Best Anime Manga Adaptations
Anime manga adaptations are as diversified as they are prolific.
Once limited to paperback graphic novels read in Japan, anime manga adaptations have become a cult phenomenon. Audiences for this content have swelled to record numbers and creators have taken on a celebrity status, reaching new audiences in the United States. Manga is often printed to be read from right to left, in order to retain the authenticity of the original version. Titles are typically part of a broader series, and stories are as complex as the vast universe they exist in. The range of manga adaptions for TV and digital screens runs deep, with content ranging from history, to futuristic science fiction, to teenage romance, to profound themes about life.
Skip Beat! is one of the most definitive and hilarious of Shojo manga ever to hit the pages of manga or the small screen. Generally most Shojo stories tend to focus on formulaic romantic comedy will they/won’t they tropes. But Skip Beat! manages to subvert those expectations. Mogami Kyoko is a sixteen-year-old who leaves high school to run off with her boyfriend and help him become a pop idol. She sacrifices everything to support him, working multiple jobs and handling all of the housework. But he ultimately leaves her behind because he sees her as plain and boring. Mogami swears to enact her revenge by beating him at his own game and becoming an even bigger pop idol than him. And so begins an epic saga of pop star rivalry. But you can watch the excellent anime adaptation, before picking up the manga to see what happens next.
If there’s ever a manga that’s taken the US otaku fandom by storm it’s Black Butler. It’s a great example of how a great anime adaptation can take a seemingly obscure manga and bring it into superstardom. Black Butler tells the story of a young nobleman Ceil who serves as the head of house Phantomhive. He has remarkable Butler named Sebastian who’s supernaturally adept at just about any task given to him to an almost inhuman degree. That’s of course because he is inhuman, Sebastian is in fact a demon who’s pledged his service and loyalty in exchange for Ciel’s soul as he tracks down the killers of his parents. The entire series takes place in a fantasy version of Victorian England so imagine Downton Abby with epic demon battles and you’re starting to get a better picture of why Black Butler has become such a phenomena.
Sure, maybe the success of Twilight has made sullen sexy human vampires all the rage. But we think there have been enough sexy teen vamp stories to last for decades. It’s time for girl vampire stories to take their place. That’s where Chibi Vampire comes in. It follows the story of Karin the titular Chibi Vampire who, instead of needing to drink blood, produces too much of it and needs to inject it into other people, lest she suffer from everyone’s favorite anime/manga euphemism for arousal. Which leads to all kinds of hilarious hijinks as she just tries to live her life as a normal teenage girl, but also dealing with her more traditional vampire family.
Don’t know what is with Japan and vampires, but their love of everyone’s favorite bloodsuckers makes some of the best anime and manga around. Trinity Blood was a long beloved staple of Adult Swim going a long way forward to introducing many American’s into anime. This series takes place in the far future where the Vatican is engaged in a brutal cold war with a race of vampires. They battle for control of Earth and Mars. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones, only with cyber super powered anime vampires. But thankfully for the humans they have Abel, a super vampire who feeds on other vampires and is a unique being known as a crusnik. The other vampire’s blood supercharge his abilities turning him in a wrecking ball of super cyber vampire justice. So if you want to check out something where it feels like every episode is like the infamous red wedding from Game of Thrones then this is the series for you.
Vampires continue to make the best anime manga adaptations. We certainly love Japan’s take on them given how many titles we’ve included on this list. Vampire Knight is the dramatic Shojo manga which tells the story about a special academy with two classes. One class in the day filled with humans and another taking place at night filled with vampires looking to prey on the human day class counterpart. Yuki Cross is one of the few human students who knows about this secret which of course means she falls in love with some ultra sexy vampires out for her blood and eternal affection. If you're looking for something a bit sexier than the chaste prudish Mormon values of twilight then this might be right up your bag.
Hiro Mashima is one of the most successful manga author’s working today. Easily on par with many of the greats he manages to tell epic fantasy stories packed to the gills with dozens of characters you’ll love. Fairy Tail is an anime manga adaptation that tells the story of the titular magic guild and all of its colorful members as they perform jobs for people in the magic community looking for talented wizards. Of course, they're a rambunctious bunch capable of doing as much damage to their surroundings as good, but their eternal devotion to the values of friendship keeps them together. Watching this show or reading the still running manga will make you feel like a guild member yourself. It’s like harry potter on super anime steroids.
The 800 pound gorilla of the current world of anime, also known as one of the best action anime, got started with the original manga. In the world of Attack on Titan, a medieval world has been overrun by a mysterious race of huge human eating giants known as titans. Humanity has taken refuge behind huge walls to keep the titans out, but one day an immense titan smashes the wall down leading to an invasion on humanity’s last refuge. Thankfully mankind has epic spiderman flying gear to battle the titans, but even this is not enough to effectively combat the titan menace. This series is an epic mash-up of steampunk, fantasy, and even the mecha genre to create a new hybrid that has managed to completely take over the anime world by storm and become the next big thing. It’s no wonder that this series was directed by the Tetsuro Araki whose bombastic direction transformed this into the mega hit of the decade. Too bad there’s only one season so far, but there’s still plenty of manga available while you join the rest of the world in awaiting season two.
Love The Walking Dead but thought Rick Grime’s adventures navigating the zombie apocalypse didn’t include enough scantily clad anime girls? Then High School of the Dead is the manga anime adaptation for you. Directed by the infamous Tetsuro Araki of Death Note fame, High School of the Dead is one of the best zombie manga around. It's filled with so much gratuitous fan service after binging through its 13 episode run you’ll be begging for more and might not ever go back to the much blander Walking Dead. Hell, after you see the infamous matrix boobs you might not wanna watch anything else after you immerse yourself in this harem fantasy that sees one heroic high schooler's and the various fetish archetypes pseudo girlfriends plow their way through the undead.
Sure you’ve seen Dracula Untold or maybe even the original Bram Stroker’s Dracula, but you’ve probably never seen Dracula like this. Hellsing tells the story of an unwitting police officer who is transformed into a vampire and made a recruit of the Hellsing organization, a secret society devoted towards battling the undead and descendants of the famous Van Helsing. She is mentored by her master Alucard the most powerful vampire in existence as they battle against nazi’s looking to enact their eternal revenge against England for World War 2. This epic saga was turned into an anime, but it was the famous OVA series of Hellsing ultimate that brought Kohta Hirano’s epic bloody ballad to life in all its gruesome glory.
Fullmetal Alchemist is so good it’s gotten not one but two excellent anime adaptations, both by renowned animation studio Bones. Hiromu Arakawa’s manga tells the story of two brothers who seek to revive their dead mother using the powers of alchemy. Things go horribly wrong with the older brother Edward losing his arm and leg and his younger brother Alphonse losing his entire body. The two go on an epic journey in order to figure out a way to recover their bodies as they search for the mythical Philosopher's Stone. This epic series chronicles their entire journey in one of the greatest epics ever to be animated or drawn. It’s no wonder that this series has had such an incredible impact and it is a must see for anyone even remotely interested in anime or manga or great adaptations in general.