Manga Recommendations for Christian Readers

Below are our staff’s selections for manga that we recommend to Christian readers. While often relegated to second-hand status beside anime, as with novels as compared to movie adaptations, manga readers know that the source material often outshines its more visual counterpart, and can be every bit as moving and meaningful.  While the list below is just a start, it presents some of our staff’s selections for manga that Christians may particularly enjoy. The list is ever-growing, and we invite you to give your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Aria (Aria)
Barakamon (Barakamon)
Fruits Basket (Furuutsu Basuketto)
Kingdom Hearts (Kingudamu Hātsu)
The Legend of Zelda (Zeruda no Densetsu)
Rurouni Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin)
Silver Spoon (Gin no Saji)
Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)


aria manga

Aria
Aria

It’s the year 2301, and Aqua, the planet once known as Mars, has been terraformed to support human life. In the city of Neo-Venezia, Akari Mizunashi strives to become an Undine, as the beautiful gondoliers of the town are called. It takes years and hard work to become a fully-fledged Undine, but Akari treasures every moment of it, and takes the time to build memories with her friends and discover the wonders of the planet along the way.

(2002-2008, 12 volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Enjoy calming slice-of-life
(+) Enjoy exploring interesting settings
(+) Enjoy heartwarming coming-of-age stories

Skip if you:
(-) Want a fast-paced plot
(-) Want something serious and realistic

Biblical themes:
(+) Places value on treasuring the beauty of life
(+) Frequently explores themes like kindness and patience
(+) Reflects on the idea of finding purpose, meaning, and joy in life, even when it seems mundane.

Content to look out for:
(-) Supernatural elements (Akari encounters a fox spirit, a cat fairy, a ghost, etc)
(-) Some might find the idea of humans terraforming a planet to be as beautiful as earth to be offensive.

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barakamon manga

Barakamon
Barakamon

Seishuu Handa is an up-and-coming young calligrapher whose most recent work won a major award, but when a famous curator criticizes his work for being too by-the-books and lifeless, he responds by punching him in the face. This obviously being not a good thing to do, he gets sent to live on the remote Gotō Islands to cool his mind off and perhaps find some inspiration for his work. His life gets much more hectic when he finds out that the house he lives in is also the secret base of the hyperactive six-year-old girl Naru, who comes and goes as she pleases even if he locks the door. However, with help from her and the other villagers, Seishuu adjust to countryside life and learns how to bring life into his work.

(2009-current ~ 11+ volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Enjoy slice-of-life
(+) Enjoy stories about rural settings
(+) Want a story about character growth focusing on a young adult (rather than a middle/high-schooler)

Skip if you:
(-) Absolutely must have action-packed battles, angsty drama, or appealing girls in your manga
(-) Find kids, fictional or otherwise, utterly intolerable

Biblical themes:
(+) Grace and learning to recover after a fall
(+) Growing even when when you think you’ve already “matured”
(+) The power and value of community

Content to look out for:
(-) Some use of rituals and elements (i.e. shrines) from other religions
(-) One girl is basically a yaoi (guy-on-guy love) fangirl in denial

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fruits basket manga

Fruits Basket
Furuutsu Basuketto

Honda Tohru, orphaned and now homeless, moves in with the Sohma family, which oddly consists mostly of pretty boys. But this is not your typical reverse harem story. Those who read to the end will be rewarded with a compelling and eloquent tale about undying hope for a better future leading to a terrible family curse being broken forever. Be advised that the anime version, while excellent, ends at around volume seven of the manga.

(1998-2006 ~ 23 volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Enjoy series that are moving
(+) Like those good old retro anime series
(+) Like pretty boys

Skip if you:
(-) Prefer a more female-dominated cast
(-) Prefer ugly boys to pretty ones 🙂

Biblical themes:
(+) Sacrificial love
(+) Faith put into action
(+) The unacknowledged but real God who breaks curses

Content to look out for:
(-) Occasional sexual innuendo or jokes
(-) Some scary or violent scenes not suitable for children
(-) Inclusion of supernatural elements based in Asian religions

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kingdom hearts manga v2

Kingdom Hearts
Kingudamu Hātsu

A boy named Sora becomes the wielder of the legendary Keyblade and must travel to various Disney universes to defeat the consuming Darkness and seal away the worlds from harm. Based on the best-selling series by Disney and SQUARE ENIX, the Kingdom Hearts manga follows its video game inspiration while packing in totally original content and scenes. If you’re a fan of the franchise, and don’t mind a good deal of creative liberty with the original plot, you’ll love re-visiting your favorite characters, worlds, and storylines in manga form. Also an incredibly clean manga series with only the smallest of content concerns, this is the first manga I’d recommend to parents whose youngsters want to begin reading the genre. So far, four of the games have been adapted into manga form—Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts II (which is ongoing).

