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There are many genres in manga; no matter what your personal hobby is, or what you like to read about, you are going to find a manga about it. Sports, board games, politics, magic, videogames, school life, and of course, family life. Now, one could say that every manga has a bit of family life, as the main characters have a family –either by blood or by choice. We’ve touched on this before, when talking about how rare it is to see happy families within different manga of other genres, but today, we want to touch on those manga which are about families, even if sometimes, their lives are not that happy or their relationships are a bit dysfunctional.
So we have a lot of different families here, from those who are just starting to become one, to those who have been together for a long time. From very conventional ones, to unconventional ones, we can see that a great family story doesn’t always have a great family as the focus.
As in other manga lists, we’re focusing on those manga that haven’t gotten an anime adaptation, although this is one of those genres which aren’t as popular on the small screen.
10. Akkan Baby
- Authors: Miyauchi, Saya
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 2001 - 2002
Yuki Kagura and Shigeru Nagae aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. They met at a concert of their favorite indie rock band, Conflict, and since then, have had a very open sexual relationship without any emotional ties. Unfortunately, as they’re each other’s first lover, they didn’t take any precaution either, so soon, Shigeru finds herself pregnant and unable to decide what to do. Fortunately, Conflict’s lead singer Rui and his girlfriend Nina are there to help them and guide them through the first steps in their relationship and the choice they have to make: either abort the baby, or keep it and raise it together.
Akkan Baby is a very curious story that deals with a serious subject, teenage pregnancy, but manages to insert a lot of comedy into it. Yuki and Shigeru are completely clueless about everything, which makes the idea of the two of them raising a baby a bit terrifying, but as the story advances and both start growing up and realizing that life can’t be just following Conflict around and having sex, one can’t help but cheer them on and wish them the best of luck.
As Yuki and Shigeru take their first steps into becoming a family, with the help of some very dear friends, they earn the tenth place on our list.
9. Love so Life
- Authors: Kouchi, Kaede
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 17
- Published: 2008 – 2015
Shiharu Nakamura is a 16-year-old highschool student who works part-time at a nursery school because she wants nothing more in life than to run her own daycare. But when two twins under her care, Aoi and Akane Matsunaga, who are just two years old, get too attached to her, their guardian, Seiji Matsunaga, has no option but to hire her as a permanent babysitter. It’s on her first day that she finds out that she has more in common with the twins than she thought: Seiji is their uncle, and has been taking care of them since their mother died and their father, his brother, disappeared. As she is an orphan, and lost her mother when she was five, she understands how they feel, and thus is able to help Seiji to take care of the twins.
Love so Life is another manga about how a family grows in an unexpected way. We get to see Shiharu realizing that it’s not the same to care for many children for a limited time, than to care for the same kids at all hours. We also get to see Seiji figure out how his work schedule is affecting his nephews and how to connect with them, thanks to Shiharu’s influence. Of course, we also see the romance grow between Shiharu and Seiji, but the most important part is that both know that they can’t let their feelings for each other affect the twins, as the children are the first priority for both Shiharu and Seiji.
Because of this focus, and how Shiharu and Seiji grow to be better people by caring for the twins, Love so Life holds the ninth place on our list.
8. Kamisama no Orgel
- Authors: Mizusawa, Megumi
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 2001- 2003
Yumi is a college student that has some romantic troubles. She has been dating Kouta for a long time, but she is also having feelings for her senpai, and president of the music club where she and Kouta met. But things get really complicated for her when, after a misunderstanding that leads to her and Kouta breaking up, she realizes that she’s pregnant with his baby. When she tells Kouta this, they both decide to get back together for the sake of the future baby, and from then on it’s necessary for both to make compromises and change their way of life in order to raise the baby together.
Unlike Akkan Baby, where the main characters are completely clueless and the story focuses on the pregnancy, Kamisama no Orgel has more focus on them as family. As college students, both Yumi and Kouta know a bit more about the world; both have part-time jobs, and both know that the first step in becoming a family is to talk to their own families. They still have ups and downs, as neither of them expected to end up sharing their lives forever; and once the child is born, the challenges triplicate. It’s even easier to have misunderstandings, and of course, fights can become harsher.
Since we can see the family grow slowly, and how they solve every challenge that comes their way, Kamisama no Orgel earns the eighth place on our list.
