The life cycle of most manga goes something like manga, anime, and finally live-action film. Usually, manga are first serialized in a weekly or monthly manga magazine. Then, if it garners enough readers and attention, the manga may get adapted into an anime series. However, there are rare cases where some of the best manga don’t receive the anime adaptations they deserve.
Sometimes it’s due to production problems or lack of interest from anime studios. Some of the manga on this list, for example, feature grotesque or risque scenes that anime studios might not be interested in producing. The following five titles represent some of the best manga that have yet to receive an anime adaptation.
1. I Am a Hero
While the zombie manga library may be small, within that library is I am a Hero, one of the most grotesque and artistic manga I’ve ever read. Despite its title, I am a Hero follows Hideo, a downright pitiful main character who looks nothing like a hero at first. Hideo is an insecure failed manga writer in his mid-thirties who appears as though he has serious mental issues, often talking to himself at work and hallucinating.
One day, an unknown plague hits Japan, and people become infected with a strange disease that causes them to mutate into deformed and ravenous creatures. The only thing that sets Hideo apart from others is his membership in a gun owner’s association and access to a shotgun in a country where almost no one owns a gun.
I am a Hero won the 58th Shogakukan Manga Award and spawned three spin-off titles, as well as a live-action film. It’s the best zombie manga I’ve ever read, by far. It’s almost a crime that this title has not been made into an anime yet.
2. Iris Zero
Iris Zero is a shonen manga with a unique setting and surprisingly serious plot lines. It’s set in a world where children are born with unique powers known as their “iris.” Adults, however, don’t have an iris and every now and then there are children born without one too. These children are known as “Iris Zero,” and are bullied and ostracized by their peers.
The story follows a high school boy named Toru, an Iris Zero who wants only to blend into the background and get through high school without drawing attention to himself. But when one of the most popular girls in school asks him out in front of the entire class, Toru’s whole world is turned upside down.
The manga explores the psychological trauma that comes along with having special powers, such as knowing when people are lying or when someone is going to die.
From Naruto to My Hero Academia, there are tons of manga out there about children with special powers. However, in those manga, the setting itself was built around those powers. What makes Iris Zero unique is that the world doesn’t normalize the children’s gifts. Adults are unsure of how to deal with their children.
Furthermore, the manga explores the psychological trauma that comes along with having special powers, such as knowing when people are lying or when someone is going to die. Iris Zero is a hidden gem of a manga that definitely deserves an anime adaptation.
3. 20th Century Boys
From the legendary writer Naoki Urasawa (Monster), 20th Century Boys is a sci-fi dystopian mystery manga about a group of childhood friends who try to overthrow an evil cult that has taken control of Japan.
The story follows the boys from the early years of their childhood all the way into adulthood, at a time where the cult mastermind threatens to release a deadly biological weapon upon the world. On a fateful day known as “Bloody New Year’s Eve,” the cult leader turns the world upside down.
At the same time, the manga explores the fun and innocent adventures the friends had as children throughout Japan’s Showa era. In that sense, the manga almost functions as a beautiful glimpse into the past, encapsulating Japan’s pop culture in the ‘80s and ‘90s. While no anime has been released for 20th Century Boys, there are three live-action films you can enjoy once you’ve finished reading the manga.
Written by Toru Oikawa, Infection is one of the best post-apocalyptic manga of the last decade. Following a group of high school students, Infection is about an unknown epidemic that is quickly spreading through Japan. The infection is parasitic and causes the host’s body to become infested with strange worms.
The manga follows Amemiya, a high school boy trying to rescue his sister from the local elementary school and reunite with their father. While the action scenes are sometimes wildly unrealistic, Infection presents a very mature story. There is deep character development featuring themes of death, betrayal, and distrust.
5. Pokemon Adventures
One of the most beloved video game and anime franchises of all time, Pokémon touched the hearts of millions around the world. Unlike the common life cycle of manga titles, the Pokémon game series came first, followed by the manga and anime which were both released in 1997.
Those that have played the original video games on the Gameboy will know, however, that the anime veers from the main game series and expands a lot on the story. The Pokémon Adventures manga is based on the main quests in the original Gameboy games, rather than the anime.
While the original anime was insanely popular, many fans have talked about how the manga’s narrative is better.
Instead of Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in Japan), the manga follows Red, a boy seeking to become the greatest Pokémon trainer and grow stronger than his rival, Blue. He must also thwart the plans of the evil Team Rocket.
While the original anime was insanely popular, many fans have talked about how the manga’s narrative is better than the anime. For those who consider themselves die-hard Pokémon fans, an anime based on Pokémon Adventures would be an amazing addition to the franchise.
These manga are some of the best that I’ve read in recent years. The fact that they haven’t adapted into anime yet is shocking. They’re truly hidden gems that haven’t received the attention they deserve among western fans. While most of us are being encouraged to stay home, there is no better time than now to start a new manga series.
What manga do you think deserve an anime adaptation? Let us know in the comments below!