Queer Manga Recommendations

Tasuku running happily through a blank space, surrounded by bubbles that show the rest of the cast having warm moments at christmas

With more opportunities for outsider and indie creators to make their voices heard, manga is increasingly a place where a variety of LGBTQ+ stories can thrive. Here are our top recommendations for readers looking for grounded, complex, and/or just plain cheerful queer representation in their fiction.

Questions about our rec selection process? See our Intro page for details. We also have a General manga recommendation page for stories that include queer characters but aren’t centrally focused on them. You may also want to check out our anime recs: we have a corresponding General anime page, a Queer Recommendations list for titles starring LGBTQ+ characters, or our Family-Friendly list for shows for younger audiences.

a smiling blond girl holding hands with a girl with horns and a lizard tail

Beauty and the Beast Girl

What’s it about? When Lily, a young blind woman, stumbles upon a monster-woman in the woods, the monster (later named Heath) is so delighted to have someone to talk to that she lies about being a human traveler. As the two grow closer, Heath realizes she’s falling in love and resolves to tell Lily the truth about herself, even if it means losing her.

Why we recommend it: English-language yuri is dominated by realism, so we wanted to highlight a rare fantasy romance for our readers. Beauty and the Beast Girl is a charming little one-shot about two lonely people who have spent their lives being judged solely by their bodies and finally find someone who takes the time to get to know (and fall in love with) every aspect of them.

Beast Girl has a more nuanced understanding of disability and ableism than most fantasy, as both Heath and Lily’s struggles come primarily from societal prejudices. As Lily notes: “If I couldn’t do something, I was a burden. If I could, people would doubt whether I was really disabled.” Individual experiences with and feelings towards disability vary significantly, so we hesitate to call Beast Girl “good rep,” but it’s a marked improvement on one-dimensional tragic, villainous, or superhuman disabled characters.

Admittedly, Beast Girl is not a perfect story: conflicts are resolved with simplistic ease and the story doesn’t have an ending so much as a stopping point (apparently the rest of the online manga never got a physical release). The series also glosses over Heath’s violent past (which she deeply regrets) in a way that promotes forgiveness but possibly at the cost of responsibility, which may not sit well with readers. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a sweet yuri that’s a bit off the beaten path, Beast Girl may be right up your alley.

Content warnings: Depictions of ableism, prejudice, and self-harm/attempted suicide (restrained); mild nudity and sexual content.

Suggested age rating: 15 and up

Total length: One volume, completed.

Ryo and Jin beside Ryo's grafitti art, which features a man tearing free of an ill-fitting skin

Boys Run the Riot

What’s it about? Ryo is a closeted trans high schooler who goes through his days trying not to be noticed. That changes when he meets transfer student Jin and finds the two of them share a love of fashion and design. When Jin suggests they start a clothing line together, Ryo finally finds an outlet where he can be his real self.

Why we recommend it: Bursting with promise and ambition from an up-and-coming artist, Riot is the kind of work we too rarely get to see licensed: a story about a trans protagonist written by a trans writer, translated with obvious love and care by an entirely trans localization team. What makes this work particularly interesting is how very of-the-moment it seems compared to some of the titles on this list, making it both moving for the current reader and a valuable snapshot of this time for future audiences.

While some of Ryo’s obstacles are timeless, from his struggles to make friends to worrying about when and where it’s safe to present how he wants, the story also puts heavy focus on the trials of being trans in the public eye. Ryo has to struggle with how comfortable he is being out when indie fashion is as much about the designers as the clothes, and whether he’s comfortable using his identity as a selling point. Another character amasses a considerable following online as a feminine but cis gay man, only to feel constricted by audience expectations when their understanding of their gender and sexuality begin to shift.

This series is raw and occasionally a little rough around the edges, just like its protagonists. It’s also an incredibly moving read that’s less about finding an answer and more about growing and discovering which questions are worth chasing.

 Content warnings: Depictions of transphobia, dysphoria, forced outing, online harassment, queerphobia.

 Suggested age range: 14 and up

 Total length: Four volumes, completed.

chi and her husband being bombarded by questions about her gender and marriage, which she promises to answe

The Bride Was a Boy

What’s it about? Chii’s autobiographical comic about her experience of coming out as a trans woman and eventually marrying Husband-kun, a cis man.

Why we recommend it: The Bride Was a Boy lends the reader a number of valuable perspectives about being trans in Japan. Though the comic is somewhat of an LGBT 101 course in content, the comic provides perspective of what it is like to live as a trans woman in Japan, including the intricacies of getting your family register changed and the Japanese government’s requirement for surgery in order to change gender markers.