(2005-current ~ 10+ volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Are a fan of the original Kingdom Hearts game
(+) Believe Disney and SQUARE ENIX are the best combination since bread and butter
(+) Enjoy franchises with heart-felt messages about friendship and love (My Little Pony, etc.)
(+) Like your manga without any profanity, graphic violence, or sexual content

Skip if you:
(-) Don’t like Disney
(-) Aren’t a child at heart

Biblical themes:
(+) The power of love and friendship
(+) Redemption and forgiveness
(+) Finding fulfillment and purpose
(+) The value of life
(+) Overcoming sin

Content to look out for:
(-) Some emotional moments (character deaths, etc.) that may upset younger readers
(-) Some dark themes (one character is an assassin who puts an end to his teammates, etc.)
(-) Some obscure spiritual content about the “universal heart” and how it can be reborn

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zelda manga v2

The Legend Of Zelda
Zeruda no Densetsu

One of the greatest video game franchises ever is available in manga! There are 10 volumes in the complete box set, which provides a manga version for the following games: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, Four Swords, Minish Cap, Link to the Past, and Phantom Hourglass. Many of these were not translated to English officially nor were for sale in the United States for a long period of time, so it’s very convenient to have them all packaged together in a beautiful box. There are many Christian references scattered throughout, from the Triforce being a symbol of the biblical Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) to Link having to pray to open the Desert Palace in Link to the Past. Light and Darkness play a key role in every story, with Link being a sort of Christ-like figure who is called upon by Hyrule to save its land from the evil Ganondorf (or other foes) that want to conquer and rule them with an iron fist. Zelda, seen several times praying for Link’s safety, is often the damsel in distress whom it is Link’s duty to protect reflecting Christ’s love for His bride, the church. The artwork is well-done, making it an enjoyable read for die-hard fans and newcomers alike!

(1998-2009 ~ 10 volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Love The Legend of Zelda
(+) Are a gamer
(+) Enjoy fantasy/adventure titles

Skip if you:
(-) Are not into the hero saving the damsel in distress
(-) Prefer more character development over plot

Biblical themes:
(+) Courage, faith and hope in the power of good over evil
(+) Several indirect Christian references throughout the story

Content to look out for:
(-) Monsters and other similar dark creatures attacking people
(-) Magic used by the enemies throughout the series

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rurouni kenshin manga

Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin

Nobuhiro Watsuki’s most enduring work tells the tale of Kenshin Himura, an infamous assassin of the Meiji Revolution who becomes a wanderer in order to repent of his killings.  The story opens ten years after the Boshin War with Kenshin meeting Kaoru Kamiya, the assistant master of the Kamiya Kasshin style of kenjutsu, and helping defend her from a bloodthirsty former student.  Kenshin becomes a boarder at her dojo, which soon gains other interesting tenants through Kenshin’s adventures using a reverse blade sword to smite malefactors without killing them.  However, will Kenshin be able to keep his vow against killing as villains from his past attempt to take his life and the lives of those he holds dear?

(1994-1999, 28 volumes)

Read it if you enjoy:
(+) Historically accurate settings
(+) Suspenseful sword fights
(+) Slapstick humor
(+) Superhuman warriors

Skip it if you dislike:
(-) Long dialogue
(-) Occasional bloody violence

Biblical themes:
(+) Culture of life
(+) Repentance
(+) Anti-revenge

Content to look out for:

(-) It has some Buddhist, Taoist, and Shintoist themes and images, but morals antithetical to Christianity are not promoted by the work.
(-) Violence

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silver spoon manga

Silver Spoon
Gin no Saji

When Yuugo Hachiken begins his high school years at Ooezo Agricultural High School, he’s unprepared for the physical, mental, and emotional rigors of agricultural life. But through the honest endeavors of farming life, and the people who live it, Yuugo begins to learn much more about the world around him – and about himself.

