It’s common for avid readers to think, “Wow, I hope this novel gets a film adaptation someday,” after delving headlong into a new book. However, movies and TV shows based on literature can often be a gamble, as the adaptation medium is dicey at best—looking at you, Netflix. Thankfully, there’s a far better track record if you’re on the other side of the pond as a manga reader.
Whenever you fall for a new manga series, it is easy to get worked into a frenzy of excitement over the thought of an anime adaptation. This is especially true right now, as there are plenty of comics that leave readers salivating at the thought of their animated forms.
The following ten manga are the best examples, with promising newcomers and veteran classics galore. Yet, no matter the context, they all share one thing in common: the potentially massive impact of their adaptations. By reading this list, you can get your hands on plenty of new manga to read or impress your friends by predicting the most successful anime of the future. Talk about a win/win.
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10 Takopi’s Original Sin (Taizan 5)
Some people enjoy a healthy dose of masochism in storytelling, delighting in being dealt a brutal blow to the heart. If that’s you, you’d better keep an eye out for this almost inevitable anime as Takopi’s Original Sin is—without hyperbole—one of the bleakest comics of the past decade.
It tells the story of a goofy little alien (the titular Tapoki) from Planet Happy as he ventures on a mission to bring happiness to the galaxy. But, when landing on Earth, he runs into Shizuka, a suicidal girl bullied by her classmates and neglected by her family. The alien soon discovers that making her smile will be no easy feat.
There’s a harshness to this manga that makes it tough to read, but at the same time, it’s impossible to put down. Seeing as the story is told in only a few volumes, it would make for a perfect one-season anime show that would have viewers wincing in despair and grabbing the tissues.
9 Dandadan (Yukinobu Tatsu)
There’s a girl who believes in ghosts but not aliens and a boy who believes in aliens but not ghosts. However, together, they discover that both are real, and things get a little wild. If you’re not sold already, you must have a heart of steel.
Dandadan is one of those mangas that grabs your attention right away, with a compelling set-up and a fascinating dynamic between the leads. Ken and Momo are diametrically opposed, yet there’s a chemistry between them that leaps off the page, and if it were put into animated form, it would set the illustrator’s hand on fire.
This series is just as ludicrous as it sounds, with battles against ghosts, aliens, and even kitchen sinks. It’s essentially the X-Files on acid, but at its core, it always makes sure to tell a compelling story grounded by a simple coming-of-age tale. It’s hard to believe an anime adaptation wouldn’t cause a stir.
8 Mashle: Magic and Muscles (Hajime Komoto)
Everyone loves Harry Potter, at least according to box office records. But imagine if you were watching that series, and the famous forehead scarred boy didn’t have a whiff of magic about him. Instead, he just used brutish strength to complete spells, breaking things along the way and causing plenty of damage. That’s pretty much what you get here.
Mash is a strong young man with hopes of becoming a Divine Visionary to help his adoptive father. Unfortunately for him, you need to be a top-ranking student at the illustrious Easton Magic Academy to do that, and he has no magical skill whatsoever. Still, he signs up anyway and tries to prove that muscle can outweigh magic.
This series is an absolute blast thanks to the comedy of the lead character and the creative ways he performs his spells (?)—let’s call them tasks instead. The comic has a delightful irreverence, and an anime adaptation would surely capture that same magic.
It’s also got plenty of mainstream appeal—thanks to the HP meets One Punch Man comparisons—and needs to happen sooner rather than later.
7 My Hero Academia: Vigilantes (Hideyuki Furuhashi, Betten Court, Kohei Horikoshi)
If you love anime, chances are you’re already a fan of My Hero Academia. The Observer even reported it as the second most-watched TV show of the pandemic’s early days. Thanks to this roaring success, there’s plenty of potential to branch the story out, and luckily for My Hero, a spin-off manga already exists.
Vigilantes tells the story of Koichi, a young man who voluntarily uses his quirk to help people. After saving a girl from a thug attack, he’s recruited by the vigilante hero Knuckleduster, and from there, the journey begins.
Part of what makes Vigilantes a worthwhile spin-off is that it has a much darker tone than its sister series. There’s a little more severity here, with harsh bad guys and a nihilistic outlook on the superhero world.
Viewers have seen everything from inside UA, so it would mean a lot to glimpse at life outside that bubble, giving this possible spin-off’s colossal potential.
6 High School Family: Kokosei Kazoku (Ryo Nakama)
High school is a tough time. You’re just coming into your own as a person. There are lots of eyes on you, you’re not really sure what you want, and your body is changing. It’s full of awkwardness and cringe. So, imagine how much worse it would be if your whole family joined you. Unfortunately, that’s what poor Kotaro has to deal with.
In this goofy series, Kotaro has to go to school alongside his mother, father, and little sister as they all decide they want to attend together. This naturally leads to plenty of ludicrous hi-jinks, and you’ll be rolling on the floor clutching your stomach with laughter.
The comedy in this manga is excellent, but seeing the jokes put into animated form would help them take on a new meaning. For example, watching hilarious scenes like Kotaro’s father telling his boss he’s quitting to go to high school would be side-splittingly funny with movement, color, and creative direction. Overall, this manga is a perfect example of how animation can take a great premise and add a new life to it.
5 20th Century Boys (Naoki Urasawa)
Some properties are so large that adapting them seems like an impossible task. 20th Century Boys seems to be one such manga. Despite being considered a formative read and even spawning a few (lackluster) live-action movies, it has never been adapted into an anime. Well, it’s time for that to change.
20th Century Boys is a sprawling sci-fi epic set in 20th-century Japan. It follows a man named Kenji who notices the rise of a terrifying cult leader known as “Friend.” He and his own friends discover that the villain plans to destroy the world, which somehow connects to their childhood memories.
There’s a delightful sense of the ordinary becoming extraordinary in this manga, as the lead characters are very relatable. This is made even better by the utterly bombastic narrative that plays with everything from giant robots to prophecies. It’s an utter blast, and an anime adaptation could be an instant classic if it were handled correctly.
4 Sakamoto Days (Yuto Suzuki)
You’ve likely seen plenty of movies or shows about a former hitman who has left his old ways behind, looking instead to live the peaceful life of a family man. Yes, movies like John Wick and Nobody have turned the concept into a trope that’s been done to death (pun intended). But throw those feelings by the wayside because Sakamoto Days is a manga that makes it feel like the freshest idea on the block.
After living a harsh life as the greatest hitman of all time, Sakamoto falls in love and decides to pack his guns away, becoming a convenience store clerk instead. But, his past life comes back to haunt him, as former peers try their best to take him out, and he must protect himself without breaking his no-killing vow.
Part of what makes this manga so delightful is the two sides of Sakamoto. He’s got such a friendly and warm character design, but seeing him perform killer moves at breakneck speeds is utterly terrifying.
The story bounces between heartwarming comedy and pulse-pounding action like a sock in a washing machine, and seeing that mixture of styles in animated form would be deliciously entertaining.
3 Goodnight Punpun (Inio Asano)
Inio Asano is one of the most respected manga artists of his day. His titles like Solanin and Downfall are fantastic and carry plenty of weight. Yet, despite this, his work seems to very rarely, if ever, get turned into anime. That, naturally, is a tragedy, and if things are going to change, then his most seminal work would be the place to start.
Goodnight Punpun is a charming but weird story about a young boy coming to grips with his life. The titular Punpun is an awkward little kid who doesn’t look at all like his fellow students. But after he falls In love for the first time, he’s sent on a journey of self-discovery and heartbreak.
This manga is delightfully odd but will pull you in with relatable problems and incredibly well-written characters. As an anime, it would have considerable appeal, as the ubiquitous ideas of puberty and young love would reach the hearts of many.
Putting all that profound stuff aside, it’s also just wacky and weird, meaning the right visual style would turn it into a hilarious oddball comedy for the ages.
2 Vagabond (Takehiko Inoue)
Like 20th Century Boys, it’s staggering to think this series hasn’t already found itself on the screen. It has attained plenty of accolades, such as the Kodansha Manga Award in 2000, and was a big financial hit, selling over 80 million copies, as reported by Japan Times. Thus, it makes you wonder why no one has touched it yet. Perhaps they are just scared?
Vagabond is an epic story based on the historical Japanese Swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, as he turns from a vagabond (big shocker there) to a legend. You witness as he changes his violent and antisocial ways, becoming not just a better warrior but a better person.
The series is full of grit, danger, and a compelling sense of right and wrong, making it a story with a real point—not just at the tip of a sword. Musashi’s development is compelling, and watching an animated version of it would have the audience eating out the palm of its hands.
This (potential) anime could easily stand alongside fellow sword-wielding classics like Rurouni Kenshin, Inuyasha, and Demon Slayer. So, it’s time to pump the gas before it’s too late.
1 Kaiju No. 8 (Naoya Matsumoto)
Kaiju No. 8 has barely been on the manga scene for long, but people are already clamoring for it to be reborn in anime form, with internet rumors popping up all over the place. You’ll find no arguments here—quite the opposite, in fact.
This shonen series depicts a world ravaged by giant monsters known as Kaiju. These beasties are handled by an elite squad of fighters known as the Japanese Defense Force, and that’s where you’d think our hero would be, but he’s not.
Kafka, the lead character, is a middle-aged man and a member of the clean-up crew who tidies up after the attacks. But soon, his life takes a drastic turn as he discovers he can turn into a Kaiju.
The switch from a young protagonist to a middle-aged one helps this story feel original. Anime viewers have young protagonists falling out of their ears, but an older man who wants to take control of his life is something fresh and unique.
Alongside that comes some utterly addictive action sequences and a sense of humor that makes every page feel like a treat. Just thinking about seeing that occur with motion and color is enough to make you want to cry.