When I caught up with the chapters of Berserk by Kentaro Miura, I had a hard time deciding what to read next. I had just finished reading an absolute masterpiece and was in search of something that would interest me just as much as it did. But, I came to the realization that Berserk, my top manga of all time, is one-of-a-kind, and searching for another series that’s just like it is the wrong way to go about things, because, well… there’s no other manga like Berserk.
Instead, I began searching for series that are similar to Berserk in various ways to find series that would connect with me on a similar level, especially when it came to reading the series in the beautiful hardcovers that are the Berserk Deluxe Editions. I later discovered Vagabond, Claymore, Gantz, and many more series that, while not exactly the same as Berserk, had commonalities, and the list of manga that I love grew.
I broke down Berserk into all of its elements from its elaborate art and dark fantasy setting to its unrelenting MC and exploration of human struggle to find the best series you’ll want to read next. I’ve read a lot of manga over the years, but the following are the ones I recommend most if you love Berserk!
Fire Punch by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Fire Punch is the first manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto, the creator of Chainsaw Man, and it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world that’s now covered in ice and snow thanks to a “blessed” called the Ice Witch. The “blessed” are individuals born with supernatural powers, and our main character, Agni, and his sister Luna have been blessed with the power of regeneration.
One day, a group of soldiers comes through their village, and based on what the commander sees there, he decides to incinerate the entire village and all those within it with his power, which allows him to create flames that do not extinguish until it burns all of its fuel. You can see where this is going probably, but Agni, whose regenerative powers are stronger than his sister’s, ends up being the sole survivor of the attack. Agni, who is now burning eternally because of his regenerative powers, heads out on a journey to avenge his sister and kill the man, Doma, who took everything away from him.
At the heart of it all, this story is about revenge as we see Agni head out to kill Domo, but it’s also about longing. Since this world is covered in ice where everyone fights tooth and nail to survive, there’s a lot that people wish for. It’s emotional to read because when you try to put yourself in the shoes of these characters, you can feel their longing for normalcy, warmth, and even the simpler things because, in this world, nothing is simple.
Agni and Guts, aside from their motivations and quest for revenge, are similar in a lot of other ways. They both struggle and are plagued by various curses if you will. Agni is eternally burning and is able to do so because of his regenerative abilities and Guts has been branded with the Brand of Sacrifice, so both are dealing with some sort of affliction and are driven by a need for revenge, but revenge almost seems like too simple of a word for these two characters. Maybe redemption, to take back something that was taken from them, but what happens when and if they get that revenge?
Of course, this idea of revenge develops over the course of both stories and we see these characters evolve as a result of it. But it’s how Agni continues to push on despite how much pain he’s in and how difficult it is to do so, that reminds me of Guts the most. He’s relentless and even though, unlike Guts, we see him try to give up at times, he has a reason to live on, something that drives him to continue.
On top of all that, Fire Punch is set in a messed-up world, where people do terrible things, which we also witness in Berserk. There are some really horrendous people in this manga and I mean the lowest of the low kind of people. Cannibalism is not the worst thing people do in this manga. People do way worse things in this survival ice age world. Much like Berserk, Fire Punch has some scenes that shocked me to my core, so both have a similar dark tone and I appreciate the fact that they hold nothing back.
Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida
Like Berserk, Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Dorohedoro follows Caiman, a lizard-headed man that has no memory of his past. He teams up with his friend Nikaido, owner of a small restaurant called the Hungry Bug, to track down the sorcerer responsible for his transformation. The story follows their lives in a strange world called the Hole, but a new set of adventures await them in a place known as the Sorcerer’s World.
Everything in Dorohedoro is tinged in darkness, and the world it’s set in is gritty and grimy, but also very surreal, and this makes it similar to Berserk. Connecting these two worlds together are magical doors, which are set by sorcerers. Most sorcerers use said doors to travel to the Hole in order to practice their magic on unsuspecting victims, leaving them disfigured and mangled, so its set in a world where magic exists and the characters face a myriad of struggles and obstacles that they have to overcome.
Q Hayashida’s art is very visceral, so it hits you emotionally, but she is also one of the best at drawing gore as well. The character and world designs are what impress me the most, though. They really hone in on just how dark this world is, much like Berserk. The attention to detail in the characters’ outfits, how they are wearing more utilitarian, grungy style clothing, but are also wearing Nikes, and their masks, some of which are inspired by the band Slipknot by the way, are top-notch. Their overall aesthetic and her sense of style are just awesome.
