What is Manga?
Manga is in essence the Japanese version of what we refer to as comics. Just like anime, manga can be viewed by any age group of people, from children to adults. Manga can feature many different themes and encompass many different types of genre’s, so this is something both anime and manga share. Some manga published are referred to as Dōjinshi, which is the Japanese terminology for self-published manga projects or novels. Whilst Dōjinshi are often the work of amateur artists or novelist, some professionals participate in making Dōjinshi as a way to publish material outside the regular industry. This can pertain to sexual material or parodies. However the more sexualized and sexually “explicit” content is often referred to as either H-Dōjinshi or, Ero-Manga. By doing so the manga sub genre’s can be more easily sorted and categorised, something that’s very necessary when manga can literally refer to anything Japanese illustrated in comic form.
For many anime consumers manga itself is an integral part of enjoying anime, it also plays an important role in the creation of anime; manga often being the source material used in the creation of the animated version publicised via TV and other media. There are some exceptions to this however, as some anime are based on novels like Sword Art Online, .hack and Accel World. Then there are anime created from the ground up with the manga following after the anime’s conception like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. This is generally considered to be “abnormal” or “strange” as most anime have a pre-existing manga with a fan base already invested in the material they’re producing. Which is good marketing, creating an Anime is not a cheap endeavour so investing large amounts of money and time into a new piece of content with no fan base backing the project is risky business and thus rarely performed. For Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress however, it turned out quite well.
Within the many genre’s of manga, there are some that are aimed at different genders and age demographics. shōnen manga for example is designed for males from the age of 10-18, with many shōnen manga or anime having themes of action, humorous characters or storytelling, featuring a male protagonists. shōnen manga do not need to have these genre’s as there is a large number of genre’s comprised within the term shōnen. Be it teenagers or men on sports teams, fighting against one another or, a sci-fi themed manga with robots like Gundam. Shōnen manga itself became widely popularised after the release of Dragon ball in 1984 from Akira Toriyama. With many successful manga artists titling it as “one of the most influential shōnen manga of its time” and in today’s market of 2018, shōnen manga has risen even further with it comprising most of the popular and mainstream releases.
Shōnen manga is only one “type” of manga one can indulge in. There is also Seinen manga, however unlike shōnen manga seinen is typically for adults with the subject matter displayed varying quite a lot depending on the manga itself. As an example of the difference between a shōnen manga and a seinen manga, let’s reference the popular anime and manga: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden, both being a shōnen series, tackling the struggles of a young boy protagonist, progressing, learning and ultimately overcoming any obstacle thrown in his path to adulthood. This anime is filled with action, comedy, adventure, super power’s and martial arts. Then there’s Berserk a seinen series, something one could only describe as horror filled. Featuring adult content like, vulgarity, murder, rape and demons. This does not mean all seinen manga or anime share these aspects as there are lighthearted seinen manga released like “Oh My Goddess!” and Initial D.
Another popular manga sub category is shōjo. shōjo manga primarily being designed by and produced for female viewers. The shift from male created shōjo manga to female created manga happened In 1969 by a group of female manga artists known as the Year 24 Group or Magnificent 24, they ushered in a new age of shōjo manga creation and since then many new sub categories have been spawned and widely popularised like shōnen-ai and yaoi. Some popular shōjo anime and manga most people should know being: Sailor Moon, Ouran High School Host Club, Vampire Knight, NANA and many more. All having female protagonists with an emphasis on romance, drama and magical girls. Now, as mentioned prior manga are typically used as source material for many of their anime series counterparts, this typically happens when a manga has reached a certain level of popularity amongst the manga community it’s attached to, be it Shōnen, Seinen, Shōjo or etc.
Manga’s popularity has steadily increased ever since the 1950’s, with the manga market being a substantial part in Japan’s publishing industry. By 1995, manga was valued at ¥586.4 billion, selling annually around 1.9 billion manga books and manga magazines in Japan alone. Since then, manga has become increasingly more popularised world-wide, with the market for manga in the US raising. Its estimated value was $175 million by 2008. Countries outside of Japan have been influenced by the manga and anime culture more than others like France. France having over 38% of all comics available being of Japanese manga, with the value of €460 million in 2005.
Japanese manga, due to its popularity world-wide having influenced many cultures; it’s hard to find countries who haven’t taken inspiration from Japan. Things generally represented similarly to anime and manga are as follows: “manhua”, which is a Chinese interpretation of Japanese manga. Then in Korea we have “manhwa” which is Korea’s interpretation of manga. Both being unique to their country whilst still being influenced by the Japanese culture. Even American cartoons and animated series have taken inspiration from manga when producing content.
Something characteristically familiar in manga, no matter the genre or sub genre’s they all share the same 2 dimensional color scheme and left to right reading panels and illustrations. Whilst some volumes may eventually get colored as a special edition, it is generally and universally black and white. The illustrations found within each artists manga is quite distinct and different from each individual manga artist, each artist having a specific “style” or design, something fans can easily recognize. Take Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball Z the animation and design from this one series can be recognized all over
So, to answer manga is illustrated stories whereas anime is animated stories, both being very popular, sought after and loved.