Sometimes you love a manga so much you’ve just got to go another level deeper, and continue the journey. That’s where manga spin-offs come in, carrying the torch of the main series. But giving it a little extra depth or a new, unique twist. There’s a lot out there, but here are 6 that we think are great to check out.
Danganronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer
Perhaps the only Danganronpa spin-off media I actually like, Danganronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer understands how to expand on the Danganronpa universe without it seeming like a poor man’s version of a full visual novel game.
It even pulled a very cool trick of not revealing itself as a spin-off until Chapter 3, only being called Killer Killer when it started. A similar twist to Araki’s in his JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure spin-off Dead Man’s Questions (which is good too, but isn’t in this list).
Killer Killer takes place between Ultra Despair Girls and Goodbye Despair. It follows two special investigators for the Future Foundation, who deal with strange murder cases. The sort of strange murder cases you’ve come to expect from Danganronpa.
The manga follows them through the “Killer Killer” case, a serial killer who kills other serial killers. Without spoiling anything, they’re an interesting, pretty unique character in how they’re portrayed.
It does end up feeling a little short, but compacted in here are some of the core principles of Danganronpa given a new form. It doesn’t just try to retread what worked in Danganronpa, but reworks those things into something new and does so pretty successfully.
It’s a shame it’s only 14 chapters, as given some extra breathing room it could have been even better, and had legs to keep going for a while longer. It’s the kind of manga I’d be interested in reading Danganronpa spin-off or not. In some ways, this is one of its greatest strengths, and one of its biggest weaknesses.
Assassination Classroom Extra Chapters
While the Extra Chapters sort of, kind of aren’t a spin-off per se — it also kind of is a spin-off. It’s an epilogue of sorts to the original manga, except it takes place during Class 3-E’s winter break. It’s simply another adventure Koro-sensei has with a new cast of characters, in a town near his secret winter hideaway (which is shaped liked his head).
The story centres around the plot between four new assassins to take Koro-sensei down and earn the bounty. The bar they all end up frequenting is run by a mother and a daughter, and Koro-sensei ends up taking the same sort of mentor role with this family as he does his own students.
It ends up being a sort of sweet microcosm of the tone of the whole series, and a nice ending pin to the series. That makes it a much better spin-off than Koro-Sensei Q, which is just a bit too silly for my tastes.
Shokugeki no Souma: L’étoile
L’étoile is French for “the star”, which is fitting as this spin-off to Shokugeki no Souma is centred around the true star of the series: The Légumes Magician himself, Kojirou Shinomiya.
Coming from the same generation as Souma’s dad, he’s an older character and accomplished French cuisine style chef in the main series who seems cold and sharp at first. But, as the series goes on, Shinomiya is revealed to be a deep and multi-faceted character with a lot of complexity.
Set during both his initial struggles to break into the professional world of French cuisine after graduating from Totsuki Culinary Academy, and also after the main series’ training camp arc, this is a great way to drill deeper into Shinomiya if he’s one of your favourite characters.
It’s always a delight when he crops up in the main story, and many chapters with him are some of the ones I remember most fondly (most of all the Stagiaire Arc). So, having a whole story just about him is absolutely lovely.
Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan
While I did like Dead Man’s Questions a lot and would have loved to see it become a longer series, as far as JoJo spin-offs go, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan has to take the top spot. This series is a collection of short stories either starring Part 4’s Rohan Kishibe himself, or ones that he relates to the reader.
Some of them even have a sort of The Twilight Zone vibe to them, dealing with the unexplained supernatural. There aren’t really any traditional “stand battles”. One, for example, The Millionare Village, is a battle of manners between Rohan and the Gods of the Mountain, where he is challenged to observe “proper etiquette” or face divine punishment.
Rohan is obviously one of the best characters in JoJo. A strange, reclusive, and eccentric manga artist who has the stand ability to literally read people like a book. He’s also clearly more than a little bit based on Araki-san himself, or perhaps rather his own idealised version of himself.
There aren’t many chapters, and each is self-contained. They come out pretty sporadically, basically whenever Araki has the idea to do one or is commissioned, with no fixed publication avenue. But, they seem to have increased in frequency as of late — perhaps due to the recent adaptation of Part 4 of the anime. Fingers crossed we’ll get bucket loads of these in future.
David Production even worked on an OVA of the Millionaire Village story, though it’s currently just exclusive to a limited amount of Japanese collector’s box sets of the Part 4 Blu-ray/DVD.
Attack on Titan: No Regrets (Birth of Levi)
After the massive, unexpected perfect storm of success Attack on Titan reached around the time of the anime’s first season, many spin-offs ended up being released. Novels, visual novels, live action movies, a junior-high chibi spin-off. You name it, Attack on Titan has had it.
Our pick for this list is the manga of Attack on Titan: No Regrets (AKA Birth of Levi), a prequel about Levi that was originally a visual novel bundled with a Blu-ray release. There’s an OVA too, though! Levi is a fan favourite character, but even to this day the main series has revealed surprisingly little about his origins. Which is where No Regrets comes in.
It charts Levi’s beginnings as a thug in a rough, underground district, and his journey joining the ranks of the Survey Corps — having been forced to either join or be arrested by Erwin. As you’d expect, Levi and his friends bump heads with Erwin, but they build up a nice relationship that ends up being reflected in the respect they show for one another later in the timeline during the main series.
No Regrets captures the essence of what fans love about Levi, explaining his past while at the same time not feeling like it’s ruining his mystique. It also distils some of the best vibes of the early Attack on Titan manga and anime. If you’re not really a fan of the way the series has gone, these prequel manga like No Regrets do a good job of continuing that original feeling.
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes
Vigilantes focuses around more street level crime in the My Hero Academia universe. As the lead character, Koichi, says, it’s about “the violence lurking in the every day, and spontaneous ill intent”. Working outside the law, they tackle imminent dangers that licensed heroes might not see or have time to respond to outside of their own patrol areas.
The vigilante heroes are a small rag-tag group, who, unlike the heroes in the main series, don’t have any amazing, over-the-top huge powers. But, in a way, that makes their battles all the more endearing. They try to take on crime that bigger heroes wouldn’t be able to, such as a hard to detect drug circulating the criminals of the city that boosts quirks and throws people into rage.
It’s a little bit darker than the main series, as you might expect from street level crime, but it still has a heart of gold and plenty of warm, fun moments. Also, the series is designed as a prequel of sorts to the main series, with All Might still being active and other connections I won’t spoil. Though, it’s not too far in the past.
The spin-off wonderfully compliments the main series by offering quite a different view on the same world, but keeping the cores and values intact. Gentleman is even quite similar to Midoriya, as a fellow All Might superfan (his costume is simply a popular official All Might hoodie), who just wants to be like his hero. Our “illegal heroes” here might be a bit older than the UA Class 1-A students, but they’re just as lovable to spend time with.
There’s more great manga spin-offs out there, and even great spin-offs that take other mediums too! Hopefully these might encourage you to explore the series these are based on a bit more, or maybe even fill you in on something you didn’t know too much about.
What are your favourite manga or anime spin-offs? Let us know! Perhaps we’ll do a follow-up list some time!