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18th December 2012

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Crave Mental Stimulation? The Psychological Manga Gift Guide

Artwork from the Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus, published by VIZ Media.

With another holiday season here, it’s often time to take a look at what manga series make good gifts. Though let’s get a bit more specific. What if you want someone to read titles that presents characters plagued by personal issues and the stress of the worlds they reside in? Have I got some ideas for you. Here are some of today’s top awesome English-licensed manga that dives deep into the recesses of the mind.

Naoki Urasawa's three classic titles: MONSTER, Pluto, and 20th Century Boys.MONSTER, Pluto, 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa - The first is a very suspenseful title that makes you think twice about saving one’s life sometimes. The second is a re-telling of the one of the first anime ever shown, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy. The third is a title about a group of regular folks taking a stand against a masked messiah and his cult. All three titles are EXCELLENT looks at the nature of humanity in all aspects and have amazing characters anyone can relate to. 

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's DEATH NOTE, Volume 1.

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata - Barring the controversy that it has caused over the world, this is still a solid psychological title that focuses so much on mind games. The fandom for Death Note is still going strong today.

Natsuki Takaya's Fruits Basket, Volume 1.

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya - The name sounds cute, but this is a shoujo manga that has a lot of emotional depth. People sometimes forget how messed up the members of the Sohma Family are in this series. 

Ryohgo Narita's Durarara!!, Volume 1.

Durarara!! by Ryohgo Narita & Akiyo Satorigi - This is a great series on the power of groups and also the power of Internet users.

Takehiko Inoue's REAL, Volume 1.

REAL by Takehiko Inoue - A gripping story about life outside of basketball. If you know someone who’s aspiring to be a better person, please show them this series and help them gain a new perspective of life. 

Yoshihiro Togashi's HUNTER X HUNTER, Volume 1

Hunter x Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi - The story sounds bright at first, but things get darker and darker as it goes on. There’s a great emphasis on strategy. Yes, its reputation for being on hiatus knows no bounds, but if you want a complex plot and frightening villains in a shonen battle manga, this is it. 

Q Hayashida's Dorohedoro, Volume 1.

Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida - If Raptor Jesus ever became a manga star, this would be his title. An extremely graphic title that covers an amnesiac with a lizard head trying to figure out who he really is. You get to see the wacky motivations of characters living in a world where everything is dark and horrifying. This is a must-read for those that love to make wisecracks about bad situations. 

Jun Mochizuki's Pandora Hearts, Volume 1

Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki - A series that you have to read pretty carefully to fully understand the story. It’s also a homage to Alice in Wonderland, which everyone knows is one big psychological study in a fantasy setting. Every character from this series is in need of a psychologist, too.

Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's Neon Genesis Evangelion, Volume 13.

Neon Genesis Evangelion by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - Arguably the most psychologically-compelling anime series of all time in manga form. 

Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, Volume 1.

Black Jack by Osamu Tezuka - Psychology of the medical world at its finest by the God of Manga himself. Before Dr. House, there was our scarred black-and-white-haired hero.


While there are so many other notable titles that aren’t listed (xxxHolic, Eden: It’s an Endless World!, Gakuen Alice, Mars, Akira, Gantz, Loveless, etc.), these are THE titles that are sure to jump-start the brain if you want some mental stimulation.

What other psychological-themed titles would you recommend to readers?

Happy mind-analyzing this holiday season!


Tagged: Death NoteDurarara!!Fruits BasketHunter x HunterNaoki Urasawa MONSTERNeon Genesis EvangelionPandora HeartsTakehiko Inoue REALmangamanga psychologypsychological mangapsychological themes in mangapsychologyOsamu TezukaOsamu Tezuka Black Jackmanga gift guide

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    Great list! Can’t wait to try some of these.
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