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Comics/Graphic Novels

The Top 10 Summer Manga To Pack In Your Beach Bag

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Ann-Marie Cahill


Ann-Marie Cahill will read anything and everything. From novels to trading cards to the inside of CD covers (they’re still a thing, right?). A good day is when her kids bring notes home from school. A bad day is when she has to pry a book from her kids’ hands. And then realizes where they get it from. The only thing Ann-Marie loves more than reading is travelling. She has expensive hobbies.

Summer has almost arrived in Japan — you can tell by the stacks of summer manga reading spilling out of beach bags, backpacks, and picnic baskets. Okay, so the plethora of bags is a slight exaggeration, but also, not really. Summer reading is absolutely A Thing, and manga continues to grow in popularity. During spring, it’s fairly common to see people lying down under blossoming trees, reading their fave manga like Spy X Family and Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty (you’ll find me under the Jacaranda, catching purple flowers with my books). When summer arrives, I prefer long, lazy days by the beach with a cool drink and a fresh, light-hearted story to keep my brain from overcooking!

To be fair, the concept of “summer manga” is rather subjective. It doesn’t need to have a beach theme, nor does it need to feel hot and sweaty — though, I’m not opposed to a sizzling summer romance. There’s no real genre of summer manga. It’s more of a vibe you try to catch, like a clean wave at the beach, or a cool breeze in the afternoon. The best summer manga is the kind you can read comfortably anywhere, without worrying about the extra attention required to make you feel comfortable. That’s next season, with cozy manga for autumn/fall.  

In the spirit of keeping it simple to create your summer manga reading vibes, here’s a list of my top ten. There’s a mix of brand new and classic, some romance and some slice-of-life. Some are set at the beach, and some are far, far away from the ocean. But they all have the same laid-back summer feels, with the added charm of being manga.

When Summer Manga is All About the Location

cover of Ride Your Wave by Maasaaki Yuasa, Reiko Yoshida, and Machi Kiachi

Ride Your Wave by Masaaki Yuasa, Reiko Yoshida, Machi Kiachi

Summer is a great time to hit the waves! Surfer girl Hinako is excited about moving to the seaside to be closer to college and the surf. Things are looking up, even when her apartment building catches fire due to a fireworks display — thanks to her daring rescue by local firefighter Minato Hinageshi. But when things fall apart, Hinako needs to find a new path in life. Word of warning: you will need tissues for this heart-wrenching tale, but it will touch you with its sensitive storytelling and its optimistic sights for every summer in the future. Based on the original animated film directed by Masaaki Yuasa.

cover of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou by Hitoshi Ashinano, translated by Daniel Komen

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou by Hitoshi Ashinano, translated by Daniel Komen

Jump to a future Japan, long after an environmental catastrophe, in a world with androids and a sense of peace. This slice-of-life sci-fi manga gives us Alpha, an android who runs a small café in a seaside town. Alpha and the local residents share chapters of their story with melancholy beauty, even as the world’s end approaches. This is a classic and reliable go-to manga for every summer.

cover of Penguin Highway (manga) by Keito Yano and Taomihiko Morimi

Penguin Highway by Keito Yano, Tomihiko Morimi

The penguins arrived in Aoyama’s suburban town. Aoyama is a fourth-grader, but even they know that penguins usually need water, and Aoyama lives nowhere near the ocean. But the penguins appeared. And then they disappeared. Where did they go? How did they even get here in the first place? For Aoyama, this is now the perfect adventure mystery to solve for the summer holidays! This summer manga is due for release on June 18, 2024, and is based on the fantasy sci-fi novel by Tomihiko Morimi.

