It's common for new manga fans to confuse doujinshi with manga. Actually, there isn't a lot of difference since the content, art, and material are essentially the same. There are even some anime based on doujinshi. However, doujinshi — often shortened to "dj" or "doujin" — are actually self-published works that often tend to be more queer-friendly projects.
Doujinshi started off as a "for fans, by fans" deal, but the doujinshi market soon exploded. In fact, many anime fans might have come across the Comiket conventions shown in anime that revolve around otaku. It's actually just a huge doujinshi (not manga) convention. Avid manga readers are encouraged to check out the following best-rated doujinshi.
Updated by Xandalee Joseph and Ajay Aravind on June 28th, 2023: Doujinshi continues to be extremely popular as fans continue to produce work inspired by their favorite anime or manga. We've revamped this list with even more info about doujinshi stories that have made it to MyAnimeList's top ten.
10 Asagao To Kase-san. Dj - Chocolate To Kase-san (7.47)
Written and Illustrated by Hiromi Takashima
This dj is a sequel to the girls' love manga Kase-san, which focuses on the relationship between two teenage girls named Yui Yamada and Tomoka Kase. These two protagonists are polar opposites in personalities, but they instantly bond with each other.
The dj takes place after the two have become a couple (sort of) and Yamada has made cookies for Kase on Valentine's Day. But what Yamada doesn't know is that half of the girls in the school have done the same. She needs to catch up or risk losing her beloved Kase.
9 Sabita Yoru Demo Koi Wa Sasayaku Dj - Azami (7.46)
Written and Illustrated by Tanaka Ogeretsu
Sabita Yoru demo Koi wa Sasayaku follows Yumi and Kan, best friends who decide to live together after they graduate from school. Kan gets a job immediately, but he soon starts noticing something strange about Yumi.
The dj focuses on the relationship that develops between Yumi and Kan after Yumi breaks up with his physically abusive boyfriend. The one-shot covers a lot, and yet it is crisp, well-paced, and gives a surprisingly realistic take on how it is for people to escape an abusive relationship.
8 Game-Bu (7.51)
Written and Illustrated by Mozou Crystal
Created by author Mozou Crystal, Game-bu launched back in 2012 and ran for five years and twelve volumes. Despite the stripped-down basic art, the series maintained popularity long enough for the writer to finish the entire story. Game-bu is another high school-focused series, this time centered around a game club with a host of quirky members.
The first chapter focuses on the Game Club's chairman Yukina playing a game with the resident troublemaker Beshika. Over time, however, the story continues adding new characters and showing how quickly a group dynamic can change as new members enter the narrative.
7 Aru Yoru (7.54)
Written and Illustrated by Kou Yoneda
Aru Yoru is a one-shot sequel to Yoneda Kou's extremely popular boys' love manga titled NightS. The original story is about the unusual love that blossoms between a yakuza and a specialized transporter. The problem, however, is that only one of them is openly gay.
The dj focuses on the occurrences that happen two months after the duo's last meeting. Karashi has been waiting for Masaki to return home so that the two can celebrate a quiet night together. That said, things aren't going to be easy for either of them.
6 Junjou Romantica Dj - Chika*Chika Cheap★Star (7.60)
Written and Illustrated by Shungiku Nakamura
The Junjou Romantica series is one of the rare boys' love series that became popular, even getting an anime that ran for multiple seasons. Shungiku Nakamura created the manga back in 2002, and it's still going strong twenty years later. It's a testament to how many people enjoy the shenanigans that Misaki and the Usami family wind up in, chapter after chapter.
That said, people turning to this doujinshi looking for the more blatant aspects of romance might be in the wrong place. Chika*Chika Cheap★Star is just a collection of cute side stories focused on two of the main couples, plus a few short stories.
5 Sonomama De (7.61)
Written and Illustrated by Kai Asou
Kai Asou created Sonomama De in 2009 and finished the story in 2013. The story focuses on Tsuji and Aizawa who have been close friends without any problems for years — that is until Aizawa confesses his feelings for Tsuji. Though Aizawa wants a relationship, Tsuji thinks there's always a chance they could mess up their friendship by dating.
Sonomama De is a cute story told across six chapters that don't delve into most of the tropes usually found in romance manga. The focus is largely just on the two characters in question, who are actually adults for once.
4 Kimi Wa Natsu No Naka Dj - Akane No Koro (7.64)
Written and Illustrated by Nagisa Furuya
Nagisa Furuya is more well-known for her work on manga, but occasionally she'll work on an unofficial doujin or two. The original Kimi wa Natsu no Naka manga ran for five chapters in 2016 and focused on two high school friends, Chiharu Saeki and Wataru Toda.
After Saeki confesses his feelings to Wataru, he asks Wataru to go on a journey with him over the course of the summer. The doujinshi, Akane no Koro, picks up at the end of the main series. It gives readers some of the closure they were looking for — at least until they can get to the next manga, which focuses on the two teens in college.
3 From Star Strings (7.75)
Written and Illustrated by Akihito Tsukushi
This rare doujinshi belongs to the fantasy genre. The story follows Kororu, a very young girl who knows nothing about her past and lives on a planet all by herself. During one of her daily walks, Kororu finds a string that seems to extend from the sky.
Curious about this mysterious thread, Kororu tugs on it, only for the string to respond to her actions. Excited to meet the person at the other end of the string, she decides to climb it — no matter how far she'll have to travel.
2 Totally Captivated: The Last Episode (7.87)
Written and Illustrated by Ha Jin Yoo
As suggested in the title, Eun Mookyul finds Ewon to be a fascinating character. He kidnaps Ewon and forces him to become an underling of the mafia. Not in any position to say no, Ewon quickly learns the ropes of the mafia world, as well as taking a personal interest in Mookyul.
Totally Captivated: The Last Episode is the penultimate chapter in the two men's lives. Here, they have a surprise visitor in Ewon's younger sister, a fourteen-year-old girl who decides to live with them for an entire month. The story's ending is quite something, but fans will have to read to find out what happens.
1 Michiru Heya (7.91)
Written and Illustrated by Yonezou Nekota
Michiru Heya started publication in 2006 and finished in 2014. The main story centers around a young man named Renold (or Reno), who's currently studying at an all-boys school.
At the beginning of Michiru Heya, Reno gets a new roommate in Roger Brouwer, who will do anything if someone pays the right price. Though the two remain cordial with one another, Reno struggles to understand how his roommate can be a "Casanova" with so many other guys and still keep his emotions out of it.