Chii brings a casual and friendly perspective that helps give one example of a happy trans woman’s life. She is blessed with an accepting family and friends who support her transition, which steers the comic away from trauma porn or sob stories, as LGBT stories can sometimes be. As such, the comic seeks understanding about trans people in Japan rather than sympathy by equipping readers with terms and definitions.

AniFem editor Chiaki gave this comic to her own father when she came out, specifically for the largely positive and easy-to-read presentation. Her father keeps it on his bookshelf with the letter she wrote him when she came out five years ago.

Content note: Some readers may point out trans women have always been women, and that the title of the comic might seem insensitive to trans people. Its translation’s publisher, however, explicitly stated that “The Bride was a Boy” was used at the request of the author, who initially translated her comic’s title that way. Chiaki, who authored this recommendation, also owns and has read the original Japanese comic, but has only read a portion of the English translation.

Suggested age rating: 13 and up

Total length: One volume, completed.

Alice in hakama, holding a book, and Alice in a Victorian dress and hat stand beside yellow roses, watching a sunset on the sea. Both have pensive expressions on their faces.

Goodbye, My Rose Garden

What’s it about? In the year 1900, Hanako leaves Japan for England in hopes of meeting her favorite author. After she takes a job as a maid for the well-to-do Alice Douglas, the two bond over their shared love of stories and begin to fall in love. As independent queer women of different classes and nationalities, can the two overcome a society hostile to their very existences and find a happy ending, or is their love destined to be a tragic one?

Why we recommend it: Goodbye, My Rose Garden is a shining example of optimistic queer historical fiction. Through its characters and conflicts, it explores the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class in Victorian England, using real-world historical and literary references to ground itself in its time period.

The series is rife with classic tropes—independent, artistic women pressured to marry and have children; class divides; the intrusion of a heterosexual love interest; the use of “friendship” to obscure a queer romance—but Rose Garden isn’t happy with simply mimicking its predecessors. Instead, it expands and challenges them, shifting slowly to contemporary progressive values and leading its characters to an unambiguously romantic, happy ending.

But don’t worry: even if you’re not a scholar of historical queer literature, Rose Garden is also easy to enjoy as a straightforward, character-driven romance. From its sympathetic co-leads to its supporting players—including Alice’s politely insidious suitor, her suffragette sister, and a happy lesbian couple who become allies in later volumes—the cast is surprisingly well-defined for such a short series, making it easy to get invested in their lives and stories. A smart and deeply satisfying read, this is an easy recommendation for just about anyone.

Content warnings: Depictions of homophobia, sexism, racism, and classism (not graphic and not promoted); discussions of attempted suicide (not shown).

Suggested age rating: 13 and up

Total length: Three volumes, completed.

a woman sitting up in bed petting her partner's hair, reflecting on how happy she is to be dating a woman for the first time

How Do We Relationship?

What’s it about? Freshman Inuzuka Miwa starts her first year of college with hopes of finally being an out and proud lesbian. Shy, serious, and inexperienced, she fears that she won’t find that someone special… that is, until she meets Saeko, a lesbian who asks Miwa out when they both come out to one another. Yet can a relationship last with such a flimsy start, or will it take a lot more to make this twosome last forever?

Why we recommend it: So much of yuri is set within high school, a time that, for many adult readers, may be halcyonic but is largely out of step with where our lives are now. That’s where How Do We Relationship?, a title from Viz Media, comes in swinging, bringing a more realistic, grounded look to what it means to be in an openly sapphic relationship. Thanks to Tamifull’s art, the world of Miwa and Saeko is filled in with cute line art and solid story-telling, There’s definitely a few flubs, but it ends up feeling natural given the college setting, even when you desperately want to give both Miwa and Saeko some sage advice about their relationship. 

The premise is familiar enough to anyone queer: you meet someone with the same preferences and, out of both convenience and curiosity, decide to date. Where things get complicated is in Miwa and Saeko’s relationship: there’s a push and pull between each girl’s identity. On the one hand, you have Saeko, who wants a deeply physical relationship, versus Miwa, who’s never experienced romantic or sexual love. In fact, a thoughtful, complex reading of her character might be that Miwa is asexual (in this case, demisexual or grey-ace) with Saeko being a full allosexual. It’s one of a variety of interesting ways to complicate the emotional tug-o-war between Miwa and Saeko as they seek their own truths and try to understand what they want from their relationship.

