’s manga about making manga. From its gripping art to its story that speaks to the soul, Bakuman is undeniably a masterpiece.
Rin is something like that. Admittedly, Bakuman is far better than Rin, but Rin can hold a candle to Bakuman storywise.
Although the art isn’t as amazing as Bakuman, Harold Sakuishi has a unique way of making his main characters pop.
He makes sure to draw the side characters a lot uglier than the main characters. I’m talking about unproportional and exaggerated facial features.
15. Jisatsutou (Suicide Island)
Set in a time when the government has given up on saving repeat suicide attempts, the titular island is made.
The island’s purpose is to serve as a dumping site for those who have repeatedly tried to take their own lives. They’re left on the island without any resources. They only have what they are wearing, and all means of communication to the outside is barred.
Kouji Mori, Sousei no Taiga’s creator, is also Jisatsutou’s creator, so a great story line is already a given.
Jisatsutou’s distinguishing feature is how it depicts gray areas. The protagonists aren’t necessarily the good guys, and the bad guys aren’t necessarily the bad guys.
At the end of the day, everybody’s just a cut from the same paper.
Everybody is ironically just trying to survive.
14. Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu (Detective Xeno and the Seven Locked Murder Rooms)
Just like the title suggests, Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu tells how Detective Xeno solve seven locked murder rooms in his bid to meet the series’ villain and learn about his past.
Similar to Detective Conan, the mysteries Xeno solves are top notch. Each case requires vast knowledge from different expertise.
Unlike Detective Conan, however, Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu also highlights the genius of the murder.
The plan, the motive, and most especially the execution are all premeditated, and pure works of genius.
It’s like being given a complicated puzzle and seeing it make sense in the end.
13. Summertime Render
The protagonist’s supposed peaceful mourning for his deceased childhood friend turns into time loop horror.
Despite how sweet the title might seem, it’s nothing but lies.
This manga is filled with violence, gore, and shrills only to brush everything under the rug. Then repeat everything all over again.
Even though I make it sound so terrifying, Summertime Render is a true masterpiece.
It’s one of those manga that you can clearly see the end point, even though you can’t really tell what it is.
But with plot twist after plot twist, it takes its time telling the story without making it feel like it’s being stretched out.
12. Ore No Genjitsu Wa Ren’ai Game?? Ka To Omottara Inochigake No Game Datta
Reading that title, you’re probably wondering what exactly this series is about.
Well, it’s about a guy who one day wakes up with a game-like system. Just like most games, there’s a shop, inventory, and even a save/load feature. But this isn’t just any ordinary game.
The protagonist gets tangled with psychopath murderers, and he must either solve their case or die.
The idea is quite unique. But the series may lack a bit of depth. Nonetheless, it’s an underappreciated piece worth checking out.
I’ve always hated insects. They’re creepy and they’re crawlies.
However, even I have to admit that these creatures are masters of their own crafts. They can even be considered to have supernatural powers compared to humans.
Put these abilities to an organization of elite assassins and you’ve got yourself Caterpillar.
Caterpillar’s action scenes are top notch. Each chapter is jam packed with goosebump-inducing action.
10. Apocalypse no Toride
Apocalypse no Toride brings something new to the tried and tested zombie trope.
Instead of brainless monsters craving for human flesh, the bokor, the zombies in this manga, retains a certain level of intellect. They can’t really make decisions, but they get stuck in a certain thought process.
Unlike many others, the main group in this manga does not give a damn on killing, since all of them are in the correctional anyway. That said, the main characters make very few illogical decisions rooting from moral drama.
This manga makes me think that if a zombie apocalypse does occur, then prisoners may actually last longer than the common folk.
Cooking manga was well known as a genre, even before Shokugeki no Souma hit the waves.
However, Bambino has somehow dodged the limelight it deserves.
Bambino follows the story of a boy who has decided to be a professional chef after high school.
But we all know that life isn’t as easy as that.
Seamlessly showing how harsh a restaurant’s kitchen can be, Bambino stimulates its readers’ hidden passion. The protagonist’s relatability leaves you empathizing with him, even if you have little to no idea how it feels to be in his situation.
8. Team Medical Dragon
Following the story of a genius doctor, Team Medical Dragon delves deep in the medical department.
Despite the complexity of medicine, this series is surprisingly easy to follow.
Even though the techniques used are undeniably complex, I can still somehow understand what’s going on.
However, Team Medical Dragon’s strength lies in character development.
It’s not just the protagonist who grows, as almost all the characters have improved one way or the other by the end.
A-Bout! isn’t your typical run of the mill delinquent story.
The protagonist of this series tries to prove that he actually is the series protagonist. He has no problem with utilizing different tropes, as long as he can be popular.
A-Bout!, however, isn’t just about the fighting.
It’s a hilarious masterpiece with uncanny humor. From breaking common tropes to riding other common tropes, this series has a lot to keep you smiling.
Arachnid is Caterpillar’s sequel, even though it’s published before Caterpillar.
Being recruited to the same assassin organization as Caterpillar’s titular protagonist, Arachnid’s protagonist gets dragged into a bloody mess.
Unlike Caterpillar, however, Arachnid requires more training.
At the start, she’s nowhere near any of the assassins’ level.
Yet Arachnid’s potential is greater than Caterpillar, and she proves it by defeating a ton of professional assassins of every kind.
Sanctuary’s premise alone deserves more recognition.
It’s about two best pals who decided they want to revolutionize Japan.
They’ve seen through hell and are not afraid to take risks. They want to conquer the country through both extremes: the government and the underground.
The ideologies this manga presents hit close to home. The actions, ideals, and events are so realistic that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually happening IRL.
4. When Night Falls
When Night Falls gives heavy Death Note vibes, but in a good way.
The protagonist seeks revenge for his sister’s murder. And those murderers have returned to society after a few years in juvenile prison.
Having a good head on his shoulders and acquiring a supernatural ability to enter people’s dreams, our MC is out for a headhunt.
Don’t get me wrong: although it seems like Death Note, the story is nothing like it.
Unlike Light’s pursuit of his own sense of justice, Wataru simply wants to give his sister’s murderers a taste of their own poison.
What Death Note and When Night Falls have in common, however, is that both have great stories and exhilarating mental battles.
I personally believe that seinen + slice of life is a great underappreciated combination.
Bartender is the proof of that.
As the title suggests, this manga is about a genius bartender doing his stuff – mixing and serving alcohol.
This series has taught me that bartending isn’t just about mixing drinks, it’s also about healing customers.
Well, to a certain degree.
It’s interesting to see how the manga relates cocktails to real life situations and problems. It even includes the recipe for the featured cocktails. What’s not to like?
2. Grand Blue
Grand Blue easily tops my list of comedy manga.
It’s one of the few manga that has actually made me laugh out loud.
Its humor is a mixture of alcohol jokes, pervy jokes, and nude jokes. And for some reason, it’s highly effective.
Supposedly it’s a diving manga.
But even Grand Blue agrees that it’s only barely hanging onto that topic. In reality, there are more scenes about drinking alcohol and being stupid. And that’s not a bad thing.
Usogui is a symphony of awesomeness, and it’s puzzling to me why it’s not very well-known.
The story revolves around the titular protagonist. He’s a gambler that bets his life.
There’s also a powerful organization in charge of ensuring that the bets are settled at the end of the match.
This series has action scenes that will give Baki and Hajime no Ippo a run for their money, and that’s not even the highlight of it.
The psychological and mental battles in this manga are insane, too. There are a lot of plot twists and foreshadowing, which proves how premeditated everything is. Just a pleasure cover to cover.