As 2022 marks another round of soulless reboots and sequels full of race-swaps and gender-bending from the Western entertainment industry, the Japanese manga industry has seen the year unfold in the complete opposite fashion.
Unlike their Western media counterparts, 2022 saw mangaka push their creativity to another level, with numerous authors pushing the limits of their chosen medium.
Whether it was ground-breaking art, a page-turning reveal, or a long-awaited reunion between characters, the following manga moments from 2022 completely blew our minds.
10. Green Dragon Keeper destroys Magatia (Ranger Reject)
From the official announcement that it will be receiving an anime adaptation to several shocking plot reveals, 2022 has been a fantastic year for Ranger Reject.
Though there were many to choose from, our favorite moment from Negi Haruba’s ‘anti-sentai’ series this year was hands down the Green Dragon Keeper’s absolute thrashing of the Invader Executive Snake Magatia.
This whooping takes place at the climax of the Dreamy School Life arc, wherein the mysterious information broker Chidori, Kanon Hisui, and Footsoldier D (disgused as Sakurama) are tasked with invesigating multiple spirited away cases, all of which seem to center around an abandoned school.
However, the trio are shocked to discover that once inside the building, Magatia is able to warp its insides into his own simulation of a utopian school environment.
After numerous their causing numerous breaks in his simulation, the trio are confronted by Magatia, who responds to their annoyances by removing the divine tool implanted in Hisui’s body, thus leaving him more vulnerable than ever.
However, as the serpent moves in for the kill, Chidori brute forces his way between a weak point in the barrier Magatia’s dimension and the real-world to pull an ace out of his sleeve: the Green Dragon Keeper’s divine Wrath Hammer.
Taking its handle in his grasp, Chidori then proceeds to suit up as the titular team’s verdant brawler.
As Chidori reminds Magatia, he was only permitting the Snake Executive to keep existing so long as he kept to himself in his hidden world and left civilians out of his schemes – but now that he had broken their agreement, the good guys had no choice but to come knocking on his door.
Like so many with delusions of grandeur before him, the cocky Magatia responds with a cult-like sermon proclaiming that in his abduction of civilians, he was doing nothing more than giving them a place to live free from the suffering of the real world.
Already our favorite Dragon Keeper, Chidori sealed our fandom with his comeback to Magatia’s self-aggrandizing.
“Sorry, I’m a dumbass so I don’t really get what you’re saying,” Chidori tells the Snake Executive, basking in his place at the top of the real-world’s power hierarchy. “Seriously though. I just can’t relate.”
9. Kanki’s Troll X Formation (Kingdom)
From trolling Riboku to his time with the Saki Clan, 2022 will go down as the year of General Kanki in Hara Yassa’s Kingdom.
Yet, perhaps the most notabe of all of the wild card General of the Heavens’ tomfoolery in 2022 is his wasting of the Zhao army’s time with one of the most epic trolls formations ever seen in the series thus far.
At this point in the battle of Seikrei Plains, having already humiliated Ribnoku by escaping the famed strategist’s so-called ‘Unbreakable Cage’ strategy, Kanki decided to add injury to insult by sending an order to every one of his chiefs to move their respective units into individual rectangle formations, all of which eventually formed an ‘X’ with his most wounded units at its center.
While the soldiers actually executing these orders were absolutely confused as to what they were doing, thanks to Riboku’s overseeing the battlefield from a higher vantage point, the Zhao army’s commander immediately recognized Kanki’s bizarre X-shaped mobilization.
Taking in the scene, Riboku theorized that Kanki’s formation was nothing more than an intimidating bluff which would easily collapse under the slightest pressure.
However, Riboku for some reason always underestimates Kanki – and every single time he has come to regret it. This time is no different.
After again and again watching Kanki’s men rush out to meet his own Zhao soldiers, only to turn around right before engaging in battle and return to the X-formation, Riboku comes to the embarassing realization that this entire spectacle served no more purpose than to waste their time.
The best part about this whole strategy? Kanki came up with it on the fly the moment he saw Riboku step onto the battlefield.
“All you guys have been doing his complaining,” Kanki tells his confused subordinates. “Meanwhile I’ve been doing my job. Wasting their time that is.”
8. Goten and Trunks make their Super Heroic Debut (Dragon Ball Super)
It’s the moment fans have been waiting for ever since the start of Dragon Ball Super: the series’ proper debut of teenaged Goten and Trunks.
