For many manga series, there are instances that they can get their own spin-off one-shots, or a spin-off series altogether. As most hardcore fans know, Sailor Moon happens to be a spin-off of Sailor V and would become one of the most internationally recognizable icons of Japanese pop culture.
Other than Sailor Moon, most of the time, other mangas use a popular supporting character from the main series and they become the main character of a spin-off. It gives readers a chance to learn about that character and what their overall value is to the franchise. Most of the time, these mangas are made because of story advancement purposes, as a reaction to the popularity of a certain character, or just for fun. So what are some of the best spin-off mangas? Read our list to find out.
10. Salaryman Exorcist: The Sorrows of Okumura Yukio (Salaryman Exorcist: Okumura Yukio no Aishuu)
- Authors: Kazue Kato (story), Minoru Sasaki (art)
- Genres: Fantasy, Comedy, School, Shounen
- Volumes: 3 (as of Feb 2017)
- Published: April 19, 2013 - present
Kicking off our list is a spin-off of the supernatural manga Blue Exorcist, Salaryman Exorcist: The Sorrows of Okumura Yukio. As the title suggests, this manga focuses on Rin’s twin brother, Yukio. Like some of the spin-offs we are going to share, this tends to focus more on comedy. While Yukio tends to be portrayed as the serious brother in the original series, Yukio finds himself trying to maintain his straight face in the sitcom scenarios he has to deal with.
Some situations he gets into are incidentally creating fashion trends by wearing one pair of glasses above his eyes and wearing another on his eyes, to cleaning crap off a Christmas tree. The manga is basically a spoof of Yukio’s popularity. Unfortunately, if you want to enjoy this manga, prior exposure to Blue Exorcist is a necessity to get a foundational understanding of the nature of the character.
9. Ginkai no Speed Star
- Authors: Kusunoki Michiharu
- Genres: Cars, Seinen
- Volumes: 2
- Published: Aug 11, 2014 – Apr 13, 2015
Wangan Midnight is one of Kusunoki Michiharu’s biggest hits for almost 20 years in Japan and it even paved way for the international hit arcade racer, Maximum Tune. However, disputes with Kodansha made him have to end the series and continue it as a spin-off, Ginkai no Speed Star through a new publisher. Since Kodansha still had the trademark to the Wangan Midnight name, he had to give this series a new name. The series revolves around Akihiro Motoki, and he wants to be the king of the Shuto Expressway with his silver Porsche 911 Turbo.
While American media portrayals of street racing tend to associate it with juvenile delinquency, street gangs, and even international terrorism with the recent installments of the Fast and the Furious movies, Ginkai no Speed Star isn’t about any of that. It’s about people with ordinary lives who are looking for new friends or need some spice in their life. That guy in the Ferrari you’re racing against, he could be your neurosurgeon or that young lady in the Lamborghini could be the hottest member of AKB48.
Having job security and all of that is great, but for some people, that’s not enough, and need an outlet to get away from all of that and it happens to be the empty midnight roads of the Wangan, the longest freeway stretch that connects Tokyo and Yokohama. Sometimes, people just do things because they need a little excitement in their lives and that’s what makes this series relatable and appealing. While this is a spin-off of Wangan Midnight, no exposure to the original series is at all necessary in order to jump right into this.
8. Food Wars: Etoile (Shokugeki no Souma: L’etoile)
- Authors: Michiko Ito (story), Taiki Asatoki (art)
- Genres: Shounen
- Volumes: v
- Published: Feb 20, 2015 – (still in publication as of Jan 2018)
This spin-off to Shokugeki no Souma focuses on one of Souma’s rivals, Kojiro Shinomiya, a specialist in French cooking. After losing to Souma in an Iron Chef-like competition at the cooking school they attended, he goes to France to further developer himself at his craft. While it doesn’t center on the titular Souma, this series does a great job of maintaining consistency with the original series on being an educational manga about food, this time on French cooking.
After reading this manga, you may want to see what French restaurants are in your area that serve Marget de Canard or try to enroll in a French cooking class, or go to France yourself and get a taste of the real thing. The manga does a great job of giving you an idea of who Shinomiya is and does make references to his time in the original series so it helps readers who have no exposure to it. While it does help, it isn’t 100% necessary to read the original manga.