Looking for a Summer (Manga) Romance?

cover of rainbow days by Minami Mizuno

Rainbow Days by Minami Mizuno

For some lighter summer manga, pick up Rainbow Days and settle in for some light-hearted entertainment. This 15-volume series was originally released in December 2011 and picked up a new generation of fans with the live-action film in 2018. It follows the lives of four male friends: Natcchan, Mattsun, Kei-chan, and Tsuyopon. Each of them is completely clueless about relationships. As each of them faces their own personal struggles, the support of the group friendship guides them through.

cover of You and I are Polar Opposites by Kocha Agasaw

You and I are Polar Opposites by Kocha Agasawa

This very relatable and down-to-earth rom-com is perfect reading material for lazy summer days. It started as a one-shot and became a hit serialisation with Shounen Jump. The polar opposites are energetic go-girl Suzuki and quiet yet blunt Tani. How these two make it work is always a wonder and so sweet. Volume 6 was released in March 2024, which gives you plenty of summer manga to read.

cover of In the Name of the Mermaid Princess by Yoshino Fumikawa, Miya Tashiro (art)

In the Name of the Mermaid Princess by Yoshino Fumikawa, Miya Tashiro

Mermaid love and summer flings! Princess Mio is betrothed to Prince Chika, even though they have never met — he doesn’t even know she’s a mermaid! Before her big day, Mio leaves the castle with her tutor, Yuri, to see the outside world and meet her subjects. The experience leaves Mio with strong feelings about her life as a mermaid. When she tells her father, the King, that she wants to live her life openly as a mermaid, she is instead punished for her request. This is a fairly young style for a strong-hitting story, but it is great manga for finding yourself and having the courage to go for it.

A Slice of Summer Life

cover of Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You by Jinushi

Smoking Behind the Supermarket with You by Jinushi

Sasaki is a 45-year-old office worker who still uses a flip-phone and smokes. It’s his only vice and solace — well, that, and the friendly smile of store cashier Yamada. But one day, he misses cheery Yamada and, instead, finds sharper Tayama, smoking behind the supermarket. Okay, as unrealistic as it may seem to some, face blindness is a very real possibility. And yeah, smoking is bad, kids. However, the realism of Sasaki’s friendship with Yamada/Tayama is like a slowly blossoming flower. It has all the potential of a slow-summer burn, finding solace in escaping everyday drudgery. The original run started in March 2022, with the English edition released in February 2024.

cover of Hirayasumi by Keigo Shinzō

Hirayasumi by Keigo Shinzō

Originally released in Japan in September 2021, Hirayasumi will finally receive its English version on May 21, 2024, just in time for some summer manga reading. Hiroto Ikuta, 29 years old, lives a chilled life with all the vibe of long days at the beach. He unexpectedly inherits a house, from the unlikely friendship with his local “granny.” While Hiroto expects little change to his carefree lifestyle, his 18-year-old cousin Natsumi will put this to the test. Definitely grab this one for a lazy afternoon read.

For Those Trying Something Different for Summer

cover of Skip and Loafer by Misaki Takamatsu

Skip and Loafer by Misaki Takamatsu

Take a small-town girl and send her off to high school in Tokyo. Then sit back and watch the chaos ensue! Mitsumi is smart and ready for high school, but is she ready for the social norms and expectations of big-city high schoolers? Even though the story starts in spring, it’s also a great school-theme manga for those readying for the new academic year. Mitsumi’s narrative is all too familiar to everyone who felt like they were struggling to fit in. It’s a simple, sweet read that is so kawaii and uplifting!

cover of Status Royale by Ru Xu

Status Royale by Ru Xu

Fresh off the February 2024 shelves, this gaming manga will keep your summer feeling fresh. Inspired by Yu-Gi-Oh! and the growing subgenre of sports manga, Status Royale gives us Vell, a young woman burnt by her previous teammate and friend, Jun, in the online game Status Royale. Now, she has nothing but her burning need to challenge Jun and beat him at his own game! Gamer geeks will love this!

Weather predictions are looking at a long, lazy, and hot summer. So keep cool and read! Of course, if you’re looking for even more summer reading, check out these books set at the beach.