Written by Sparsh Aiyar. Submit your own article to the City Voice at bit.ly/chmsVoiceSubmit

Manga. You may have heard the word from a friend or on the media. You may have even seen a section for Manga at a bookstore or a library. So, what is Manga? Manga refers to Japanese comics that are often made into animations known as Anime. Manga (pronounced Maa-nn-gah) has three syllables in its name, but the middle “n” is spoken very quickly. 

The word, Manga, also has a meaning. In Japanese, it can be translated to “cartoon,” usually because it is turned into an Anime after the Manga is finished. Manga swelled in popularity during the 20th century after laws prohibiting publication of Manga and other similar comics were lifted and people all around the world could read it again. Since then, Manga has become a huge part of the Japanese culture and has integrated itself in countries in Europe and the Americas. However, cultural differences still exist. Unlike in America, the Japanese usually read manga in the weekly comics and the writers of these Mangas are highly respected, like American writers.

In addition to Manga and Anime being popular in Japan, they are now both very popular in America and Europe and have become very successful. Manga and Anime have worked their way through TV and movies. Now, in Japan, a lot of the Anime is based around the Manga but in the U.S. Usually, the publisher will wait until the Anime has been scheduled for release through TV channels like Fox, Cartoon Network, and The WB so the Manga is published at the same time the cartoon is released. 

Manga format is very different from regular American comic books. It usually follows the traditional Japanese way of reading, right side to the left side. But, not only do you read the panels from right to left, you also have to read the pages from right to left. Most Mangas printed in English; however, tell you if you are reading the book backward. Many people have tried to publish the Mangas in traditional English style left to right, but the fans did not like it. They believed that it is better to stick to the traditional Japanese format. Now, almost all official Manga produced and printed in the U.S, Japan, and Europe, have the Japanese format. In addition to Manga being read differently, it is also published in a different way than American comics. It is usually collected in small volumes, like the Archie Digest, which was an old comic series, revolving around highschooler Archie Andrew and his friends in the fictional town, Riverdale. Riverdale may be familiar because the TV Drama, Riverdale, is based on the Archie Comics. The digests were featured in magazines where people would read them and if they became popular, they would select the popular stories and put them into a volume. The same goes for Manga in Japan.

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Manga has a very distinctive art style. Usually, the characters in Manga have large eyes, small mouths, and very different hairstyles and hair colors. One Manga artist that has gone against this is Akira Toriyama. He is the artist that created Dragon Ball and his art style usually incorporates dull faces and large muscles. Manga characters also exaggerate their emotions. For example, when a character cries, there is a huge torrent of tears, or when a character is angry, their eyes become slits and they have a vein pulsing in their head. 

On top of a distinctive art style, there are also different types of Manga. Shonen Manga is usually for boys and is filled with action and humor. There is Shojo Manga which is directed towards girls and is usually lighthearted and includes romance. Seinen Manga is directed to men who are more mature and will have more adult themes and graphic violence. Next, there is Josei Manga which is women’s Manga and, like the Seinen Manga, has more mature themes and usually revolves around the protagonist going through situations and relationships. Manga is very different from most comic books you may have read but over time, but given that it has become very popular in many different countries around the world you might consider reading a bit yourself.

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