Science fiction manga series are hidden treasures. While many people turn to movies and books to satisfy their sci-fi cravings, they completely ignore the amazing content in the manga world.
Sci-fi manga bridges the gap between stunning visuals, fascinating dialogue, and creative concepts. Ready to dive into futuristic universes and imaginative landscapes?
Here are our picks for the best sci-fi manga series of all time that'll blow you away with their stories and characters!
Authored by Tsutomu Nihei
First published in 1998
256 pages — 4.13 on Goodreads
Imagine a city so overgrown with structures that you can't see the ground. This city exists in Blame! and Kyrii must live in it.
Equipped with a Graviton Beam Emitter, Kyrii must fight his way to uncover the Net Terminal Gene. This Gene is the key to gaining access to the city's digital control center, the NetSphere.
14. No Guns Life
Authored by Tasuku Karasuma
First published in 2015
244 pages — 3.85 on Goodreads
In No Guns Life, you'll meet Juzo Inui, a former soldier who has been transformed into an Extended (i.e. a cyborg warrior).
His entire head has been replaced with a gun, and he has no recollection of how it happened.
Inui now works as a mediator for problems that have to do with the Extended. When an Extended bursts into his office and asks him to protect a child, Inui's life gets much more complicated.
13. Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction
Authored by Inio Asano
First published in 2014
196 pages — 3.95 on Goodreads
Love aliens? You'll definitely want to pick up this unconventional sci-fi manga. Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction is a mouthful, but don't let that steer you away from reading it.
After aliens invade Tokyo, Japan struggles to fight back. Amid peace protests and a gruesome war against aliens, high school students Kadode Koyama and Nakagawa Ouran just want to go on with their ordinary lives.
12. Made in Abyss
Authored by Akihito Tsukushi
First published in 2013
180 pages — 4.19 on Goodreads
Every nook and cranny has been explored on Earth, except for the Abyss. This massive hole exists in the neighborhood where the orphan Riko lives—and she wants to become a Cave Raider just like her lost mother used to be.
As Riko begins her descent into the Abyss, she comes across a robot who looks like a human boy. Together, they make the perilous journey farther into the Abyss. What will they find in there?
11. Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka
Authored by Naoki Urasawa, Osamu Tezuka, Takashi Nagasaki
First published in 2004
192 pages — 4.38 on Goodreads
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka follows Europol's best detective, Gesicht, and his investigation into a series of murders. Geisicht lives in a world where robots and humans have become indistinguishable.
To make matters worse, Geisicht believes the hugely powerful seven great robots of the world are the killer's main targets.
Authored by Toshiaki Iwashiro
First published in 2008
208 pages — 4.16 on Goodreads
On a walk home, high school student Ageha Yoshina picks up a ringing payphone. He hears no one on the other end, but he does find a calling card that reads "Psyren." His friend, Sakurako, receives the same card—but she ends up vanishing.
Ageha decides to call the number written on the card. In doing so, he ends up being transported to the world of Psyren, a strange place that's filled with monsters and hazards.
9. Eden: It's an Endless World
Authored by Hiroki Endo
First published in 1998
216 pages — 3.99 on Goodreads
In Eden: It's an Endless World, a worldwide plague that causes the skin to harden and organs to fail ends up eliminating a large portion of Earth's population. Anyone who survives the disease is left crippled.
The Propater, a powerful paramilitary group, decides to use this tumultuous time as a way to exert its power and influence over the world. Meanwhile, Elijah embarks on a search for his mother while accompanied by his father's robot.
Authored by Makoto Yukimura
First published in 1999
528 pages — 4.34 on Goodreads
Planetes tells the story of a future that seems only a few generations away. It takes place in the 2070s, a time when humans have begun colonizing space.
Unfortunately, all of this space travel doesn't come without risks or consequences. An excess amount of space debris floats around the planets, creating treacherous travel conditions.
Hachimaki, Yuri, and Fee are hired to clean up all of this debris. As they embark on a journey to tidy up space, they each bring their own sets of baggage to the table.
7. 20th Century Boys
Authored by Naoki Urasawa
First published in 2000
424 pages — 4.56 on Goodreads
Given this manga's age, you might expect it to drip with nostalgia—and you'd be right! Naoki Urasawa's manga isn't just a cerebral look at one of the most important centuries in human existence, but it's also packed with emotional weight.
As Kenji Endo and his friends discover that a man is out to conquer the entire world—and it has something to do with their memories—they set out to solve the mind-bending mystery before it's too late.
Selling over 30 million copies, 20th Century Boys is one of the best-selling manga series of all time.
This sci-fi manga is massively well-regarded and won numerous prizes upon its release, making it a must-read for any manga enthusiast who's serious about the sci-fi genre.