7. Soul Eater NOT!
- Authors: Atsushi Ookubo
- Genres: Action, Ecchi, Supernatural, Comedy, Shounen
- Volumes: 5
- Published: Jan 12, 2011 – Nov 12, 2014
Though the original Soul Eater focuses more on its action, Soul Eater NOT focuses more on being a school drama. As for the meaning of NOT, it means Normally Overcome Target, a special weapons class at the Death Weapon Meister Academy (or DWMA for short) where its students wish to move onto the Especially Advantaged Talent class or EAT.
As opposed to Death the Kid, Soul Eater NOT switches its focus to Tsugumi Harudori, who is still in the process of learning how to transform into a weapon or a spear. While the series does re-acquaint you with how its universe works, prior exposure to the original Soul Eater is necessary for readers to get the full picture of what is going on despite having different atmospheres. Characters from the original series are mostly reduced to cameos who have loose interactions with Tsugumi as a nod to it.
Ookubo has an art style that perfectly fits not only the whacky nature of the original series but the more cutesy and moe feel of NOT.
6. Assassination Classroom: Extra Chapters (Ansatsu Kyoshitsu Extra)
- Authors: Yusei Matsui
- Genres: Action, Comedy, School, Shounen
- Volumes: 1 (all featured in volume 21)
- Published: April 4, 2016 – April 25, 2016
As a bonus to the final volume of the manga, readers are given some side chapters to complement the ending. These chapters pretty much tie up the remaining loose ends to the manga and serve as a nice epilogue to the series. The first extra chapter, Home Time, gives readers a hilarious take on Koro-sensei and his obsessive love for adult entertainment and how he is trying to obtain enlightenment in such surroundings.
The second chapter is a Japanese satire on socializing with co-workers and shows how deeply perverted Koro-sensei is to further exploit that trait to his character, and that sexual harassment is a common sight at these Japanese company get-togethers. But in the end, the chapters not only show the bad but the good that Koro-sensei truly has in him to not destroy the world and care about the people he has encountered. So these chapters are a must-read for fans of Ansatsu Kyoushitsu.
5. Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth (Rock Lee no Seishun Special)
- Authors: Kenji Taira
- Genres: Action, Super Power, Martial Arts, Comedy, Parody, Shounen
- Volumes: 7
- Published: Dec 3, 2018 – Jul 4, 2018
In Naruto’s large cast of characters, some would argue that Rock Lee is the breakout character. He’s both unassuming and likable. So it’s only natural that he gets his own spin-off manga. Along with Rock and his teammates and their leader, they are portrayed in SD form as a comedy. While this series is more of a gag series, many of the personalities of the characters are kept intact but they are put in stories that appropriately contextualize the humor without fully breaking character.
One great quality that fans love about this series is that it gives Tenten more focus and development in comparison to the parent series. You see how she has to deal with her team and the shenanigans they get into as trying to be the serious one and exhibiting maternal qualities. In addition to Team Guy, other characters from Naruto do make appearances and get into numerous hijinks. So if you love the comedic nature of Rock Lee and Guy, this is the manga you’re looking for.
4. Attack on Titan: No Regrets (Shingeki no Kyojin: Kuinaki Sentaku)
- Authors: Hikaru Suruga (art), Gan Sunaaku (story)
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural, Shoujo
- Volumes: 2
- Published: Nov 28, 2013 – Jun 28, 2014
Levi Ackerman is one of the strongest characters in the Survey Corps and without a doubt, one of Attack on Titan’s most popular cast members. No Regrets provides the backstory of not only Levi but also his relationship with Erwin Smith. While Levi’s base personality from the original series remains intact, you learn some new interesting information about his background that you’d never assume out of him, which you have to read for yourself.
The series gives readers insight on why he is dedicated to his duty as a soldier and why he is strong. While Iseyama does not pen this spin-off, the respective authors of this story do an excellent job in capturing the original style and tone of the series. Naturally, in order to understand this manga, exposure to the original Attack on Titan series is necessary.
