Attack on Titan is one of the most important manga/anime to come out of the last decade. The series brought in a lot of new Western fans to both mediums, and its premise and compelling storytelling are likely to influence future creators for years to come. But now that Hajime Isayama's series has come to a close, fans looking to fill the void it leaves behind could do a lot worse than the following recommendations.
Written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto, Chainsaw Man is the newest cult shonen manga from the pages of Shonen Jump. The series began in 2018 and follows an orphaned teenager, Denji, who hunts Devils with his chainsaw Devil dog companion, Pochita, to pay off his father's debts. After an unfortunate run-in with some Devils, he and Pochita fuse, turning him into a Chainsaw Devil-human hybrid. This catches the attention of the enigmatic Makima of the Public Safety Devil Hunters, who decides to give Denji a job working under her as a licensed Devil hunter.
Despite being shonen, Chainsaw Man features dark storytelling and mature themes -- things that Attack on Titan fans would enjoy. Take the main characters, for instance, most of whom become weapons for the very monsters that plague society. But while Chainsaw Man is despair-inducing, it has humanity in its unapologetic, gross-out humor and moments of respite spent on its small but tightly-written cast. The manga will be receiving both a Part 2 continuation for Shonen Jump+ and an anime adaption, set to be produced by Studio MAPPA, in the near future. Chainsaw Man could very likely take the place Attack on Titan once had.
Beginning in 2014, Golden Kamuy is a treasure hunting survival manga set in Hokkaido during the Meiji Era, and was created by Satoru Noda. Sugimoto the Immortal is a war veteran returning from the Russo-Japanese War who hears about a secret stash of Ainu gold hidden away by a group of prisoners. These prisoners also tattooed a map showing the location of the gold on themselves. Sugimoto decides to team up with the young a fearless Ainu girl named Asirpa and a cowardly escape artist named Shiraishi to track down the prisoners and find the gold.
The advantage Attack on Titan had in having such a wide cast was that there would always be at least one or two characters audiences could latch on to. Golden Kamuy is similar in that respect, with a wide array of eccentric characters. There's bound to at least one that strikes a chord with you. If you're not a fan of Sugimoto, maybe you prefer the cold and ruthless sniper Ogata. Or there's the cunning fortune-teller Inkarmat, who seems to always know more than she lets on. Even the villains, like oddball first lieutenant Tsurumi, will come to grow on you as his various ploys trap Sugimoto and Asirpa. The manga is currently licensed in English by Viz Media.
Kei Kurono is a self-centered teenager who dislikes everyone and everything around him. After getting run over by a subway train while saving a homeless drunk alongside his childhood friend Kato, the two suddenly appear in a Tokyo apartment with a strange black sphere, surrounded by other individuals who have also recently died. They are then given the bizarre task of teleporting across the country to fight and kill aliens hiding amongst humans.
This is the story of Gantz, a sci-fi/horror-tinged battle manga by Hiroya Oku, which ran from 2000-13. If you loved the desperate battles fought by characters struggling for survival in Attack on Titan, Gantz will be right up your alley. Similarly, that feeling in Attack on Titan that anyone could die at the drop of a hat -- giving a more realistic edge to those battles -- holds true for Gantz. The series is notorious for its multitude of character deaths that show humanity at its absolute lowest. If you really want a series that, like Attack on Titan, won't sugarcoat its violence, then check out Gantz. Dark Horse currently holds the English language license for the series.
Written and illustrated by Q Hayashida, Dorohedoro is a fantasy manga that ran from 2000-18. This grimy, dark punk fantasy series follows Kaiman, a man who lost his memories after a sorcerer gave him a reptile head. Alongside his partner-in-crime, Nikaido, the two hunt down sorcerers in the hopes of finding the one who cursed him with this bizarre disfigurement.
Attack on Titan was known for its spread of strong female characters (Mikasa, Sasha, Historia, Annie and more). Dorohedoro is no different in that respect. Characters like Noi and Nikaido are more proficient fighters than a majority of the male characters, and not only that but they are respected as equals to their respective partners (Shin and Kaiman), as both teams rely on each other for emotional and physical support. Viz Media distributes the series in English.
20th Century Boys
Created by manga industry legend, Naoki Urasawa (Pluto, Monster, Billy Bat), 20th Century Boys is a sci-fi mystery thriller series that ran from 1999- 2006. Kenji Endo is a failed rock musician who now works in his family convenience store with his infant niece and detestable mother. However, strange things start happening when a childhood friend of his mysteriously kills themself, and the symbol he and his friends made when they were kids starts cropping up in real life.
If you love the mystery and intrigue that jumpstarted Attack on Titan, 20th Century Boys may be for you. It may take a bit to get going since its early chapters do a lot of loose setups, but once it draws you in with its mystery and global conspiracy, you won't regret picking it up. The series is currently available in English from Viz Media.