Death Note was written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata and was published from December 2003 to May 2006. It tells a story of high school student Light Yagami who comes into possession of a seemingly normal notebook which grants the user the ability to kill anyone whose face and name they know. As Light begins to cleanse the world of evil, he is hunted by a detective called L. This manga series has been lauded for its thought-provoking writing and character development.
Fullmetal Alchemist was written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa and was published from August 2001 to June 2010. The story follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who live in a world ruled by alchemy. When their mother dies, they use forbidden alchemy practices to try to bring her back from the dead, which results in serious damage to their bodies. They have to search for a philosopher’s stone in order to restore their bodies to their former states, while also trying to stop a vicious plot to destroy the world. The series deals with problems in society such as class division and the horrors of war. The series is also notable for the way it explores the seven deadly sins.
Astro Boy is often regarded as one of the first manga series and, as such, is believed to have inspired a lot of the manga that came after it. It was published from April 1952 to March 1968 and was written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka. It details the exploits of a robot called Astro Boy and a host of other characters. Astro Boy was created by Doctor Tenma after the death of his son. He soon discovers Astro Boys’ ability to feel emotions and his robotic abilities which compel him to fight evil. The series has been well received due to its positive and uplifting themes and how it appeals to people of all ages.
Bleach is one of the most popular manga series, written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. It was first published on 7 August 2001 and is still ongoing. It follows the adventures of high school student Kurosaki Ichigo, who becomes a death god in order to save his family. As a result of his new powers he is given a new responsibility to protect humans from evil spirits. The series has achieved widespread popularity due to its extensive list of characters, writing and the interesting concept.
Naruto is also known as one of the most popular manga series. It was written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto and was published from 21 September 1999 to 10 November 2014. It follows the story of a teenage ninja in training called Naruto and his escapades as a young ninja who one day hopes to become the leader of his village. The series has been well received due to its themes, which include family and redemption.
Illustration: Johann van Tonder