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This article is about the Japanese medium. "Manga" can also refer to La Manga (a place in the Mar Menor , Murcia, Spain) and Manga Entertainment (an American and British distributor of anime, but not manga).

Manga (漫画) is the Japanese word for comics; outside of Japan, it usually refers specifically to Japanese comics. Because most Japanese nouns have no plural form, manga can be used to refer to multiple comics, although mangas is sometimes used in English.

Mangaka (漫画家) is the corresponding Japanese word for a manga author/artist.

Manga should not be confused with manhua or manhwa, Chinese and Korean comic books, respectively.



Literally translated, manga means "random (or whimsical) pictures". The word first came into common usage after the publication of the 19th century Hokusai Manga , containing assorted drawings from the sketchbook of the famous ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. However, gi-ga (lit. "funny pictures") drawn in the 12th century by various artists contain many manga-like qualities such as emphasis on story and simple, artistic lines.

Manga developed from a mixture of ukiyo-e and Western art movements. When the United States began trading with Japan, Japan tried to modernise itself and catch up with the rest of the world. Thus, they imported Western artists to teach their students things such as line, form and colour (things which were never concentrated on in ukiyo-e as the idea behind the picture was normally considered more important). Manga as people know it as of 2004 only really came into being after World War II when the government bans on any non-propaganda was lifted and many publishers sprang up.

In the 20th century, manga came to refer to comics. Though roughly equivalent to the American comic book, manga hold more importance in Japanese culture than comics do in American culture. Manga is well respected both as an art form and as a form of popular literature. Like its American counterpart, manga has been criticized for being violent and sexual; however, there have been no official inquiries or laws that have tried to limit what can be drawn in manga, except for fuzzy decency laws that apply to all published materials, stating that "overly indecent materials should not be sold". This freedom has allowed artists to draw manga for every age group and about every topic.

Manga format

Manga magazines usually have many series running concurrently with approximately 30–40 pages allocated to each series per issue. These manga magazines, or "anthology magazines", as they are also known, are usually printed on low-quality newsprint and can be anywhere from 200 to more than 850 pages long. Manga magazines also contain one-shot comics and various four-panel yonkoma (equivalent to comic strips). Manga series can run for many years if they are successful.

When a series has been running for a while, the stories are usually collected together and printed in dedicated book-sized volumes, called tankōbon. These volumes use higher-quality paper, and are useful to those who want to "catch up" with a series so they can follow it in the magazines or if they find the cost of the weeklies or monthlies to be prohibitive. Recently, "deluxe" versions have also been printed as readers have gotten older and the need for something special grew. Old manga have also been reprinted using somewhat lesser quality paper and sold for 100 yen each to compete with the used book market.

Manga are primarily classified by the age and gender of the target audience. In particular, books and magazines sold to boys (shōnen) and girls (shōjo) have distinctive cover art and are placed on different shelves in most bookstores.

Japan also has manga cafes, or manga kissaten. At a manga kissaten, people drink coffee and read manga.

Many things appear in manga format, including wanted posters for criminals (see [1] ).

Manga outside Japan

Manga have been translated into many different languages in different countries including China, France, Italy, and many more. In the USA, manga is still a rather small industry, especially when compared to the inroads that Japanese animation has made in the USA. An example of a manga publisher in the United States is Viz, the American affiliate of publishers Shogakukan (小学館 Shōgakukan) and Shueisha (集英社 Shūeisha). They have many popular titles such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dragon Ball Z (The second part of the Dragon Ball manga is called Dragon Ball Z to reduce confusion for American audiences), Tenchi Muyō!, Rurouni Kenshin, YuYu Hakusho, (Yūyū Hakusho), Yu-Gi-Oh! (Yūgiō) and the various works of Rumiko Takahashi.

Manga is related to Japanese Manga
List of manga
By English title

Symbols - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Webmanga

by Japanese title

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

List of Manga-ka

A - B - C - E - F - H - I - K - M - N - O - R - S - T - U - W - Y

List of manga distributors
By language

Japanese - English - French - German - Indonesian

Since Japanese is usually written right-to-left in works of fiction, manga is drawn and published this way in Japan. However, when various titles were first translated to other languages, the artwork and layouts were flipped and reversed in a process known as "flopping", so that the book may be read from left-to-right. However, various creators (such as Akira Toriyama) did not approve of their work being modified this way, and requested that foreign versions retain the right-to-left format of the originals. Soon, due to both fan demand and the requests of creators, more publishers began offering the option of right-to-left formatting, which has now become commonplace in North America. Left-to-right formatting has gone from the rule to the exception.

Another company, TOKYOPOP, is producing manga widely in the United States, with the right-to-left format as a highly publicized point.

Another popular form of manga distribution outside of Japan is through the Internet as scanlations (or scanslations).

The manga style

The most popular and recognizable style of manga is very distinctive. Emphasis is often placed on line over form, and the storytelling and panel placement differ from those in Western comics. Panels and pages are typically read from right to left, consistent with traditional Japanese writing. While the art can be incredibly realistic or cartoonish, it is often noted that the characters look "Western", or have large eyes. Large eyes have become a permanent fixture in manga and anime since the 1960s when Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy and considered the father of modern manga, started drawing them that way, mimicking the style of Disney cartoons from the United States. Being a very diverse artform, however, not all manga artists adhere to the conventions most popularized in the west through anime such as Akira, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z and Ranma ˝.

Fairly surprising for western readers is that (somewhat like the Jazz approach to melody) manga artists don't feel that their stories and characters are set in stone. So a set of characters may build relationships, jobs, etc. in one set of stories ("story arc") only to have another story arc run where the same characters do not know each other. The Tenchi series in particular is known for this; there are more than thirteen different pretty-much unrelated story arcs based around Tenchi and his friends.

Off the main path

Some manga artists will produce extra, sometimes unrelated material, which are known as omake (lit. "bonus" or "extra"). They might also publish their unfinished drawings or sketches, known as oekaki (lit. "sketches").

Unofficial fan made comics are called dōjinshi. Some dōjinshi continue with a series' story or write an entirely new one using its characters, much like fan fiction. In addition other dōjinshi is produced by small amateur publishers outside of the mainstream commercial market in a similar fashion to small-press independently published comic books in the United States. Comiket, the largest comic book convention in the world with over 400,000 gathering in 3 days, is devoted to dōjinshi.

Types of manga

Many of these genres apply equally well to anime and Japanese computer games.

By target audience


  • Alternative
    • Gekiga (dramatic pictures)
    • La novelle manga (Franco-Belgian\Japanese artistic movement)
    • Semi-alternative (popular publication individualistic style)
  • Battling companion (not an official name)
  • Magical girl (mahō shōjo)
  • Mecha (giant robots)
  • Moé (also mahō kanojo or magical girlfriend)
  • Shōjo-ai (lesbian romance)
  • Shōnen-ai (gay romance)

Categories of pornographic manga

Commonly called "hentai" manga in English, although seijin manga and ecchi are more accurate terms. These categories are also often used for anime, H games, and other Japanese-style erotic art.

Distributors of manga

Major Japanese distributors

Major English-language distributors

Other English-language distributors

  • Blast Books
  • Broccoli Books
  • Ponent Mon/Fanfare
  • Vertical Publishing

Major French-language distributors

  • Asuka
  • Casterman
  • Delcourt
  • Génération comics
  • Glénat
  • J'ai lu
  • Kana
  • Kabuto
  • Pika Édition
  • Tonkam
  • Végétal Manga

Major German-language distributors

Major Indonesian-language distributors

List of manga magazines

See: List of manga magazines

See also

For an extensive list of Japanese manga and Webmanga, see List of manga, List of manga by Japanese title, and List of dōjinshi (manga). For a list of Manga artists (or Japanese Cartoonists), see Mangaka. For an international list of manga magazines see List of manga magazines. For a list of pornographic manga, see List of H manga, and List of H dōjinshi (manga). See also: List of animanga games.

External links

  • PRISMS: The Ultimate Manga Guide - A site for the FAQs for the newsgroup rec.arts.manga
  • Le Mélange manga - For background information
  • How to draw manga - For the most mainstream style
  • Just Manga Anime - Manga previews and plenty of related info

Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:24:19
Last updated: 02-19-2005 10:26:05