Hooray, hooray, it’s Marine Day! Falling on the third Monday in July, Marine Day (海の日 umi no hi) is a Japanese national holiday celebrating the ocean and the economic prosperity of maritime Japan.
On this day, people all over Japan partake in Marine Day traditions, including snorkeling, diving, surfing, sunbathing, visiting aquariums, and more. And really, what is a better way to spend a three-day weekend than by enjoying time at the beach?
To get into the seaside spirit of Marine Day, check out these ten ocean-themed manga recommendations handpicked by yours truly. Whether they take place entirely in the ocean or along the shore, the manga in this list all rely on aquatic elements to drive their stories forward. From romantic comedies to retro classics and emotional dramas to action-packed series, you’re bound to discover the perfect sea-centric manga for you!
1. Children of the Sea
From the publisher: When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does.
Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans’ fish.
2. Grand Blue Dreaming
From the publisher: After graduating from an all-boys’ high school, Iori Kitahara moves away from home to go to college in a seaside town. He’s eager to start a new chapter in his life–one filled with dreams of reinventing himself, meeting beautiful girls, and reveling in his youth. But when his new abode is his uncle’s dive shop, Iori’s college debut doesn’t turn out as glamorously as he planned! Can Iori keep himself afloat, or will the booze-fueled antics of his university’s diving club wash him away?
3. Peach Mermaid
Original Title: ももいろ人魚
Author: Haru Akebono
Japanese Publisher: Kodansha
US Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Purchase: Barnes and Noble
From the publisher: Highly recommended by Ruri Miyahara, the creator of The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior and Love Lab! Rune, an “ex”-mermaid, comes out from the ocean to be with the human she’s been pining for, Riku, her first love. But as fate would have it, she finds out she’ll never be able to become one with humans. This is the first volume of a sexy, yet pure, romantic comedy, a bit risqué—and sure to make you laugh out loud!
4. Skyblue Shore
From the publisher: Tomo is a high school girl who lives in a town by a beach. One day she gets harassed on a bus but is rescued by one of her classmates. Afterwards, he drops his keys, and the keyring has the same stone as one given to Tomo by a boy during her childhood. Is he the same person? Tomo believes the sea can bestow treasures on people, and she may be about to be proven right in ways she didn’t imagine!
5. Tropic of the Sea
From the publisher: Yosuke’s family has a strange tradition – once every sixty years they receive an egg from a mermaid. When the egg matures his family dutifully returns it to the sea, where the whole process is then repeated. In exchange for this favor, the mer-people bless his coastal town with bountiful catches of fish and calm seas.
But as a commercial development encroach on the sleepy seaside village and Yosuke’s father is lured away from tradition towards modern properity, and turns the egg into a tourist trap, what will happen to the promise their family made to the mermaids generations ago?
6. Mermaid Boys
7. Triton of the Sea
From the publisher: The ocean holds many tales. Tales of mermaids, of underwater kingdoms, and of fantastical beasts lurking in the deep. Spurred by these tales, Kazuya sets out to find the truth, but what he finds is a baby?! Not just any baby, the baby Kazuya finds is Triton, the last of a once mighty and proud race of people from the sea!
Triton seems human, but unusual and terrible events begin to happen with all those around him. Who is Triton, and why does he bring misfortune to everyone around him?
8. A Girl on the Shore
From the publisher: When Koume and Keisuke’s relationship begins to take shape, it is apparent that they are both searching for something. Maybe Keisuke wants something more than a kiss from the fair Koume. Maybe Koume is looking for someone better than Misaki, the local playboy. But what they find in each other over the course of a summer might be far greater than anything they were expecting.
9. Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch
Original Title: マーメイドメロディーぴちぴちピッチ
Author: Pink Hanamori and Michiko Yokote
Japanese Publisher: Kodansha
US Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Purchase: Barnes and Noble
From the publisher: Lucia is the new girl at school. She and her sister run a public bath that’s all the rage. When Lucia meets a terrific-looking surfer boy, there’s just one little problem: Lucia is a mermaid–not just any mermaid, but a princess on an important mission to save the seven seas from an evil force bent on taking control of the marine world. Such a responsibility doesn’t leave much time for romance. But Lucia vows to protect her world and win the heart of handsome Kaito.
10. Wadanohara And The Great Blue Sea
From the publisher: The young witch Wadanohara has returned from a journey across the sea, only to find that her peaceful ocean home has come under attack from the nefarious Tosatsu Empire. Alongside her faithful familiars―Memoca, Dolphi and Fukami―Wadanohara promises to do all she can to prevent a terrible war. But when a mysterious figure from her past demands that she leave, can the pure-hearted Wadanohara muster the courage and magic she needs to save the Sea Kingdom once and for all?
Do you have any recommendations for ocean-themed manga? Let me know in the comments!