And while the story is far from finished, it feels like an authentic look at being queer (in particular, sapphic) in your twenties: it’s messy, it’s often laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s intimately relatable, especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty of it all. Perhaps you knew a Miwa or Saeko; heck, you might have been a Miwa or Saeko. Wherever you sit, you can be sure to find yourself at home in the tangled lives of Saeko and Miwa as they try to figure it all out… and maybe fall in love.

Content warnings: Mild queerphobia, including internalized prejudices and microaggressions; sexual content.

Suggested age range: 15 and up

Total length: Five volumes, ongoing 

Taichi leaning against and chatting to Kohei

I Hear the Sunspot

What’s it about? After a chance meeting, college first-year Taichi offers to take notes for Kohei, a student who’s hard of hearing, in exchange for homemade lunches. As the two grow closer, Kohei grapples with his deteriorating hearing, Taichi struggles with his future plans and how best to help his friend, and both navigate the complexities of their shifting relationship.

Why we recommend it: I Hear the Sunspot is one-part love story, one-part coming-of-age tale, and one-part exploration of ableism and accessibility. It’s also, for our money, one of the best boys’ love (BL) manga on the English-language market. 

While Kohei and Taichi do loosely slot into pursuer/pursued (or seme/uke) dynamics, the series’ overall focus on their interior lives and personal struggles ground them in reality. Instead of flat tropes acting out prescribed roles, they feel like genuine young adults fumbling through their first serious relationship (including figuring out consent). They’re flawed people and the series never depicts their relationship as perfect, but it’s also easy to see why they’re drawn to each other and root for them to find happiness.

From an ableism perspective, the series fiercely promotes accessibility and allyship while also doing its best to avoid falling into saviorism. Mangaka Fumino Yuki drew on personal interactions, conversations, and research to provide a layered depiction of the hard of hearing, deaf, and Deaf communities as well as the barriers created by lack of accommodation. She introduces multiple characters to offer different, sometimes clashing perspectives and allows them to exist as equally valid, with a focus on individual feelings and needs.

At the intersection of queer and Deaf identity, I Hear the Sunspot is a thoughtful, complex series that allows its cast to be messy and human without romanticizing or moralizing on that messiness. It’s as nuanced as its characters, and that’s what makes it such a great read.

Content warnings: Depictions of ableism; mild sexual content, some of it non-consensual (depicted as upsetting, with characters acknowledging it and working to improve).

Suggested age rating: 15 and up

Total length: Five volumes, ongoing. (Reading order goes: I Hear the Sunspot,  Theory of Happiness, Limit volumes 1-3.)

Yamada hugging a pillow in bed and thinking about how much she loves Kase

Kase-san and…

What’s it about? Shy Yamada has developed a crush on Kase, an impossibly cool girl from the school’s track team. Imagine her surprise when her feelings for Kase turn out to be requited, and the two girls start dating! But what does it mean to have a girlfriend, and to be someone’s girlfriend? The two teenagers must navigate their new relationship, with all the exciting and daunting experiences that come with it.

Why we recommend it: Kase-san is sweet as pie and deeply earnest, inviting you into a fun romantic comedy while also portraying its characters and their love with an endearing authenticity. Upon its release it was a standout series for the frank way it discussed queer sexuality—a stark contrast to the genre tradition of “pure yuri”—and depicted the ups and downs of a queer relationship with the same detail usually reserved for the boy/girl couples that star in myriad other high school romances. It also stands out because it goes beyond high school, following the pair after they graduate and enter the wild world of university.

While there is not much direct discussion of what it’s like to be out as a queer couple in Japan, and the lack of acknowledgement of things like structural and social homophobia may frustrate some readers, it makes Kase-san a fun mix of escapist and authentic. Yamada and Kase are given the narrative space to figure themselves out in a slice-of-life framework, navigating jealousy, boundaries, and life plans that may not align. It’s a rewarding process watching them both mature as young adults and settle into a steady relationship—not to mention adorable.

Content warnings: Nudity; sexual content (mild while they’re in high school, more intense when they’re in college).

Suggested age range: Volumes 1-4 are 13 and up, but it bumps up to 18+ after that due to a tasteful-but-explicit sex scene.

Total length: 7 volumes, ongoing. (Reading order goes: Kase-san and Morning Glories, Kase-san and Bento, Kase-san and Shortcake, Kase-san and an Apron, Kase-san and Cherry Blossoms, Kase-san and Yamada vol. 1-2.)