7. Kisu Yori mo Hayaku (Faster than a Kiss)
- Authors: Tanaka, Meca
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 12
- Published: 2007– 2012
Fumino Kaiji has had a hard childhood. After the death of her parents, she and her younger brother Teppei ended up being sent from one relative’s house to the next, as no one seemed to agree to keep them for the long run. Having decided to take care of Teppei and make sure he has a more stable life, she resolves to leave school, get a job, and support her brother on her own with no help from any grownup. However, before she can put her plan into motion, her teacher, Kazuma Ojiro, tries to talk her out of it. Frustrated by his useless pity, Fumino brings a challenge: If he really cares for her well being, then instead of just talking, he should just marry her and take care of her and Teppei. And to her surprise, Kazuma accepts.
With this premise, one can expect Kisu Yori mo Hayaku to be a comedy of hijinks. Kazuma is Fumino’s teacher and that means their relationship could cost him his job if the school finds out. There’s also Kazuma’s family, who had already picked a bride for him, and Fumino’s own family, who is not as thrilled as she thinks they were at getting rid of her. And between the fun misunderstandings, there’s also a lot of drama that makes Kisu Yori Mo Hayaku a great rollercoaster of emotions, and a great manga to read.
Because of the fun way in which things happen, and the sweetness of the general story, Kisu Yori Mo Hayakku reaches the seventh place on our list.
- Authors: Aogiri, Natsu
- Genres: Comedy, School, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2007 - 2013
Heisuke Ogawa is a very irresponsible high school student. He only cares for himself and for his personal hobby: making sweets. He’s so passionate about that, that if his home economy class gets cancelled, he just skips classes and goes back home, which has put him in danger of repeating the year. However, his routine changes when his aunt asks him and his mother to take care of her young child, Aki, for a day. Aki is four, and as an only child of two very workaholic parents, he has learned not to call attention to himself and is very reliable. But since Heisuke is nice to him, Aki soon becomes very attached to his cousin, learning from him that sometimes, it’s ok to be selfish. At the same time, Heisuke learns the importance of being responsible.
Flat is a bit of an oddity on this list, as Heisuke is not supposed to take care of Aki completely. He’s an occasional babysitter, as his aunt understands that he also has worries of his own. So we get to see a more realistic family dynamic that goes further than just the nuclear family of parents and children. Heisuke’s mother and aunt are also a big part of the story; especially since Aki’s mother is delighted to see that her son is starting to stand up for what he really wants, instead of just suffering in silence.
Since it’s nice to have stories that deal with extended families, and the relationship between the cousins is very delightful to read, Flat earns the sixth place on our list.
5. Fukuyado Honpo
- Authors: Yamahana, Noriyuki
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2005– 2007
In the beautiful old capital, Kyoto, there are many traditional stores. But few have as much tradition as the Fukyado, a store specializing in Wagashi for the tea ceremony. It’s managed by the Fukuyoshi family, led by their mother as the father died long ago. Hina, the oldest sister, is supposed to inherit the store and marry a Wagashi chef. She’s very responsible, but it’s easy to see that she’s more interested in their customer, Hinoyama-san who works at the nearby bank. Arare, the middle child, is a party girl, who has no interest in working –but secretly graduated at the top of her class and refused a good job to stay at home and help her mother. Hana, the youngest, is shy due to her height, but is still happy to help around the store while she finds her own place in the world.
As Fukuyado Honpo deals with both their family life and the traditions behind the store and their candies, it’s a wonderful manga to read accompanied with a cup of your favorite tea. Every sister has their own arc, and it’s a delight to see them grow up and change according to their own experiences, as well as seeing how loyal they are to the family store no matter how they’re feeling about their mother at the time. Also, because everyone is really proper, it’s a small lesson on etiquette for those who are not used to reading between the lines of a conversation.
Due to the beautiful setting and the tight family relationship we see in every chapter, Fukuyado Honpo has the fifth place on our list.
- Authors: Tagawa, Mi
- Genres: Shounen, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 7
- Published: 2013 – ongoing
In ancient Japan, there weren’t many places where you could get medicine for your illnesses, and not every town had a doctor that could treat the sick. To solve this problem, there were traveling medicine sellers who traveled from town to town. They were not only well informed about every herb in the country and how to use them to alleviate symptoms, they were also doctors who could diagnose what was wrong with a patient quickly and efficiently. Torakichi is one of those sellers, and that meant he spent a long time on the road, away from his family. But when his wife died, leaving him as a single parent to their son, Shirou, he decides to take his child with him, rather than leave him with his sister. It’s on the road where Torakichi will learn how to become a parent.
Chichikogusa is a heartwarming manga that will tug at all your heartstrings. The relationship between Shirou and Torakichi is not perfect, as at the beginning, Torakichi really doesn’t know how to take care of a five-year-old; and Shirou doesn’t know how to be on the road for such a long time. But as time passes, both of them learn about the other, and the reader learns about family and ancient Japan. There isn’t a villain or an overreaching arc; just a father, a son and the open road, and the little lessons to be learned every day.