(2011-current ~ 13 volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Are a fan of character development
(+) Enjoy media with a quiet charm
(+) Like nostalgic, calming, and romantic tones
(+) Enjoy learning while reading

Skip if you:
(-) Are strongly against the raising of animals for consumption
(-) Need heavy action to be present to enjoy a show
(-) Have difficulty keeping up with a large cast of characters
(-) Don’t like piglets and ponies

Biblical Themes:
(+) Emphasis on humility and putting aside pride
(+) Significance of character and integrity

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Some coarse language used by characters
(-) Relatively graphic displays of animal butchering process
(-) Some chapters feature ceremonial practices at Shinto shrines

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your lie in april manga

Your Lie in April
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

A peerless piano protégé named Kousei Arima loses his ability to hear his own music after a family tragedy, but when a free-spirited violinist drags Kousei back on stage as her accompanist, Kousei is introduced to the true beauty of music… and true love.

(2011-2015 ~ 11 volumes)

Read if you:
(+) Enjoy music or are a musician yourself
(+) Enjoy innocent love stories
(+) Enjoy poetic or arts-centered manga
(+) Enjoy manga that engages your emotions

Skip if you:
(-) Dislike tragedies
(-) Dislike music or the arts
(-) Dislike cats

Biblical themes:
(+) Love and friendship
(+) Transformation
(+) Courage
(+) Finding fulfillment
(+) Grace

Content to look out for:
(-) Scenes depicting physical, childhood abuse by parental figure
(-) Dark, emotional moments that may be upsetting to younger readers
(-) Some mild language and occasional instances of blood (sometimes for comedic effect)

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19 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Sam
    13 August 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Oh yeah, I’ve been waiting for this! So many good manga, and I’m so glad you included Barakamon; it’s one of the best you can get and it’s also widely available at Barnes and Noble bookstores nationwide, making it a good choice for the manga newbie. 🙂

    Personally, I’d also recommend A Silent Voice, which deals with themes of forgiveness, redemption, suffering, human nature and cruelty, and love in a story about a boy trying to find his way in life and his encounter with a deaf classmate,. It’s a fairly new manga, but it’s very, very good; the characters are well-developed and the plot feels…familiar. Not in a cliche sort of way, but in that you empathize with the characters and resonate with them. Their circumstances and their beliefs seem real, which is the hallmark of a good writer. The first two volumes are available on Amazon, with volume 3 releasing on September 29. And yes, I’ve already pre-ordered. 🙂

    Thanks so much for the recommendations! I’m so excited to see this site grow and flourish. As a believer, you’ve made me think a lot about my media choices, and even inspired me to do some writing of my own, for which I am extremely grateful. Keep up the awesome work. 🙂

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      14 August 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks for recommending A Silent Voice – it’s a series that I feel we need to explore here on the site. I just don’t think we had the familiarity with it to list it as one of our few recommendations (I myself have only read the one shot). I’m fairly certain we’ll be visiting that manga on our blog in the future.

      Leave a Reply
  • WhiteRabbit
    21 August 2015 at 2:03 am

    Yaaay ~ Your Lie In April!!! YUSSS! That one looks so good, I should totally read it X3 Thanks for adding this twwk! ^u^ By the way, have you ever done a review on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0?

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      21 August 2015 at 10:37 am
      • WhiteRabbit
        22 August 2015 at 3:17 am

        Yes. ^u^

        Oh, okay. I’ll be sure to check those out! :3
        And can I recommend something? I think Ao Haru Ride is a great manga. ((tis one of my fav’s))

        Leave a Reply
        • TWWK
          25 August 2015 at 3:07 pm

          I actually wrote weekly about the anime for that series while it was airing! It was a really interesting series. I wonder if the manga is also full of themes that could lead to strong spiritual commentary as well.

