Unfortunately, as is the case across many industries, the field of writing and drawing manga has historically been dominated by men. In fact, this has persisted so much that even recently, female writers have published their manga under male-sounding aliases. Today, even though there are still too few female mangakas, their works consistently add new depths and viewpoints to the medium.
RELATED: 10 Things You Forgot From The First Episode Of Sailor Moon
Covering a wide range of genres, some female mangakas have found enormous success, with their titles becoming the go-to series for new and old fans alike, from the epic adventures of Fullmetal Alchemist to magical girl classics like Cardcaptor Sakura.
Updated on March 17th, 2022 by Stacie Rook: Manga written by women have much to bring to the art form, as enduring favorites and new releases from female creators continue to shine. The best of these stories blend the verbal and visual together to make something more than the sum of their parts, and immerse readers in worlds both strange and familiar.
14 Sailor Moon
A magical girl classic loved the world over, Sailor Moon, written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi, ran from 1991 to 1997.
It sees protagonist Usagi Tsukino begin her journey as the hero Sailor Moon, thanks to the assistance of cat Luna. Usagi then awakens a group of other Sailor Soldiers with their own powers, and they work together to defend the Earth against threatening forces. The most touching friendships of Sailor Moon, its LGBTQ+ representation, and its strong art style make it a memorable read that still holds up today.
Beastars, written and illustrated by Paru Itagaki, was serialized from 2016 to 2020, and is set in a world full of anthropomorphic animals.
This world is starkly divided between carnivores and herbivores, and Beastars’s storyline follows wolf Legoshi, a student whose towering figure is in stark contrast with his shy personality, and those he attends Cherryton Academy with. At the series’ outset, the murder of student Tem raises tensions between the carnivores and herbivores, and Legoshi attempts to find the culprit.
SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
12 Delicious In Dungeon
Delicious in Dungeon, also known as Dungeon Meshi, is an ongoing manga written and illustrated by Ryōko Kui, first published in 2014, that focuses on cooking in a comedic fantasy setting.
The story begins with a group of heroic adventurers attempting to slay a dragon. Their failure results in a loss and roster change for the party, who grieve and worry about how they will adventure moving forward. As a way to combat their dungeon-delving expenses, the group decides that instead of buying rations, they will kill and eat monsters they face off against, and the manga details their trials, combative and culinary.
11 Witch Hat Atelier
Witch Hat Atelier, written and illustrated by Kamome Shirahama, is an ongoing fantasy manga which began in 2016.
The story follows Coco, a young girl who wishes to become a witch, but becomes devastated after she accidentally performs a feat of magic which traps her mother in stone. Longing to reverse this, Coco goes to live with powerful witch Qifrey, a man with several outcast pupils who he instructs. At the same time, Qifrey investigates a coven who wish to make use Coco’s powers.
10 Deadman Wonderland
Female writer Jinsei Kataoka teamed up with illustrator Kazuma Kondō to produce Deadman Wonderland in 2007, and it ran for 13 volumes until 2013.
Gorier than most shonen, the series follows Ganta Igarashi, who is falsely accused of a massacre and sentenced to execution at the Deadman Wonderland prison, which in reality is a theme park where prisoners are forced to battle to the death. Full of superpowered humans and intense fight scenes, the mysteries of Deadman Wonderland will propel readers through its story.
Noragami was written and illustrated by Adachitoka, which is the pen name (and a portmanteau) of its two female creators – Adachi, who serves as the character artist, and Tokashiki, who serves as the background artist. The manga premiered in 2010, and is still running today.
After an accident causes schoolgirl Hiyori Iki’s soul to regularly start slipping from her body, she meets a lost god, Yato, and Yukine, Yato’s divine vessel. Together, the three endeavor to take back the things they’ve lost, but must face down their pasts along the way.
8 Blue Exorcist
Both written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, Blue Exorcist follows the adventure Rin Okumura, the half-human twin son of Satan, who must use his demon powers to defeat the devil that created him.
In order to do so, this dark fantasy series sees Rin enroll at the True Cross Academy, training to become an exorcist, with the help of his twin brother Yukio, who is already proficient in the art. The manga is noted for its strong characters, and their interactions with one another.
