Are you already familiar with this multi-billion-pound industry and its devoted readers all across the globe? Discover the fascinating world of manga presented by novum publishing!

Manga are serialised cartoon strips originally featured in Japanese newspapers and magazines. With increasing popularity, manga also began filling comic books and graphic novels yet always stayed true to its roots of focusing more on the image than the text and more on the characters than the storyline – which is also one of the main differences to Western superhero comics.

Roughly translated as “free-form pictures” or “comics”, manga are typically read from right to left and from top to bottom. It takes some time to get used to the Japanese style of reading, just as with colour dynamics, facial expressions and sound elements. The easiest way is certainly to just jump in and read a good manga, though. 

Where does manga come from?

Drawing inspiration from everyday life as well as pure imagination, the art form itself dates back to the 12th and 13th century, when anonymous artists created animals behaving like humans in the Handscrolls of Frolicking Animals (chōjū giga). In the early 19th century, the famous Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai was the first to use the word “manga” for his sketchbooks. After Japan opened its doors to the world in 1853, illustrators like Kitazawa Rakuten became more familiar with Western comic styles and featured serialised cartoon strips in both serious and humorous newspapers and magazines.

Manga was used for means of propaganda on both sides during World War II. In the period of post-war occupation and censorship, people could not afford such luxuries as comic books or toys and spent the little they had on so-called red books (akahon). In the 1980s and 1990s, manga achieved unparalleled popularity first in Japan and then abroad. Filling shelves upon shelves in today’s bookshops around the world, manga not only gave rise to the great success of Japanese anime with its television shows, feature films, and an endless array of merchandising but has also become a vital element of today’s pop culture reflected in all kinds of art, fashion, events, the gaming industry and digital multimedia.

Manga categories

Manga is not a genre per se but rather a medium to tell a story. As such, manga illustrators or so-called mangaka may resort to any kind of genre from science fiction and fantasy to horror, romance, soap operas and much more. There are five major types of manga based on their target groups: kodomomuke for young children often communicate moral messages and are more about cute and fun stories, the most famous probably being Pokémon. Shonen for tween and teen boys are full of action and humorous stories, e.g. Dragon Ball, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist or My Hero Academia. The counterpart to shonen are shojo manga for tween and teen girls, typically featuring more drama, emotion and romance, e.g. Sailor Moon or Skip Beat. The next two types are intended for adults with seinen for men and josei for women. The former also focuses on action but is a little darker, more violent and with adult content, e.g. Akira or Berserk. Josei manga are mostly about romantic and/or sexual relationships, e.g. Loveless or Midnight Secretary

The world’s top three & many more manga

The best-selling manga series in the world is One Piece by Oda Eiichiro, the story of a boy whose body has become elastic after eating a magical fruit. The boy travels the world on a pirate ship in search of a treasure, taking the reader from one great adventure to the next. Still in print today, One Piece was created in 1997, boasts over 90 volumes, sold more than 450 million books and inspired a successful anime series. No 2 would have to go to Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, telling the story of Son Goku who trains to become a fighter and battles villains first from Earth and later from outer space. Newer yet no less popular is Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto about a young boy who dreams of becoming the next hokage or village ninja. Naruto is possessed by a demon and faces many challenges on his adventures.

Also check out other excellent Japanese titles like Golgo 13, Case Closed, Kochikame, Death Note, Real, Oishinbo, Slam Dunk, Astro Boy or Doraemon. Or you might think about supporting British mangaka, such as the winners of the Manga Jiman Competition: Shangomola Edunjobi for Miseyieki, Alex Brennan-Dent for No Matter What, Pamela Lohkun for Dream Job, Elizabeth Garwood’s for A.R.C. – 01, Aamir Zaheer for Genie’s New Lamp or Karen Jiyun Sung for New Home. Whatever you taste might be, there’s something for everyone in manga!

We hope we have been able to whet your appetite – or are you already a manga aficionado and could give us a few recommendations? Perhaps there are even a few helpful hints and tricks you could use in your writing? Let us know in our comments!

Keep writing, keep typing!

Yours truly,

novum publishing