MZ 0

Given how many passionate manga fans Japan has, it’s kind of surprising that a lot of them don’t collect every issue of their favorite series. Most titles are published once a week as part of several-hundred-page anthologies printed on cheap, quickly deteriorating newsprint. On the other hand, higher-quality collected volumes lag months behind the weekly editions.

This creates a strange catch-22 where fans who want to be up to the minute on their heroes’ adventures buy the anthologies but later toss them out. Eventually, many cherry-pick which collected volumes to purchase in order to fill in the gaps where they missed one of the weeklies, or to have a permanent copy of their favorite scenes.

Of course, a lot of incomplete sets are also the result of fans getting burned out before reaching the end of some of Japan’s notoriously long-running series. Add in the fact that storage space is at a premium in Japanese homes, and it’s a testament to a title’s staying power and ability to captivate readers when they buy it from start to finish, like so many have with these 15 manga.

In a recent poll, users of Japanese question and answer website Tell Me were asked which manga they had, at one point, owned the complete collection of. The respondents came back with a list of 257 series they’d had lined up at home, with the top 15 below.

15. Yu Yu Hakusho (19 volumes total)

MZ 1

Some younger fans may not be familiar with Yoshihiro Togashi’s epic about ghosts, juvenile delinquents, and the many times they get together to fight with and against each other. Togashi decided to end it after just three and a half years, but Yu Yu Hakusho went out at the height of its popularity.

13 (tie). Parasyte (10 volumes total)

MZ 2

The creepy little manga that could, this relatively short tale of bizarre man-eating aliens ended in 1995, but has since come back with an anime remake, live-action adaptation, and disgusting plush toys.

13 (tie). City Hunter (35 volumes total)

MZ 3

Several fans were happy to stick around for all of anime pervert king Ryo’s shenanigans, and the numerous times his partner/love interest Kaori bashed him in the head with a hammer as punishment.

11 (tie). Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai (8 volumes total)

MZ 4

The first girls’ manga in the top 15, Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai (I’m No Angel) is easy to fit on your shelf at just eight volumes, plus stars outgoing teen Midori Saejima, one of Japan’s favorite leading manga ladies.

11 (tie). Kyo, Koi wo Hajimemasu (15 volumes total)

MZ 5

Another shojo title, Kyo, Koi wo Hajimemasu (Today, I Start Our Love) is one of the most recently concluded series on the list, as it just wrapped up in February. Despite its modern vintage, though, it’s a classic manga scenario of shy girl meets stuck-up guy who she just might have a crush on.

10. Pretty Solider Sailor Moon (18 volumes total)

MZ 6

The manga and anime world’s most successful magical girl franchise needs no introduction, as its reputation and marketing precede it.

8 (tie). Kekkaishi (35 volumes total)

MZ 7

Also known as Barrier Master, artist Yellow Tanabe’s demon-busting manga found enough popularity for a 52-episode anime adaptation, plus a spot in a lot of fans’ homes.

8 (tie). Rurouni Kenshin (28 volumes total)

MZ 8

With a little romance, a little comedy, and a whole lot of sword fighting, Rurouni Kenshin was a broad hit with legions of both male and female readers, many of whom have been making trips to the movie theater to watch the recently concluded live-action trilogy.

6 (tie). The Rose of Versailles (10 volumes total…or is that 11?)

MZ 9

We’re tempted to toss Rose out for earning its spot by exploiting a loophole. See, respondents to the Tell Me Survey claimed to have collected all of this tragedy set during the French Revolution if they owned 10 volumes of it, and if we’d been having this conversation anytime between 1973 and last July, we’d agree with that assessment.

However, creator Ryoko Ikeda recently penned an 11th volume to her seminal work, as we happily reported on as soon as it hit bookstores. So technically, owning Volumes 1 through 10 means your collection isn’t quite complete yet. We’ll make an exception, though, since it gives us another chance to show pictures of the dashing Lady Oscar.

6 (tie). Nodame Cantabile (25 volumes in total)

MZ 10

If someone ever tries to tell you that female-oriented manga is all tragic deaths and kinky sex, remind them that one of the most popular manga ever is Nodame Cantabile, the story of a free-spirited pianist and her relationship with a fussy but talented musician who’s deathly afraid of the ocean.

5. Touch (26 volumes total)

MZ 11

Not really a baseball fan? Neither am I, and yet I still devoured every issue of sports manga legend Mitsuru Adachi’s best-loved series over the course of a summer. Touch was such a pop cultural phenomenon that these days it’s incredibly easy to find in good condition at used bookstores, meaning that with a little careful shopping you can pick the entirety of one of the landmarks of the medium for under 5,000 yen (US $45). The anime version isn’t half bad, either.

4. Hikaru no Go (23 volumes total)

MZ 12

You might not expect go, the Japanese board game that’s seen its popularity steadily dropping for generations, to be much of a foundation to build a huge manga hit around, but you’d be wrong.

3. Dragon Ball (42 volumes total)

MZ 13

Although the anime version switched its name to Dragon Ball Z after 153 episodes, Akira Toriyama’s manga original kept the same title all the way through, which allowed the publishers to do some cool things with the collected volumes’ spines.

2. Hana Yori Dango (37 volumes total)

MZ 14

Lower-middle class (upper-lower class?) girl Tsukushi starts attending a school where she meets one rich, handsome boy after another. Her story gets turned into an anime. The anime gets turned into a live-action TV drama starring incredibly popular pop idol Jun Matsumoto. The TV drama gets a second season. The second season gets followed up with a theatrical feature. Each step of the way, a new crop of people rush out to buy Yoko Kamio’s manga original.

1. Slam Dunk (31 volumes total)

MZ 15

How exactly does Takehiko Inoue’s basketball masterpiece earn the top spot? Is it that its original print run coincided with the booming popularity of the sport in Japan, a trend Slam Dunk simultaneously fed into and off of? Is it the manga’s ability to bring in female readers with its hunky, athletic cast? Is it the fact that it’s simply a well-written, well-drawn comic from an author who’s clearly passionate about the game?

Or, just like those old Nike commercials made us wonder, is it the shoes?

Sources: Nico Nico News, Jin
Top image: Mbok, Mandarake, Baby Come, Mandarake (2) (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Shueisha, Twitter, Gazouko, OCNK, Otamart, Mandarake, Mbok (1, 2), RocketNews24, Rakuten, Mbok (3), Pasota no Yafuoku Nikki, Mandarake (2), Baby Come, So-Net