10 Interesting Manga I Read in 2021

10 Interesting Manga I Read in 2021

Can I be blunt? 2021 wasn’t that great of a year. From troubles spurred by the ongoing pandemic to pressures in my personal life, there was no shortage of problems to test my patience. But with every obstacle, I found new ways to cope with my anxiety. Manga, of course, was one of them.

Around this time last year—about nine months into the pandemic at that point—I was fatigued both physically and mentally. I had trouble finding the strength to wake up and get to work, let alone sit down and actually read something. As the months progressed, my manga to-be-read pile continued to grow. 

But at the start of the summer, after my state lifted most COVID restrictions, my remote work ended, and things started to go back to “normal,” I felt the tiniest spark of motivation. There were things that had to be done, one of which was tackling the enormous pile of manga waiting patiently for me.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the more memorable manga I read in 2021!

Spy x Family

Spy x Family

Author: Tatsuya Endo
Publisher: Viz Media

What’s it about? World-class spy Loid is tasked with the mission of a lifetime, but to complete it, he’ll need to go undercover as a family man. Little does he know the strangers he enlists to be his wife and daughter have secrets of their own.

What did I think? There’s a reason this manga is an award winner. The dynamics between Loid, Yor, and Anya are so charming and warm that I started to wish they were a “real” family. Aside from endearing characters, Spy x Family is filled with humor and suspense, making it a truly enjoyable read.

Yakuza Lover, Volume 1

Yakuza Lover

Author: Nozomi Mino
Publisher: Viz Media

What’s it about? A college student crosses paths with a yakuza boss, igniting a fiery and passionate romance held together by a thread of danger.

What did I think? I approached this one like I would a Harlequin novel, and because of that, I really enjoyed it. There isn’t anything groundbreaking here in regards to premise or plot, but the unapologetically over-the-top sex scenes and romantic declarations make up for its lack of depth. It’s definitely one of Shojo Beat’s more mature titles, that’s for sure.

The Elder Sister-Like One

Author: Pochi Iida
Publisher: Yen Press

What’s it about? Yuu, a lonely orphaned boy, accidentally summons an eldritch demon, who, at his request, adopts the name Chiyo and takes on the role of his “older sister.” She’s also hot.

What did I think? Knowing Iida adapted this manga from her hentai doujinshi of the same name, I had a vague idea of what I might find here. But honestly I was surprised to discover a heartwarming and at times weirdly wholesome slice-of-life story underneath its ecchi elements. That being said, if you’re not into shota or dubious age gap pairings, this might not be the manga for you.

The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious

The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious

Author: Wakame Konbu
Publisher: Yen Press

What’s it about? Rich kid Yuri finds every action of his newly hired maid, Lilith, extremely suspicious. The reality is that she’s just doing her job (and teasing him while she’s at it).

What did I think? Overall this manga has a cute feel to it, and I love Konbu’s art style. But the “maid and boy misunderstand each other’s intentions” narrative used chapter after chapter gets pretty repetitive. To be honest, Lilith’s “ara ara” energy was the only thing keeping me going. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Haru's Curse

Haru’s Curse

Author: Asuka Konishi
Publisher: Vertical Comics

What’s it about? After the death of her sister Haru, Natsumi enters into a relationship with her sister’s ex-fiance, Togo. As time passes, the two are metaphorically haunted by Haru’s lasting presence.

What did I think? This one made me cry, folks. I can’t say I’ve ever been in a situation like Natsumi’s, but her struggle with guilt in the wake of her sister’s death was heartbreaking. There’s not much I can mention here without spoiling anything, so it’s probably best to read it yourself—it’s only one volume!

My Dress-Up Darling

My Dress-Up Darling

Author: Shinichi Fukuda
Publisher: Square Enix Manga

What’s it about? Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Wakana spends most of his time dabbling in traditional doll making. Marin, a popular girl in his class, learns about his sewing skills and enlists him to help create her dream cosplay outfits.

What did I think? I read this manga a few weeks before Otakon 2021. I think Marin’s story pushed me into cosplaying for the first time in over five years. I forgot how involved the process can be, from choosing the right clothes to wig styling and makeup application. So seeing her passion for the hobby and Wakana’s dedication to his craft inspired me to give it my all. Read this one.

The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes

The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes

Author: Shunsuke Sorato
Publisher: DENPA

What’s it about? Printed in full color, this funny manga follows Amane, a seemingly standoffish cool girl hiding a huge crush on her classmate, Katou.

What did I think?The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes ticks all the boxes for me. A relatable romance? Check. Lots of humor? Check. Pretty artwork? Check, check, check. The only criticism I have is that the volumes are too short! I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN AMANE AND KATOU!

Requiem of the Rose King

Requiem of the Rose King

Author: Aya Kanno
Publisher: Viz Media

What’s it about? Aya Kanno reimagine’s Shakespeare’s Richard III into a sweeping story of war, betrayal, power, identity, and the supernatural.

What did I think? I think I can safely say that this is one of the top manga I read this year. From the expansive cast of characters to the intricate plot, every chapter of Requiem of the Rose King kept me invested in Richard’s tragic tale. Kanno takes liberties in adapting Shakespeare’s works, sure, but the end result is a truly unique story that I can’t wait to finish. Plus, the anime comes out this month!

Cutie and the Beast

Cutie and the Beast

Author: Yuhi Azumi
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment

What’s it about? Pro wrestling fan Momoka becomes romantically involved with Kuga, her favorite wrestler, after a series of encouraging chat messages leads them to meet offline for the first time.

What did I think? I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, pro wrestling! Plus I like both Momoka and Kuga as individual characters. On the other hand, their romance is pretty questionable. A relationship between a twenty-something and a high schooler raises some red flags, for sure. Other characters actually discuss the age gap, with some outright saying it’s bad, so it has that going for it. More volumes have yet to arrive, so I’ll see where this one goes.

Chainsaw Man

Chainsaw Man

Author: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Publisher: Viz Media

What’s it about? Denji wants to live a simple life with the girl he likes, but the world has other plans for him. After his dead body merges with his pet devil Pochita, Denji is reborn as a living weapon, fighting devils on behalf of the Public Safety Bureau.

What did I think? Having your main character’s initial motivations essentially boil down to “must touch boob” is pretty bold, I gotta say. Granted, I only read the first two volumes, so I’m not sure if Denji’s goals change. But either way, I found Chainsaw Man to be a really good time, gore and all. I’ll definitely read more in the future.

What manga did you read in 2021? Let me know in the comments!

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