The year 2022 has seen manga continue its conquest of the global comics market, with an even larger share of the publishing market dominated by the Japanese medium. While new series are important for appealing to new audiences and younger generations, established titles have yet to pull the brunt.
Big names in the manga industry typically appear on the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, Shueisha’s flagship magazine that has served as a launch pad for iconic series, but digital manga should also be considered. While new manga has to impress readers quickly to pique their interest, ongoing series have a tough job of maintaining their high quality over a long period of time. Without further ado, here are the official picks from . for Best Continuing Manga of 2022.
Chainsaw Man Part 2 gets off to a slow but promising start
Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man Part 2 is in a strange place. It’s technically just a continuation of the incredibly successful manga that took the world by storm between 2018 and 2020, but it could also be considered a whole new series. The author introduced a new main character, Asa Mitaka, who becomes the host of the War Devil, Yoru, who in turn tries to get revenge on Chainsaw Man. Denji is quickly reintroduced, however, and he tries to live a normal life as a high school student while slaying devils under the guise of Chainsaw Man.
The big problem with Chainsaw Man Part 2 is that the pacing can feel quite slow, especially compared to Part 1. However, the choice to leave Denji out of the spotlight is very brave, especially since Chainsaw Man is more popular than ever, thanks to the anime’s first season finally airing. Fujimoto clearly hasn’t lost his touch and his ability to paint depressing yet compelling images of the darker sides of humanity. Asa is Denji’s opposite: she is a victim of bullying who finds it difficult to relate to others and becomes easy prey for the machinations of the War Devil. Asa’s bond with Yoru is also the opposite of Denji and Pochita’s, based on exploitation rather than trust. Chainsaw Man Part 2, while starting slowly, still promises to reach the same heights as Part 1.
One Piece is still the biggest Shonen in the world
Any list of the best continuous manga could not omit One Piece. Eiichiro Oda’s masterpiece has been around for 25 years and shows no signs of stopping. 2022 marked the manga’s 25th anniversary, and it was a very significant year for the franchise, which saw the release of the box office hit One Piece Film: RED. The manga also contributed to One Piece’s big year, showing the conclusion of the Wano Country Arc (the longest in the series), the deaths of two major villains in Kaido and Big Mom, and the debut of Luffy’s Gear Fifth, which came with an incredible reveal about the Straw Hat Captain Devil Fruit.
As the only member of the “Big Three” still in serialization, One Piece has a duty to carry the torch for what was perhaps the greatest period in manga history. Fortunately, Eiichiro Oda has incredible skills in world-building and storytelling on an epic scale, which means that even after 25 years, his manga still has the same, if not more, appeal now than some of his greatest mysteries. (like the nature of Devil Fruits) are finally starting to unravel. While One Piece may not appeal to everyone’s tastes, it’s impossible not to appreciate the series’ incredible accomplishments over the past 25 years.
One-Punch Man is even better than it looks
One-Punch Man is definitely one of the most original shonen franchises out there, and it’s all thanks to series creator and writer ONE, who continues to prove himself as one of the most talented writers in the industry. The One-Punch Man digital manga can also benefit from one of the best artists currently active, Yusuke Murata, who is working with ONE on what started as an adaptation of the original One-Punch Man webcomic and then evolved into something almost completely new, which benefits from the contributions of the two creators. In 2022, One-Punch Man delivered the conclusion to the Monster Association arc, which began in 2017, as well as one of the best battles of the entire year, with the planetary clash between Saitama and Garou.
What really made One-Punch Man shine in 2022, however, was that the manga showed steady signs of progress throughout the year, especially in the portrayal of its main character, Saitama. While Saitama might seem quite one-dimensional in his parody of classic shonen heroes, he’s much deeper and more nuanced than that, and the series really showed that in 2022. During his battle against Garou, Saitama experienced setbacks. and losses, as well as the realization of the lack of what it takes to be a hero. This caused him to “get serious” for the first time, completely changing Saitama. Sure, One-Punch Man quickly picked up the lighthearted tone that fans have come to love so much, but the series has clearly shifted gears, as further evidenced by the exciting new direction the plot has taken with a focus on the Evil God.
The return of Hunter X Hunter was the new manga of the year
Manga fans were shocked and thrilled in 2022 by the news that Hunter X Hunter was returning after a four-year hiatus. Series creator Yoshihiro Togashi still suffers from serious back problems that require him to take extended breaks, but it seems he’s finally found a way to overcome them, in addition to delegating more to his assistants. Hunter X Hunter picked up right where it left off, right in the middle of a Succession Contest, though the long pauses definitely don’t sit well with Togashi’s ultra-complex storytelling style. Obviously, the series has yet to return to one of its “main” characters and continues to focus on the war between the Kakin Mafia families, with the Phantom Troupe caught in the middle.
Speaking of the spiders, the most interesting new development is that the manga finally showed a flashback to their origins and tragic past. However, the question remains whether Hunter x Hunter will continue serialization after the ten chapters that have been announced. For its complexity, detailed world-building, incredible power system, and relatable characters, Hunter X Hunter is one of the best manga of the past few decades, but its constant breaks just hurt too much.
Although it’s hard to choose a star from this incredible list, the choice of . for Best Continuing Manga of 2022 is One-Punch Man. Considering that each of these series has its unique characteristics and strengths, it ultimately comes down to which one had the better year, which narrows it down to One Piece and One-Punch Man. While Eiichiro Oda’s pirate story had some of its most exciting moments in 2022, Saitama’s story showed more remarkable progress. One-Punch Man was already a great series, but in 2022 it stole Luffy’s most famous move and shifted gears to a whole new level, making it the best continuing manga of 2022.