Authored by Hiroya Oku
First published in 2000
672 pages — 3.96 on Goodreads
Gantz is one of the best sci-fi manga series out there, particularly for how well it morphs in and out of the genre. It blends science fiction with horror in a most exquisitely engrossing way.
Written by the fantastic Hiroya Oku, the story follows a group of people who have recently died. Normally, that's where a story would end—but in Oku's mind, it's where this superlative sci-fi tale can begin.
These characters find themselves in a game between the world of the living and the afterlife. In this game, they have to track down and kill aliens in order to gain points.
Gantz provides an interesting take on an action-packed purgatory, and when you consider the sprinkling of horror throughout, the result is one of the most entertaining sci-fi manga out there.
Authored by Hitoshi Iwaaki
First published in 1990
288 pages — 4.29 on Goodreads
Hitoshi Iwaaki is the brilliant mind behind many great manga, but the volumes that make up Parasyte represent not only his best work, but some of the greatest pages ever crafted in sci-fi manga.
The story follows Shinichi, a young man who has a rare medical condition: he's become infected by an alien parasite. But he's lucky! Because he isn't infected in the same way everyone else is.
While the infected normally turn into zombie-like hosts, Shinichi's parasite has only infected his hand. So even if the alien can now control his hand, Shinichi is still in control of himself.
A strange, unsettling, and ultimately unnerving manga, Parasyte falls more into the category of horror sci-fi. Be warned! Some parts of Parasyte can be pretty creepy.
But if you're OK with horror, this spine-tingling manga is worth checking out for any fan of sci-fi manga who's in need of a good scare.
Authored by Yukinobu Tatsu
First published in 2021
218 pages — 4.05 on Goodreads
Dandadan is a sci-fi manga series with a more believable premise that most other manga in the genre: two teenagers are simply daring each other to make a frightening discovery.
As these two friends argue over the possibility of life happening on different planes of reality, one affirms the existence of ghosts and the other claims the presence of aliens in our universe.
As it happens, both are right. And in Dandadan, we get to read as their discoveries come to light and what happens thereafter.
3. Land of the Lustrous
Authored by Haruko Ichikawa
First published in 2013
200 pages — 4.00 on Goodreads
With a title as evocative as Land of the Lustrous, you can bet that this sci-fi manga is going to be unlike any other. Written by Haruko Ichikawa, it delivers an exciting premise and a beautiful art style.
Land of the Lustrous takes place on Earth after it has been devastated by six meteors, which delivered such heavy impacts on the planet that nearly all life was extinguished in an instant.
However, some life remains. They've grown resilient to their new environment and Earth is now inhabited by "jewel people" who find themselves with hardened skin.
But our protagonist, named Phosphophyllite, has very weak skin. As a result, she's considered to be a waste of space by everyone else in her community. Without durability, how is she supposed to survive the war against the moon-dwelling Lunarians?
Massively engaging with spectacular worldbuilding, Land of the Lustrous is one of the best sci-fi manga series of the last decade.
2. Ghost in the Shell
Authored by Shirow Masamune
First published in 1989
368 pages — 4.16 on Goodreads
It's the middle of the 21st century and Public Security Section 9—the most advanced counter-cyberterrorism force on the planet—is led by the fearless and determined Motoko Kusanagi.
Oh, and she's a cyborg. Well, technically, she's an augmented-cybernetic human who's categorized as a synthetic "full-body prosthesis." (Yeah, let's just call her a cyborg.)
With massive intelligence and frightening strength, Makoto is a formidable hero, but in Ghost in the Shell she'll have to face many obstacles that test even her greatest attributes.
This groundbreaking manga series was lauded for its tackling of both philosophical and sociological issues in one fell swoop. It's also one of the early pioneers of the cyberpunk sci-fi manga subculture.
Authored by Katsuhiro Otomo
First published in 1984
361 pages — 4.40 on Goodreads
It was a tough call between some of these entries—what with there being so many incredible sci-fi manga series worth reading—but, ultimately, Akira has to take first place.
For starters, Akira is one of the most influential pieces of science fiction literature of all time. It sounds exaggerated, but it can't be understated: Akira revolutionized sci-fi media in all forms.
Putting aside the iconic film adaptation in 1988, Akira influenced many other iconic stories (like Ghost in the Shell) and helped pioneer the cyberpunk manga subculture in Japan.
More than that, Akira helped to popularize and legitimize manga itself worldwide. It's such a good story with so much depth, people around the world had no choice but to take notice.
Akira still feels immensely fresh, and you can see the sheer amount of creativity that's on display in every single page. The story is massive, the beats are enthralling, the characters are fantastically written.
Without question, Akira still reigns as the best sci-fi manga series ever made, and it's hard to imagine it ever being dethroned.