Manga: An Introduction

Originating from Japan, manga has constantly evolved and adapted to a rapidly growing world while also maintaining its unique style. The word “manga” derived from the Chinese term 漫画 (man hua). If we break the word down, it would consist of two kanji (kanji are the ideograms in the Japanese writing system, which descended from Chinese characters), with “man” meaning “impromptu” and “ga” meaning “picture”. The combination of the two kanji defines manga as “impromptu picture”.

This is an example of Chinese characters within the Japanese writing system.


While Japanese manga may show a few similarities when being compared with foreign comics, they also differ in a great manner. Some of the basic differences are the color and format in Japanese manga. Compared to fully colored American comics, Japanese manga is mostly presented in neutral colors. One of the main reasons why monotonous colors are used in manga is mainly because they are cheap and allows for faster publication (coloring is time-consuming). As for the format, manga are read right-to-left rather than the usual left-to-right in foreign comics. In general, Japanese kanji are read from right-to-left and so its native readers would prefer to have the manga formatted in a way in which reading is easier for them. It might take some time for individuals who have just started reading manga to get accustomed to a new way of reading. However, the differences are also what makes reading manga enjoyable and what sets them apart from comics from foreign countries.

An example in the order manga is read.

Demographic Categories of Manga

Although manga is grouped into genres and sub-genres, it is important to note that manga is also categorized demographically. These categories label manga according to the targeted demographic and the maturity level of the content. However, it must be made clear that the demographic category of a manga does not define its genre or sub-genre. Instead, it acts as a description of the manga’s intended audience, mostly in terms of age groups.

The five main types of manga are, shōnen, shōjo, seinen, josei and kodomomuke.


The word “shōnen” or 少年 refers to “boy”. Shōnen manga consists mostly of a male protagonist with the incorporation of action and adventure that generally appeals to young boys under 18. Some notable mentions of shōnen manga include One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z.


The word “shōjo” or 少女 refers to “young girl”. With the demographic targeting young girls below the age of 18, shōjo manga usually centers around young female protagonists, with the plot mostly related to romance and drama. Some popular shōjo manga are Sailor Moon, Fruits Basket, and Orange.


“Seinen” or 青年 refers to young adult men. Seinen manga demographically targets young men around the age of 18 to 30 years old. The content in seinen manga is also known to be more mature for the age group it is most popular with. Tokyo Ghoul, Berserk, and Your Name are just some of the most popular seinen manga.


The word “josei” simply means, “woman”. Josei manga is often found most popular in older teenage girls and women with the age group ranging from 18 to 45. The content of these manga are also more mature unlike “shōnen” or “shōjo”. Chihayafuru, Nana, and Paradise Kiss are definitely a few of the josei manga worth checking out (these are just some recommendations based on the popularity of these manga).


Kodomomuke literally means, “directed at children”. Works classified under kodomomuke are usually simple, and understandable stories that teaches core values to its young readerships. Popular kodomomuke manga series, include Doraemon, Hello Kitty, and Anpanman.

Manga is different starting with its origin. Eventually, significant events and individuals would become a part of a still new and growing manga industry, and pave the way for future manga artists. The world of manga is vast and is still attracting fans globally due to its huge success in the entertainment industry. And with every new publication in the manga industry, its fan-base grows a little bit more.

The twelve manga mentioned above are definitely some of the most recognizable and popular works of different manga artists. Make sure to check them out!

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