I don’t even know if all of you are familiar with one shot manga, to begin with. They aren’t all that common in traditionally printed manga but you run across them a lot in digital manga. So let’s start with a little description One shot manga or at least what I call one shot manga) are manga with a story contained in a single chapter. Occasionally they will get grouped together in anthologies but oftentimes, they’re just like free-floating little stories.

I am a pretty big fan of short stories. A good short story usually has a very different structure and progression than a more traditional length tale and I think that a talented author can really craft something interesting in the format.

something interesting you say…

However, for years, I was under the impression that it just didn’t translate as well to manga. There had always been some one shots that I thought were great but I didn’t care for the majority of them. For some reason, I have decided that a manga needed at least a volume (that’s like 4 to 7 chapters) to really get its story across.

But you see, I’m not sure why I thought that in the first place.

Sure, by word count, a manga will have drastically less text per page than a novel but you know what they say about pictures being worth 1000 words. Manga can bypass pretty much all physical description by simply drawing it in a single panel. If any of you have read Victor Hugo, you know just how much space descriptions can take up. You can even incorporate body language and facial expressions to communicate a character’s state of mind without the use of words.

And so, even if the actual word count may be drastically lower, there’s no guarantee that the amount of information communicated is in fact lower. I have not done extensive research on it. For all I know, it could be higher. As in you could progress and develop a story more in a limited amount of manga pages than in the equivalent amount of novel pages. And of course, that’s also going to depend on your writing style. I have been known to throw around impressive numbers of words that say very little indeed.

Yet, despite the logical side of my brain not being able to come up with a reason why I of all people, someone who is particularly fond of the short story format, would dislike one shot manga. I still had a bias against them and would often overlook them when deciding what to read.

I can be such a snob!

However, lately, I’ve started to change that. It all started with one title that I just liked the cover art so much I had to read. Then another with an intriguing title, and another, and another. After a few months of this, I find that I have an almost perfect hit rate of picking enjoyable on shot manga. Maybe the quality has gotten better. More likely though, I have a better idea of what I enjoy when it comes to manga and have gotten more skilled at quickly identifying it.

In any case, I’m sort of thrilled by this discovery.

But I noticed that very few people ever talk about one shot manga. Maybe I just haven’t been reading the right blogs. In any case, except for a very occasional title here and there, I have not seen many people talk about one shot manga and I wonder why.

I have noticed that I also don’t review many of them. I will try to change that in the future. To tell you the truth, this is mostly because I haven’t figured out how to do it properly. With a short story, you really don’t want to give away too much as you risk basically recapping the whole thing. At the same time, if you don’t give the readers a general idea of what’s happening, it’s very tough to let them know what you liked and didn’t like. So I’m playing with my formula a bit, trying to come up with a better way of reviewing or just sharing one shot manga with all of you. I hope I can come up with something soon.

I figure it’s quite possible that my fellow bloggers are simply in the same boat. That we all read one shot manga but we just don’t quite know how to discuss it. The few aniblogger discord servers I have visited rarely talk about manga so I don’t really have a good gauge on this. And the few friends I have that enjoy manga tend to like the big long-lasting series with hundred of chapters so forget one shots.

how can they read so much

As such, I wanted to write a post out of actual curiosity. I just want to know if any of you out there are fans of one shot manga and whether you have any good ones to recommend.

But I also wanted to write this post in case I have any readers that were under the same mistaken impression I was. In my recent experience, it turns out that one shot manga can actually offer a rich reading experience. Certainly, it’s very different from a long-lasting series. You simply will not get the development or deep plot that thousands of pages can offer in just 5. But you do get something else. Little precise vignettes that take a few minutes to read but can leave a long-lasting impression. Little perfect moments in time that give you a glimpse into a wider world and let you build up on that as you wish.

I’ve discovered that a lot of manga I really like started out from a one shot and it’s fascinating to see how the author views their own story. By seeing such a condensed version of it, you can see what the author considers primordial.

I’m not suggesting that the format is better than traditional manga. Not by a long shot… That was a joke, not sure if it worked. But I do think that one shots can add something unique to your manga reading experience.

