Hey, I know you’re probably rushing out to shop for Christmas. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. But what if the best of us is otaku? Fear not, we’ve compiled a list of recently published manga that are available on store shelves today! We’ve also divided the list into two age groups, so there’s something for the whole family. Without further ado, here’s our holiday gift manga recommendations!
Holiday Gift Manga Recommendations for All Ages
A Man & His Cat (Square Enix Manga)
This is probably one of my all-time favorite manga series, and coincidentally the cleanest one out of the bunch. Kanda Fuyuki is a widowed piano teacher that ends up adopting Fukumaru as a promise to his late wife. What follows is chapter upon chapter of sweet dreams fuel as the two have adorable slice-of-life adventures together. The first couple volumes are told in mostly 4-koma strips, but later volumes get surprisingly emotional.
Honestly, if you were to only get one manga on this list, it should be A Man & His Cat. It’s got positive messages, a cutely fitting art style, and dynamic characters. If you need a pick-me-up from all the madness of the world, there’s no better place than here.
Kirby Manga Mania (VIZ Media)
Okay, this is a weird recommendation for me. Why do I endorse a series that I’ve only given 3 out of 5 UwUs max to? Well, simple: It’s comfort food and appropriate for all ages. Kirby hasn’t talked this much in… well, forever, and there are some genuinely hilarious moments in each volume. Kirby Manga Mania is an anthology that works well because it taps into the franchise’s comprehensive history. From the NES titles to Star Allies, there’s a lot going on here. The gags are mostly kid-friendly, and there’s something that casual and veteran fans alike will love.
While most of the stories are self-contained and feature generic versions of the characters, I’m glad the mangaka included some obscure cuts. Ribbon from Crystal Shards and the buddies from Dream Land 3 come to mind, and they’re all full of personality. Kirby himself is a spoiled but well-meaning kid, while King Dedede is a loyal yet bumbling king. Their personalities have a Spongebob/Squidward dynamic to them which works well for a children’s manga. What’s great about this anthology series is that you can grab any volume and start from there. It’s a great series to pick up and read like Sunday newspaper funnies.
Stitch and the Samurai (Tokyopop)
Do you like Disney’s Lilo and Stitch? Maybe without the Lilo? Stitch and the Samurai has got you covered, and it’s great for kids that want some action with their Disney. In an alternate retelling of the classic Disney franchise, rogue alien Stitch makes an emergency crash landing. However, it’s not modern-day Hawaii, but feudal Japan! He encounters Meison Yamato, a lord that grows fond of the strange creature and wants to keep him. What follows is three volumes of funny antics (with a twinge of seriousness) as the two bond together.
I just love how crazy this whole series is and how everyone just goes along with it. No real justification for Stitch being in a historical-fiction manga, but it’s just so zany I can’t get upset. The introduction of other characters from the film (like Jumba and Pleakley) make this a wild ride. I also love how genuine the bond between Yamato and Stitch is here. I keep forgetting there’s a whole other franchise with another main character attached to Stitch!
Hammer (Saturday AM)
I’m glad to see smaller publishers and creators making their own manga, it’s great to read some new things too! Stud is a young boy who can turn his hands into hammers and is ostracized because of it. When trying to find his dad (who is usually off on adventures), Stud is whisked away to a strange land. Here, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of an aquatic murder mystery.
Stud must work with Detective Dan in order to find the true culprit, but only if the two can survive! What follows are hi-seas hijinks with some killer action scenes. As the publisher’s namesake states, Hammer looks like a Saturday morning cartoon with its vibrant at style. It’s a fun romp that’s kid-friendly and captures the imagination of the younger demographic.
Holiday Gift Manga Recommendations for Older Audiences
The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting (Kaiten Books)
I’m apparently a sucker for the “reformed criminal does regular chores” genre, and The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting is no exception. Except that it is, however, because the main characters are still operating as Yakuza. It’s this dynamic that makes this manga stand out, but also creates a rather wholesome premise.
Kirishima Tooru must take on his most crucial mission yet: To babysit his boss’s daughter! If Spy x Family has taught us anything, it’s that family can take place in the strangest of places. The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting still has the dangers of being a Yakuza member, but it’s overall a heartwarming tale. There isn’t that much objectionable content (and if it wasn’t Yakuza-related, would have been fine for the other group). With the anime being a surprise hit last season, this is a great manga pickup for those who liked the show.
Beastars (VIZ Media)
While it ended in 2020, Beastars is still running in the west with season 3 of the anime on the way. What better way to experience “Zootopia but darker” than through the manga? While the later volumes don’t have the same intrigue as the Cherryton Academy murder mystery, they make up with worldbuilding. Legoshi is forced to become an adult wolf even though he’s still a kid at heart. Meanwhile, Louis needs to be responsible running the Shishigumi, a notorious gang of lions.