Otsu grumpily agrees to an annual ramen lunch with Minegishi, who's happy to get to spend time with his crush

Manly Appetites: Minegeshi Loves Otsu

What’s it about? Minegeshi is an annoyingly perfect co-worker: good at his job, strikingly handsome, and always bringing in delicious food to the office. Otsu can’t stand him… but damn, his cooking is good. Maybe good enough to bring the two closer together…?

Why we recommend it: Manly Appetites is a silly and charming comedy notable for having a queer, plus-sized lead. Otsu’s weight is never treated as the butt of a joke: there are some fatphobic digs from antagonistic co-workers and he’s a little self-conscious about how he’s perceived, but the story always pushes past these moments towards body positivity. Otsu is never required to change the way he looks to “earn” his place as a romantic lead. 

The food-based romance begins, in part, because Minegeshi wants to make sure Otsu is eating properly and not crash-dieting. It’s certainly not a sharpened, in-depth critique of diet culture, but it’s a refreshing detour from the many “I have to lose weight to be desirable!” moments we’ve seen in media before. 

Minegeshi—and the narrative—adoring Otsu as he is also frees up space for other, infinitely sweeter and funnier personal conflicts. These two fools are crushing on each other so hard, but they just refuse to notice. How many home-cooked meals, how many emotionally intimate moments, how many accidental hand-brushes will it take for these two goofuses to realize they’re head-over-heels for each other? This is a fools-to-lovers slow-burn for the discerning palette, though at three volumes it’s a bite-sized delight that won’t keep you hungry for too long.

Content warnings: Casual fatphobia from antagonistic characters and internalized fatphobia early on; some jokes about Minegeshi’s love of feeding Otsu border on fetishism.

Suggested age range: 13 and up

Total length: Three volumes, completed.

group photo of Yaichi, his daughter, and the titular Canadian husband Mike

My Brother’s Husband

What’s it about? Father and divorcee Yaichi finds his daily life shaken when his deceased brother’s husband, Mike Flanagan, arrives from Canada to meet his in-laws for the first time. As Mike works through his grief and bonds with Yaichi’s daughter Kana, Yaichi must come to terms with his own homophobia as well as his complex feelings about his brother’s life and death.

Why we recommend it: This award-winning series can feel a little like “Gay Studies 101” at times, directing an anti-bigotry message at an uninformed audience. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that (especially given that manga artist Tagame Gengoroh is openly gay and seems to have wanted to educate as well as entertain), but it may come across as a bit basic to readers (especially queer ones) already familiar with the subject matter.

That said, to describe the series as solely “Gay Studies 101” would do a great disservice to its characters and story beats. In between its more informational segments, My Brother’s Husband is emotionally authentic, grounded by its flawed-but-sympathetic cast as they interact, grow, and change for the better.

The manga shifts perspective between Yaichi and Mike, allowing it to fluctuate between the story of a straight man confronting his prejudices to the story of a proudly gay man navigating those prejudices. There’s a particularly poignant subplot about Mike serving as a mentor for a gay Japanese boy, as well as a melancholy arc about an adult man who’s yet to come out for fear of censure. It covers a broad range of experiences in a relatively short run.

In addition to its explicitly queer themes, My Brother’s Husband also touches on grief, gender roles, and family. The series challenges traditional notions of what a happy family looks like, not just through Mike but also through Kana’s divorced parents, a career-driven mom and caretaker dad. Sometimes painful but ultimately warm and affirming, My Brother’s Husband is a satisfying read for the queer studies novice and expert alike.

Content warnings: Depictions of homophobia and prejudices about gender roles; mild nudity (bathing scenes).

Suggested age rating: 13 and up

Total length: Two omnibus volumes, completed.

Nagata discussing her relationship to her gender, feeling no attachment to gender, and her interest in female bodies but not male ones

Nagata Kabi’s Memoirs

What’s it about? This series of autobiographical manga begin with Nagata’s decision to hire an escort; in the process, she begins to reckon with her anxiety, depression, and fears about living independently. Becoming a surprise hit on pixiv turns out to just be the beginning.

Why we recommend it: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness lit up the charts upon release, earning a string of accolades that included a Harvey Award, and kickstarted a mini-boom of memoir manga being released in English. Nagata’s debut work is harrowing in its honesty about her struggles with mental illness and how those struggles can make it seem impossible to connect with others—and how, despite that, the effort is worth making.

