Now, what is Manga?

What is Manga? Is it related to anime? Perhaps you’ve heard it but don’t know exactly what it is. 

What is referred to in West as (Japanese) manga is a type of comic (manga) called “story manga” in Japan. Story manga synchs the panel and dialogue placements and size with the viewing speed and movement of the reader’s eyes. Manga is much similar to a draft storyboard used for actual film production. This allows readers to view rather than read the comic to digest the story.,

The result is much more dynamic and varied expression of emotion, drama, and action compared to the written novel or the American style of comics which is more like a storybook (you need to stop, look at the pictures and spend time reading the text).

The word manga can be translated as “humorous pictures.” The style became very popular in the mid-20th century when laws prohibiting the publication of those kinds of items were lifted. It has since become a huge part of Japanese culture. Unlike in America, the manga is read by most people in the country in weekly comics. The artists and writers of manga are well respected for their work, much like the writers of literature in America.

The range of manga genres is diverse, with content ranging from history to futuristic science fiction and from teenage romance to profound themes about life. The comics are broadly separated into four categories according to the target audience: boys, girls, youths and matured. They can be commonly found in bookstores, bookstands and convenience stores all over Japan.

Put simply though, Manga is comic-like drawing’s originating from Japan, with dialogue so that viewers can gain a sense of realism within the interaction of the drawing’s toward each other through the written dialogue.

Now that we have touched basis on what Manga is, let’s answer a couple of common question revolving around Manga, however before we do so let’s first address the difference between Anime and Manga, if you don’t know what Anime or if you are interested in reading about Anime I implore you to click here.

A brief on the difference between Manga & Anime

Anime and Manga are two different storytelling media. They both originate in Japan, and are closely related, but are ultimately two different things. The confusion between the two arises mostly because it’s often the case that the same story will have both an anime and a manga version. The terminology will vary a little bit depending on whether the person you talk to is a Japanese person or a Westerner.

Now that we know the difference between Anime and Manga let’s cover a couple of common questions regarding Manga.

Why are manga black and white?

There can be different reasons for that, let’s try to imagine some of them.

Lower cost. This is obvious (just compare the prices for black inc cartridges and color cartridges for your printer to see the difference). Also, consider that lower cost of production causes lower prices for the end product – so the readers will be more eager to buy manga.

Faster production. Unlike comics in the US, for example, which usually comes out on a monthly basis, a lot of manga comes out weekly. Coloring would take additional time and make it harder to release new chapters on time.

Manga artists usually don’t have a lot of staff to help them, and sometimes even work alone. Thus, they don’t have enough time (and, not rarely, enough skill) to color their works well, because:

The coloring is completely different from line art. Not all people that can draw good line art can color well, and vice versa. If you talk about comics, there are usually at least two artists making them: one artist that draws line art, and another artist that is responsible for coloring (he is called a colorist). Believe me, coloring is hard. And of course, that guy also needs to be paid. 

It seems like manga is either written for kids or horny adults. Is that true? 

This is a complete misconception! Just like you can find extremely childish or sexual western comics, you can do the same with manga. There is that stereotype that manga is nothing more than those extreme sides of the spectrum, but the manga is incredibly diverse and there is a manga title out there to meet any reader’s interests. Understanding Japanese words like “shojo” and “shonen” will be helpful as you pick out the right titles for you, but also understanding manga’s rating system will further help you get exactly what you’re looking for. In the manga, an A rating means the comic is suitable for all ages, Y is youth ages 10+, T is teens ages 13+, OT/T+ is older teens ages 16+, and M is for mature adults ages 18+. Finding reviews from voices you trust can also help you as you pick out your first manga titles.

What Types of Manga are there?

Different kinds of manga have become known in Japan. When getting into manga, it can help to know what is what:

  1. Shônen: boys’ manga, pronounced show-nen
  2. Shôjo: girls’ manga, pronounced show-joe
  3. Seinen: men’s manga, pronounced say-nen
  4. Josei (or redikomi): women’s manga, pronounced joe-say
  5. Kodomo: children’s manga, pronounced kow-dow-mow

Generally, you will be able to know if you will like an upcoming manga title by knowing what group it is a part of. Shônen manga is usually action-packed and humorous, shôjo manga is often more lighthearted and involves romance. Seinen manga will often have more adult themes, with some containing graphic violence and sexually explicit material. There is even a group of manga and anime that is referred to as hentai, which is erotic manga. This kind of manga is considered pornographic by most people. Josei is written more for women (as opposed to girls and teens) and has older protagonists dealing with situations and relationships that are more mature than girls’.

