Manga can be defined quite simply as comics and graphic novels originating from Japan, but there exists a great deal of nuance, artistic style, and culture around the medium itself. Appealing to people of all ages with titles from over a dozen genres, manga has gained popularity since the mid 20th century not only in Japan, but internationally as well. Manga is typically printed in black and white, though rare occasions of full color manga exist, for primarily artistic and cost related reasons. Typically, in Japan, manga is serialized in manga magazines, containing many different series in each issue, often presenting one chapter per issue on a weekly, monthly, etc. basis. Eventually, chapters are collected and republished in tankōbon volumes, most commonly paperback editions. Often, if a manga becomes popular enough, it may be adapted into an anime version during or after its run.
An important rule to remember is that manga reads from right to left, as per traditional Japanese style. This is the reverse order of English, so many North American manga publishers include reading guides in the back of published volumes.
Manga is classified by both genre and demographic, but there is plenty of crossover.
Common target demographics include:
Manga genres include:
Keep in mind that many manga series cross gender and age divides, and can be enjoyed by anyone. There is no rule saying that an adult woman cannot read shonen manga, or that an adult man cannot read shojo manga. These are simply general target demographics used by publishers within the industry.
Manga: Translating to "whimsical pictures" in English, manga primarily refers to Japanese comics among English speakers, though in Japan the terms can refer to any comics, cartooning, or animation.
Anime: Derived from the English word animation, anime refers to hand-drawn and computer generated animation originating in Japan. Often anime are adaptations of manga, light novels, or even video games, and have seen international success on the whole, with many receiving foreign dubbed and subtitled releases.
Mangaka: Japanese word for a manga artist/author.
Light Novel: A style of Japanese novel, typically about 50,000 words and published in bunkobon size dimensions. Light novels often receive anime and/or manga adaptations, and frequently include manga-style illustrations.
Tankōbon: Japanese term most often used regarding independent volumes of a single manga series. Chapters of a manga series are often first published in a weekly or monthly magazine in Japan, then collected into tankōbon volumes, containing several chapters each.
Aizōban: A collector's edition volume, generally more expensive and containing special features. Typically, only popular manga series receive releases in this format.
Bunkoban: A tankōbon printed in the format of a typical Japanese novel-sized volume (bunko), usually with more pages and a new cover.
Kanzenban: Another special edition format, typically reproducing chapter cover, color pages, and side-stories from a manga series' original publication run (which often are not included or are provided in greyscale in tankōbon releases).
Shinsōban: A new edition, often released with a new cover, new color pages, other extras, and occasionally reedited material. Similar to the wide-ban release.
Soshūhen: A format published by Shueisha beginning in 2008, soshūhen releases are similar to kanzenban in style, but are larger in size, and primarily produced for popular manga with ongoing serializations.
Wide-ban: Larger than a typical tankōbon volume, wide-ban format is often used to publish seinen or josei manga after magazine serialization.
Manhua: General term for Chinese comics produced within China and the Greater China region.
Manhwa: General term for Korean comics produced within Korea.
Gangan Comics: A manga imprint of Square Enix Holdings, Gangan was established in 1991 and publishes manga, magazines, light novels, and graphic novels within several demographics. Popular titles include Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, and Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.
Hakusensha: Established in 1973, Hakusensha publishes manga, magazines, picture books, light novels, drama CDs, and more. A subsidiary of Shueisha, partially owned by Shogakukan, and part of the publishing conglomerate Hitotsubashi Group. Popular titles include Fruits Basket and Berserk.
Kodansha: The largest publishing company in Japan, Kodansha was established in 1909 and produces manga, light novels, books, manga and literary magazines, as well as CDs and DVDs. Popular titles include Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail.
Shueisha: Originally an entertainment-related publishing division of Shogakukan, Shueisha was established as an independent company in 1926 and publishes manga, magazines, light novels, educational and references books, picture books, and more. Part of the publishing conglomerate Hitotsubashi Group and owns Viz Media, along with Shogakukan. Popular titles include Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and Slam Dunk)
Shogakukan: Established in 1922, Shogakukan publishes manga, literature, magazines, dictionaries, nonfiction, DVDs, and more. Founded Shueisha, part of the publishign conglomerate Hitotsubashi Group, and owns Viz Media (alongside Shueisha). Popular titles include Detective Conan/Case Closed, Doraemon, and Inuyasha)
Dark Horse: An American comic book and manga publisher founded in 1986, Dark Horse publishes comics in addition to translated manga, with titles such as Berserk, Mob Psycho 100, and works for popular media franchises like Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Zelda.
Kodansha Comics: The English-language manga publishing imprint of Kodansha USA Publishing, Kodansha comics was established in 2008 in New York City. Popular titles include Sailor Moon, Attack on Titan, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell.
Seven Seas Entertainment: An award-winning publisher specializing in bringing manga and light novels to North American audiences, as well as original English language publications, Seven Seas Entertainment was established in 2004 and produces manga, graphic novels, OEL manga, and light novels of varying genres and sub-genres.
Tokyopop: Established in 1997, Tokyopop publishes manga, light novels, graphic novels, OEL manga, manhwa, and more, and has expanded internationally with a network of over 160 partners in more than 50 countries and 30 languages.
Viz Media: The leading publisher of manga in North America, Viz Media was established in 1986 and publishes some of the most popular manga titles in English, like One Piece, My Hero Academia, the Dragon Ball franchise, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Demon Slayer, and Haikyuu!!. Owned by the Hitotsubashi Group publishing conglomerate.
Yen Press: Established in 2006 in New York City, Yen Press publishes manga, graphic novels, manhwa, manhua, and light novels into English, with popular titles such as A Bride's Story, Soul Eater, Pandora Hearts, Fruits Basket, and more.
Read manga legally online from these apps and providers:
Viz Media/Shonen Jump App (Only offers the first three and last three chapters of a series for free. For access to the complete collection of titles, a subscription of $1.99/month is required.)
Manga Plus (Limited to manga titles published by Shueisha. Only offers the first three and last three chapters of a series for free, with some exceptions.)
Comixology (Owned by Amazon. Available for Android, iOS, Kindle, and browser.)
A note on piracy: Be aware that fan "scanlations" of manga can be found frequently online; however, these are often illegally produced without the permission of the copyright holder and publisher, and do not support the creators of the work.
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