Feel-good and happy mangas are indeed a delight to read. However, there are moments in life when we want to read a manga with a more realistic premise. Sometimes, we want to enjoy a manga that makes us feel deep emotions.
In this article, we will present the fifteen best tragedy manga. They vary in genre and differ in what makes them tragedies. Some are dark, while others are bittersweet. Some contain romance, while others revolve around family and friends.
Regardless, they are all tragic in some way. So get your tissues ready and look at the top best tragedy manga!
Table of Contents
- 1 1.) Dear Friends: Rina and Maki
- 2 2.) Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa kimi uso)
- 3 3.) Godchild (Hakushaku Kain Shirīzu)
- 4 4.) Life (Raifu)
- 5 5.) 5 Centimeters Per Second (Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru)
- 6 6.) Solanin
- 7 7.) Half & Half (SEO Kouji)
- 8 8.) Bitter Virgin (Hepburn: Bitā Bājin)
- 9 9.) Orange
- 10 10.) Bokurano Ours
- 11 11.) Eden: It’s an Endless World
- 12 12.) The Climber (Kokou no Hito)
- 13 13.) Deep Love: Pao no Monogatari
- 14 14.) Jungle Empire (Jungle Taitei)
- 15 15.) Goodnight Punpun (Oyasumi Punpun)
1.) Dear Friends: Rina and Maki
As the title implies, this manga focuses on two friends named Rina and Maki.
Rina is an introvert who believes that friends are not necessary. Emotional attachments are foreign to her. People one can use when needed.
But then, we can’t fault her for this because she has an absent father and an overprotective mother. She was never really given the room to explore social relationships. This was emphasized further when she was diagnosed with lymphoma, and no one visited her.
That is, except for Maki, a classmate from school. Maki is friendly, kind, fierce, and seems to be everything Rina wasn’t. She gave Rina a reason to live, going as far as to save Rina from a suicide attempt.
But just as it seems that things are getting better, Maki stops visiting. Rina goes into remission. And they find that despite their youth, nothing can ever be the same again.
2.) Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa kimi uso)
Your Lie in April has one of the most beautiful settings for a manga. It almost seems cliché, even. Springtime, with young friends trying to hide their feelings for one another. It’s the perfect setup for a sparkling romance – or a tragedy.
The story centers on Kousei, a young prodigy who lost his ability to play the piano due to trauma. He then meets Kaori, a talented violinist who once again brings color to his life.
Together, they learn and thrive until Kaori falls to the ground one day. It turns out she’s sick with a severe illness, and her health is getting worse and worse. But she still wants to play with Kousei, so she agreed to undergo surgery.
Will their love blossom, or will it wither like dried petals? Read the manga to find out!
This also had an anime adaptation if you want to check that out.
3.) Godchild (Hakushaku Kain Shirīzu)
Godchild is part of the five-part manga series Earl Cain. It captures the story of a nobleman named Cain in 19th century London. He was forced to become an earl when his father died, and the darkness has followed him since.
Happiness is nearly foreign to the characters in this manga. He investigates crimes, but tragedy chases him down. It seems like he can’t escape sadness or fright at every turn.
It isn’t a story for the faint of heart. It can be disturbing, macabre, and full of plot twists. And as the plot unfolds, the more tragic it becomes.
4.) Life (Raifu)
Life follows the story of Ayumu Shiiba, an intelligent student who lives with an absent, uncaring family. Her best friend from Junior High, Yuuko, was at the top of their class. However, her grades slipped because she spent so much time tutoring Ayumu.
So when they took the entrance exam to Nishidate High School, Ayumu passed. Meanwhile, Yuuko failed. This caused resentment and led Yuuko to break off her friendship with Ayumu.
This became the trigger for Ayumu to begin self-harm. She also isolated herself in high school, making her a social outcast. But then a classmate named Manami befriended her. For a while, it seemed like things were getting better.
But Manami turned out to be a toxic, manipulative person and things took a turn for the worse. The manga touches on bullying, attempted suicides, and even stabbing.
5.) 5 Centimeters Per Second (Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru)
This manga is based on a film by Makoto Shinkai. It follows the story of Takaki and Akari over two decades. Readers see how they grew close and how the relationship grew.
However, they eventually move to opposite ends of the country. They promised to stay in touch, but they didn’t. Even decades later, a time skip shows us that Takaki still can’t move on from Akari. He already has a job and a girlfriend, but he still thinks and dreams of her.
And Yes this also became an animated film. That did pretty well.
This manga tells the story of Meiko and Naruo. They are a couple in their early 20s, feeling aimless and lost in their purpose.
But then both of them decide that it’s time for a change. Meiko quits her old job, and Naruo joins a band. They start to become happy again, and it’s a journey of discovery.
However, no one takes an interest in Naruo’s record. He spirals into self-doubt and goes back to his old job. He convinces himself that he’s happy just playing in a band, without the world hearing his music.
Yet, he remains unconvinced. And the rest of the manga shows us just how tragic it is when dreams remain repressed.
7.) Half & Half (SEO Kouji)
This manga seems to be set up as a tragedy from the beginning. The main characters, Nagakawa and Sanada, die at the story’s start. Then suddenly, they were given a chance to live again.
However, there are three conditions. One: they only have seven days. Two: they will share all their emotions and physical sensations. They must be by each other’s side at all times. Three: at the end of seven days, one must die again.
