Let’s talk about manga.
Posted August 25, 2010on:
It gets an entire aisle at Barnes & Noble. You can get themed stuff at Hot Topic. Kids dress like their favorite characters for Halloween. It’s Manga, and it’s worth looking into.
Manga has been hot in America for about a decade now, but a lot of people still don’t know what it is, or shy away from it because “it’s just comic books”.
I’ve got a nice collection of manga at home (to the tune of a few hundred bucks over six or eight years), and would like to talk about some of my favorite series on this blog. And then I realized, a lot of people don’t really know what this manga stuff is all about. So it’s time for a super basic Manga Primer.
First things first, manga is a form, not a genre. It’s got just as many genres as regular non-comic form books – scifi/fantasy, romance, action, contemporary drama, steampunk, historical drama, comedy, coming of age, etc. Manga is almost always written in chapter form, usually having been first printed serially in a specialty magazine, then bound a half dozen chapters or so in a volume. Many public libraries have growing manga/graphic novel collections, and this is a great way to test out some series.
The most basic genre-type breakdowns that most Mangaka (Manga artists) stick is to is Shonen (manga designed with a male audience in mind) and Shojo (manga designed with a female audience in mind). A gross generalization is that Shonen is more in the way of action oriented, and Shojo is more in the way of coming of age and romance oriented. From there, the idea of genre is more a suggestion than a rule. Your action/coming of age manga starring a magician on Mars might also be slapstick comedy in a historical setting with spaceships and demons.
Examples of Shonen include Deathnote by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Bleach by Tite Kubo, and Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.
Examples of Shojo include Nana by Ai Yazawa, XXXholic by CLAMP, Honey and Clover by Chika Umino, and Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino.
Manga is more than just Shonen and Shojo, action and or romance or both, and many titles defy catorigization. This is just a super basic intro, but I hope you’ve been inspired to flip through some volumes next time you are at the bookstore or the library. Remember, manga is like any other type of book – there are good ones and not so good ones, it might take a bit of looking to find authors and stories that you like.
I need to take a photo of my nearly two full shelves of Manga. we’re talking Fullmetal Alchemist, Nana, Paradise Kiss, some CLAMP, Ludwig II, Read of Die, Blame!, St. Lunatic High, and some random others.