Sometimes, I randomly spawn Manga reviews and recommendations out of thin air for your reading pleasure.
The next time you have a few hours to kill, rather than burn it browsing through social media, wouldn't you rather spend it reading a great manga instead?
There are hundreds of short manga available in English, and after reading 20 or so of them, I came up with this list—a selection of super short manga, around 250 pages each, that you could easily finish in one sitting.
1. "Tropic of The Sea" by Satoshi Kon
In the little island town of Amide, there's a legend that once upon a time, a mermaid gave the people a bountiful sea, and in exchange, they had to take care of her egg for 60 years.
Now, the 60 years are up, and Yoshitaka finds himself shouldering the responsibility to fulfill his promise to return the pearl-like egg to the sea while a powerful man tries to seize it to unravel the mystery of the mermaids and makes a profit from it.
There are several things going on in this story. The choice between environmental preservation vs. socio-economic development, the eternal conflict between faith and logic, and a coming-of-age story, just to name a few.
All of it is wrapped inside a fast-paced thriller drawn with gorgeous art, three-dimensional characters, and cinematic panels.
2. "Giganto Maxia" by Kentaro Miura
In the Dune-like dystopian future where giant, fire-breathing squid hover the skies, colossal titans rampage through the land, and part of humanity has evolved into anamorphic beings, two people, Dallos and Prome, roam the desert in search of the remnants of Gaia, a legendary titan that had the power to alter the face of the earth itself.
Kentaro Miura has the knack for rich worldbuilding, and just like Berserk, it's full of weird creatures, warriors with swords and spears, and, of course, sly innuendos.
For better or worse, Giganto Maxia feels like a mesh of genres and inspirations. There's a heavy martial arts element in the medieval yet futuristic fantasy setting (with a dash of Attack on Titan on top).
3. "Memories of Emanon" by Shinji Kajio
What would you do if you met somebody who holds three billion years' worth of memories? Since life first appeared on earth to the present day, Emanon remembers everything.
In a way, she is the memory of the world itself.
This is a charming, slow-paced, and serene story of two young people talking about memories, personality, history, myths, science, and science fiction, among other things, while onboard a cruise ship in the middle of a melancholic winter night.
4. "Not Simple" by Natsume Ono
This is the story of possibly the most unlucky character in the history of manga.
Ian grows up with a father who doesn't care about him, a mother who despises him, and a sister who loves him but is locked up in jail most of the time. All he ever wants in life is a normal, loving family, but all he ever gets is false hope, contempt, and disappointment.
This is easily the most depressing drama on this list, but please don't let that turn you away from it. Beneath its simple art lies a rich and deep story of family, life, and perseverance.
5. "All My Darling Daughters" by Fumi Yoshinaga
This is a story of women and the various roles they take in life—a daughter, a sister, a friend, a coworker, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.
What starts as a seemingly simple premise of a 30-year-old daughter, currently single, who suddenly finds out about the intention of her mother, also single, to marry an aspiring actor in his mid-twenties, quickly transforms into a deeper look into a delicate meaning behind every choice that a woman takes in their life.
This collection of loosely related stories is heartwarming and inspiring at the same time.
6. "Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms" by Fumiyo Kono
Set in the city of Hiroshima, this short manga tells the story of those who survived the atomic bomb and the life of those who come after them—from the story of a woman who lost most of her family members because of the catastrophic event and tries her best to lead a normal life to the people who live in modern times and can't help but feel that despite all the progress in her city, the scar of that day never seems to be fully healed.
This is a heartbreaking story that hides underneath a lighthearted tale of love, loss, and nostalgia.
7. "Helter Skelter" by Kyoko Okazaki
Helter Skelter is the story of Ririko, a beautiful, super-famous model, and her inevitable descent into madness.
There is nothing real to Ririko. Not her face, not her body, not her personality, nothing. Everything is staged, and slowly but surely, it will all crumble away until there's nothing left.
Underneath its simple art style lies a dense and surreal story that will only get more complicated as you flip through the pages.
The complex emotional journey and its relatable premise make it one of the best short dramas that ever graced the medium.
8. "Sand Land" by Akira Toriyama
An old Sheriff, an old devil called Sheef, and Beelzebub, the prince of hell, are on a mission to find a mystical spring that could provide fresh water for both human and devil-kind of the Sand Land.
This is Akira Toriyama's most original work in a long while, and it has all of his signature trademarks. Funny and quirky characters, great action sequences, intriguing story, a weird sense of humor, and unique vehicle design, just like what you'd find on Dragon Ball.
And just like Gigantomakhia, which I mentioned before, Sand Land also offers a light and a straightforward story that would serve as a good balance to the dense story that appears in most of the titles in this list.
9. "The Euphrates Tree" by Osamu Tezuka
After eating fruits from a forbidden tree on a mysterious island, three high school friends obtain unexplainable powers that would make their everyday life a walk in the park. That is until one of them decides to indiscriminately kill people he deemed of no value to the world.
The plot of this manga is similar to the 2012 SciFi/thriller called Chronicle, or rather that movie has a similar plot to this 1983 manga. So if you ever watch that movie, you'll know what to expect from this story. It's a story of friendship destroyed by jealousy, powers, and narcissism.
Osamu Tezuka created countless manga throughout his illustrious career, and this short story is definitely right up there among the best.
10. "Domu: A Child's Dream" by Katsuhiro Otomo
There have been multiple mysterious deaths in the Tsutsumi Public Housing Complex. All of that death can't be just a simple coincidence, can it? Or so thought the police.
Little did they know that a sinister, supernatural force has been ruling and passing judgment on the tenants of that buildings for decades, and he won't let mere police officers stand between him and his plaything.
Domu is the first-ever manga that won a Nihon SF Taisho awards and would, later on, be a foundation on creating his magnum opus, Akira.
Enjoy These Short Manga
This selection of super shorts manga has been arranged in a way that I think would be the best reading experience for you.
You can read any one of them that you'd think suits your taste the most, but if you intend to read the whole list, please consider reading it in this particular order.
Rather than sorting the titles randomly, I decided to treat this list like an album. It started with a bang, and the tension will vary from there to ensure the most satisfaction at the end.
It's a little experiment of mine.
If you decided to read the list from start to finish, please let me know what you thought in the comment section below.