Manga is one of the most popular forms of media in Japan. It is a way of life for many, and it’s a very important part of the country’s culture. In recent years, that popularity has spread throughout the world. In fact, manga sales in the US grew a whopping 160% last year alone! And those numbers are only going to get bigger.
If you want to start reading manga to learn what all the hype is about—or if you simply want to find a new way to pass your free time, we’ve got you. In this beginner’s guide to manga, you will learn everything a novice needs to know before turning the first page.
What is Manga?
Manga is the word for Japanese comics and graphic novels.
Unlike western comics, manga is read from right to left. This can be very confusing for those who are used to the “classic” way of reading. But don’t worry, because you will get quickly get used to it.
Also, manga is printed in black and white, since the authors often have very tight schedules. However, this doesn’t take away from the quality of the art or the storytelling.
The final important (and confusing) characteristic you should know about manga is the difference between chapters and volumes. A volume is a collection of multiple chapters that tell a certain story. When you buy a manga you buy a volume, not a chapter.
Manga genres will probably be new to you as well. Manga is categorized into classic genres like adventure, comedy, thriller, horror, etc. However, Japanese manga genres are a bit different. They are categorized for age and gendered readers more than the type of content within. We’ll give you a quick breakdown and then go into more detail below.
Here’s what to remember about manga genres and their target readers:
- Shonen: Teen boys
- Seinen: Older boys/young men
- Shojo: Teen girls
- Josei: Older girls/young women
- Kodomomuke: Children
Shonen manga is written for teenage boys but is still popular with all readers. The story often focuses on a young boy who has a certain goal in mind, and to accomplish it, he goes on an epic journey full of friendships, fighting, and emotional hardship. The shonen genre uses comedy, action, and adventure to teach young people about important morals and values. Many shonen contain many volumes, so readers actually grow up along with these stories. Some popular shonen titles include Naruto, One Piece, and Black Clover.
This manga genre targets young adults and older men because the stories and the characters are more mature and serious. Also, there are sexual and violent elements that are not fit for younger readers.
The most popular seinen manga are Tokyo Ghoul, Monster, and Parasyte.
This genre is mainly for younger girls. However, contrary to popular belief, this genre is not solely focused on romance. It explores many topics relevant to a young girl’s life. The main topic is the relationships between people as friends, partners, and more.
Some of the most popular shojo manga are Fruits Basket, Revolutionary Girl, and High School Debut.
The stories in josei manga are meant for girls who are in their late teen years. The storytelling is similar to seinen, as it contains mature scenes with explicit drawings and explanations.
Some of the most popular Josei manga are Nana, Princess Jellyfish, and Honey and Clover.
This genre is for the youngest readers. Through comedy, light action, and adventure, Kodomomuke manga’s main goal is to educate children and teach them some valuable lessons that will shape them into better people.
Some of the best Kodomomuke manga are Pokemon, Digimon, and Astro Boy. Think of this genre as the manga equivalent of Disney.
How to Start Reading Manga?
There are so many manga to choose from. It can be very overwhelming for a beginner. Also, most of the best manga are made up of many volumes and take time to read. While this can also be overwhelming, there’s no rush to become a manga expert. Entertainment is not a race and you should take your time to enjoy whatever you read.
As you explore manga as a beginner, we recommend choosing a shorter one that you are really excited to read. Start with one to three chapters a day and see how it goes. Also, instrumental music can really set the mood and help you enjoy your reading.
We hope that you’ve learned the basics about manga and got your manga-related questions answered. Now, choose whatever you like to read, follow the tips, and most importantly, have fun! And remember, rushing through the story may be tempting, but it’s much better to read slowly and enjoy all the cool artwork.