Have you read Nano Machine? It’s action, fantasy, and adventure rolled into one powerful manhwa. We’re talking martial arts, time travel, science fiction, and fantasy. And that’s just the prologue. Strangely enough, I have had a few friends who were hesitant to dive into manga and yet were completely suckered in by the appeal of manhwa — especially by Nano Machine. As they devour each chapter, they find themselves searching for more manhwa and manga like Nano Machine.
I mean, I get it. It’s a really good, compelling storyline, with an unreal and overpowered (OP) character who is still challenged to become even better than what they are. Thanks to its manhwa foundation, Nano Machine is thriving with the online adaptive platform that appeals to Western ‘left-to-right’ readers while still producing its stunning manga-esque artwork. It’s the perfect gateway to even more great manhwa and manga.
So, where should you start? I suppose that depends on what it is you like about Nano Machine. The first chapter was published on the Korean Naver Webtoon in June 2020 and opened with a teasing chase scene through a forest at night. It’s dynamic, it’s powerful, and it cuts straight through to the fight with graphic ease. If you’re into action manga/manhwa, then you’re going to love the prologue.
When you dive further into the series, Nano Machine gives you a deep lore built on demonic cults, generational trauma, ancient wisdom, and a touch of future interference. The main character is Cheon Yeo-Woon, an orphan from a Demonic Cult. His mother was not one of the High Priest’s official wives, but his father’s holy blood is still considered to flow through this body. It is more of a curse than a blessing, as other worshippers in the group are trying to kill him. When an unexpected visit from his descendant in the future gifts him with a nanomachine, Cheon Yeo-Woon’s life (and body) are drastically changed.
With the help of this future technology, Cheon Yeo-Woon rises against his oppressors and becomes the best martial artist of all time. There is so much to unpack with this fantasy world; each character becomes a crucial part of the storytelling. It blends fantasy with science fiction and a growing lore to support it. Depending on whether you want the action, the science fiction and fantasy, the martial arts, or the character arcs, here are some great manga and manhwa like Nano Machine to keep you going.
More OP Characters Who Need to Power Up Again!
Solo Leveling by Chugong, art by Dubu
Probably the most obvious choice of manhwa like Nano Machine. Both have antagonists fighting for what’s right. Both die in pretty significant ways. And then both revive with a new voice in their heads, offering them a sweet upgrade on their skills. The difference between them is the world they live in. Where Nano Machine is set in an ancient martial arts world, built on lore and traditions, Solo Leveling is rich in monster fighting but is more akin to a gaming world. In this story, Sung Jin-Woo is forced by the new tech in his head to constantly pursue stronger powers and more ‘level-up’ scenarios. He is extremely OP’d, but that adds to the story with a dark twist that keeps you going back for me. If you enjoy Nano Machine, you are going to love Solo Leveling.
More Martial Arts Manga and Manhwa
Heavenly Demon Reborn! by O’Emperor, art by Gom-Guk
Set in an ancient world built on the power of martial arts, Unseong has learned the hard way that there is no honour in death. His master was brutally beaten to death under the false accusation of practising forbidden dark arts. Despite trying to avenge his master, Unsung meets his own end —only to reawaken in a child’s body, training to be an elite soldier of a demonic sect. I mean, if you’re going to be accused of using dark arts anyway, you may as well be good at it, right?
The Legend of the Northern Blade by Hae-Min, art by Woo-Gak
The only thing saving the world from the chaos and the dark is the Northern Heavenly Sect. They are a group of martial artists who have brought peace. However, within the Sect, the members turn against each other and murder the leader, Jin Kwan-Ho. His only son, Jin Mu-Won, is left behind untrained and without guidance. Jin Mu-Won’s only hope lies in the Techniques secretly left behind by his father and with them, the promise to rebuild the Northern Heavenly Sect.
Murim Login by Zero Big
This one is a mix of martial arts and fantasy worlds with a touch of tech. It’s a world where Hunters love to hunt. They thrive on hunting monsters that come from Gates. However, Jin Tae-Kyung is a low-rank hunter. Like, really low. He could really do with some practice or experience. Something like this cool VR machine he found with a virtual world of Martial Arts. After accidentally logging in (and taking way too long to figure out how to escape), Tae-Kyung learns he can keep all of the strength and skills he received in the game. Now, he can be a real Hunter in his world. But what about his friends in the other world?
A Future with More Manga/Manhwa like Nano Machine
Return of the Blossoming Blade by Biga, art by Studio LICO
Cheongmyeong of the Mount Hua Sect fought in a bloody battle against the Leader of the Demonic Cult, the evil Cheonma. It was the battle to end the Ten Great Sects of Ancient China, with Cheongmyeong landing the final blow and striking down Cheonma. But it did not end there. Instead, Cheongmyeong wakes up a hundred years in the future with no memory beyond that fatal blow. What happened to his beloved Mount Hua Sect? And is there any place for Cheongmyeong in this new future?
Return to Player by UMKY, art by SEHON
Ten years ago, the gods were bored and forced everyone on Earth to play a sadistic game for the gods’ entertainment. Players must fight and kill monsters or be killed themselves. Sehan Kim knows how this ends: Everyone is dead except him. However, Sehan is offered the chance to travel back in time and start a second playthrough. Personally, I think the gods are REALLY bored and want to see the game all over again. But I keep reading to find out!
Captain Corinth: The Galactic Navy Officer Becomes an Adventurer by Atsuhiko Itoh, art by Tomomasa Takuma
You could say Captain Alan Corinth is from the future, a time when he is a Galactic Navy Officer fighting against humanity’s mortal enemy, the alien Bugs. During a devastating attack, Captain Corinth crashes on a nearby yet unknown planet and awakens to a race of humans who live not with technology but with magic! This is heavy on fantasy and world-building, with a great mix of sci-fi added in. I especially love the nod to old-school sci-fi adventure manga with plenty of cooking!
Depending on what you like, Nano Machine is one of the best manhwa to tempt new readers. There is plenty more to discover for fantasy, science-fiction, or action and adventure. If you want to learn more about the difference between Manhwa and Manga, Verneida Vergara has a classic run-down here. You can also find more stories like Nano Machine and Solo Leveling with Erika Hardison’s list here.