Top 6 Manga by Akira Toriyama [Best Recommendations]

You simply can't discuss the topic of manga culture without listing some notable names that have changed the entire landscape. You have the “father of manga” Osaumu Tezuka, who's known for the famous Astro Boy and Black Jack. Hayao Miyazaki whose Ghibli works have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and of course the very popular Akira Toriyama. Toriyama was born April 5, 1955 in Aichi Prefecture, where he grew a lot of his inspiration from Tezuka and various other artists during his beginnings. Toriyama went on to create various one shot manga that would be serialized in the Weekly Shounen Jump, and eventually became garnered huge success once he released Dr. Slump. It wasn't until the release of Dragonball however that he became a household name worldwide, selling over 230 million copies, thus cementing his name in history as one of the most revered mangaka out of Japan.

6. Kajika

  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Shounen
  • Volumes: 1
  • Published: July 1998 – September 1998

Kajika was officially released and serialized in 1998, with all of its twelve chapters being released as a single volume known as tankobon in Japan. Kajika is on a personal quest to returning to living a normal life as a child, and must embark on a wide variety of adventures that take him places beyond his wildest imaginations. Growing up, Kajika was evil and because of his actions, he ends up receiving a curse from a fox that he brutally kills. After transforming into a fox-like creature, Kajika was exiled from his village, and was given the stipulation to save 1,000 life forms in order to return back to his normal state. The dead fox named Gigi decides to accompany him along his journey, and see if Kajika lives up to his word.

The great aspect about Kajika and its story is not only is it an adventure in every chapter, it's truly easy to read since Toriyama really focused on creating a story that was understandable. Many described the manga as highly entertaining, while praising Toriyama for his artistry and a master of art in action. The story also emphasized the importance of consequence, and that for every action you do, there will be a certain outcome that will transpire from it. From there it teaches the reader about integrity and sticking to your word when you make a promise to someone. This is definitely a must read for any fan of adventure, and of any gender.

5.Go! Go! Ackman

  • Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Shounen, Supernatural
  • Volumes: 1
  • Published: July 7, 1993–January 10, 1994

Drawing manga out in full color not only takes more time to publish, but also more resources. This is why Go! Go! Ackman was the one of very few that had been color printed in V-Jump magazine. The manga is eleven chapters long and circulated for about a year before it's conclusion. Go! Go! Ackman was also featured in Toriyama's famous Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater series in volume 3. Ackman closely resembles Dragon Ball character Trunks and wakes up after a fifty year nap and is now back to duty harvesting souls for the Dark Evil Lord.

Aside from being one of the very few manga in color during its time, the story was extremely humorous and focused mainly on Ackman pretty much killing everything, selling their souls back to the devil. Throughout the story he befriends a bat creature named Godon, who helps to serve Ackman by placing all of the collected souls in a soul jar. Despite being relatively short in comparison to other works, Go! Go! Ackman's only mission is to ensure that the reader leaves crying with laughter with its sexual jokes, while poking fun at society's ethics, and using hard hitting puns to really drive everything home. If you're looking for a rare color manga that is short but sweet in entertainment, an anime OVA, and also has some very fun classic Super Famicom titles as well, then this one is for you.

4. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman

  • Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
  • Volumes: 1
  • Published: July 13, 2013 - September 30, 2013

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman looks at the exciting life of Jaco who arrives on planet Earth after hearing of an evil threat that plots to destroy human existence. He crash lands near the home of retired scientist Omori who offers his assistance in fixing his ship, and so the two develop a close relationship over time. Jaco learns of Omori's current research development regarding time travel, since he wants to save his deceased wife and child, but can only speed up the time in which the user experiences certain events. Jaco realizes his dream and so he sets out to ensure that no one else suffers in the same way.

The story at first may seem a bit weird to some but in fact what makes this such a fantastic series, is that it takes place well before the Dragon Ball universe ever existed and once you continue to read through it, you'll see some surprising faces show up. Jaco is like the comedic character in the more recent Dragon Ball series, acting as the hero from the future and always finding himself in the most awkward of situations. In his very own story Jaco is seen more as the ultimate hero, who tramples any evil doer who stands in his way, creating a society full of peace and well being. We highly recommend checking this one out as it will give you a better idea of just how everything started well before Son Goku started to take names, and the origin of certain characters throughout the DB universe.