Q Hayashida, much like Kentaro Miura, creates immersive worlds that you long to explore. Dorohedoro is set in a brutal and dark fantasy world that’s full of over-the-top violence and gore, but it’s also a fun and adventurous read. Kentaro Miura created one of the richest and most compelling fantasy worlds in all of manga. The fantasy worlds that Q Hayashida and Kentaro Miura created in their respective series are some of the most unique you’ll ever experience.
Read up more on why Dorohedoro is a must-read!
Fist of the North Star by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara
Fist of the North Star is a profoundly influential series that has left an indelible mark on the manga industry, much like Berserk. Its impact extends beyond inspiring Berserk itself; it has influenced numerous other series over the years, including JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. If you have a penchant for over-the-top violence, captivating post-apocalyptic tales, and protagonists driven by a strong sense of justice, Fist of the North Star is one you’ll want to check out.
Immersed in a post-apocalyptic world where survival becomes a ruthless contest, Fist of the North Star unravels amidst the chaos, where vicious gangs reign supreme in the wastelands. Though law and order have crumbled, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of Ken and his incredible power, Hokuto Shinken—the Divine Fist of the North Star. Ken takes it upon himself to restore justice to this broken world, obliterating those who inflict harm and prey upon the innocent.
Both Berserk and Fist of the North Star share the unforgiving backdrop of their respective worlds, where our protagonists must fight tooth and nail to survive, confronting formidable adversaries to protect those they hold dear. The violence in Fist of the North Star is nothing short of extravagant and graphic and it has an unapologetic nature, as does Berserk. Kenshiro and Guts, our protagonists, are both driven by similar motivations, and the entry of intriguing antagonists adds an extra layer of depth and fascination to each story.
Fist of the North Star and Berserk have shaped the landscape of manga and they are absolute classics that will forever withstand the test of time.
Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura
Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura and Berserk bear some similarities thanks to their unrelenting protagonists and violent worlds. What truly sets them apart, however, is their incredible character development. Manji and Guts embark on deeply transformative and personal journeys, where they must battle against not only others but themselves. Both showcase their MCs’ struggles in a unique and unforgettable way.
It is through the weight of their tragic histories that Manji and Guts find the fuel for their profound metamorphosis, leading them toward growth, redemption, and profound introspection. The artistry displayed in both manga is nothing short of extraordinary too. Each skillfully depicts the grace and brutality of swordsmanship and combat.
Blade of the Immortal and Berserk venture into the realm of complex themes, exploring the intricacies of revenge and the moral gray areas that often accompany it. These two series have a rich tapestry of characters, each embarking on transformative journeys that shape who they are. As their paths intertwine with others, the narratives gain added depth and complexity. The storytelling showcased in both Blade of the Immortal and Berserk is truly exceptional, immersing you in a captivating fusion of intricate storytelling and visceral themes that sets them apart from anything I’ve experienced before. They are unforgettable series and they are two of the best seinen manga I’ve ever read.
You can collect the series now via the singles, omnibuses, or the Blade of the Immortal Deluxe Editions!
Gantz by Hiroya Oku
Gantz and Berserk feature some of the most detailed and beautifully drawn gore I’ve ever seen. The designs of the beings that exist within each, the Godhand in Berserk and the aliens in Gantz, are also some of the best in all of manga. Kentaro Miura and Hiroya Oku are two of my all-time favorite artists and they have created some of the best manga panels I’ve ever seen.
These two are in a league of their own when it comes to art. Both emphasize the feeling of a moment and the gravity of the situation in their art, so their panels often evoke an emotional response. While Gantz is sci-fi and Berserk is dark fantasy, they feature similarly brutal and masterfully crafted worlds that draw you in as well.
Gantz follows Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, two high school students who die in a train accident and become part of a semi-posthumous “game” in which they and other recently deceased people are forced to track down and kill aliens armed with a handful of futuristic equipment and weaponry. The missions they go on typically result in the brutal and gory deaths of their targets as well as their teammates, with the survivors being returned to their daily lives until their next mission. On their missions, they can rack up points, which allow them to revive a lost teammate, return to the real world for good, or upgrade their weapons. However, there are plenty of twists along the way—which I can’t spoil.
