Manga is the Japanese word for comics and cartoons in print. (Anime, on the other hand, is animated cartoon for TV or film). Even though manga is essentially a cartoon, manga holds a higher place in Japanese culture than comics do in American society. Manga is well respected as both art and as a form of popular literature. In fact, much the the adult population in Japan read manga and several major manga magazines in Japan sell several million copies each week.
This should tell you that manga is not just kid's stuff.
What kind of story would you be interested in?
A hard-boiled detective hired to locate a missing girl?
A world dominated by animal-human hybrids in the aftermath of an apocalyptic war in 2054?
A boy-meets-girl-meets-giant-robot adventure?
A historical play revolving around the shadowy generals of the Genpei War?
A successful journalist who takes in a handsome homeless man as a pet when her fiance leaves her?
There are hundreds of stories to choose from in manga books and there is something that caters to everyone's taste. Furthermore, many manga titles combine artful pictures and frames with nuanced stories for very entertaining and addictive reading.
Manga is generally categorized into different genres. The most popular ones include:
- shonen manga for boys and male teens
- shojo manga for girls and female teens
- kodomo for children
- redisu for adult women
- seinen for adult men
- jidaimono is historical drama
- suiri is crime and murder
- ecchi is erotic fare
So, how to get started with Manga? Easy.
1. Walk into the store. Most large booksellers have a section dedicated to manga, but to really get a range of titles, try a comic book store. Either way, manga books usually have covers in color and maybe the first few pages as well, but the rest of the story is usually in black and white.
2. Look through the books, read them a little. Stop when you find something that you like and take it home.
3. If you are comfortable with surfing the Internet, read manga online first. Do a search for one of the many directories of online manga sites and scan those sites for titles that are interesting. Many of the sites will actually show the manga book-drawing and text-from its Web site.
Remember that when you read manga, you read the frames from the right to left. Often, when you open up a manga--just like you would a regular book--there will often be a page that will tell you how to read it.
Give a few manga titles a try to get a feel for what you like. Once you find a title you like, you can look for more of the same or similar titles with that publisher. Look for the English publisher's Web site in the front of the book, then check out that site--it will probably contain descriptions of all their books and maybe even a little sample online.