As any otaku knows, manga series can get to be super-long! I own the complete sets of two titles, and they each take up an entire shelf! Sometimes, this can be a real problem, like when you want to read manga, but you don’t want to commit yourself to 20+ books. So, what do you do?
That’s where one-shots come in! These quick and easy reads are just one book. No commitment to a larger series. How nice is that? Let’s consider the following list “manga for busy people” since most of these books can be completed in a day or two, even if you don’t have a lot of time!
That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha is one of my favorite one-shots to recommend. But, I would only recommend this to Dragon Ball fans, since there are spoilers for the main series (albeit, little ones). After a stupid accident, a goofy teen wakes up in the body of Yamcha–one of the characters in his favorite series: Dragon Ball. At first, this is awesome, until the realization sinks: during the course of the series, Yamcha flubs a lot of stuff up and even dies. In an effort to avert a fate that he knows is coming, our hero decides to relive Yamcha’s life in a way that he should have lived it all along, becoming the strongest he can be!
Master manga-ka Naoki Urasawa recently published this collection of short pieces. Each chapter is an individual story, originally published in different magazines. From a boy who meets a psychic to a couple of mice trying to outwit a cat, the memoirs of a musician, or a French otaku looking for kaiju, this quirky collection has a little bit of everything. This is great for the especially busy reader, since you only have to read a single chapter to have a full story. Sneeze is a great manga sampler and introduction to one of my all-time favorite manga writers!
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is actually based off a light novel. While riding her bike, Makoto Konno pitches over the handlebars in front of an uncoming train. While this would have killed anyone else, Makoto finds that she has avoided disaster by jumping back in time–only she’s not entirely sure how she did it. But, as soon as she learns how, Makoto finds herself jumping back in time again and again, to fix minor inconveniences and bigger issues. The ability to go back and erase one’s mistakes is wonderful, but what happens when you go too far?
As I mentioned earlier in this post, Naoki Urasawa is one of my all-time favorite manga-ka. And this is one of his best books. (I’m a little biased, since I think they’re all good!) After a failed business venture, bankruptcy, and his wife skipping town drives a man to the brink of suicide, he’s given salvation at the hands of an unlikely rescuer: a strange man with bucked teeth and a passion for France. The plan? Break into the Louvre, steal a priceless work of art, and hide it within the unused storage areas of the museum. Then, they will sell a perfect replica on the black market to the highest bidder before revealing where the hidden painting was all along. The man promises that this is not really stealing, since the piece will never leave the building, but will they be able to pull of the “perfect” crime? Mujirushi is a beautiful, haunting, and dreamlike story, and one of my absolute favorites by this author.