South Korean manhwa is occasionally grouped together with Japanese manga, despite the differences between these two storytelling mediums. Some anime fans have even become more engrossed in manhwa once they begin to discover the medium’s exciting storylines and interesting characters. Manhwa indulges in plenty of diverse genres, but it’s got a lot to offer for sci-fi fans.
Science fiction is a genre that fans either adore or loathe. The genre usually deals with advanced technology where nothing, even time travels or parallel universes, is off limits. However, sci-fi can also showcase its softer, emotional side as it deals with tamer subjects that can still dip their toes in robots, holograms, clones, and beyond.
15. A Space Ace Is Forced To Make Her Way In A Weird New World
The Princess’ Spaceship
The Princess’ Spaceship turns to an anachronistic mix of genres that are likely to surprise seasoned sci-fi fans and draw in newcomers to the genre. Fish out of water isekai antics are still popular in manhwa, but The Princess’ Spaceship goes the extra mile when a ruthless space sergeant finds herself reincarnated as a cursed aristocrat’s daughter who has a target on her head.
This ace adventurer has lost the comfort of her sci-fi setting as she desperately searches for her spaceship, which will hopefully allow her to escape all of this. Sci-fi without the space, The Princess’ Spaceship is light-hearted fun.
14. An Ordinary Outcast Gets Enormous Powers Installed In Him
Nano Machine is satisfying, action-packed wish fulfillment storytelling that has many of the markings of a classic shonen series, albeit with a science fiction foundation to it all. Cheon Yeo-Woon is a frail orphan who’s subjected to constant abuse and poor living conditions from him brutal caretakers.
Cheon’s life forever changes when he’s visited by his own future ancestor who’s traveled back in time to equip Cheon with transformative technology. Cheon is implanted with a nanomachine, which transforms him into a cybernetic force of nature who’s determined to change his rotten lot in life and make his way as a martial artist.
13. A Gaming Phenomenon Becomes The Key To Frightening Powers
There is no shortage of anime, manga, and manhwa that turn to online and mobile games as a primary source of conflict and tension. In Warble, a popular mobile game develops a symbiotic relationship with its user where in-game rewards are expressed through the user’s real body.
This begins as a playful way for mundane gamers to turn into the powerful heroes that they covet in their games. However, Warble also digs into the horrors of power’s corruptive nature when one Warble fan goes too far in his pursuits and the fate of the world is left in the balance. Warble offers strong sci-fi themes and futuristic technology.
12. Tests Of Strength Turn Into Fights For Survival
The Riddle Of Eve
The Riddle of Eve is a sci-fi and action manhwa that presents a horrific scenario that pits hundreds of children against each other in rigorous testing. Eve is a broken world where 667 children must go through constant training to improve their powers and ideally graduate to the highly-revered Class C.
However, those who don’t make the Class C cut are destined for execution. This death game structure also incorporates the rich class and social commentary abundant in science fiction. The tests of strengths and fatalities are gripping, but it’s the themes in The Riddle of Eve where it truly stands out.
11. A Disgruntled Villain Adjusts To An Inferior Body
Denma is a hilarious twist on the superhero genre that takes a page out of Detective Conan‘s book. Dike the Invincible Death is an evil genius who is also a Quanx, one of the special people in the world who possess superpowers.
Quanx’s grandiose days of villainy come to an end when an odd night out results in him waking up in the body of a small kid. Dike is determined to retrieve his old, powerful body, but is forced to jump through mundane hoops along the way.
10. A World Of Wish Fulfillment Comes At A Terrible Price
Builder is a gripping sci-fi manhwa written by Ha-Neul Moon and illustrated by Dong-Joon Lee. The series jumps forward to a point in the future where humans have perfected their every whim and can ostensibly create whatever they desire.
The esteemed individuals who occupy this dream world are known as Builders and the manhwa’s heroine strives to become one of these powerful people. Full of bewildering technology, incredible fantasy, and believable character development, there’s a lot to appreciate in Builders beyond its sci-fi elements.
9. A Rogue Warrior Fights Phantoms In The Name Of His Brother
City Of Blank
City Of Blank is a manhwa written and illustrated by the enigmatic author 66. In this dystopia manhwa world, there are haunting entities known as Blanks, which are essentially ghosts that can steal anyone’s face, at any time. Blanks have the world gripped in fear and danger is omnipresent.
Rex Kelman wishes to search for his brother’s murderer, but he’s aided by the unique ability to touch Blanks. This power inspires Rex to set out on a journey to finally bring closure to his missing brother. Rex holds the advantage over many Blanks, but that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a likelihood of him becoming one of their expressionless victims.
8. A Virtual World Reveals A Respectable Life Path For A Lost Soul
The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor
The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor is written by Do-gyeong Lee and Hui-seong Nam, and illustrated by Tae-Hyung Kim and Grimza. Hyun Lee lives together with his grandmother, but both of them are poverty-stricken, which forces Hyun Lee to take up multiple odd jobs in order to make ends meet.