Because the situation between Torakichi and Shirou can be a good reflection of single parents, Chichi kogusa earns the fourth place on our list.
3. Orange Yane no Chiisana Ie
- Authors: Yamahana, Noriyuki
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2005 -2007
Real estate scams are normally terrible. No matter how you slice it, someone is always robbed of their life’s savings, and it’s a really difficult mess to sort through. This is what happened to Natsumi Okajima, and Shotarou Ninomiya, when they both bought the exact same house to restart their lives. Problem is, they bought it separately, thinking the house would be perfect for a three-member family. With six people in the house –Natsumi and her two daughters, and Shotarou and his two sons- space becomes a problem. Natsumi Okajima just wanted the best for her family. Neither is willing to let the other keep the house while things get solved, and they can’t really go back to their old life: Natsumi’s husband cheated on her, and Shotarou’s wife demanded a divorce. So, without any other choice, both try to make the best out of the situation.
One of the most beautiful things of this manga is the relationship of both families. Shotarou is a workaholic, but it’s obvious he’ll do anything for his sons, and that he’s determined to get his wife back –despite his obvious attraction towards Natsumi. Natsumi, for her part, is devoted to her daughters, and while she doesn’t have much life experience, as she used to be a housewife and left all economic matters to her husband, she has promised herself she will build a better life for her kids and won’t let anyone step all over her again. And the way both families manage to live together makes the manga fun and adorable at the same time.
Because the main subject of this manga is family, and both families reflect different problems in real life, Orange Yane no Chiisana Ie earns the third place on our list.
2. Sugar Family
- Authors: Hagio, Akira
- Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 6
- Published: 2006 – 2009
Sometimes in a family, the adults are not exactly the most responsible ones. For Yuka, this means that all her life she has been her father’s babysitter, from the moment her mother died in a car crash. She doesn’t exactly mind the situation, but it has made her decide that if she ever gets a boyfriend, it has to be a man who isn’t troublesome. Unfortunately for her, when his father decides to remarry, his new stepmother is very reliable and responsible… but that is because her son, Taichi, is not. To make matters worse, Taichi is Yuka’s homeroom teacher, and she has been living alone with him since her father and stepmother left in a cruise he won.
Sugar Family focuses mostly on Taichi and Yuka, given that their parents are conveniently out of the picture just calling them from time to time. But it’s a very interesting view on families and what people expect from fictional families, because Taichi has a very marked sister complex; He is convinced that a young sister is what a family needs to be together no matter what. That idea colors all his interactions with Yuka, who is a far more realistic person that only wants to be free of the charge of babysitting the males in her family.
As it explores other family manga tropes at the same time that it gives us a beautiful love story, Sugar Family earns the second place on our list.
1. My Girl
- Authors: Yumeka, Sumomo
- Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2006 – 2010
There are many ways to describe Masamune Kazama, a young designer that works for a stationary factory. He’s single, 23 years old, loves ladybugs, and is a hard worker. The one word no one would think to use is “father”. However, when he gets a call about the death of his true love, he discovers that he’s the sole surviving parent of a beautiful four-year-old kid, Koharu. Masamune, at first, is not sure what to do about it, since he thinks maybe Youko was playing with him. The truth is that she never told him she was pregnant to make sure he wouldn't give up on his dreams to become a great designer. So Masamune then decides to try and become Koharu’s father in all the sense of the word, sharing with her the pain that both feel after her mom’s death.
My Girl is a bittersweet manga. Due to the very premise, we can’t forget that Koharu is a very recent orphan, and that for a long time, she wasn’t sure if her father wanted her or not. This causes her to be a lot more withdrawn when she’s alone, and to try very hard to keep Masamune happy no matter what. For his part, Masamune has to rethink many things about his relationship with Youko, Koharu’s mother, and also adjust his own life in order to accommodate Koharu without hurting her feelings or disrupting his work completely. It’s a very interesting tale of how a family can be created out of two broken people, without a romance in sight.
Because of these life lessons, and the great relationship between Masamune and his daughter, My Girl has the first place on our list.
Family is one of the most important things in society. Everything starts with your family, and how you relate to them, and to other families, it is how we start creating a civilization. Perhaps that is why family stories are always popular, because we want to see other families and how they conquer the same challenges we face.
With that in mind, which one is your favorite family manga? What are the things that you look forward to reading in such a story? Let us know in the comments below!