Everything from the blood and gore to the action is turned up to eleven in Gantz, so it’s a chaotic journey, to say the least, but it’s one that’s well worth reading. It’s one of the most brutal series I’ve ever read, up there with the likes of Berserk. Still not sure if Gantz is for you? Check out my in-depth and spoiler-free review of Gantz!
Monster by Naoki Urasawa
The main reason I’m including Monster by Naoki Urasawa on this list is because, similarly to Berserk, it has an incredible protagonist and antagonist and the rivalry and relationship between the two is the driving force of each story. Monster is an incredible psychological thriller that features a game of cat and mouse between a neurosurgeon Dr. Kenzo Tenma and a true monster, but it’s also very much a story about people coming together to right wrongs, overcoming one’s inner demons, and how our choices, whether big or small, can have consequences far beyond anything we could ever imagine. Dr. Tenma made a choice to save someone, and because he did so, a monster lived on.
Framed for murder by the one he saved, Dr. Tenma must evade the authorities all the while searching for answers to clear his name and uncover the true identity and origin of the monster he operated on. Naoki Urasawa is well-known for creating stories that are full of mystery and suspense, but he is also a master at weaving together different timelines. The antagonist in Monster is an intelligent, charismatic, and deranged young man who thinks of people as a means to an end and uses them without a thought to achieve his own personal endeavors and goals, so he reminds me of Griffith in a lot of ways.
The complex and starkly different personalities of our two main characters are also a big reason why Monster is such a big success, and this is a big reason why Berserk is such a big success as well. It’s one of the greatest seinen manga to ever release, but it’s also one of the best manga by Naoki Urasawa.
If you are looking to pick it up, you can collect Monster via the singles or Perfect Editions released from Viz!
Innocent by Shinichi Sakamoto
One aspect that never fails to captivate me about Shinichi Sakamoto’s works is his ability to emphasize reality. His hyper-realistic artwork goes beyond mere visuals, bringing the pages to life in a way that makes you feel fully immersed. When I read Innocent or Berserk, it’s not just about seeing the events unfold before my eyes; it’s about feeling them, hearing them, and becoming a part of the very scene. This attention to detail is something that Kentaro Miura, the creator of Berserk, also excelled at.
Apart from the incredible artwork, both Innocent and Berserk delve deep into the dark and gritty aspects of human nature. Despite their different settings—one being a dark fantasy medieval world and the other set during the French Revolution—they share a similar atmosphere of brutality and an unforgiving reality that shapes the lives of their main characters. The protagonists, Guts in Berserk and Charles-Henri Sanson in Innocent go through tremendous growth over the course of their stories. They face obstacles that challenge them both mentally and physically. It’s inspiring to witness their journeys as they overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
I had the pleasure of reading both series in their entirety, and I wholeheartedly recommend diving into Innocent and its continuation, Innocent Rouge. I’m eagerly anticipating the English translation release by Dark Horse in 2023, making it one of my most highly anticipated manga releases of the year.
Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura
Vinland Saga and Berserk are both epic sagas and fantastic tales. Vinland Saga takes you on an incredible journey and every chapter engrosses you more and more in its story, much like Berserk. It’s a story about Vikings that’s told realistically, but it’s told in an artful and impactful way and it offers a lot of insight into the plight and struggles of the people who lived in this harsh, war-driven world. While reading Vinland Saga, you are very much transported back to this time period through Makoto Yukimura’s art and storytelling, much like you are transported into the world of Berserk while reading.
Vinland Saga follows Thorfinn, who sat at Leif Ericson’s feet and listened with delight to wild tales of a land far to the west. But his dreams were shattered by a mercenary raid. Raised by the Vikings who murdered his family, Thorfinn became a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band’s leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Sustaining Thorfinn through his ordeal are his pride in his family and his dreams of a fertile westward land—a land without war or slavery…the land Leif called Vinland.
Like Berserk, character development is one of Vinland Saga‘s strong suits. There are a lot of characters in Vinland Saga with strong motivations that make them interesting. So, while it is a story about Vikings with plenty of blood and gore, it’s full of substance as well.
For me, though, it’s Thorfinn, who is being torn between two worlds, that’s the most compelling part of the series. You’ll see him hell-bent on avenging his father’s death, but his father gave up being a Viking and vowed to never kill again, so he has that running through his head as well. Thorfinn and Guts both have similar motivations and want to get revenge in some type of way against an individual that wronged them.
