Top 20 Mature Manga Worth Reading

There is a common misconception among many people that anime (and manga) is only for kids. The truth is, this couldn’t be farther from reality. Both manga and anime are mediums; their content can be mature and explore dark, gritty, or simply adult themes just like any other series or movies.

In this article, we selected the top 20 mature manga across various genres, ensuring that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

20. Hope

Who says that shoujo can’t be dark? While we are usually used to lighthearted romance shoujo, Hope is anything but that.

Shy artist Hikari spends all her time doodling manga in the corner. But a strange event changes everything. Now, she’ll chase her dream of becoming a manga artist in a unique competition!

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This manga tackles deep themes and the MC suffers quite a bit, so you might also be sad from reading it.

19. Wolfsmund

Wolfsmund, also known as Wolf’s Maw in English, is a dark historical manga set in the early 14th century (around 1315) in Switzerland. The story revolves around the oppressive rule of a tyrant named Wolfram who oversees the Wolfsmund fortress located in the St. Gotthard Pass.

As expected from a mature historical manga, the series doesn’t sugarcoat the brutality of the Middle Ages. However, if you’re into survival or death game-type genres, it’s definitely worth reading.

18. Bartender

After the inhumanity we introduced in the previous title, Bartender falls on the opposite side of the spectrum; it’s extra wholesome and soothing.

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Those seeking action-packed anime might frown upon the promise of this manga. After all, it’s a simple plot about a genius bartender who helps depressed people. Each time, he listens to their problems and gives advice while serving drinks. This cycle repeats with different customers.

17. Drifters

Drifters throws a bunch of tough guys from different historical periods – samurai, special forces soldiers, hitmen – into a strange new world full of magic and monsters. In order to find a way back home, they first have to survive.

It goes without question that this manga explores mature themes like war, survival, and the nature of good and evil. Moreover, it isn’t shy about bloody battles and intense fighting sequences. To top it off, the characters are complex and flawed, lending the story a more grounded approach.

16. Velvet Kiss

Finding a dark and dramatic romantic manga story is certainly rare. While most romance manga center around happy-go-lucky high schoolers, which isn’t inherently bad, if you’re seeking something deeper, you might have a harder time finding it.

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In Velvet Kiss, a down-on-his-luck businessman gets tricked into a massive debt. His loan officer offers a solution – befriending a rich girl in exchange for freezing the debt. This girl is Kanoko, a spoiled and lonely heiress. Shin struggles to deal with Kanoko’s difficult personality. However, as they spend time together, Shin starts to understand Kanoko’s loneliness, and she might see a kind side to him.

15. My Happy Marriage

Many label My Happy Marriage as the 1000th remake of Cinderella. While not necessarily untrue, this version adds a superpower twist to the story and deeply explores the theme of finding self-worth after years of abuse.

Miyo Saimori’s life is a living nightmare. Unloved and mistreated by her family after her mother’s death, she sees no hope for a better future.

However, one day, her father arranges a marriage for Miyo with Kiyoka Kudou, a powerful and wealthy man. Miyo expects the worst, but Kiyoka treats her with surprising kindness and affection.

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14. Akumetsu

Akumetsu is a dark and violent seinen manga with a complex plot. To many, including me, Akumetsu is what Death Note wishes to be. That being said, this manga is full of brutal killings and violence, so it’s not for everyone.

In this manga, Shou, a vigilante, seeks to reform the corrupt Japanese government through acts of terrorism, guided by his “One man, One kill” code of action.

Needless to say, for those seeking an adrenaline-fueled story with a gritty undertone and a complex moral dilemma, Akumetsu might be an interesting read.

13. Sweat and Soap

We are back in the romance genre to lighten the mood a bit. Sweat and Soap follows a self-conscious Asako who works at a soap company, relying on their products to hide her sweat and odor. When a developer compliments her unique scent, they develop a surprising romance.

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Clearly intended for adult audiences, this manga is ideal for fans of josei romance seeking a blend of warmth, sensuality, and mature themes.

12. Taishou Maiden Fairytale

Despite being adapted into an anime in 2021, Taisho Otome Fairy Tale remains a hidden romance gem. While some may classify it as a wholesome wish-fulfillment story, this doesn’t lessen its charm in the slightest.

Those interested in learning a bit more about Japanese life and culture during the Taisho era will love this romance manga. Also, witnessing a broken male MC slowly find love and support in his bride destines Taishou Maiden Fairytale as a cornerstone feel-good mature manga.

11. Black Lagoon

Inspired by real-life Southeast Asian pirates and the action-comedy of Tarantino and Hong Kong cinema, Rei Hiroe crafted the world of Black Lagoon. The manga takes place in a dark world and doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities.

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Black Lagoon is about a boring office worker, Rock, who gets kidnapped by a crew of wild mercenaries in Southeast Asia. Stuck with them, he ditches his dull life for a crazy adventure.

This crew isn’t your average bunch. Revy, the fierce leader, blasts away problems with her twin pistols. Dutch, the quiet muscle, is a mystery, and Benny keeps their tech running. There’s even Roberta, a deadly loli assassin (don’t let the cuteness fool you).

10. Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro isn’t for the faint of heart. It throws brutal violence, body horror, and a dark and unforgiving world at you. The story can be complex with lots of characters and twists, so you’ll need to pay attention.

The manga takes place in a gruesome world where sorcerers turn people into monsters. Caiman, a lizard-headed amnesiac, hunts them with his doctor Nikaido, seeking a cure in a wild blend of dark fantasy, action, and humor.

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9. Fruits Basket

Some anime are really good at making you feel things, and Fruits Basket is one of them. It handles sensitively mature themes like abuse, loneliness, depression, and toxic relationships. Moreover, the series doesn’t dwell on graphic details and instead mixes them with heartwarming moments.

Fruits Basket follows an orphan called Tohru Honda who ends up living with the mysterious Sohma family, unaware they’re cursed to transform into the zodiac animals!

8. Oshi no Ko

Being an idol is a dream of many people, particularly the younger ones. However, those who choose this difficult career path are bound to discover sooner or later the dark side of fame, the exploitation of young talents, and the sacrifices made for success.

Oshi no Ko’s premise doesn’t stand out at first. It’s a story about the reincarnation of two deceased people, a doctor and a sick girl, who are both huge fans of a beautiful idol, Ai Hoshino. The twist? They are reborn as her children.

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With that being said, the manga blends the idol genre with mystery and drama, adding a grim flavor to the story.

7. Nana

Nana follows two young women named Nana, both chasing dreams in Tokyo. One Nana, a punk rocker, seeks musical fame, while the other seeks love and stability. Their friendship blossoms despite their differences, but dealing with love, careers, and self-discovery in a demanding city tests their bond.

Young adulthood is not easy and those who want a realistic portrayal of such a life stage will find Nana relatable. It tackles themes of ambition, heartbreak, the complexities of relationships, and the struggle to find your place in the world.

6. The Climber

Buntarō Mori, a lonely student, discovers a passion for climbing. He joins his high school club and eventually becomes a world-class climber.

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His journey, however, isn’t easy. He faces loneliness, depression, and the dangers of solo climbing, all while chasing his ultimate goal: conquering the mighty K2, one of the most challenging mountains on Earth.

5. Goodnight Punpun

Punpun Onodera is a young boy with a distinctive bird-like appearance. He deals with the complexities of childhood and adolescence. We see the world through his eyes as he deals with family troubles, loss, bullying, and the confusion of growing up.

Now, Goodnight Punpun definitely isn’t a light read, but it offers a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of human emotions and the struggles of growing up.

4. Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga is a brutal and epic historical drama set in Viking times. While its premise is relatively simple, its dark and gritty setting and well-developed characters set it apart from other manga in similar genres. The characters also grapple with moral dilemmas, PTSD, and the emotional toll of violence.

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The manga focuses on Thorfinn, a young Icelandic warrior fueled by revenge, who seeks to kill Askeladd, the man who slew his father.

3. Monster

A cult classic, Monster centers around Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant surgeon, who makes a life-altering decision. He chooses to save a young boy named Johan Liebert over a prominent politician. However, this choice sets off a chain of events that shatters Tenma’s world.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers that raise profound questions about good and evil, morality, and the consequences of our choices, Monster could be a rewarding experience.

2. Vagabond

Vagabond tells a fictional story based on a real swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. It starts in war-torn Japan. Takezo, a wild and violent young man, runs away and joins a battle. After things go wrong, he’s framed as a criminal and left for dead. A kind monk saves him and gives him a new name: Musashi Miyamoto. This is the start of Musashi’s journey.

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Often praised for breathtaking art, thought-provoking themes, and compelling character development, it’s surprising that not even one studio has tried to adapt it. Unfortunately, Vagabond has been on hiatus for 8 years, with the last chapter released on May 21, 2015.

1. Berserk

Berserk is the king of mature manga. Its violence, complex story, and tragedy make it unsuitable for younger viewers. On the other hand, adult audiences can easily appreciate this masterpiece’s complexity and beauty. According to many, the anime adaptations, particularly the 2017 series, haven’t always captured the full brilliance of the manga.

Our protagonist, Guts, is a lone warrior wielding a giant sword who wanders a bleak world filled with monsters and human cruelty. Haunted by a dark past, he fights for survival and vengeance, searching for meaning in a world seemingly devoid of hope.

Although its creator, Kentaro Miura, passed away in 2021, Miura’s close friend, Kouji Mori, the only person entrusted with the entire Berserk narrative, will take the reins and finish the story.

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Misaka
Misaka

Hi, my name is Mia, and I am the founder of 9 Tailed Kitsune. I am a big fan of esports, games, and anime. When I was around 7 years old, Phantom Thief Jeanne sparked my fascination for anime, and it has never faded! 🌟💖

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