Nagata’s follow-up books received less press but are no less excellent, exploring issues that range from backsliding in mental health recovery, substance abuse issues, and the ethics of turning your loved ones into fodder for your nonfiction work. Both Nagata’s art and storytelling skills grow with each release, and the fact that her work is open about her sexuality while not focusing primarily on dating or romance make it an interesting outlier in the world of queer manga. While her work can be intense and potentially triggering given the unvarnished way she tackles heavy subjects, they’re also some of the best in nonfiction manga.

Content warnings: Depictions of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self-harm, disordered eating, body dysmorphia, intrusive thoughts, alcoholism (including hospitalization), consensual hospitalization for mental health; sexual content and nudity.

Suggested age range: 18 and up

Total length: Five volumes, potentially ongoing (Reading order goes: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, My Solo Exchange Diary volumes 1-2, My Alcoholic Escape from Reality, My Wandering Warrior Existence.)

Nezuko and Shion lying side by side on a bed while Shion reads a book

NO. 6

What’s It About? Sheltered child prodigy Shion plummets from his life of privilege in the domed city of No. 6 after helping young runaway convict Nezumi. Six years later, Nezumi shows up to rescue Shion from being in the wrong non-governmentally-approved place at the wrong secret-conspiracy time… and Shion’s desire to save the people of his home is only matched by Nezumi’s desire to burn it to the ground.

Why we recommend it: Genre stories that also happen to feature queer romance are regrettably hard to find (though it’s getting better), which makes this title stand out all the more. While its dystopian setting treads familiar ground for anyone familiar with the genre, its leads have an engaging dynamic that breaks the expected “seme/uke” mold that’s so often found in traditional BL. Arguments about the fate of society can be abstract, but the tension in how those ethical discussions affect Nezumi and Shion’s personal goals and relationship with one another keeps the story tense.

With more space to breathe than its rapid-fire anime adaptation (and with the original light novels unlicensed), the manga may be the best way available to experience the story—particularly in its portrayal of the ending, which tweaks just enough minor framing elements to turn a bittersweet finale into a hopeful one. This series offers something rare in its central romance and a lot of fun for those who like their sci-fi just a little bit ridiculous and fantasy-tinged.

Content warnings: Gun violence; body horror (rapid aging); mass graves; government violence toward refugees; implicit euthanasia; an AFAB character is assumed to be motherly once their gender is “discovered.”

Suggested age range: 15 and up

Total length: Nine volumes, completed.

Tasuku's chest shattering like glass, each shard reflecting a memory of spending time with his crush

Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare

What’s it about? After being outed at school, high schooler Kaname Tasuku is on the verge of taking his own life. He’s stopped by a chance meeting with “Someone-san,” the mysterious proprietor of a drop-in center that serves as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ visitors, and gradually begins to find a home within the small community.

Why we recommend it: This series, written by X-gender and asexual manga author Kamatani Yuhki, truly has the feeling of a work made by and for queer readers. In its short run, it touches on coming out, experimenting with identity, intergenerational queer issues, the pain of both overt violent bigotry and microaggressions, and shifting legal rights in Japan. 

While it doesn’t claim to speak for every story, the cast comprises a number of different identities and experiences: elderly gay man Tchaiko, who has a hospitalized partner; lesbian couple Saki and Haruko, who tend to argue over their different comfort levels with being publicly out, especially in regards to Saki’s parents; sixth grader Misora, who uses the drop-in center to experiment with feminine presentation and is often prickly about their ongoing search for identity; Utsumi, a trans man who strives to live completely stealth; and Someone-san, who has seemingly contented herself with the fact that the world doesn’t understand her as an asexual and agender person.

That many stories would be impossible to balance for many authors, but Kamatani has an astute sense of character voice and interpersonal conflict. Many of the story’s richest moments come from the exploration of conflict within the community and the fact that having one marginalized identity doesn’t automatically grant expertise about another; rather, it’s something you have to work toward with empathy. It’s a story that is often heavy and painful, but knows how to space that pain out with moments of joy and triumph. Tied together by Kamatani’s beautiful composition and skill at conveying abstract emotions through surreal imagery, this is truly a modern masterpiece.

Content warnings: Depictions of queerphobia (including use of a slur), transphobia (misgendering and deadnaming), microaggressions, forced outing, suicidal ideation, bullying, and end-of-life illness.

Suggested age rating: 15 and up

Total length: Four volumes, completed.