So, who lives and who dies?
8.) Bitter Virgin (Hepburn: Bitā Bājin)
Bitter Virgin tells the story of Hinako, an abused young girl, and Daisuke, the boy who falls in love with her.
At first, Daisuke is put off by how shy Hinako is. She is blatant in her aversion to men, and she doesn’t even want to get close to them. Because of this, he adamantly tells his friends that he would date anyone but her.
But then he finds out her secret: she had been repeatedly raped and impregnated by her stepfather. This manga tackles certain complex realities of life, realities that make life tragic.
Orange is about a group of friends, Naho, Hiroto, Takako, Saku, and Azusa. They work together to prevent their classmate, Kakeru, from committing suicide.
It just so happened that they received letters from their future selves one day. They were instructed to do certain things differently, especially when it concerned Kakeru.
They didn’t listen at first because they didn’t know what to believe. After this, they paid attention to the letters and became more mindful of their actions. However, this led to the death of Kakeru’s mother.
Now, there’s an element of romance here. Kakeru and Naho had always had mutual feelings for each other. But, because Kakeru died, Naho ended up with Hiroto. A future where Kakeru is alive may mean a future where Naho and Hiroto are not together.
10.) Bokurano Ours
Bokurano is a sci-fi, tragedy manga set during the end of the world. It has 14 main characters, and the manga is divided into story parts that focus on each character.
One day, during summer camp, they come across a man claiming to be a computer programmer. He says he’s developing a game wherein robots have to defend the Earth against fifteen alien invasions. Now, he needed people to pilot the robot.
These children enter into a contract with him, and they fight the enemies. The children lose their lives in battle one by one. Only one character survives, and he has to wipe out planet Earth.
But you know what’s most tragic? That’s not even the worst part of this story.
11.) Eden: It’s an Endless World
Eden begins by introducing us to Ennoia and Hannah. They live on a deserted island called Eden with their guardian, Lane. This takes place after 15% of the world’s population was killed by a pandemic. They are immune to the virus, and at first, they are safe. However, they are attacked by the Propater Foundation.
Propater is a group of people trying to form a unified international government. But they exploit poorer countries and take out people along the way.
Then there’s a time skip featuring Ennoia’s son, Elijah. At that point, his sister was kidnapped, his father was a drug lord, and the world again went up in flames.
This story is morally ambiguous. It deals with terrorism, struggle, politics, death, and humanity. It is brutal and tragic, and it isn’t for the faint of heart.
12.) The Climber (Kokou no Hito)
Kokou no Hito is about a man named Mori, who loves climbing mountains. He has one specific goal in mind: to reach the top of K2, one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. No one has ever topped that mountain before because the ice formations make it unsafe.
So he trains hard, and we follow this journey throughout the manga. And somewhere along the way, Mori loses his climbing partner to an accident. Hence, he reaches the top of the mountain alone.
Once there, Mori struggles with hypothermia and hallucinations. He is on the brink of death. And though he is successful in his dream, it comes at a high cost in the end. This cost would make one ask, was it truly worth it?
13.) Deep Love: Pao no Monogatari
This standout manga follows the story of Pao, a dog. When he was just a puppy, he and his mother and siblings were neglected by their owners. He watched his mother starve to death so that he and his siblings could eat.
So when he was able, Pao would go around the neighborhood, looking for scraps for food. People would kick him and ignore him, but one day, Ayu adopts him. Now, Ayu is the main character of Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari. And she has issues of her own.
Because of this, Pao had to endure heart-wrenching sadness. This manga tells of a dog’s love and loyalty and just how far it can go.
14.) Jungle Empire (Jungle Taitei)
Jungle Taitei is better known as Kimba the White Lion. At least, this is how Western audiences realize it due to the anime adaptation.
This manga sheds light on how humans hunt lions and the living beings that are hurt in the process.
The story begins with Panja, the king of the jungle. Hunters used his pregnant wife to bait, trap, and kill him. They then take the lioness to a zoo, where she gives birth to Kimba.
Now, the anime shows a happy ending, where Kimba now lives in paradise. However, this is not true for the manga. Kimba had to go through many ordeals trying to make it back to his homeland in Africa.
The manga has a jarring twist, as it goes to show that humans can remain cruel after all.
15.) Goodnight Punpun (Oyasumi Punpun)
Oyasumi Punpun is classified as a coming-of-age story, but it is much more than that. It follows the story of Onodera Punpun from childhood to his 20s. It shows his dysfunctional family, the cruelty of life, and the fleetingness of love.
As a child, Punpun was somewhat wide-eyed and idealistic – a romantic, even. Yet things started to change as he grew older. He watched his father assault his mother. He discovered the frailty of relationships. And this once shy, the naive boy became isolated and cynical.
He is plunged into the real world of problems. He finds himself struggling with dark thoughts and depression. He grapples to understand an imperfect world full of imperfect people.
None of the characters are likable. They are humanly depicted in all their crude, cruel glory. Their struggles are laid out for the reader to see and Punpun to wrestle with.
Nothing about this story is happy. Then again, some would argue it’s just realistic. Isn’t that the worst tragedy of all?
Now, it’s time to hear from you:
Did I miss anything?
What is the most tragic manga you’ve ever read?
Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.