How many of the listed titles do you recognize?

Unlike in the West, in Japan, it’s considered pretty normal to be an avid reader of manga. You’ll spot mothers, old men, and suited public servants perusing volumes of manga on the train or flipping through the latest chapter on their phone. And with such a bustling market of titles to choose from, it can be tricky to decide what to read next! Thankfully, the yearly recommendation announcement from bookstores across Japan were just released, and we can’t wait to see what titles made their high standards.

The ranking has been held since 2006 and lets booksellers all over the country cast votes for their favorite upcoming titles. The books that are shortlisted get highlighted in those bookstores, and fans get some great new stories to sink their teeth into! So let’s take a look at what Japan’s booksellers rated the cream of the crop, counting down from ten:

10. Kujo’s Deadly Sins (Kujo no Taizai) by Shohei Manabe
9. The Star of the Girls’ Garden (Onna no Sono no Hoshi) by Wayama Yama
8. The Elusive Samurai (Nigejouzu no Wakagimi) by Yusei Matsui
7. Uma Musume: Cinderella Gray by Sugiura Masafumi and Itou Junnosuke
6. Sakamoto Days by Yuto Suzuki

The top five seem especially intriguing, so we’ll take a deeper look as we showcase them.

5. Chi: Regarding the Movement of the Earth (Chi: Chikyu no Undo ni Tsuite) by Uoto

The first thing to hit you about Chi is its striking, unusual art style; a world away from the smooth lines and shiny eyes of manga’s worldwide reputation. It actually has plenty in common with shonen epics like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Dr. Stone, with dramatic twists and intense gravity to its plot, which actually concerns…the Copernican Revolution. You know, the Copernican Revolution? The huge overhaul of astronomy where everyone stopped considering the Earth to be the center of our universe, and instead shifted to a heliocentric one that centers the Sun? There really is a manga about everything.

What’s especially cool about Chi, aside from its eye-catching visuals and unusual premise, is that it foregoes the idea of a single genius auteur scientist. Instead, it takes a much more realistic focus on how many, many researchers and public speakers were necessary to influence society’s opinions and worldviews.

4. Blue Box (Ao no Hako) by Koji Miura

Blue Box is a romantic comedy centering around Taiki, who plays badminton as part of his school’s team, and Chinatsu, the basketball-playing girl he has a crush on. Things escalate dramatically when Chinatsu’s parents leave the country for work, meaning that she ends up staying in Taiki’s house with him. Lots of cute romantic tension abounds, while both of them practice intensely in the hope of making it to their sport’s national championship. As sweet and sincere as this romantic offering is, you might be surprised to learn that it’s actually serialized in Shonen Jump!

3. Wind Breaker by Nii Satoru

Quit giggling at the title, okay! The titular “wind breaker” isn’t some flatulent offender, nor does it refer to a stylish jacket—it refers to the school portrayed in this coming-of-age tale which titles itself as the “Bofurin” (windbreaker) of their town and protector of those who live there. The protagonist is a one-time delinquent called Sakura Haruka, who pledges to become the top street fighter at Fuurin High by protecting his friends and trouncing his enemies! With lush art and a huge cast of loveable bruisers, we imagine this series will have a thriving fandom in no time.

2. Kaiju No. 8 (Kaiju 8-gou) by Naoya Matsumoto

There’s just something about big, beefy monsters. Kaiju No. 8 has a fun starting premise—two kids from a kaiju-ravaged town vow to join the kaiju-battling forces to take revenge, but only one of them makes it. The other, Kafka, fails and has to spend his time mopping up kaiju corpses instead…until a freak encounter with a tiny monster leads to Kafka transforming into a kaiju himself, and using his human sentience to outwit the defense force.

As Attack on Titan‘s manga run has ended, this is a new “guy-turns-into-a-huge-monster” manga to satiate everyone’s raging appetites. This one comes with some incredible art, amazing action, and a bunch of great girl characters too!

And the top pick for Japan’s booksellers is…

1. Dandadan by Yukinobu Tatsu

He was a boy, she was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? He believed that aliens were real, but not ghosts. She believed the opposite. What more can I say?

Okay, it turns out there’s a lot more to say about Dandadan, the manga debut of Yukinobu Tatsu (known to assist on Chainsaw Man). Both the leads investigate the area that they’re the most skeptical of and wind up conclusively proving that they’re both right. Then, after heroine Momo is abducted by aliens she winds up with psychic powers! Her alien-obsessed pal Okarun likewise gains paranormal powers of his own after being possessed by a spirit. Whacky antics ensue, with the two leads growing closer due to their strange shared hobbies. The art looks great, the characters are wacky and wild, and it has a fun and offbeat sense of humor.

What manga would you recommend for the coming year? Let us know your top picks in the comments, and keep an eye out for refreshingly new titles as they hit shelves!

Source: Comic Natalie via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!