What a year 2021 has been. And I mean that in all the possible ways, both good and bad. In the manga arena, it meant explosive sales that led to empty retail shelves and reprints that — due to paper shortages, printer consolidations, and supply chain disruptions — were slow to come. These challenges stand poised to follow us into next year even as we look forward to new 2022 manga. So if you like your manga in print, be prepared to buy your favorite titles the instant you see them in stock. Because, sad to say, there’s no guarantee that they’ll remain in stock for long. Witness how difficult it’s been to find the first volumes of Demon Slayer or Jujutsu Kaisen in print, for example.
Despite these hiccups, 2021 saw the release of many excellent manga series and light novels. Titles like Boys Run the Riot and I Think Our Son Is Gay expanded the types of queer stories told via the format. Series like The Apothecary Diaries and The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent reminded us that light novels are more than male power fantasies. And Solo Leveling opened the door for more translated Korean webnovels in North America. Thankfully, next year continues the trend.
Here are some new 2022 manga you should keep an eye out for.
New 2022 Manga That Are Actually Classic Manga
Lupin III by Monkey Punch
Monkey Punch’s gentleman thief is one of the most iconic characters from all of manga. And before you ask, yes, he’s related to Arsène Lupin of Maurice LeBlanc’s novels. This classic series from the 1960s also introduced us to Fujiko Mine, the progenitor of manga and anime’s brand of femme fatale. We wouldn’t have Faye Valentine without Fujiko. The original manga and its sequel series comprise of over 30 volumes, so this single-volume collection curates some of Lupin III’s greatest heists.
They Were 11 by Moto Hagio (Summer 2022)
Considered the founder of shoujo manga as we know it today, many people associate Moto Hagio with her explorations of gender and queer themes. But she’s also a huge science fiction fan. They Were 11 follows 10 space cadets who must pass a final exam that takes place on a derelict spaceship. Unfortunately, when they arrive, there are 11 people, and no one knows which one is the extra. Add a lethal disease and a decaying orbit around a star, and you have a sci-fi closed room mystery.
Kamen Rider by Shotaro Ishinomori
If you’ve delved into Japanese media and pop culture for a while, you’ve probably seen images of a masked man on a motorcycle fighting crime. There are tons of TV shows and films about this guy. As it turns out, this superhero is based on a manga by the legendary Shotaro Ishinomori. Seven Seas’ hardcover release also commemorates the manga’s 50th anniversary.
New 2022 Manga That Are Genuinely New
Note: I didn’t include covers in this section because most of them haven’t been revealed yet or their final versions aren’t yet available. Put them on your calendars now and stay tuned!
March Comes In Like a Lion by Chica Umino
Child prodigy Rei Kiriyama lives alone and has few friends. An orphan, he’s devoted his entire life to shogi. It paid off; he became a professional player while in middle school. But that early success might have come at the expense of other things. Like being a fully rounded person with meaningful relationships. Then, he meets the Kawamoto sisters.
Catch These Hands by murata
Want your enemies to lovers trope to be queer? Takebe and Soramori are former high school delinquents who were once fierce rivals. When the two women meet again years later, Soramori challenges Takebe to fight. Alas, Takebe loses, which means she must accept Soramori’s request: to go out on a date with her. Uh, what? The original Japanese title for this manga is Accept My Fist of Love, so I want to give a shout out to the localization team for this stellar English title.
X-Gender by Asuka Miyazaki
This autobiographical manga follows the creator’s journey to finding love as a x-gender — or non-binary — person in Japan.
The Muscle Girl Next Door by Amesuke Ano
If you love romance manga but want a story that veers off the beaten path, have I found a title for you! College student Daria is self-conscious about his scrawny and unimpressive build. Then one day, he meets Rubi, who’s buff, strong, and ripped. It’s love at first sight. Now, he’s on a quest to win her over.
Shonen Note: Boy Soprano by Yuhki Kamatani (Fall 2022)
Kamatani is better known for the fantastic queer manga, Our Dreams at Dusk. In Shonen Note, they introduce us to Yutaka, a boy who can sing in an angelic soprano. But when he hits puberty, his voice begins to change.
Choujin X by Sui Ishida
The mangaka of Tokyo Ghoul is back! Fans of his previous manga will recognize some familiar themes: boys who gain and then proceed to grapple with monstrous powers and childhood friends with contentious yet important relationships. Choujin X gained some notoriety when it launched in May 2021. It dropped digitally with very little warning (like a couple days) and Ishida released the chapters on an irregular schedule. But Ishida’s fanbase is loyal, and his work remains top-tier, so it gained a dedicated audience quickly. Right now, you’ll have to use a digital manga app like Manga Plus or Shonen Jump to read it, but VIZ — who holds the English-language license — will no doubt release a collected volume eventually.
Ayashimon by Yuji Kaku
Maruo grew up reading shonen manga like Fist of the North Star and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. It was his dream to become a shonen protagonist, and he trained hard to accomplish his goal. As a result, he’s strong. Incredibly, absurdly strong. Unfortunately, real life is not a manga, and the real world has no use for a guy like this. But just as Maruo is about to give up on his dream, he meets a girl fleeing some thugs. And not just any girl either: she belongs to the supernatural world’s equivalent of the yazuka and she wants Maruo to help her seize power. I especially recommend this manga to fans of One-Punch Man — Maruo has shades of Saitama’s existential ennui — and Jujutsu Kaisen, which has a similar tone.
Classic science fiction, heist capers, contemporary queer stories, and the supernatural fare that’s all the rage these days — these new 2022 manga have something for everyone. And if they’re any indication, the new year is going to deliver some excellent titles.