A Brief Introduction to Manga

Introduction to Manga

Manga is the Japanese word for comics in general. Outside of Japan, the term manga is used exclusively to refer to Japanese comics.

Manga covers a wide variety of genres and reaches audiences in many different and different age spectrum. The manga is a very important part of the Japanese publishing industry and motivates many adaptations to different formats: animated series, known as Anime, movies, video games and novels.

Note: Tagosaku to Mokube Tokyo Kenbutsu (1902) is considered the first manga.


Hokusai Katsushika, a representative of ukiyo-e, coined the term manga by combining the kanji corresponding to informal (man) and drawing (ga). It literally translates as “Informal drawing” or “squiggles”. The Japanese call it ‘insignificant images’, also in the manga because they buy more than a billion black and white volumes annually, printed on cheap paper. The professional to write or draw manga is known as a manga artist.

The Manga Industry

The manga in Japan is a true mass phenomenon. A single fact serves to illustrate the magnitude of this phenomenon: in the year of 1989, 38% of all books and journals published in Japan were manga.

As you can guess in this figure, manga is not just a fad for young people. In Japan there is manga for all ages and social status, including housewives, employees, teenagers, clerks, etc. The erotic manga also known as hentai is a quarter of total sales.

Manga Magazines

Manga magazines are one of the most popular manga distribution forms in Japan and sell millions of copies each week. The magazine Shonen Jump, the most popular manga magazine in Japan, sells around 6 million copies each week. Shonen Magazine continues with around 4 million copies.

Manga magazines are weekly or monthly publications of between 200 and 900 pages in which there are many different manga series consisting of between 20 and 40 pages of the magazine. These magazines are usually printed on low quality black and white paper, with the exception of the cover and, usually, some pages from the beginning. If a series is successful, they tend to be published for several years within the magazine.

Another variant that has arisen as a result of the proliferation of file sharing through the Internet is the digital format called e-comic. The most used formats of e-comics are the.cbr y.cbz, which basically is a set of compressed files (rar and zip, respectively) with images in formats such as jpeg or gif inside.

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