When asked to recommend me a topic, Draggle told me to make a post on good shipping manga. So, here we are. I will list a few manga and talk about why I think they are awesome.
Romance vs Shipping
I want to make a quick semantic clarification. Technically speaking, some manga that are good for shipping might not have any romance whatsoever. (You could have a manga where there is a great cast with no romance whatsoever in between them, but you ship them all anyway.) The reverse is of course also true, but in general, a good romance manga will encourage you to ship (assuming you are into shipping).
That said, I am a very lame, boring shipper. I only really ship these days when there is an actual hint of romance. That is to say, for me, most of the time a good shipping story is also a good romantic story. So, if you’d like you can also look at this list as a “some nice romantic manga Lord Reiseng recommended” list.
(Also, I tend to avoid very serious dramatic stories and normally go for the cute ones instead. Sorry, if there is a clash in taste here.)
Ame Nochi Hare
Ame Nochi Hare (Clear Up After Rain) is arguably the greatest shipping manga ever made.
In this story, 5 boys find themselves turning into girls whenever it rains. This isn’t one of those “boy turns into girl and woah perverted situation” manga. The protagonists actually lead double lives with their time being half split between their all boys school and the all girls school next door.
This is a slightly unorthodox approach to gender bender, and it allows for a very large number of character relations to develop. Most of the 5 protagonists have girls they started of liking, but naturally since the protagonists are often girls themselves, other boys fall for them as well. To further compound matters, the protagonists get really close to one another, so they build very close bonds with one another. Take Hazuki (the main character) for example. There are at least three plot backed ships for him.
That is what I mean when I say this manga is excellent for shipping. You have so many choices and the manga only helps you out. You can ship straight pairs, yuri pairs, or even yaoi pairs. Even someone like me, who generally only goes for the straight pair, ships everything and anything in this manga. I do this, partly because the protagonists aren’t fixed to one sex, but mostly because the built up relationships are so good. The many relationships developed leave you with a perpetual feeling of “GOD. THIS SHIP IS SO CUTE, BUT SO IS THIS ONE. SOMEONE HELP ME”.
If you are into shipping, there really is no better manga than Ame Nochi Hare. Even if you aren’t into shipping, there aren’t that many better manga out there. This manga has some really great character drama. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
I will make note though that the characters in this manga are high school students and the entire point of the story is them making relationship mistakes and learning from them. So, if that’s not your cup of tea, then this manga might not be as well.
If you hang around the anitwitter, you have probably heard of or seen something from Horimiya. Folk like me tend to rave about it whenever a new chapter comes out.
Horomiya is basically the perfect romance manga. It introduces a really great, well drawn, cast of characters, builds up their relationships and then very smoothly transitions from one relationship stage to another. It is one of those rare manga where we can see our ship leave the harbor, reach the destination, only to put on more sails and go further than we’d have ever expected. Horomiya also has a great secondary cast and their relationships are very cute as well.
Horomiya has quickly gained a reputation as being the best romance manga out there right now and while I hesitate to use the word best, it is definitely a contender for that position.
I started reading Last Game at around the same time I started Horomiya. At first, I considered the two to be roughly equal in greatness, but with the passage of time, Horomiya just got better and Last Game slowed down a little.
That said, Last Game is still worth checking out for a few very important reasons.
- The characters are all college aged.
- The main relationship is a childhood friend relationship and not even a “I went away for x years then came back” childhood friendship, but a “we have known one another for many, many years” relationship.
- The characters are all fairly interesting. I am a big fan of the main male love rival and for once, came to like the secondary female love rival as well (you know the “seemingly cute and nice, but actually evil” girl that is introduced to try and snatch the boy away…).
- The manga is shoujo, but it is often told through the perspective of Yanagi (male lead). This is surprisingly refreshing.
- Kujou, the lead character, is very cool. She is incredibly dense about love, but she isn’t a weak baby like so many Shoujo heroines.
I don’t know if I did a good job selling it there, but Last Game is definitely worth checking out (or so I say, but I need to catch up on the newer chapters). The main ship is really sweet and you want it to succeed so bad. At the same time, you want the one or two rivals to find a ship and be a happy as well. It is not everyday that a romance manga makes you feel that way. Especially for Soma (main love rival). God, Soma. I hope he finds happiness.
Akagami no Shirayukihime
I have already written a recommendation post on Akagami no Shirayukihime. Please go read it as my opinion on the manga has not changed.
Shirayukihime is one of my all time favorite manga. It has a slow, rather strange start, but it ends up turning into something truly great. The main cast is amazing. Maybe it is just because it has run for a fair bit of time, but the characters don’t feel like archetypes whatsoever. They are all really well developed and a far cry from the paper thin characters you expect in this genre. Shirayuki, the lead character, is especially amazing.
