Manga reading is considered one of the most popular leisure or pass-time activities in Japan. Its cultural and societal impact on modern-day Japanese society is astronomical even on such a macro scale, although quite right and unquantifiable. One thing is for certain, Manga is as popular, I’d argue even more so than comic books in the west.
Hell, Manga is currently on its way to beating comic book sales in the west, due to the recent Anime revolutionization in the west, which has brought bright unprecedented love and admiration for Japanese culture, traditions, and more entertainment.
But why Manga? Arent comic books similar to Manga? I mean both have wacky fictional stories along with intricately designed and crafter drawings, panels, and designs, So what’s the difference? Is Manga just a Japanese term for comics that is more overhyped than its western counterpart?
Keep on reading to get the answer to all of your queries.
What is Manga?
Manga is written as a series of panels that are read from right to left and typically feature large eyes, skinny bodies, and small noses.
Although similar to comic books, this style greatly differs from its counterpart, especially in terms of art, design, and plot.
Manga, as a form of fictional literature, is unrestricted and nigh-infinite in terms of conventional and unconventional creativity. To put it simply in layman’s terms, it’s an umbrella term for many genres and sub-genres some of which may make you wonder about the workings and thought process of humans, in a bad way that is.
So put simply, art-style-based books, are similar to comic books with an infinite number of possibilities and genres. This is precisely the reason for its increasing popularity. Why you may ask? Because with infinite possibilities there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
For reference here’s a table for the 4 most popular Manga genres, please note that these in themselves have thousands of other genres.
|Shōnen||Shōnen manga is primarily marketed toward the male teen readership. The themes in shonen Manga include sub-genre like martial arts, mecha, science fiction, sports, horror, or mythological creatures.|
|Seinen||Seinen manga is aimed to attract young adult men. Seinen Manga mostly focuses on action, politics, science fiction, fantasy, relationships, sports, or comedy.|
|Josei||Josei manga also known as ladies’ comics, the most popular themes of josei Mangas are typically drama, romance, or pornography.|
|Isekai||Isekai is a fantasy-based genre where the mc is teleported to, reborn, or trapped in a fantasy or parallel unfamiliar universe. Some isekai even have beings from other universes that visit planet Earth. Isekai uses world-building to develop an unfamiliar and adventurous setting.|
What are Comic Books?
Comic books or short “comics” are essentially fictional literature that features narratives and story-telling in the form of comic strips, which are in essence, depicted drawings or illustrations with speech text used in bubbles. Comic books like Manga, depend on these illustrations to convey the narrative in a more personal and imaginative manner.
Comic Books were first serialized in the west, more specifically in the United States In 1933, which surprisingly makes comic books older than modern-day forms of Manag which grew in popularity in the mid-1940s till the 50s.
Comic books in contrast to Manga, are rather quite simple, in terms of the possible genre that is. This is perhaps the biggest difference factor. As comic books rarely feature anything else other than superhero or villain and anti-hero narratives. Which gets repetitive and cliques quite quickly.
Does Manga have to be Japanese?
This might seem like a no-brainer but this question is actually quite controversial, with people agreeing and disagreeing about the topic at hand.
There are obviously English Mangas, but those are merely translations of the original Manga, which has Japanese as its written language. So you would be hard-pressed to find any originally English Written Manga.
Even though Manga or Manga Culture doesn’t have any explicit rule which prohibits the inclusion of foreign writers, there are only a few foreign Mangakas (Manga Writers) who’ve been able to get semi-successful. So one might think that the industry has an inherent bias or prejudice against foreigners, but that’s not really the case. This is because of Mangas’s deep history and connection with Japanese culture.
While “Manga” is indeed a Japanese word for comic books, it doesn’t necessarily entail or enforce race in its origin. Even though Manga and Japanese culture are pretty much intertwined with one another in such a way that a foreigner might not be able to replicate them.
Think of it this way, you go down to a local Italian restaurant and order some food, while the menu and dishes like pizza and pasta might be the same, you can’t really compare the food to the actual pizza and pasta you’d eat when visiting Italy yourself. It’s there, but it doesn’t feel or taste the same.
The above example would be suitable for foreign Manga writers, sure they may do a hell of a job being creative and writing up intriguing plots, you may even have a great time reading their “Manga” and you still be able to subtly notice that the quirks, randomness, and intricacies of a foreigner author and a Japanese authors don’t taste the same.
What’s the difference between Western Comics and Japanese Comics?
Western comics differ from Japanese comics in that they are usually not in color and are read from right to left rather than left to right.
Mangas are classified using four age-appropriate terms: “shoujo”, “shounen”, “seinen”, and “josei”. I’m aware that the following are the general meanings:
- Shoujo: for girls
- Shounen: for boys
- Seinen: for men
- Josei: for women
Manga is categorized as a ‘Graphic Novels,’ which means a picture book. Manga is instantly recognizable for its distinct storytelling style and literary significance.
Should manga be classified as literature?
Manga can be deemed detailed and flexible enough to be classified as literature.
I believe they depict many cultural and spiritual qualities of their respective regions. Manga comes in a variety of forms aimed at various age groups. It would be unjust to the very gifted mangakas to outlaw manga as silly cartoons.
Manga conveys powerful emotional messages while also teaching readers about Japanese culture. It’s fun to learn about the different characters and what makes them tick. In addition, manga teaches many principles regarding family and friendship.
- Manga reading is one of the most common leisure activities in Japan, and although its influence on Japanese culture and society cannot be quantified, it has had enormous cultural and socioeconomic effects. One thing is for certain: in the West, Manga is as popular—if not more so—than comic books.
- Various definitions of manga exist, some more detailed than others. However, it is generally agreed upon that manga refers to fictional comic books, novels, or graphic novels produced by Japanese authors in a particular Japanese Manga style.
- Comic books, or simply “comics,” are essentially works of fiction that tell stories through the use of comic strips, which are essentially depicted drawings and illustrations with speech bubbles. Comic books like Manga rely on these illustrations to tell the story in a more intimate and imaginative way.