All in all, the latter volumes of Beastars is a markedly different series that will surprise anime-only fans. You should pick these up to catch up on the deviously sly villain Melon as well as some interesting characters. (A nudist seal as a neighbor? Sign me up! Or… not I guess.) The art gets much better near the ending, with more action-packed sequences and detailed backgrounds in the black market. The final volume releases in January, but there are still 21 volumes to catch up on, hurry!
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (VIZ Media)
I don’t talk about Frieren enough, and I should. It’s a series that’s an unconventionally perfect shonen and goes about its narrative quite differently. It’s a slow burn of a fantasy series that focuses more on the “after happily ever after”.
The Demon King is destroyed by Himmel the hero and his friends! The party of four go their separate ways, and all is peaceful in the world.
Except elven mage Frieren ages slowly, and after reuniting 50 years later, Himmel passes away. Realizing that she needs to make the most out of her long life, Frieren goes on another adventure. This time it’s to rediscover what it truly means to live. Mentoring the young apprentice Fern and budding warrior Stark, the new party continue to travel across the land.
What I appreciate about Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is how it approaches immortality and the drawbacks of it. The manga frequently time skips weeks or months ahead, but also slows down when necessary. I also enjoyed the fact that while peace is present throughout the setting, there’s still things to do. There are advances in magic and people Frieren helped half a century ago are considerably older now. It’s great to see how the manga tackles time compression and societal progression in a fantasy setting. With a new volume coming out in January, you have more than enough time (heh) to pick it up.
Look Back (VIZ Media)
I know I keep gushing about Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man, so I’ll recommend something different. Look Back is a subdued work that also acts as a meta-commentary on Fujimoto’s life. But then, it’s ALSO a strange drama/slice-of-life one-shot that’s deliberate and tightly paced. Chronicling the lives of two girls, it delves into what it means to draw manga and the ensuing journey within. It’s wild that Fujimoto cranked this and Goodbye, Eri out while on hiatus with Chainsaw Man. The one-shots are truly a work of art, and you should definitely gift this to your Chainsaw Man-loving friends. (Or, if you have a Shonen Jump subscription, you could read it there. Your choice!)
Titan (Seven Seas Publishing)
Technically this isn’t a manga but still, I would still recommend this! If you haven’t checked out Seven Seas’ Airship imprint (which releases light novels and novels), you should with Titan. I’m keeping tabs on the recent generative AI discussion, and it’s interesting to see Mado Nozaki’s take on this revolution.
In a post…everything society, man is pampered and protected by Titan, a self-sufficient AI. Seika Naisho is a psychologist by hobby (as traditional work is eradicated) and is requested to act as a therapist for Titan. Well, one of its 12 different personalities anyways. What follows is an interesting look into what it means to be truly human, as well as the implications of empathizing with a self-aware AI. If you liked Hello World’s narrative and storytelling, Titan would feel right at home.
Summertime Rendering (Udon Entertainment)
If you’re looking for a mature murder mystery with a healthy dose of sci-fi and time-traveling, Summertime Rendering is up your alley. It’s not for everyone, but for those looking for a thought-provoking series, you’ll eat it right up. Protagonist Shinpei grieves his childhood friend Ushio’s death, but it’s short-lived as he becomes short-lived. Thankfully, he has the power to rewind time, but he’ll have to figure out what’s happening with the island around him before he can relax.
While the anime is notoriously difficult to watch legally in the west, thankfully the manga is easier to access. Udon Entertainment has released the whole series in 6 2-in-1 omnibus releases, with Barnes and Noble offering exclusive boxsets. Now’s the best time to binge-read your next new mystery obsession.
Bonus! Reading Manga with the Couchmaster CYBOT
Okay, so I’ve been reading a ton of manga this past year, physically and digitally. But how do you think I’m able to relax while viewing on my computer? The Couchmaster CYBOT is a nifty little desk alternative for when you want to chill out with your laptop. The main components consist of two sturdy support pillows and a bamboo desktop, which can be moved anywhere.
While it admittedly takes a bit to settle in, once I did, I wanted to just sit there forever. The cushions mean you don’t have to worry about your laptop or other tech weighing your legs down. The construction is perfect for extended gaming sessions. I work from home, so it’s helpful when I want to read manga on my laptop in the living room. It’s a high-end seating solution that’s wonderful for the office worker in your life!
That wraps it up for our holiday gift manga recommendations! If there’s something you’d recommend, leave it in the comments below, and stay tuned for more anime and manga news!