3. GT-R: Great Transporter Ryuji
- Authors: Tooru Fujisawa
- Genres: Comedy, Shounen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Jun 27, 2012 – Oct 3, 2012
While Ryuji was the co-lead in Shounan Junai Gumi with Eikichi Onizuka, he is reduced to being a supporting character with sporadic appearances in Great Teacher Onizuka. But he becomes the lead in his own brief manga series, GT-R, or Great Transporter Ryuji. While Onizuka continues his crazy antics in his attempt to being the greatest educator in Japanese history, Ryuji has settled down and avoided confrontation by operating a motorcycle shop. He is still attached to Nagisa, the girlfriend he made during the events of Shounan Junai Gumi and that love is now tested in his spin-off one-shot, GT-R. This manga is certainly for people who not only appreciate GTO but its prequel series, Shounan Junai Gumi.
If you have read that series, then you get a better idea of Ryuji’s personality and how strong his relationship with Nagisa is. As you read this manga, you can’t help but laugh that a high school girl is after Ryuji and yet Onizuka’s motivation in becoming a teacher was to hook up with teenage girls. But if you love comedy and motorcycles, this manga is more of the ultimate throwback to GTO’s prequel. But like GTO and Shounan Junai Gumi, it knows when to throw in some seriousness so if you love Fujisawa’s works, be sure to check out GT-R!
2. Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha (Dragon Ball Gaiden: Tensei shitara Yamcha Datta Ken)
- Authors: Dragon Garow Lee
- Genres: Action, Super Power, Comedy, Parody, Shounen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Dec 12, 2016 – Aug 14, 2017
Yamcha is one of the first characters introduced in young Goku’s initial journey in gathering the dragon balls. Though he is initially brought in as an opponent for Goku and would tremble at the sight of women (most notably Bulma), he would overcome his insecurities and be one of Goku’s most valuable allies towards the end of the Piccolo saga. Then after Goku defeats Piccolo, Yamcha is gradually phased out from the series and his death during the Saiyan arc would be subjected to memes on social media. However, a young Dragon Ball fan has the chance to change Yamcha’s fate as he finds himself as Yamcha after an accident knocks him out.
This series is more of a parody as opposed to a spin-off but is a good "what if". Dragon Garow Lee does an excellent job of capturing the feel of the original manga to the point that you’d swear that it was Toriyama who did the manga himself. It’s a good retrospect to the series from the perspective of the main character as Yamcha. It will have you laughing from beginning to end. Yamcha ends up becoming the hero thanks to a fan’s knowledge of the series.
In essence, think of this as the ultimate fanfic and that’s what you get. If you found yourself as any character in the world of Dragon Ball (and maintaining your own knowledge of the series from the real world), what would you do? This manga is one answer to infinite and provides a lot of laughs.
1. Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan (Kishibe Rohan wa Ugokanai)
- Authors: Hirohiko Araki
- Genres: Supernatural, Mystery, Shounen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Jun 24, 1997 -Oct 12, 2013
Initially introduced in the Diamond is Unbreakable story arc of the long-running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series, Rohan Kishibe, a famous manga author living in Morioh, sets out on his own adventures in his spin-off, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan. The character was well received by fans to the point that he got his spin-off. While the JoJo franchise is known for its balls to the walls action, this installment doesn’t really focus on any action and more on the bizarre and the adventure. Rohan wants to improve his craft of being a mangaka so he travels the world to study people. Through his adventures, he encounters some really unusual people and some rather ordinary situations become life or death (such as knowing proper table manners).
Even though it doesn’t emphasize what makes the original JoJo popular, this spin-off does a great job of making a story that revolves around Rohan and how it suits his eccentric personality. In order to get a better understanding of the foundation of the character and his unique abilities, prior exposure to Diamond is Unbreakable is necessary. Thankfully, the first three story arcs of JoJo are not a prerequisite to enjoying the story Rohan comes from.
We’d like to make some honorable mentions to Char’s Deleted Affair, Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Gaiden, Hajime no Ippo: Sendo Gaiden, and Attack on Titan: Before the Fall. Due to the nature of being spin-offs, in many instances reading the original story is a prerequisite.
For some such as Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas or Ginkai no Speed Star, they are not at all required. There are some that are penned by the original author, while there are others that aren’t but go a great enough job of being consistent with the original source material. So what are some spin-offs we may have missed? Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments!