One thing I love about manga is that it blends genres all the time. Do you love mystery manga? What about mystery in space? Do you enjoy slice-of-life manga? What about slice-of-life stories set during the apocalypse? In my opinion, the unexpected variety and creativity are the format's greatest strengths.
Of all the genres that manga loves to blend, though, romance tops the list — romance with mystery, thriller, and suspense, that is. Many long-running romance manga series depend on intrigue to keep the plot going, so it's not a surprise that some titles make this union more obvious. We love a good romance story, but who doesn't love it more when a healthy dose of murder and mayhem is added to the mix?
To that end, here are romantic manga that mystery and thriller lovers will enjoy.
Something's Wrong With Us by Natsumi Ando
Natsumi Ando is the first mangaka who comes to mind when I think of series that blend mystery and romance. It's her brand. Her latest series follows Nao, a traditional Japanese sweets maker whose mother was framed for murder. Imagine her shock when she reunites with Tsubaki — her childhood friend, her first love, and the boy who caused her mother's downfall. Desperate to unravel the mystery of that fateful night, Nao capitalizes on the fact that Tsubaki doesn't recognize her and uses the opportunity to get closer to him. But will she uncover the truth before her heart complicates matters even more?
Love of Kill by Fe
This manga began its life as an amateur comic on the Japanese art site, Pixiv. The mangaka drew it for the sole purpose of portraying two professional killers falling in love. That's it. That's the premise. Don't lie. It catches your attention. In this revamped manga form, Love of Kill introduces us to Chateau Dankworth, a bounty hunter and assassin. Considering her line of work, we shouldn’t be surprised when she runs into the infamously deadly Ryung-Ha, another assassin. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), Ryung-Ha takes a liking to Chateau and decides the fastest way to win her heart is by delivering her bounties to her, half-dead and incapacitated. We probably should have predicted that this is how an assassin would declare his affections.
Love and Heart by Chitose Kaido
College student Yagisawa can't catch a break. First, she catches her boyfriend cheating. Next, she finds herself with a surprise male roommate. And if that weren't enough, her new roommate informs her that they were childhood friends. That's news to her. Yagisawa has no recollection of him at all. Her mother confirms his identity, which only confuses her even more. What’s going on here? Word of warning: While this is billed as a romance, it is absolutely a thriller, full of toxic behaviors and a potentially alarming budding relationship. A cute and fluffy romance, this is not. This manga will make you feel uneasy and concerned for Yagisawa.
Book Girl by Mizuki Nomura
Tohko Amano may look like your regular high school student who's also the president of the literary club, but in reality, she’s a demon. A demon that eats stories. Don't worry, though. That's all she eats. Humans are safe. One day, she recruits Konoha Inoue to join the club. Why him? It turns out he's actually a talented writer, and now she can feast on the tales he pens. But that's just where this light novel series begins. Because for an extracurricular activity focused on literature, a lot of real-life mysteries seem to land on this book club's doorstep.
Future Diary by Sakae Esuno
Yukiteru is an awkward high school student who keeps a diary on his cell phone. Except his cell phone diary does more than keep a record of his thoughts. It can predict the future. And he’s not the only person with one of these so-called future diaries. Eleven other people also have them and together with Yukiteru, they must participate in a survival game. The goal? Eliminate the other future diary holders, become god, and stop the apocalypse. It's a lot. By Yukiteru’s side is Yuno, a classmate who's a perfect student, a homicidal killer, and 100% obsessed with him. This mind-bending manga is wild, full of multiple timelines, alternate universes, and the actual personification of Deus Ex Machina. Be prepared and buckle up.
Even when manga blends romance, mystery, and thriller, the story can still take on different forms. Contemporary drama, action thriller, supernatural, and science fiction — manga never grows tired of seeing where a unique premise will take us.
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