Fantasy is an exhilarating genre in various forms of fiction, spanning manga, prose, film, and TV. However, the genre can sometimes become predictable with certain expected tropes. To break free from the usual fantasy formula, the manga series offers unique and refreshing takes on the genre.
While fantasy is a well-known genre in the West, Japanese works bring a distinctive touch, giving readers something remarkable. If you're a fan of such stories, here's a list of the 12 best fantasy mangayou should check out.
In the realm of Halkeginia, every noble is born with a magical gift. However, Louise Françoise Le Blanc de la Vallière, a student at the Magic Academy of the Kingdom of Tristain, consistently fails in her magical endeavors, earning her the nickname "Louise the Zero." Entering her second year, Louise is determined to demonstrate her abilities during the familiar ceremony. This ritual involves summoning a magical companion who will be by her side for the rest of her life.
In the year 526 of the liturgical calendar, witches and their sorcery are infamous nationwide, yet the understanding of magic remains complex. A mercenary, part beast and part man, ostracized by society, harbors a constant desire to become fully human.
His destiny takes a turn when he encounters a witch named Zero. Zero proposes a deal: she will transform him into a human if he becomes her bodyguard on a quest to find a magic book. If in the wrong hands, the book holds the potential for catastrophe or even the world's end.
With this pact, the unlikely duo embarks on a journey, the mercenary begrudgingly serving as Zero's protector despite his disdain for witches.
The story unfolds in Edo, the former name for Tokyo, now under the control of extraterrestrial beings known as "Amanto." Despite the samurai's resistance, the Amanto conquerors have triumphed, resulting in a ban on carrying swords for the city's inhabitants.
The narrative revolves around Gintoki Sakata, a silver-haired samurai who aids a teenager named Shinpachi Shimura in rescuing her sister from aliens intending to force her into a brothel. Impressed by Gintoki, Shinpachi becomes his apprentice, and the two join forces as freelancers to cover Gintoki's monthly rent.
The tale unfolds in a parallel realm between the Szaaland empire and a mysterious land known as "Wischtech," often dubbed the evil empire. This setting was the battleground for a war between the evil forces of Wischtech and others. Central to the plot is a legend recounting how the Emperor dispatched fourteen warriors entrusted with fourteen sacred spears to combat the dark army of Wischtech.
Among them, the "Glorious Warriors of No Return" met their demise in battle. At the same time, their comrades executed the "Spears of Treason," numbering four, for a serious offense. The remaining seven successfully completed their mission and returned as heroes, thus giving rise to the legend of the Seven Heroes.
Two decades later, a rebellion erupted in the Border Provinces of the Empire of Szaaland, led by individuals claiming to be the "Spears of Treason."
After an untimely and embarrassing demise, Kazuma Satō, a Japanese hikikomori teenager, encounters a goddess named Aqua. She proposes that he reincarnate in a parallel world infused with MMORPG elements, providing the opportunity for adventure and monster combat.
Despite being offered a divine item or an overpowered ability for this new world, Kazuma, spurred by a taunt from Aqua, opts for her company as they head to Axel's town. Soon, he realizes that her lack of sound judgment proves to be of little benefit to him in this unfamiliar realm.
Naofumi Iwatani and three other boys from parallel Japans are summoned to an entirely different world to become the "Legendary Four Heroes" or "Four Ancestral Saints." Each hero receives legendary equipment upon summoning, with Naofumi being granted the "Legendary Shield," the sole defensive item among the four.
Due to Naofumi's lack of charisma and experience, he finds himself with only one teammate—an attractive young woman—while the others have multiple companions. Unfortunately, Naofumi is betrayed, falsely accused, and disgraced on the second day.
Persecuted by everyone in the kingdom, from the king to the peasants, Naofumi is driven by thoughts of revenge and hatred. Thus, his solitary journey begins in a world where he must progress alone.
In Amestris, where Alchemy is a revered universal science, two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, live with their mother, Trisha Elric. Their father, Van Hohenheim, had left years earlier. Upon their mother's death from an illness, the young brothers attempt the forbidden act of human transmutation to bring her back.
In the process, Edward loses his left leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body. In a desperate move, Ed sacrifices his right arm to bind Alphonse's soul to a suit of armor.
To seek a solution and restore their lost bodies, Edward, now a State Alchemist with the alchemist name "Fullmetal Alchemist," and Alphonse embark on a perilous journey to find the philosopher's stone, utilizing the advantages and resources provided by their status in the military.
In Taisho-era Japan, Tanjiro Kamado is the eldest son of a coal merchant family. After his father's passing, he sells charcoal to support his family. Despite the challenges, they find small joys in their daily lives.
One fateful day, due to rumors of a man-eating demon, Tanjirō is compelled to spend the night with a kind stranger in the village.
However, upon his return, everything changes. His keen sense of smell leads him to a horrific discovery – his family has been brutally massacred.
In the Sengoku period, a half-demon named InuYasha seeks to become a full demon by stealing the Shikon Pearl. His plan is thwarted by a priestess named Kikyō, who, despite suffering a severe wound, uses her last strength to shoot a sacred arrow at him.
InuYasha is then pinned to the holy tree (Goshinboku), rendering him immobile and asleep for 50 years. Before her death, Kikyō requests that InuYasha's body be burned along with the jewel.
The narrative centers on the missions undertaken by a team from the Fairy Tail guild, featuring Natsu Dragneel (fire dragon hunter), Lucy Heartfilia (constellations), and Happy (an Exceed, a blue cat with wings, the ability to fly, and the power of speech).
Later, they are joined by Erza Scarlett (Knight Mage) and Gray Fullbuster (Ice Mage, later Ice Demon Hunter), expanding the team's formidable lineup. They encounter additional members throughout their adventures, such as Carla (a white Exceed cat like Happy) and Wendy (a celestial dragon slayer).
Amidst the Industrial Revolution, a mysterious pandemic swept worldwide, extending its reach even to the sovereign island of Hinomoto in the Far East. Infected individuals or those bitten by the infected turn into Kabane, formidable undead creatures with an insatiable thirst for blood. The Kabane pose a unique challenge as their hearts are encased in a layer of special steel, rendering conventional weapons like blades and steam rifles ineffective against them.
Faced with the difficulty of direct confrontation, surviving humans seek refuge in "stations," fortress-like structures connected by armored trains known as hayajiro. These fortified stations become the last line of defense against the relentless threat of the Kabane.
In a time when humanity faced the threat of an ancient demon, a lone wizard emerged as the savior, defeating the menace and earning the title of Wizard King. This legendary figure ushered in an era of peace in the Clover Kingdom, marked by generations of wise leaders and nine magical orders. Asta and Yuno, orphans abandoned at a church in Hage, an overlooked area of the Clover Kingdom, were raised together.
Asta is an exception in a world where everyone naturally possesses Magical Power, born without magic. To compensate, he dedicates himself to rigorous physical training. On the other hand, Yuno is a prodigy with extraordinary magical power and innate control. At age 15, they each receive grimoires, unlocking the potential to become Magic Knights—a prestigious title in this world where magical power is channeled through these enchanted books.