          Leave a Reply
  • Treasure Chest: Elohim, Christian Manga and 30 years of gaming | Gaming And God
    1 September 2015 at 10:16 am

    […] Beneath The Tangles has created their latest recommendation page, all about manga! If your looking for some Christian recommendations, there’s nowhere else on the net to find it but here. [Beneath The Tangles] […]

    Leave a Reply
  • Treasure Chest: Elohim, Christian Manga and 30 years of gaming – Theology Gaming
    13 October 2015 at 12:21 pm

    […] Beneath The Tangles has created their latest recommendation page, all about manga! If your looking for some Christian recommendations, there’s nowhere else on the net to find it but here. [Beneath The Tangles] […]

    Leave a Reply
  • Cicero
    7 November 2015 at 10:12 pm

    I’d like to add a few recommendations:

    “Taiyou no Ie” aka “House of the Sun” is a manga that is focused on the Nakamura family as told from the perspective of Mao. Mao is not a member of the family, rather as a young girl she lived in the neighborhood, and because of troubles in her own family she would often go hide at one of the temples nearby. One day, Hiro, the eldest son of the Nakamura family found her there crying, and invited her to his home.

    Mao then started coming over all the time to the Nakamura home, a place that she dubbed “the House of the Sun” and that sun was Mrs. Nakamura.

    Then the Nakamura parents died in a car crash. The sun went out. Hiro was a senior in high school at that time, but he couldn’t stop his family from being broken up. His younger brother and sister were taken to different homes. His relatives tried to argue with him to come live with them too, but he refused. He couldn’t keep his family together, so he did the only thing he could think of, he protected the house. He worked his way through a less expensive college, and sacrificed so that he could hold onto the house where his family had last been happy, in the hopes that someday his brother and sister could return home. Only when he had finally achieved the financial stability to let them come home… they didn’t.

    In the meantime, Mao’s parents finally divorced because of her mother’s affair. Asked to pick which parent to live with, Mao picked her father and moved away. Her father has since remarried, and despite her step mother’s kindness Mao feels alienated from her step family. Telling herself that if she wasn’t there, then they could be happy. One day she runs away from home, and returns to the last place she had felt safe and welcome: the Nakamura family home. There she meets Hiro, and he takes her in, and together they begin to turn the Nakamura house back into the house of the sun.

    And yeah, all that is just the backstory that the manga starts with.

    A romantic comedy, with plenty of silliness, but the incredible backstory makes it worth reading. Haven’t teared up so much since Clannad.

    Another anime that is in a similar “heartwarming” category is “Love So Life” all about Shiharu, a high school girl who is an orphan, and lives in a foster home. She often acts as the “big sister” to the other kids at the foster home, and because she’s come to enjoy young children she’s gotten a part time job at a nearby daycare.

    One day the (very eligible bachelor) uncle of twins hires her to be the fulltime babysitter to his twins, as due to a death in the family he is now their guardian. He’s trying to do the best he can, but they cry all the time because they want their mother, and he can’t find a way to make them happy. Shiharu begins taking care of them, constantly referencing her memories of her own mother taking care of her, in determining how to take care of the twins.

    If House of the Sun made me think of Clannad, Love So Life makes me think of Bunny Drop. Oh, there is a slight, very proper, romance in the background, but mainly, Love So Life seems to be about motherhood. A very traditional motherhood, that often is not given the appreciation that it ought to have.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      12 November 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Thank you for these recommendations as well! You don’t have to say much more than “Clannad” or “Bunny Drop” to hook me. 🙂

      Leave a Reply
  • Cicero
    7 November 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I was also going to recommend “Koe no Kitachi” aka “A Silent Voice” which is complete and is an amazing manga that references forgiveness and repentance in a way that this site definitely needs to discuss. I see however that has already been mentioned above.

    Another manga to consider that references the power of forgiveness, if in a more comedic fashion is a very old manga called “Angel Densetsu.” All about Kitano, a highschool student who has a heart of gold, and face like thug. Seriously, this kid has a face that makes him look like the villain of ultimate villainy. Such that everyone judges him by his face instead of his actions. Many misunderstandings result, (and the reaction faces only get better as time goes on).

    Imagine Kimi Ni Todoke as a shounen with martial artists and delinquents who talk with their fists, and you might have a good idea of what Angel Densetsu is like.