Here are a few titles that I really enjoyed. All of these are PG and suitable for all audiences. Which is why the list is so short… It’s cause I’m a bit of a perv, not because one shots are all smut. I’m the problem here!

  • Boku no Sophia by Umishima Senbon
  • The Love of Two Kindred Spirits by Pageratta
  • Ayashii Houmonsha by Uguisu Sachiko
  • Catch You Catch Me by Hanano Chiaki
  • Shiba to Ran by Mogusu
  • Kamisama Permanent by Kataoka Jinsei
  • Gunji-sensei no Hisoka na Tanoshimi by Taji Makoto
  • Encounter Between Polar Opposites with Their Dogs by Kana Hono
  • I Hate These Calm Days by HANEUL
  • My Childhood Friend Was a God by Ruru (Wataame Watagashi)
  • Drawings of Me Eating by Mame
  • Bakewell Memories by Umishima Senbon (actually anything by Umishima Senbon. Maid-san to Obocchama is great as well)
  • Period by Mokumoku Ren
  • Monster’s Child by Kira Ito

11 thoughts

  1. I read a bunch of one-shots, including some which are inaccessible to an audience who can’t read Japanese like Mimicry by Ogane and Bubble by AOIKO (both of which I had to add to the AniList database myself!). That’s part of the reason why I don’t talk about them. Another reason is oneshots are short enough in a lot of cases to go and experience yourself and you’re happy with what you get. Just read and forget.

    Scott and I both covered the Death Note oneshot (the Donald Trump one)…I believe we’ve done more than that, but there’s recency bias behind that one (the Death Note short story anthology came out earlier this month via Viz).

    I haven’t heard of any of your oneshots, but I can give you a list of my favourites:
    – DC3 and Spirit Photographer Saburo Kouno by the creators of the Promised Neverland
    – Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto (creator of Fire Punch and Chainsaw Man)
    – Bubble
    – Akarui/Light by Keito Gaku (predecessor to Boys Run the Riot and bundled in one of its volumes, but more melodramatic)
    – Deadpool: Samurai by Sanshiro Kazama and Hikaru Uesugi (eventually got its own slightly-different 2 volume run which has been picked up by Viz)
    – Tomodachi Kara Yoroshiku Desu by Taeko Harada
    – Ningen Isu (adaption of Rampo Edogawa story) and Masei/Demon Voice by Junji Ito
    – Utakata Koi Ningyo/A Transient Mermaid in Love by Miyabi Asami
    – Apple by Naoshi Komi (yes, the Nisekoi guy!)
    – Chou no Ito by Hitsuji Harumi

    1. I have enjoyed quite a few of those. I’ll have to check out the other ones. Thank you for the recommendation!

  2. I randomly stumbled on to Spirit Photographer Saburo Kono on the Shounen Jump app. The only reason I read it was because the description said it was by the same author as The Promised Neverland. It was pretty good. I’m actually hoping it can become a full series. The potential is definitely there.

    I think one of the reasons one shots aren’t as popular is because longer stories just tend to leave a longer lasting impact. So people are more likely to talk about them.

    1. I understand what you’re saying, when you spend more time with characters you remeber them for longer but for me that hasn,t been the case. There are tons of one shots I remeber well and long series I have completely forgotten.

  3. Well this provoked me to take a look at my list and see what titles came up as one shots. For all my years reading manga, I only have four listed that I’ve read. I’m sure one of my summer’s in high school I spent too much time reading one shots but have long since forgotten them.

    I feel like one-shots are underappreciated though. A lot of mangaka’s (at least this was the case with Higuchi Daisuke) released a one-shot that was then workshopped it into a full fledged series. It seems like reader’s only become interested in them after the full series concludes or goes on hiatus though.

  4. I really like one shot manga, but it’s kind of hard to find. I’ve only found it in anthologies or at the end of regular manga as special content. I read manga online, but I haven’t found a continuous source for one shop manga.

    1. It is hard to find. Pixiv is a good source if you don,t mind doing your won translation…

    1. Of course it does. If people can understand it whithout reading the whole manga then it’s a one shot!

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