Top 10 Fantasy Manga of 1996
1. Cardcaptor Sakura
Fourth grader Sakura Kinomoto finds a strange book in her father's library -- a book made by the wizard Clow to store dangerous spirits sealed within a set of magical cards. But when Sakura opens it up, there is nothing left inside but Kero-chan, the book's cute little guardian beast... who informs Sakura that since the Clow cards seem to have escaped while he was asleep, it's now her job to capture them!
(Source: Dark Horse)
Kagome is a modern Japanese high school girl. Never the type to believe in myths and legends, her world view dramatically changes when, one day, she's pulled out of her own time and into another! There, in Japan's ancient past, Kagome discovers more than a few of those dusty old legends are true, and that her destiny is linked to one legendary creature in particular--the dog-like half-demon called Inuyasha! That same trick of fate also ties them both to the Shikon Jewel, or "Jewel of Four Souls." But demons beware...the smallest shard of the Shikon Jewel can give the user unimaginable power.
10th grader Yugi spent most of his time alone playing games--until he solved the Millennium Puzzle, a mysterious Egyptian artifact! Possessed by the puzzle, Yugi becomes Yu-Gi-Oh, the King of Games, and challenges evil-doers to the Shadow Games--weird games with high stakes and high risks! These graphic novels contain new stories not seen in the anime, including the origin of Yugi and his friends!
One night, a man named Shuichiro Kudo comes across a tiny angel trapped on a tree branch. He frees her, and in return she offers to grant him a wish. However, Shuichiro is a successful doctor, with a home and everything he needed; he declined the angel's offer. The persistant angel, named Kohaku, refused to give up, stating that "some wishes cannot be fufilled by oneself." After settling in at Shuichiro's home, Kohaku reveals her mission to track down the Angel Master of Wind, Hisui, who has abandoned heaven. That is, if her devil rival and his two catty servants would let her leave long enough to do so...
5. Ceres: Celestial Legend
Aya and her twin brother Aki thought they were going to a celebration of their sixteenth birthday at their grandfather's home, but the funeral-like atmosphere tips them off that something's not right. Their "birthday present" turns out to be a mummified hand--the power of which forces an awakening within Aya, and painful wounds all over Aki's body! Grandfather Mikage announces that Aki will be heir to the Mikage fortune, and Aya must die! But Aya has allies in the athletic cook and martial artist Yûhi, and the attractive, mysterious Tôya. But can even two handsome and resourceful guys save Aya when it's her own power that's out of control?
6. Revolutionary Girl Utena
Utena Tenjou had a tragic childhood - her parents died when she was young, and she almost drowned, had it not been for her prince who came and rescued her. Because of the impact this prince had on her life, Utena strives to be just like him - to grow up to be a prince, not a princess, and to spread nobility, ultimately finding her prince and bringing revolution.
(Source: Anime News Network)
7. Hoshin Engi
When his clan is wiped out by a beautiful demon, young Taikobo finds himself in charge of the mysterious Hoshin Project. Its mission: find all immortals living in the human world and seal them away forever. But who do you trust--and whose side are you really on--when you've been trained to hunt demons by a demon?
Bolt Crank travels the world as the World's Greatest Mercenary. He got that moniker due to his skills, as well as his ability to eat anything, and then reproduce it in his right hand. During his adventures he meets new friends, as well as his rival Hard. But, his mysterious past with a man named Leon Field comes into play later on when Shadow, a man who can control machines and calls himself Bolt Crank, and Stella, a woman who wants to mechanize every human on the planet, has Bolt going back to an old, unfinished mission he left behind long ago.
Is this a dream? Reality? Or maybe something else...?
Every night, a mysterious man who styles himself Peter Pan sneaks up in Manami's room. He takes her with him to Neverland, an eerie place created out of human desire. Neither pain nor obligation exist in this place. A fairytale land of freedom, where people live governed only by their own instincts. There, all of reality's troubles and unpleasantness may be forgotten. However... being human may not be quite as bad as it sounds.
Icaro is a thrilling manga science fiction adventure in the tradition of Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Clamp's sf sagas. Icaro is the mind-bending, fast-paced adventure of a young man, Icaro, with the ability to fly and a young woman, Yukiko, who risks her life -- and more -- to help Icaro achieve his dream. Best of all, it capitalizes on Taniguchi's ability to depict a vast and oppressive advanced science laboratory that has made Icaro its guinea pig and will use all its resources to keep him imprisoned for study.
Icaro's fight to be free and Yukiko's sacrifice to aid him in his quest make this one of the most inspiring manga stories and one of the first significant original manga collaborations between East and West. (Source: MangaUpdates)