Following up on their big screen anime debut in this summer’s Dragon Ball Super Super Hero, as 2022 drew to a close, the teenage duo finally got the spotlight in the manga with a ‘costumed’ storyline all their own.
Similar to Gohan’s debut as an older teenager in the lead-up to the Buu saga, Goten and Trunks have entered the scene as full fledged high school students.
And also like Gohan, in a moment of irony that is not lost on us, the boys are making the debut as costumed sentai heroes, replete with their very own set of the cheesy poses and even cheesier introductions that they teased Gohan for in his Great Saiyaman days.
So why the sudden change?
Well, pop culture has a role to play in Trunks and Goten’s new vocation, as the pair were inspired by their favorite sweeping video superhero CleanGod to clean up crime as the heroic Clean Up Duo Saiyaman X-1 and Saiyaman X-2.
7. The Return of Mitsuba (Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun)
It’s been a whirlwind year of romance, reunions, and long-awaited confessions, for Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, but out of all the insane moments from 2022, the one that shocked us the most was the unexpected return of our favorite character, Mitsuba.
This moment came after a very touching brotherly bonding moment between the Minamoto brothers in which Teru, in the aftermath of almost setting the kitchen on fire as he attempted to make onigiri, finally discussed Kou’s future as an exorcist.
Prior to giving Kou the validation he had sought for the entire series, Teru decided to tell his younger brother his own perspective on what it really means to be an exorcist.
But just as the brothers were about to bring the food they finished cooking to the table and discuss Kou’s future, the protection spells inside the Minamoto house go off, alerting the brothers of a low level spirit attempting to enter their home.
Originally, Teru planned to investigate the scene, but in the moment he decides to put his faith in his overeager younger brother and task him with investigating the low level supernatural that triggered their protection spells.
Staff in hand, Kou runs outside ready to make his big brother proud and take his the first steps towards becoming a stronger exorcist that can be counted on by Nene and the others.
After a quick glance, Kou guesses that the alarms may have been set off by a cat, only for Mitsuba to sneak up behind him and whisper “Not there, silly”.
This brief tease not only left Kou shocked, but made us exicted to see what mangaka AidaIro has in store for us in 2023.
6. Touya’s Magic FINALLY revealed (Cardcaptor Sakura – Clear Card Arc)
From Sakura Kinomoto’s adventures in Clockland, to Clow’s Forbidden book, to the truth about Yuna D. Kaito and Akhio Shinomoto, and all the adorable Syaoran Li and Sakura moments in between, CLAMP blew our minds throughout 2022 with Cardcaptor Sakura – Clear Card Arc.
However, in a moment that fans have been waiting for since the original series, the most mind-blowing event to happen within the pages of the Clead Card Arc this year was by far the reveal of Sakura’s big brother Touya’s Magic.
In the midst of Sakura and Syaoran’s class performance of Alice in Clockland, the former is whisked away mid-performance through a gate into the real magical world of Clockland by the Red Queen, as performed by Akhio.
The moment Sakura disappeared, Touya cued Yuki to activate his magic, who in turns begins to darken the sunny afternoon sky.
Once Yuki completely blots out the sun, Touya proceeds to unveil his ability to manipulate time by bringing the temporal flow of the school auditorium to a screeching halt, thus allowing Syaoran to move through the closing door to Clockland before it disappears.
Accused by Ruby Moon of cheating due to the fact that he shouldn’t have been able to use such an ability alone, Touya reveals via flashback that the ‘source’ of his power is his love for his family.
As recalled by Touya, during a recent conversation with the ghost of his mother Nadeshiko, the latter expresses concern about Sakura’s rapidly increasing powers.
Seeking to give her some hope regarding the situation, Touya reveals to his mother that he now has the ability to stop time – albeit for only one to two seconds due to the limitations of his own spirit – and that he has already begun to think about how he could use it to help Sakura’s ongoing plight.
Inspired by her son’s determination to save his sister, Nadeshiko assures Touya that he would not have to wield the power alone.
As to why Touya had Yuki use Yue’s magic to darken the sky around the school, as mentioned in his flashback, his powers are more limited during the day time.
Using Yue’s magic making night fall in the vicinity, Touya can stop time for a longer interval of time – a reference to the end of the original Cardcaptor Sakura manga when Touya gave Yue his magic to save Yukito’s life.