Since it’s a historical manga about Vikings and the time they lived in, you’ll see the Vikings pillage villages and kill whoever stands in their way, but you’ll get so much more than that, especially with characters like Askeladd, whose craftiness is entertaining to watch. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, everything from the scenery to the battle scenes to the grotesque gore in Vinland Saga is beautifully-drawn. Berserk and Vinland Saga give you the best of both worlds with their compelling stories and elaborate art.
Kingdom by Yasuhisa Hara
Kingdom is a beloved manga series that continues to remain an elusive treasure, especially given that it has yet to receive an English print release. Despite its high praise, it’s a series that is often underappreciated for how good it is, and for many, it may very well be a hidden gem. Kingdom has many similarities to other manga masterpieces, such as Berserk and Vinland Saga. If you love either, Kingdom is a series you don’t want to miss.
Immersed within the strife-ridden backdrop of China’s Warring States period, Kingdom unfurls an epic saga of relentless warfare and political intrigue. At its core lies the captivating journey of Xin, a spirited war orphan determined to ascend as the greatest general under the heavens, forging a path to unite China after five centuries of division.
What sets Kingdom apart is its seamless fusion of heart-pounding action and intricate political machinations, striking a delicate balance that keeps you consistently engaged. The narrative unfolds with ever-increasing intensity, gripping your attention with every turn of the page. Each chapter unveils a breathtaking display of battles, brimming with strategies that leave you on the edge of your seat. Much like Berserk, the artistry within Kingdom is a sight to behold thanks to its exquisite detail and striking visuals, which transport you deeper into the story.
Kingdom and Berserk are both epic tales that feature amazing world-building and exciting battles. They are some of the most well-developed stories you can read, but the artwork you’ll witness in both is incredible as well.
Claymore by Norihiro Yagi
Claymore by Norihiro Yagi is one of my favorite dark fantasy manga, and while it’s classified as a shonen, a unique shonen at that, it feels close to a seinen to me. If you are looking for a manga like Berserk, Claymore is one of the first I always recommend. Both have a similar feel and setting, but Claymore is unique because it features a strong female lead and it is one of the most mature titles you can read in Shonen.
In Claymore, monsters called Yoma, who live amongst humans in disguise, prey on villages. The only people who can seek out, and fight against, these monsters are Claymores—half-human, half-monster hybrids that possess supernatural strength. The Yoma isn’t the only thing they must fight against, though. With such strong impulses, they must ensure they remain more human than monster, or risk losing it all. Our main protagonist, Clare, is an expert swordsman and Claymore, and we follow her story. Her main goal is to hunt down an Awakened Being named Priscilla that killed her adoptive mother, Theresa.
Claymore is set in a world that’s very reminiscent of Berserk’s and it features a battle with otherworldly monsters. On top of all that, it is full of action-packed battles and there’s a complex rivalry that drives our main character. The antagonist in Claymore, much like Griffith in Berserk, is fascinating to watch and you really root for the main characters to overcome the obstacles as well as the enemies that stand in front of them.
You can collect Claymore now via the singles or the manga box set, which is one of my favorite manga box sets to ever release.
Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue
Vagabond follows Miyamoto Musashi on his journey to become the greatest swordsman. Because of his brutish and violent ways, a lot of people think he’s something like a demon, but we as the reader, know he’s so much more than that and we really see him develop and grow over the course of the volumes.
A lot of people view Guts in a similar light in Berserk. Many think of him as a brute, but we as the reader know that there are many layers to him. Each is on a mission of their own, involving mental struggles that each has to overcome, and each focuses on the plight of their main characters. The people he meets along the way add so much to this story too and they not only affect us but Musashi as well, much like Guts who meets new friends and foes along the way as well that further develops the story.
Vagabond is a story based on the real-life swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, but while it has roots in history, it’s told in a way that feels so grand. Also, as far as samurai stories go, it’s one of the most unique, relatable, and engrossing I’ve ever read. It’s based in reality, while Berserk is set in a fantasy world, but both are larger-than-life tales and they are masterpieces in their own right. Vagabond is my second favorite seinen manga of all-time right behind Berserk and it’s the one I recommend fans of the series check out most!
If you are looking to pick it up, you can collect the series now via the singles or the Vagabond Vizbigs!
As someone whose favorite manga of all time is Berserk, these are the manga I recommend checking out most! As more series are released, I will update this post. There are more manga I will be adding to this list over time, so stay tuned for more!
Want more manga recommendations? Check out these must-read seinen manga!