Oh woops. I started raving about the manga as a whole and not the shipping in it. Shirayukihime doesn’t have many ships (one main ship and like one proper side ship), but you ship the characters pretty hard and they are so good together.
Nijiiro Days is all the rage these days. Well for a few folk anyway. (Opening image for this post is also from Nijiiro Days.)
Nijiiro Days features 4 friends and their subsequent relationship shenanigans. The main character naturally falls in love with this girl and in an atypical manga manner his three friends do their best to egg him on. The main ship is pretty cute, but that isn’t the main draw here. The other three boys have ships of their own!
One of them is already in a relationship and it is cutest thing ever. There are ships for the other two as well, but THESE SIDE SHIPS ARE KIND OF DANGEROUS. You might feel guilty for shipping them, but this dark side of shipping is a heck of a lot of fun.
Wakabayashi Toshiya’s 4-koma Collection
I still feel like I owe a dept to Kvin for tweeting a recommendation for this gem. This 4-koma collection is a collection of short stories (many of which are sequels to previous stories) and it is downright adorable. This is the cutest thing ever and the stories are romantic in nature. I feel that anything more I’d say would only ruin it. Go read this. Read it right now.
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Teasing Master Takagi-san) is about an elementary school boy who is always getting teased by his neighbor Takagi-san. The poor boy can never outdo her. The manga as a whole revolves around Takagi-san teasing him. This teasing is funny and more importantly, it is adorable.
The manga is a bit slow to start, but if after a few chapters you don’t find yourself shipping the two, then well, I dunno.
Note: Personally, I feel that this is a bit like Tonari-no Seki-kun in how hard I ship the two main characters, but the romance is actually canonical here, so that is excellent.
This is another non-harem romance and I love it. It is very cute and the characters are all adorable. Might not be the best for the art of shipping alone, but it is well worth the read.
This one is actually getting an anime adaptation sometime in the Spring. Look forward to it.
Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!
This is a simple manga about the antics of an art club and the budding feelings of the main girl for her eccentric friend. It is cute, very cute. You should read it and surely you will end up shipping them hard.
A Method to Make the Gentle World
This next recommendation features vulnerable high school girls with deep scars and some ships with older men (teachers). What’s that? Lord Reiseng couldn’t possibly recommend a manga with such trashy ships could he? Yes, he can and he totally will.
Read this manga and join me on the train ride to shipping hell.
(In all seriousness, the manga has pretty good character development, and despite what I said, none of the characters are malicious or evil. It is still a painful read though. )
Mahou Tsukai no Yome
Speaking of dangerous ships, this particular pick features a 16 year old girl and a sorcerer, who if I recall correctly is more than a hundred years old. Good ship. Good shit. (The title in English is “The Ancient Magus Bride” by the way.)
Slight creepiness aside, this is actually a really good fantasy manga. It can be slightly confusing at times, but the world is well built and the sorcerer dude is aptly mysterious. The relationship between Chise (main girl) and the sorcerer is well developed and is surprisingly cute. Chise herself is a refreshing, very down to earth, character. It is great seeing her become more comfortable and open with time.
Kanojo ni naru hi & Kanojo ni naru hi Another
Kanojo ni naru hi (The day he becomes a woman) and its sequel/offshoot Kanojo ni naru hi Another are gender benders set in a world where humans randomly undergo a metamorphosis that turns them into the opposite sex if the population is split unevenly between the sexes.
In Kanojo ni naru hi, the main character (Nao Mamiya) gets turned into a girl and the manga chronicles Nao’s relationship with her best friend. It is a simple, but very nice relationship and one that actually goes all the way.
I know I am including it here in a shipping post, but I honestly think Kanojo ni naru hi is well worth anyone’s time. The two main characters are lovable and real and their relationship is even more so.
Another is also pretty good and should be worth your time (Nao comes back as a side character in Another).
Note: Fairly mature manga.
A cute little romance about a shy girl and a somewhat shy boy that is accompanied with a thin layer of drama. Very cute.
This is another gender bender (good ones are pretty good for shipping). Our main character, thanks to a prank by “Loki”, finds himself transformed into a girl. Mizuki continues to pretend to be a guy in front of everyone but his best friend. Mizuki has a crush on this one girl and these feelings waver over time because of Mizaki’s best friend (Takeru). Takery, by the way, should win the award for bestest best friend.
So, the ships here? Mizuki and Mizuki’s original crush and Mizuki x best friend because Takeru is amazing. Then a few other characters get introduced, so further options open if you’d like. Boku Girl is nowhere near as deep or mature as say Ame Nochi Hare or Kanojo ni naru hi, but it makes up for it with funny, crass jokes and hilarious facial expressions.
WARNING: Very ecchi and perverted. This manga will make most people blush really hard. Also makes a few jokes about assault and stuff.