5. Folgore Rescues Kanchome (Zatch Bell!! 2)
While the return of Makato Raiku’s classic series Zatch Bell after 20 years has been all-around amazing, nothing will top the hype that was the return of the invincible hero of Italy, Parco Folgore
However, as epic as the return of Folgore’s boobie song was, the best part of Folgore’s return was his reunion with Kanchome.
In the years between Zatch Bells’ two parts, the demon world came under siege by the Beliel’s minions. Seeking safety, a fully grown-up Kanchome escaped to the human world with nothing but his little brother Consomme in tow, eventually leaving him at Folgore’s concert hall while he continued on the run from the Ruler of Beasts, Levy Zinc, and her minions.
Unfortunately for Kanchome, his determination proves inconsequential in the face of Levy’s overwhelming strength, ands he eventually finds himself literally in the jaws of the beast Gowser.
Staring down his own death, Kanchome makes one last push for survival by falling back on his hope of seeing Folgore one last time, which had thus far given him the strength to push through all his struggles.
As Kanchome defiantly begins to sing Folgore’s classic signature ‘Iron Man Folgore’ song, a more muscular version of the Invincible Parco Iron Man Folgore comes to his rescue, forcing open the beast Gowsers’ jaws and finishing the song.
Probably our favorite part of this whole scene was Folgore’s reference to his Hippo metaphor from the original Zatch Bell.
Reiterating the philosophy behind his choice to emulate the animal, Folgore bellows while rescuing Kanchome, “This Hippo is too strong for you! And it’s always at it’s strongest when it’s protecting it’s children!”
4. King Arthur Pendragon’s Declaration of War (The Four Knights of the Apocalypse)
It was a chaotic year for Suzuki Nakaba’s Four Knights of the Apocalypse – the debuts of Gawain and Princess Guinevere, the four knights coming together in Britannia, all the Arthur’s fight with Meliodas and the update on the state of Camelot – and this was all just in 2022!
At some point we will have to do a list for the ‘Top 10 chaotic moments in Four Knights of the Apocalypse’, but unfortunately we can only choose one for this list, and without question that would be King Arthur’s declaration of war on the Four Knights of the Apocalypse.
As the already intense fight between Camelot’s King of Chaos Arthur Pendragon and the Knight of War Lancelot was starting to escalate to the point where literal ‘chaos’ was being unleashed from the former’s arm, the latter began to realized that his opponent was taking their fight seriously.
A cocky Arthur then attempts to taunt his Lancelot by asking him if he now realizes their massive differences in power, to which the calm-but-annoyed hero retorts by unleashing the full force of magic.
Part-way through the battle, a giant flying ship carrying Camelot’s Holy Knights of Chaos arrive on the scene, hoping to talk down their King and prevent him from initiating a full-scale conflict.
Having realized the true extent of Lancelot’s powers and sensing powerful aggressions from three of the Seven Deadly Sins, Arthur finds himself more aware than ever of the threat the Four Knights of the Apocalyse pose to his rule.
Admitting to himself that he was wrong in his initial belief that the Four Knights would be nothing more than a fun distraction from his boring eternal life, the King of Chaos officially gives the go-ahead for “A war to hunt down all Four Knight of the Apocalypse and their allies (which would include the Seven Deadly Sins) and eradicate them.”
3. Birth of the Spiders (Hunter x Hunter)
In 2022, after a nearly four year hiatus, Yoshiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter came back with a vengeance, giving fans not only the return of Hisoka, but also finally unveiling the history behind the the Phantom Troupe.
As revealed in a flashback, the group’s origin began in the slums of Meteor City, wherein the residents’ non-existent social status made them prime targets for human trafficking.
In hopes of keeping them safe, those in charge made a deal with the local mafia to keep the slums safe – prior to this agreement, hundreds of residents died every year, with 70% of them being children under 15.
Eventually, the Elders of Meteor City developed Nen abilities, and with their newfound power established the Law of Retribution: “Only life can compensate for a life. We’ll accept anything you leave here, but don’t ever take anything from us.”
Living within these slums were Chrollo, Sheila, Sarasa, and Paku, who after discovering a VHS of an anime called The Power Cleaners in their local junkyuard set out to bring a slight bit of color to their bleak lives by recording an amateur dub of the series.
Eventually, Chrollo and his team would screen their work to the rest of the kids of Meteor City, resulting in their group being inundated with requests for membership – including from Uvo.
