Sunday, May 6, 2012

What IS Manga, exactly?

Well, first thing's first -- what exactly IS Manga?

The literal definition is man-which means "random, uncontrolled" and ga - which means "picture, sketch."

However, according to Wiktionary, it primarily means:


manga (countable and uncountable; plural manga or mangas)
(uncountable) An artistic style heavily used in, and associated with, Japanese comics, and that has also been adopted by a comparatively low number of comics from other countries.
(countable) A comic originated in Japan, regardless of the artistic style.
(rare, countable, chiefly proscribed by fandom slang) A comic in manga style, regardless of the country of origin.
It's commonly recognized by a particular style known as "Big Eyes Small Mouth". It's pretty much what it says. The characters are typically drawn with large expressive eyes and small mouths. It was strongly influenced by Western comics brought over to Japan from U.S. soldiers, particularly works of Walt Disney.

When Japan was restructuring itself after World War Two, an explosion of artistic expression also occurred. One of the earliest and most influential creators at this time was Osamu Tezuka who created the highly popular and very well known Astro Boy as well as many other popular works in the '50's and '60's.

It's still a highly popular business, especially since countries outside of Japan have bought the rights to, and translated, several titles in their own language.

Manga in itself is a medium that supports multiple genres. There are manga for boys (known as shounen) which tend to be more fantasy and action based, as well as manga for girls (known as shoujo) which tend toward romance and magical adventures.

There are also seinen, which is targeted toward older boys and young men and josei, which is aimed for older girls and young women. These stories tend to have more mature and complex story-lines to them than typical manga meant for younger readers.

Well, here's hoping I helped to explain a little more about manga in general. I do plan to have other posts going into more detail about specific titles and genres within manga as well as a few definitions that one might come across. I also plan to detail the slight differences between manga and anime.

The kanji for manga.


  1. Great job, explains a lot to me. Thanks. Proud of you. Keep it up.

  2. Why thank you! Hopefully after the initial explanations, I'll have enough material left to keep this puppy going!