    Speaking of which, I’m sort of surprised that Kmi No Todoke and Cross Game aren’t up here.

    One final manga I’m going to recommend is really just a romantic comedy without much in the way of spiritual aspects. However, it won my heart when the male lead, Tsubaki, who has an unrequited love for the female lead, Kanoko who is completely oblivious love, rejects a plan proposed by another girl to attempt to make Kanoko jealous. Tsubaki responds: “What kind of person would do something to make the girl he loves insecure? If I have to lie to her, I’d rather it be a lie that makes her happy.”

    And the manga does a pretty good job of consistently rejecting a lot of the romance tropes that are “playing games,” Tsubaki struggles with himself at times, and accepts correction when he does something wrong, because he truly cherishes Kanoko, but he also wants more than a friendship. I found it a very refreshing change from most romance manga.

    It’s called “Koi Dano, Ai Dano” be sure to look exactly for that title.

    DO NOT go to “Ai Dano, Koi Dano” which is apparently a yaoi manga. (I made that mistake once, so learn from my misfortune.)

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      12 November 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you for the manga recommendations! I’m not a big manga reader and haven’t heard of either Angel Densetsu or Koi Dano, Ai Dano – they both sound like terrific pieces!

      Kimi ni Todoke and Cross Game my find themselves up there one day. Cross Game is my very favorite manga and has excellent content, though I’m not sure if it has the sheer amount spiritual content that one could mine compared to the others; but maybe I’m wrong. Kimi ni Todoke, on the other hand, probably would – I’ve only watched the anime, and there was so much from it that encouraged me to write.

      Leave a Reply
  • Kae-Leah
    20 February 2016 at 2:50 am

    My recommendations:
    *Yotsuba&-This was the first manga I read “raw”, aka in the original untranslated Japanese, and I loved it. It literally makes me laugh out loud. It’s basically reads like a lighthearted, mostly G-rated, slice-of-life sitcom about Yotsuba, the spunky, curious 5-year-old adopted daughter of a single dad and their neighbors. If one is studying Japanese and wants to try reading manga in the original, it’s a good title to start with because Yotsuba as a small child speaks in a simplistic manner. There’s some puns and such that don’t translate well into English, but it should still be enjoyable translated overall.
    *Revolutionary Girl Utena-The Utena manga has less problematic content(less incest and the implied yuri is balanced with a lot more het shipping) than the anime, as it was originally serialized in Ciao, a popular shoujo magazine targeted to very young girls. There’s a neat prologue chapter about Utena’s life before coming to Ohtori Academy, and the ending and back story is different than the anime, so the themes are a bit different.
    *Full Moon Wo Sagishite-It’s pretty similar to the anime’s story overall, but there’s a less filler and some parts are a bit darker.

    Leave a Reply
  • Kae-Leah
    20 February 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Something that can help discern content in manga is to Google what magazine it was serialized in Japan. I generally feel pretty safe with titles serialized in shoujo mags targeted at young girls like Nakayoshi, Ciao, and Ribon, for example. I also enjoy some titles serialized in mags like Bessatsu Friend, Flowers, and Cookie which are aimed at teens and young women, but there do contain a bit more sexual content(usually nowhere near a full-on hentai level though) and thus are not recommended to children and those who are extremely sensitive about such content. This can also just help trying to find series that would personally appeal to you, as each magazine tends to have a “house style” or general theme, I’m for instance a huge fan of Nakayoshi.

    Leave a Reply
  • Adria Luong
    4 May 2017 at 2:36 am

    God bless you brothers and sisters. Aria and Aqua, its prequel, are the most beautiful mangas I have ever read.

    Leave a Reply
    • Adria Luong
      4 May 2017 at 2:38 am
    • TWWK
      4 May 2017 at 8:35 am

      They’re certainly beautiful series! And I love the anime!

      Thank you for commenting. 🙂

      Leave a Reply
  • David Schooley
    13 October 2017 at 1:45 pm

    The anime is good for “Your Lie in April” as well in fact that was the first anime I showed my parents, My mom loved it by the way.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      13 October 2017 at 8:19 pm

      From the first episode, that series really exhibited the idea of grace. Wonderful series.

      Leave a Reply

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