Origins of the nose-bleed in anime/manga

No one really knows who developed the nosebleed notion but to answer this, first we must refer to the history of the nosebleed in Japan. In feudal Japan, it was a cultural custom for the young men and women to live separately, they couldn’t even walk on the same sidewalk together. The men started to want to give the women sort of a “head-ups” about what they thought about them. Whenever a man saw a lady he thought was attractive, he’d make himself blush hard enough for his face to heat and turn red. They did it to the point where they got nosebleeds.

What was the first manga in color?

In 1905 the manga magazine publishing boom started with the Russo-Japanese War, Tokyo Pakku was created and became a huge hit. After Tokyo Pakku in 1905, a female version of Shōnen Sekai was created and named Shōjo Sekai, considered the first shōjo magazine. Shōnen Pakku was made and is considered the first children’s manga magazine. The children’s demographic was in an early stage of development in the Meiji period. Shōnen Pakku was influenced from foreign children’s magazines such as Puck which an employee of Jitsugyō no Nihon (publisher of the magazine) saw and decided to emulate. In 1924, Kodomo Pakku was launched as another children’s manga magazine after Shōnen Pakku. During the boom, Poten (derived from the French “potin”) was published in 1908. All the pages were in full color with influences from Tokyo Pakku and Osaka Pakku. It is unknown if there were any more issues besides the first one.

How did manga as we know it today come to be?

While the origin of manga dates back to as far as the 12th century. Pre-war manga magazines, like Eshinbun Nipponchi and The Japan Punch, were attempted, but their successes were mixed and mostly unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. The hardly resembled manga today, but mores resembled picture books of text, more synonymous with Chinese graphical art of the periods.

The media we refer to as modern manga was mostly born through the commercialism of post-war Japanese economy. Western influences particularly American culture played a big role. How it all came about is due to a variety of factors, but the wave of commercialism is what helped carry it around the world.

Manga itself is an immersive social environment that encompasses various social aspects, from history to language, to politics, religion, family, economy, and education, manga reflects Japanese society at its core, the good and the bad. The myths, traditions, beliefs, rituals, taboos, and fantasies of Japanese life are laid bare on pages of paper. The commercial proliferation of the Japanese publishing industry created a channel of expression that allowed for the mass distribution of both real and fantastical ideas of the time. Manga as a medium is most relatable to people on a personal level because of this. While not always applicable the intimate ideas and subjects covered by the media connect to many on a personal level. While manga tends to depict a microcosm of Japanese Society. Its problem is not limited to Japanese people and society. These joys, sadness, and tribulations can be shared by all as fellow humans who can empathize.

Manga is a medium of expression for people to other people. People might not see eye to eye all the time, but when they do, the connection they make go beyond the images and words on the page.

How does a series go from manga to anime?

If a certain Manga has much fan service and attract’s a lot of it’s audience’s/viewers attention and the company of that said Manga does well on the return’s from the audience, and also if enough of the fan-base requests for an animated adaption of the Manga then the company may adhere to the fan-base’s requests and create an animated version of the manga, further enticing and increasing the fan’s admiration and respect for both the company and the Manga/Anime.

Why are manga read from right to left? Has it always been so?

The traditional Japanese written language goes from right to left.

Books in Japan tend to start from the “right-most” side. It’s only natural that manga publications follow the same format.

Traditionally, Japanese is written in a format called tategaki (縦書き?), which copies the traditional Chinese system. In this format, the characters are written in columns going from top to bottom, with columns ordered from right to left. After reaching the bottom of each column, the reader continues at the top of the column to the left of the current one.

Modern Japanese also uses another writing format, called yokogaki (横書き?). This writing format is horizontal and reads from left to right, just like English.

A book printed in tategaki opens from what a Westerner would call the back, while a book printed in yokogaki opens from what traditionally in Japan would have been considered the back.


So now that you know a little more about Manga and perhaps a little more respect for it if you didn’t already. Maybe you’re more interested now or maybe you found something inside this article that took your attention, either way i hope you found what you were looking for, and as always have a good one.