New year, new manga. A lot of new manga, to be honest. Between popular ongoing series and new titles making their English-language debut, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s coming out. That’s where this list comes in. I looked at various publishers’ release schedules and picked out the most noteworthy and best manga 2020 has to offer. It promises to be an exciting year, if these series are any indication.
Given by Natuski Kizu
Do you love music? What about high school rock bands? Are stories about finding love again after a tragedy a favorite of yours? Ritsuka Uenoyama is a guitar-playing prodigy who’s lost his zest for life. That changes when he meets quiet Mafuyu Sato, who carries a broken guitar around with him everywhere. While the story behind Mafuyu’s guitar is sad and the burgeoning relationship between him and Ritsuka is lovely to see, it’s the relationship between their bandmates Akihiko and Haruki that will grab your feels and refuse to let go.
A Man and His Cat by Umi Sakurai
Speaking of feels, who doesn’t love cats? We have manga about cute kittens. We have post-apocalyptic manga about cats that have become donuts. (Just go with it.) Now, we have a manga about a widower who adopts an unwanted cat. Charming and delightful, this series is definitely one of the best new manga to pick up in 2020. (Want more slice of life manga? Here are some recommendations.)
Beyond the Clouds by Nicke
Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli films? This manga’s for you. Theo works as a mechanic in a city where you can’t see the sky. As you can guess, this makes him yearn for adventure in the outside world. He soon gets his chance when he meets a winged girl who has amnesia. But while fixing her injured wing is simple, regaining her memories is another matter entirely.
Blood on the Tracks by Shuzo Oshimi
Shuzo Oshimi is a master of slow-build psychological horror and instilling overwhelming dread in a single page. In Blood on the Tracks, Seiichi Osabe enjoys a seemingly normal life. His busy father works hard to provide for the family. His beautiful mother dotes on him. Then one day, he realizes that his mother’s overprotectiveness may cross the line to obsessive and abnormal.
Downfall by Inio Asano
If you’re balking at the idea of starting a new series, I feel you. Don’t worry, though. Inio Asano has you covered. Downfall explores what happens when you achieve your dreams and it’s not at all what you expected. It follows a mangaka who has finished his first series and is trying to start a new one—and make it successful, naturally. Unfortunately, he hates the reality of the manga industry and his marriage is falling apart. If you’re looking for a feel-good manga, this is not the title for you. But if you love Asano’s brand of dark, psychological storytelling, it’s worth checking out.
Rose of Versailles by Ryoko Ikeda
It’s been a few years since Udon announced they’d licensed this classic best manga. 2020 is a little later than I thought we’d get an English-language version, but I’m glad this work is finally available. Born a French noblewoman, Oscar was raised as a son by her father and becomes the leader of Marie Antoinette’s palace guard. Faced with the excesses of Louis XVI’s court, she soon becomes torn between loyalty to the nobility and her desire to help the oppressed lower classes.
Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge
Launched in 2016, Demon Slayer isn’t exactly a new manga, but it flew under the radar for many people until last year’s brilliant anime adaptation. I wanted to highlight it in case you missed this series the first time around. The manga features a familiar premise: a boy becomes a demon slayer after his family is murdered. A few things set this series apart, though. It’s set in early 20th century Japan instead of the more common Tokugawa and Meiji eras. Instead of being brash and in-your-face, protagonist Tanjiro is a kind, pure-hearted boy. And most of all, Tanjiro and his now-a-demon sister, Nezuko, have a beautiful sibling relationship.
Magic Knight Rayearth by CLAMP
Magic Knight Rayearth has been licensed by various North American publishers over the years, but Kodansha has given it a new home just in time for this 25th anniversary edition. It centers on three girls who are transported to another world in order to save a princess. Sounds familiar, right? Alas, this is a CLAMP manga, so things are never quite as they seem.
Saiyuki by Kazuya Minekura
Saiyuki was one of the very first English-language manga I bought during the manga boom of the early 2000s. It’s been in licensing limbo for years, so I’m thrilled to see it return for a new generation of readers. A highly stylized retelling of the Chinese classic Journey to the West, it follows Genjo, a Buddhist priest sent West to stop the resurrection of a demon king, and his three demonic companions.
Another way you could look at a best manga 2020 list would be “Something New and Something Old.” I love that we have both true classics like The Rose of Versailles and modern classics like Saiyuki hitting shelves in 2020. It’s one of my favorite things about the current English-language manga market.