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What Exactly is Manga? A Beginner’s Guide

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

To briefly explain, manga is basically comics that were originally published in the mainland of Japan. These mangas often reference Japanese culture and traditions. Many people confuse manga with comics, but there are some major differences. First of all, the most obvious difference is that you would read manga from right to left, as this is how you read traditional Japanese books. Another difference is the length of the stories. Comics are usually small ‘episodes’ and are stapled in an issue that includes multiple of such ‘episodes’, but each from different series. Manga is generally released in volumes, containing chapters from a single series. The last major difference is the art style. Comics have more realistic art, while manga is more stylized.

The vast genre of manga that we know today originated in the 12th and 13th centuries, as the “manga” at the Edo Period was perceived as the basis for the right-to-left reading style. Although literary experts identify the Japanese comic during the 12th century as the very beginning of the writing style, the word ‘manga’ really came into use during the 18th century. As the modern age advances, manga seems to be shifting to be in futuristic or modern settings and genres, such as Action, Thriller, Romance, and Sci-Fi.

In this article, several manga genres will be introduced. You can then choose whichever genre you enjoy the most!

The action genre in manga is all about conflict. Whether with guns, magical powers, or blades, it is sure to capture your attention. As of now, the action genre is undoubtedly the most popular amongst the community, as it includes some of the most mainstream mangas such as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. Apart from these most famous series, the action genre also includes rather popular and ongoing mangas like Demon Slayer, Assassination Classroom, and the Fate series.

A stark contrast to the action genre, romance is all about the internal conflicts of characters compared to the most external conflicts characteristic of Action manga. Romantic manga often includes a large amount of character development. Furthermore, some manga under this genre are 5 Centimeter Per Second, Kaguya-sama: Love is War, and Hyouka.

Next up is the Slice of Life genre. Slice of life usually reflects one’s daily lifestyle, typically the life of a teen or person who is still in school. This specific genre often is mixed with romance in many manga series. Examples of this genre include Your Lie in April and Anohana.

The thrillers and horror genres are the two of the less talked about genres in manga, the dark themes of thriller stories often overlap with those found in horror stories, though not always the same. Thrillers aim to fill readers with suspense, excitement, anxiety and fear. Although this genre may be off-putting, finding a good thriller manga is definitely worthwhile. Why stay up all night to study when you can binge some psychological horror? However, if you are looking for something to start with, try checking out Another or Future diary.

Sci-fi and futuristic mangas often include elements in the plot and setting of the story featuring advanced technology. Most are set in an apocalyptic, futuristic world with conditions very different from our own. Such mangas include Steins Gate, Darling in the FranXX, and Neon Genesis.

For those who have an interest in the magical and fantastical, try reading fantasy mangas, where you can temporarily be transported to magical worlds where the supernatural runs rampant. Noragami, Tokyo Ghoul and Danmachi are nice mangas to check out.

A tragic manga can be set in basically any setting. Whether in the past or in the future, the real world or a figment of the imagination, tragedy mangas allow readers to experience tragic events that they would normally not face in real life. Some mangas that fit in this genre are Violet Evergarden and Angel Beats.

If you feel overwhelmed by the above, consider checking out more light-hearted, comedic mangas. These offer some relief when compared to the most intense Thriller and Action mangas, and often allows people to have a good laugh.. I’m Sakamoto, Saiki K, and Umaru-Chan border between unbelievably relatable and stupidly bizarre, and are also great meme material.

One of the most popular and trending mangas are those in LGBTQIA+ sub-genre.. Rich character development, coupled with an engaging plot, these mangas are some of the most acclaimed in the manga community. Given, Sweet Blue Flowers and No.6 are some of the most well-known mangas in this genre.

To conclude, mangas are an exciting type of literature that is constantly rising in popularity as the community size expands. Hopefully, after learning about the various genres in manga, you now would be looking forward to reading and learning more about this vast culture of literature. Whether it is comedic or tragic, romantic or thrilling, mangas always have new tricks up its sleeve that are definitely worth the effort to explore. If you are interested and would like to get your hands on your first copy of manga, visit the Morven Library and ask one of the librarians to introduce you to the many series and genres of manga that we currently have. Expect more upcoming manga series and have fun!

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