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Revenge. It’s one of the oldest literary themes in the book. From Shakespeare to Stephen King, The Count of Monte Cristo to Gone Girl, readers have always been drawn to revenge stories. What can I say? Sometimes we just love dark shit and seeing people get what’s coming for them. Manga readers are no exception, so I’ve gathered together a selection of some of the best revenge manga out there for you to enjoy and redirect your IRL stresses.
Due to its very definition, manga is a wonderful medium for revenge stories. You literally get to see all the action and outrage right there on the page, immersing you into the story even more. The art can envelop readers in the dark, grisly atmospheres of these tales, while also leaving a little more room for the imagination than something like a movie or television show. Here are some of the best revenge manga that do just that, with plenty of options whether you’re a long-time manga fan or just getting started.
A quick note before getting into the picks themselves. When checking out the best revenge manga, please be aware that many come with a whole slew of content warnings. All will contain some level of violence, with some including depictions of such subjects as torture, sexual assault, and harm to children, among others.
Best Revenge Manga
The Count of Monte Cristo by Ena Moriyama
Speaking of The Count of Monte Cristo, let’s start with this manga adaptation of the 19th century novel by Alexandre Dumas. Though the manga is just a single volume, it remains quite faithful, if condensed, to the original story of Edmond Dantès’s dogged pursuit for vengeance against those who wronged him. If you’re newer to manga, a revisit of this classic, this time accompanied by gorgeous artwork, could be a great stepping stone into the format.
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Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama
A hundred years ago, giant creatures known as Titans destroyed much of the human population, and those who were left now live all together in a walled civilization. It was always believed that there was safety behind these walls, but one day a Colossal Titan breaks through. Teenager Eren Yeager loses his mother in the deadly incident, and resolves to exact revenge on the Titans. The hit manga follows Eren and his friends as they go through military training and attempt to make their way into the Survey Corps, an exclusive group that journeys outside the walls to fight the Titans in hopes of eventually reclaiming the world.
If you’re already a fan of Attack on Titan, check out these manga like it to get even more similar stories to enjoy.
Basara by Yumi Tamura
In a post-apocalyptic Japan controlled by an oppressive ruler, a prophecy states that a child born in Byakko Village will become the leader of a revolution to free the country from tyranny. When the twins Tatara and Sarasa are born, the prophet determines that one of the two will be this child of destiny, and everyone assumes it will be the boy Tatara. However, when the village is destroyed by the Red King, Tatara is beheaded, so Sarasa takes on his identity in order to lead the rebellion and avenge his death.
Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
Ogami Ittō, the shōgun’s former executioner, has lost his family in a brutal massacre and has been falsely deemed a traitor due to fabricated evidence planted by the Yagyū clan. Having fallen into disgrace, Ogami wanders the country with his infant son, the only survivor of the murders. The pair embark on an epic journey to destroy the Yagyū clan in order to avenge the death of their family and Ittō’s fall from favor.
Black Butler by Yana Toboso
Ciel is a young boy in Victorian London who holds the position of Earl of Phantomhive, following the death of his parents at his 10th birthday. Sebastian Michaelis, a demon bound to Ciel in a contract to help the boy get revenge on the people responsible for his parents’ deaths, acts as his butler and works with Ciel to investigate crimes for the Queen.
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Armed with a monstrous sword and a prosthetic arm with built-in cannon, Guts is a fearsome lone warrior, known as the Black Swordsman. Due to being marked with the Brand of Sacrifice, Guts is doomed to be the target of dark forces and spirits looking to claim his life. But he is on a quest for vengeance against the one responsible for giving him this mark, viciously cutting down anyone and anything in his way in order to survive long enough to see his quest through.
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
This best-selling manga series earns a spot on this list for the story of one of its primary characters, Scar. Introduced in the series as a villain, Scar is a serial killer who targets State Alchemists like our protagonist Edward. A survivor of the Ishvalan Civil War, Scar wants revenge against alchemists, holding them accountable for their role in the mass slaughter of his people. Arakawa took inspiration from the complex history of her homeland of Hokkaido, originally home of the Ainu, but conquered by the Japanese. The progression of Scar’s revenge plot and his character development are anything but simple, and have been specifically praised by critics.
My Dearest Self with Malice Aforethought by Hajime Inoryu and Shota Ito
At first glance, Eiji seems to be a typical college student who just wants to hang out with his friends and meet girls, but he has quite a humdinger of a secret: he’s the son of an infamous serial killer, who died when he was a little boy. Because of this, Eiji tries to live a lowkey life, but one day he wakes up to discover he has lost three days of his memory, eventually finding out that he has dissociative identity disorder. To make matters worse, a copycat killer of his father has emerged, and evidence points to Eiji’s second identity as the culprit! What’s exciting about this manga, though, is that it doesn’t resort to the mental illness boogeyman trope, instead turning it on its head. This intense, fast-paced manga is filled with twists and turns, with revenge playing a large role as more and more is revealed.
Burn the House Down by Moyashi Fujisawa
Though more on the psychological side than the action-focused titles that make up most of this list, Burn the House Down is definitely an equally thrilling revenge tale. A young woman becomes a housekeeper to get close to a snobbish socialite in order to uncover the truth behind a crime her mother was wrongfully blamed for. Both women are holding onto secrets, and neither is likely to come out unscathed. For even more to look forward to, a drama adaptation of the manga will be coming to Netflix later this year.
Itching for even more manga? We’ve got you covered! Check out some of our other lists below!