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What Is Manga?

Japan has a very unique and very active comic industry. The rest of the world calls the style “manga” referring both to all graphic arts that come from that country and the distinctive drawing and story telling style. In fact, many Westerners who have adopted this technique call themselves “AmeriManga” while Korean enthusiasts call themselves “Manwha.”

Japanese comics and graphic novels are very different from traditional Western comics. The latter tends to cater to kids and revolve around superheroes, or have humorous content. It is not considered an “art” form and tends to be looked down on as mere juvenile entertainment. Manga is very different. It is very popular and considered to be artistic; it is widely respected among kids and adults alike. The topics are also very diverse. Some, like Pokemon, do tap the young market. However, there are also “adult” manga with explicit sexual content and violence. Some manga are also quite philosophical and deal with dark, emotionally complex plots.

Manga drawings are usually done in pen and ink. The eyes tend to be very large and exaggerated, and the emotions are emphasized. Special devices, like a drop of sweat on the forehead, are used to depict worry.

Japanese manga graphic novels and cartoons are often translated into animated films, which are either serialized on television or released in DVD’s or movies. The more popular series often spill into merchandizing, such as collectible figures and t-shirts. There are also numerous books on how to draw manga, as well as manga clubs and exhibits.

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