3. Cowa!

  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Shojo, Shounen, Supernatural
  • Volumes: 1
  • Published: October 28, 1997 - March 10, 1998

After the massive success of the Dragon Ball series, Toriyama needed something fresh to embark on after it concluded. So Toriyama decided to create a new series called Cowa! which was serialized in the Shounen Weekly between 1997 and 1998, and was then created into a single tankobon much later. Much of the story looks at the life of Paifu, as he and his friends must embark on an adventure in order to collect medicine to prevent a deadly epidemic from spreading. The manga was a commercial success and was released in English by popular Viz Media in 2008.

So this story was a commercial hit simply because it was something different from the typical super power driven manga that Toriyama was typically known for, and it helped to develop a new plot that helped Toriyama create more fluid ideas throughout most of his career. What drove Toriyama to create Cowa! was that his editor Kazuhiko Torishima stated that he could do whatever he felt was right in his heart, and so he could spend more time to relax since he never skipped an issue with his previous works. This allowed him to create a series that was more of a storybook approach, and focus on a character which was more grumpier than his usual styles. We highly recommend checking this out simply because it's one of the very few works where Toriyama drew everything by himself, without any assistance.

2. Dr. Slump

  • Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Shounen, Science Fiction
  • Volumes: 18
  • Published: February 4, 1980–September 10, 1984

Before there was Son Goku and his epic adventures, there was the perverted professor Senbei along with his robotic assistant Arale who helped launch Toriyama's career into stardom. Senbei Norimaki is a brilliant inventor who resides in Penguin Village, a place where humans and anthropomorphic animals co-exist. His dream was to create a robot that would be perfectly suited to his needs, and so he came up with the name Arale. Unfortunately his invention seemed to start taking on a life of its own, as Arale creates a load of mischief and laughter for everyone to enjoy. The manga places its focus on Arale's misunderstandings of humanity, while coming to terms with romance and evil encounters.

Toriyama stated that he didn't think Dr. Slump would survive for too long, and due to having a lack of ideas as to what to expand on he didn't see a bright future. Toriyama mentions that the world that Arale lives in was supposed to depict an “American West Coast” feel, and that it was easier to draw very sparse backgrounds. What made Dr. Slump take off the way it did was that it was full of a ton of toilet humor and puns that would have the reader cracking up every time. The manga took shots at both Japanese and American culture which gave it an edgy feel, and due to the very open world of where Arale situated it provided readers with an unlimited imagination as to where they could go throughout the story.

1. Dragonball

  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Martial Arts, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Super Power
  • Volumes: 42
  • Published: November 20, 1984 - May 23, 1995

This is the manga that really helped Toriyama skyrocket into international stardom, as the series has captivated millions ever since it's initial release in 1984, shortly after the end of Dr. Slump. The story follows Son Goku as he matures through childhood well into adulthood, as he trains extremely hard for tournaments, and exploring the world for the seven orbs known as Dragon Balls. Once all seven orbs are collected, they summon the mystical and powerful dragon known as Shenron who can grant you wishes as you desire. Along his incredible journey he creates new friendships, encounters a wide array of villains, all of which are out to seek the power of the Dragon Balls, and become the strongest fighter the world has ever seen.

This inclusion is a necessity as this is the series that really helped to catapult Toriyama into the upper echelon of manga culture worldwide. Much of his success can be attributed to Dr. Slump, since that is the series that opened the door, but it was Dragonball that truly cemented his name worldwide and granted him many opportunities to work on various other famous projects (Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, etc). What made the series so popular was that it told an incredible story of how one boy's adventures throughout life change him as a person, but also provide a better perspective on the path that lies ahead of him. The forming of friendships, coming to terms with tragedy which then leads to triumph, all of these things truly sum up what Dragon Ball was about.


Akira Toriyama's works will forever stand the test of time as being some of the world's best in regards to story telling and adventure. Whatever Toriyama touches turns into a shiny gold, as we can see with his various works in Blue Dragon, the extremely popular Dragon Quest series, and the timeless classic Chrono Trigger. If you had a chance to read any of these manga growing up, and just admire Toriyama's works, be sure to let us know how you feel in the comments section down below! And also follow us on twitter for the latest article updates and tweets!

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Kajika-manga-20160819203926-300x456 Top 6 Manga by Akira Toriyama [Best Recommendations]


Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on ! Take care!

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