7 Ouran High School Host Club
Most fans of modern anime will have heard of Ouran High School Host Club, written and illustrated by Bisco Hatori. It is a romantic comedy and parody, both of otaku culture and the shojo genre, that follows the relationships of students who work at a popular host club.
RELATED: 10 Best Shoujo Anime of 2020, Ranked
The manga’s substantial popularity meant it was adapted into an audio drama series, an anime television series, a Japanese drama series, a live-action film, and a visual novel. Ouran has enjoyed enduring popularity both because of its comedy, and its approach to popular character archetypes.
D.Gray-man, written by Katsura Hoshino, is an adventure series that blends sci-fi with fantasy, and follows protagonist Allen Walker in his feats as an exorcist of the Black Order. The story is set in an alternate 19th century, and often deals in themes of morality.
While D. Gray-man has changed publishers several times since its debut in 2004, and faced a number of hiatuses, but it continues to this day, and had a spin-off light novel series titled D.Gray-man: Reverse, illustrated by Hoshino, but written by Kaya Kizaki.
5 Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Alongside the many anime adaptations of classic literature, manga Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is based on the stories of 1001 Arabian Nights, and features memorable tales from that collection, such as that of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad the Sailor. Written and illustrated by Shinobu Ohtaka, the series would go on to sell over 25 million copies.
Before the end of its publication in 2017, Magi was adapted into a two-season anime, which itself spawned a spin-off series. Its coming-of-age narrative and interesting magic system made Magi a fun read throughout its run.
4 Cardcaptor Sakura
Written by CLAMP, an all-female Japanese mangaka group, Cardcaptor Sakura is an iconic magical girl story that follows young protagonist Sakura Kinomoto, who must use her newly gained powers to retrieve a deck of magical cards she accidentally set loose on the world, with each card causing mischief in its own way.
A staple of the magical girl genre, the original manga’s run was from 1996 to 2000, but its overwhelming popularity led to a still-ongoing sequel over a decade later in 2016, Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, following a slightly older Sakura on even more adventures.
3 Black Butler
Written and illustrated by Yana Toboso, Black Butler debuted back in 2006 and continues publication today. It has been adapted into three anime series, an original video animation that screened in Japanese theaters, a live-action film, and an animated film.
RELATED: The 10 Best Manga Of 2021, According To MyAnimeList
Black Butler follows a young Earl, Ciel Phantomhive, who forms a contract with a demon disguised as a butler, Sebastian Michaelis, to get revenge against his parents’ murderers in the underworld of Victorian London. Though it is often dark, this supernatural series nevertheless has poignant moments of comedy.
Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi wrote and illustrated Inuyasha, a story about a middle school girl from modern-day Tokyo transported to Sengoku Era Japan where she meets Inuyasha, a half-demon, half-human warrior. Together, the main characters use their fighting abilities and journey to recover fragments of a sacred jewel before it falls into the hands of evil.
Inuyasha was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday from 1996 to 2008, culminating in over fifty volumes, and it also had two anime series. An anime-only sequel, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, also began airing in 2020.
1 Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist, by writer and illustrator Hiromu Arakawa, has sold over an astounding 70 million volumes. A steampunk adventure, the story follows brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric as they hunt down a way to restore their bodies through alchemy, after an attempt to bring their mother back to life irrevocably altered them both.
The series has been praised not only for its darker themes, which grappled with philosophy and human nature, but also the way that it developed its central characters, and the relationship that the brothers have with one another.
NEXT: 10 Best Sports & Fitness Anime Of All Time, Ranked
Spider-Man: 20 Things About Peter And Mary Jane’s Relationship That Make No Sense
About The Author
(14 Articles Published)
Barrington Levi is a lifelong consumer of Japanese manga and anime culture from Brooklyn, NY. He has studied Japanese language and anime history and lived in Japan. The first manga he ever read was Beet The Vandel Buster and his favorite anime is a toss up between Code Geass, Steins;Gate and Attack on Titan.
More From Barrington Levi