Hyun Lee enters a VR game known as Royal Road, which helps him realize his hidden talents as a sculptor. Now, with a viable means to make money and support his family, Hyun Lee is determined to grind his way out of poverty, raise his skills, and ascend as Royal Road’s signature sculptor.
7. A Lovely Coming Of Age Story Between Man & Machine
The earnest manhwa, I.M., is the brainchild of Tim Hagiming, who both writes and illustrates the series. In I.M., Siyoon is a NEET — a worthless figure who’s looked down upon by family, peers, and society. Siyoon’s prospects suddenly improve after he meets a mysterious android named A.I., and the two begin to live together.
Although Siyoon is initially opposed to this odd cohabitation, a comfortable rhythm is found between the both of them. A.I. gradually becomes more human as Siyoon lets down his barriers and exposes his raw self to others. It’s a transcendent learning experience for both man and machine.
6. Brutal Realism Invades Exaggerated Escapism
Duty After School
Some of the strongest stories mix grounded realism with heightened fantasy as a way to penetrate uncomfortable subjects. Many anime and manga are set during tumultuous times of war, yet the innocent perspective of the youth functions as an optimistic filter through this carnage. Ii-kwon Ha’s Duty After School, also known as Afterschool War Activities, is cut from the same cloth.
In Duty After School, the educational institution’s extracurricular activities consist of wartime combat against an aggressive big bad, rather than the standard hobbies and games groups. The trials of war are presented in a stark greyscale, yet bursts of color creep into the panels to represent the dichotomy of styles, genres, and ideas that are in conflict with these young soldiers.
5. A Gamer’s Passion Reaches Newly Heroic Heights
The Gamer, written by Sang-Ah and illustrated by San-Young Sung, is another exciting blend of real-world woes and virtual reality adventures. These two extremes clash in a catastrophic way once the game-obsessed Jee-Han takes his passion to unprecedented levels. Jee-Han is suddenly able to channel his RPG skills and abilities into the real world, which elates the ordinary man.
However, his excitement is cut short when he learns that he’s not the only one who’s received this powerful privilege. Jee-Han has incredible strength, but there are now monsters free in the world along with others who are just as happy to exploit the technology and magic that’s made Jee-Han a legend.
4. A Virtual Juggernaut Turns A Game Into A Prison
Chobap’s Under City is set in a bleak sci-fi world that also explores the unprecedented freedom that gamers have, courtesy of MMORPGs and virtual reality. Under City focuses on a hardcore, cutthroat survival game where a terrifying antagonist known as the Hollow Man hunts down any player who gets in his range. Even the veteran “Under City” players are helpless against him.
Hollow Man’s frustrating displays of supremacy remain in the confines of the game rather than spilling into reality, but it’s turned this fun form of entertainment into a laborious chore. Players decide that it’s finally time to dismantle the Hollow Man and give him everything that they’ve got.
3. The Number One Fan Of A Dark Series Becomes Its New Protagonist
Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint
Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint is a collaboration between writer Singsyong and illustrator Sleepy-C. Otaku obsessions are par for the course for many manga fans, and it’s quite easy to relate with Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint‘s perturbed protagonist, Dokja Kim.
Dokja’s passionate fandom for an apocalyptic web novel is put to the test when he finds himself in this bleak world that he’s read cover-to-cover countless times. Dokja shifts from audience to protagonist as he must survive the harsh terrain and punishing plot that used to function as entertainment to him. It’s a helpful reminder that too much of a good thing isn’t always a blessing.
2. A VR Game Becomes An Unconventional Confidence Builder
Jee-Ha Kim, the hero of Dusk Howler, has good intentions but continually struggles in life when it comes to post-secondary education pursuits. Jee-Ha Kim is tired of being an introverted mess who can’t take control of his destiny, so he decides to turn to a virtual reality game, Trikia, to expand his skills as an extrovert.
Jee-Ha Kim’s Trikia counterpart still lacks proper confidence, but the warriors that he meets in this new world help him learn what it means to be a hero and to come out of his shell. Jee-Ha Kim might take down a malevolent monster, but more importantly, he might also find himself in the process.
1. High School And High Stake Virtual Death Games Clash Together
No Scope is an entertaining sci-fi focused hybrid of genres written and illustrated by Zoyang. No Scope centers around PSI BOND, a famous online game that’s only played by the coolest high schoolers in Korea. Within the tense world of PSI BOND, Suho Kang, the game’s revered grandmaster, takes a mysterious newcomer by the name of Doyoon Lee as his budding protégé.
A tight camaraderie forms between Kang and Lee and No Scope keeps the audience on their toes over who’s really calling the shots in this sci-fi series. As thrilling as it is to see Kang and Lee fight together, it’s even more of a delight when they’re pitted against each other.