I recall a few years ago (around 2011) the phrase "holy trinity" being thrown around to describe the size, magnitude and importance of One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto all running in Shonen Jump. Now, with two of those specific publications* ending, this so-called "holy" trinity is no more.

However, there would've had to have been three other manga that were considered something like this before, right? Was there was such a confirmed trinity of manga that ran together?

It doesn't necessarily have to be from Shonen Jump, but the closest unsourced examples from the '90s were Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk!, and Yu Yu Hakusho, which were likely published in a shonen-oriented magazine.

*: This doesn't include Boruto. That isn't Naruto.

  • 1
    Semi-related: anime.stackexchange.com/questions/27187
    – senshin
    Sep 3, 2016 at 8:18
  • @senshin: Interestingly enough, my question does tangentially reference that same article, but my main gripe is that it's unsourced.
    – Makoto
    Sep 3, 2016 at 8:20
  • 2
    This made me remember there actually is a big three list on wikipedia, which it is also often called. But anime and manga never seen to have reached this list sofar. Even though it has been a 'thing' for a long time
    – Dimitri mx
    Sep 3, 2016 at 15:57
  • I have no proof for this, but my guess is no, and my reason is that, as senshin mentioned in his answer to the linked question, the "Big Three" is mostly a Western concept, and until recently, no anime or manga was big enough in the West to be part of a "Big Three". When I was first getting into anime in 1999, there was definitely a standard set of starter anime, but most people would move on from those to other series; with the "Big Three", a lot of fans pretty much stick with them forever, which is why they're big.
    – Torisuda
    Sep 4, 2016 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Makoto I actually didn't notice you were focusing on manga only, not manga and anime, which adds another wrinkle to this: manga wasn't really a thing in the US in 1999. There were a few random titles out (a lot of them published by Dark Horse), pretty much all flipped. I didn't notice manga start to get big in the US until around 2004, with Tokyopop pushing the CLAMP stuff and Viz starting its US version of Shounen Jump. Naruto and One Piece were both in the US Shounen Jump from Issue 1, so they were already in on the ground floor of the manga boom in America.
    – Torisuda
    Sep 4, 2016 at 3:10

2 Answers 2


The concept of Big 3 is really vague. Some say it's just a made up word for the current popular manga in the West, which is One Piece, Naruto and Bleach during the early 2000s. At the same time, online streaming is getting popular around that time, mainly Youtube and Crunchyroll for anime, and also the internet is booming at the same time (stocks of dotcoms, Google, Yahoo, etc. I won't go into details about economics and stock market, but all of it are happening during the early 2000s).

Now to answer your question if there are other Big 3 in the past, I would say it's not only 3, there would be a lot. Mainly Case Closed (or Conan), Doraemon, Astro Boy, Dragon Ball and Kochikame.

Also, who told you that the famous 90's anime are Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk and Dragon Ball? Dragon Ball would be famous, and so is Slam Dunk, but I don't know about Yu Yu Hakusho. There's a lot of famous 90's anime and manga to the point that I can't name them all.

But overall, the Big 3 and what not are just opinions of other people of what's famous or not. There's no solid measure of how famous a manga or anime is. Unless if we are talking about sales and copies then we could make some list. But if we are basing it all on human opinions there would be infinite Big 3.

  • The big 3 seemed to be something that was just made up to describe Bleach, Naruto, and One piece in the west. Now that 2 of them are effectively over, and even before they ended, Naruto and Bleach fell in ratings, People have tried to crown 2 new ones to replace them, but nothing is sticking, and it seems no anime has been able to reach the same level of fame as they did in their peak. Big 3 seems to have been born and died with the 3 it described.
    – Ryan
    Nov 28, 2016 at 16:44
  • @Ryan - Exactly! The Big 3 is just something to name those three. its not a ranking or something its just a label for those 3 mangas.
    – Dimasalang
    Nov 29, 2016 at 2:50

It may be worth pointing out that the very notion of a 'Big three' here is largely a male- and shonen-centric perspective. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Manga_Best_Sellers_of_2011 for an example, but fundamentally it's a 'Big One' — while Naruto was clearly that popular, neither Bleach nor One Piece ever hit #1 in 2011 and in fact the latter struggled to even make the top 5. Bleach fared somewhat better in 2010, but even there it didn't do substantially more than several other titles, and the same holds true in later years as well. There's a solid case to be made that Sailor Moon should be well ahead of either Bleach or One Piece in the conversation, and even titles like Black Butler are fairly comparable with the top non-Naruto shonen titles.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .