Manga 101

WHAT IS MANGA ? & WHAT KINDS OF MANGA IS THERE.

WHAT IS MANGA?

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manga

/ˈmaŋɡə/
noun
  1. a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, typically aimed at adults as well as children.
    “Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga”
Manga is quite simply, as it is explained above, a comic form from a non-western country. Manga originated in the 12th century Edo period and Toba Ehon is known as the person who embedded manga.  

Interestingly, Manga became popular around the 18th century and from then it has taken off, to the point now that around 2 billion copies of Manga (chapters, volumes and books) are sold a year. This works out to about 40% of all books purchased in Japan, which means it is very popular.
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You read Manga, right to left and ‘backwards’ to what we often read books in western countries. For example, if you have a manga, pick it up. You will notice the cover is on what we call the ‘back’ of most books, and if you try to open it like a normal book, you will often find a page saying how to read this format. This keeps in with the traditional way that Japanese is read and written

Manga is most often printed in black and white, due to time constraints, stylistic choices and many other reasons although you can find some coloured versions, and often times some ‘cult classic’ manga’s will become coloured in a newer edition or contain coloured pages.

When manga is typically produced, it is in “chapters” that get published in Manga magazines in Japan. This is a specific magazine with chapters from different mangas and related news articles. A chapter is often 20-30 pages, much like a COMIC. After around 9-10 chapters are published, they are compiled into a 180-220 page book that is then just referred to as a ‘volumes’. If a manga series truly takes off, often times you will see ‘omnibus’ editions, which are where 2-6 ‘volumes’ are bound up into one book.
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WHAT KINDS OF MANGA ARE THERE ?

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Like books, there is no way to list every kind of Manga created, because there is a Manga to cater to every single reader. They cover wide topics and tones. But, in the same way we have ‘genres’ for novels, Manga’s have ‘types’ 

These types are a sort of, title, to show who the intended audience is. This makes it helpful when you want to know if a book is appropriate for a certain age, or if it’s similar in type to a manga you’ve read before. However, you should never limit yourself to just one type of Manga and please remember, we don’t always agree with what labels are put on these in the same way we don’t always agree with the genres books are shelved under. (please also be aware these are GENDER targeted which does leave out non-binary & others, I apologise for this exclusion and if that ever changes I will amend this page)

Many newer manga’s cannot fit under these broad terms, or will use ‘sub-genre’ terms, so you should see these terms as fluid, just like book genres.

 

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SHONEN : Targeted at Teen and Tween boys. 

Of course, everyone has different opinions, and they are all valid, but I would say Shonen is targeted at 12-18 year old boys. These stories feature a lot of

  • Action
  • Comedy
  • Friendship
  • Coming of age stories

Popular Mangas under this umbrella are, DRAGON BALL Z, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, DEATH NOTE. 

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SHOJO : Targeted at Teen and Tween girls.

This is the twin to Shonen and thus is targeted at 12-18 year old girls. And these manga feature

  • Drama
  • Emotions
  • Idealised romance
  • coming of age stories

Popular Mangas under this umbrella term are, SAILOR MOON, CARDCAPTOR SAKURA, FRUITS BASKET.

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SEINEN : Targeted at men 18+ 

Whereas Shonen and Shojo focus on an idealised story and often have a young, bright-eyed protagonist, Seinen takes a darker look at the world and often features things that are not appropriate for children such as violence, drugs and sex. Seinen focuses on

  • Action
  • Comedy
  • Dark characters
  • Violence
  • Gritty worlds

Popular Mangas under this umbrella term are, AKIRA, BLAME !, BERSERK.

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JOSEI : Targeted at Women 18+ 

Josei manga is often more explicit than other types and can be called the ‘romance novel’ of Mangas. Whereas you can often tell what type a manga is by the cover, Josei is known for being hard to tell. These are often romance heavy. This type of Manga features

  • Romance
  • Greater depth of personal exploration
  • friendships & relationships
  • contemporary stories & worlds

Popular manga under this umbrella term are, LOVELESS, MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, KARNEVAL.

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KODOMOMUKE: Targeted at young children.

These are cutesy, fun and easy to read Mangas designed for very young children to start out with and get to grips with the style. The most common Kodomomuke is POKEMON and DIGIMON.