As the group grew, they would soon graduate to live-reading and performances of Power Cleaners stories, the production of which required them to so frequently meet for rehearsal that some of its members began to considers themselves a traveling theater troupe.
Unfortunately, this small light of joy is soon squashed out when Sarasa, out searching for another VHS tape of Power Cleaners for the group to work with, falls victim to Meteor City’s aforementioned human traffickers.
Despite the massive search effort organized to find her, their efforts would prove to come too late, as her lifeless body would later be discovered mockingly discarded in a trash bag.
After Sarasa’s funeral, Chrollo vowed that he would be living his life there-on-out as a villain, seeking to use whatever means necessary to sort out the problems of Meteor City before the time he turned 14.
His new goals requiring him to step away from the troupe, Chrollo asks Uvo is he would be its new leader, an offer he rejects in favor of dedicating his life to the man he believes will make the entire world tremble with fear. Thus, the Spider was born.
The best part of Chrollo’s vengeance plan? He knows that by turning Meteor City into a safe haven for the criminal underworld, their penchant for idiotically showing off their accomplishments will eventually provide him with the information he needs to track down Sarasa’s killers.
2. Saitama’s Serious Sneeze (One Punch Man)
How could the killer conclusion to the eight-month long clash between Saitama and Garou in the ONE written, beautifully Yusuke Murata illustrated One Punch Man manga be one of the highlights of 2022?
Saitama’s unleashing of his explosive finisher occurred after the aforementioned Garou, awakened to the cosmic flow and posing a legitimate threat to the continued suvival of humanity, ripped Genos’ core out of his body, effectively killing the cyborg hero.
In response, Saitama moves to use his Killer Move Serious Series, beginning by blasting a hole beneath their feet and forcing their battle into space.
Eventually finding themselves battling on Jupiter’s moon of Io, Garou realizes that he is outmatched by the furious Saitama, as while his own powers had plateaued during their fight, the titular hero’s had only continued to grow.
Recognizing that it was only a matter of time before Saitama landed a killing blow on him, an extremely pissed-off Garou uncharacteristcally chooses self-preservation over attempted victory and attempts to flee.
However, Saitama intercepts him before he can escape, and with righteous fury in his heart, the hero moves to eliminate Garou with nothing more than a planet-destrucing sneeze.
Though Garou is able to just barely dodge the attack, its full power is unleashed upon Jupiter as it orbits behind them, resulting in all of the planet’s gas being blown off into the vacuum of space.
Magnificently, for just a few brief moments following his attack, all that’s remained of the larget planet in our solar system was its glowing core, desperate to reassemble itself.
1. The Start of a Legendary Rematch (One Piece)
With all of the insanity that Eiichiro Oda has served One Piece fans in 2022, there was no doubt in our minds that something from One Piece would take this list’s number one spot.
Originally, we were going to choose Luffy’s initial Gear 5 transformation against Kaido as our best moment of the year.
But after receiving the opening blows to the epic rematch of the Lucci and Luffy – both with their Devil Fruit powers Awakened – we had no other choice but to choose this opening bell as our winner.
Coming amongst the chaos of CP0’s rampaging invasion of Dr. Vegapunk’s Egghead Island, the two sworn enemies ran into each other just as Luffy was looking to reunite with his crew and escape from the government’s forces.
As the group were making their way to the Labophase, Luffy noticed a nearly dead Atlas lying on the ground – and right above her body was Rob “Pigeon Guy” Lucci.
Even though Lucci knew that by disobeying orders and revealing himself for a rematch he could spark a war, the moment he locked eyes with the Straw Hat captain, nothing was going to stop him from redeeming his previous loss.
Though Lucci admittedly did try to avoid the fight by warning Luffy not to interfere with CP0’s invasion, the enraged Rubber Man proclaimed that since Atlas was kind enough to make his group food, he refused to abandon them in their time of need.
Of course, while Luffy had recently achieved Gear 5, he wasn’t the only one to get a power-up.
In the time since their last meeting, Lucci has also ascended into his fully-awakened Zoan form, the resulting change encircling his body in black flames (a mirror to the similar white clouds that cover Luffy when he goes full Joy Boy).
According to Shaka, Lucci was lucky enough to avoid losing his mind during his time training, as is usually the tragic fate faced by awakaned Zoan users.
Overall, what really made us choose this particular moment over Luffy’s initial transformation into Gear 5 was the fact that the opening panel to this legendary rematch was a recreation of their first fight, as seen sixteen years ago in Chapter 409.