What is Manga?

Manga are often called Japanese comic books, but this is usually not the case, since manga is an entirely new media unto itself.

Manga is a Chinese adapted word meaning "In spite of oneself picture".

Manga is best described as:

1. Japanese Black and white graphical pictorial novels with many, many pages.

2. Japanese still animation in picture form. (this tells the feel of manga the best.)

Manga is also singular and plural in it's form. e.g. One manga, ten thousand manga. There is no such word in Japanese as "Mangas"

Manga consists of:

- Black and white pictures

- Many pages per installment (usually 30+)

- Movie-like effects.

- Developed characters and plots.

Not all manga are marketed to a younger age group, as not all American comics are about Superheroes in tights.

Usually manga are serialized in either monthly, bimonthly, or weekly magazines. If a particular manga gets popular it will be serialized into tankoubon form, which is a smaller form of the original-sized manga.

If the tankoubon and the series keeps getting popular it will eventually be serialized into an anime. It is the mangaka's choice to have their manga made into an anime and usually gets say in the production of the anime.

The range of involvement with the anime for the mangaka can vary from no involvement, just sending in the basic plot, writing the scripts for the anime, choosing the director, producing the anime, to forming and having their own company make the manga. It all depends on the popularity of the mangaka in question and the company that is producing the manga.

Manga ranges in the plots and genres that it carries. There are generally 4 major genres:

Shounen- Boy's manga

Shoujo- Girl's manga

Otoko- Men's manga

Josei- Women's manga

There are also other loose categories, such as those manga for people in high school and the manga that is neither female or male oriented. These genres also tend to apply for anime also (but that's usually because of the manga it's based on). The major genres of the ones I listed are Shoujo and Shounen. Men's and women's manga in Japan is a new innovation, with the women's manga coming first chronologically.

Shoujo became popular with the publication of The Rose of Versailles by Ikeda Rikoyo who made the characteristic huge big eyes and soft liquid feel. This manga was so popular that in some schools it was used to teach about the French Revolution. Ikeda-sensei used romance plots which mark the majority of Shoujo today. Though Shoujo was originally known for the big eyes, the eyes have been getting smaller, and smaller, though they still hold the liquid feel and plotting techniques of the original shoujo. (The lack of big eyes is usually made up with more realistic features and more details oriented that way)

Some sub-genres are: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Love stories, Magical girl, Fighting manga, Comic Science Fiction, Interest manga (Such as volleyball manga, skating manga, sushi-making manga, or racing manga), and many other genres that could probably fill the next few pages.

Some genres and things in manga can be objectionable to parents, but as with any media it can range from cutesy to sadistic and bloody. For example there are two sub-genre of Shoujo manga that are called Yuri (Shoujo-ai) and Yaoi (shounen-ai) which deal with homosexuality.

Generally manga meant for children, such as shoujo and shounen manga don't show anything explicit with sex, or a lot of gore and violence. This is not to say that the manga meant for men and women all contain these things.

The nudity, sex and violence are usually used to further the plot. Like in America, they may promise these things just to attract audiences, though it may not have as much as promised. Not all manga have these things and not all manga have the same levels, though some have it even though the manga is aimed toward younger children.

manga that is meant for men and women often contain themes that children would not understand. This is not to say there is not hentai or perverted manga out there, but it is aimed at an older age group. Not all manga meant for men and women are hentai.

Tezuka Osamu

Manga was shaped into the media that is known today by Tezuka Osamu, who is often called "Manga no Kamisama" or God of Manga.

He was a big fan of Disney. He loved Bambi so much that he watched it hundreds of times. He also met Walt Disney. Disney also complimented him by saying that he'd like to do something like Astroboy someday.

Today, Tezuka's work is still reflected in Manga and Anime. Elements of Terazuka, Noh, German, French, Disney, and the standards he set are still reflected in Modern Manga and Anime.

At the time Tezuka started, which was right after World War II, the manga were often what you would find in the Sunday Comics. They were in color, not in black and white, and were in rectangle panels.

Tezuka changed that. He decided that color cost too much, so he started making the manga into black and white, so he could tell more of a story. He changed the frame sizes and styles. He changed how the manga was made, and produced. In stead of having one person do the color, one person write the story, etc. He hired assistants to help him make the manga. (Many of those assistants in turn became famous mangaka)

He in fact is famous for skipping around deadlines and finishing at the last minute. Also having his editor chase him and lock him up until he was done. This habit of his continues in many mangaka today and seems to be a standard of the industry.

He had a huge desire to be innovative. He later often got jealous of other peoples success, though he was selling better. He created a lot of the genres. Because of this competitiveness, the industry moved forward and branched out.

He also created the majority of the genres because of his competitiveness. He drew historical manga, such as the life of Buddha. He made a Shoujo comic involving a king and queen who wanted a male child, but got a girl instead, so they raised her as a boy. He made Astroboy which was brought to the United States. He also made Kimba, the White Lion which was made long before Disney's The Lion King. (This was in the news because of their remarkably similar plots. Including an old monkey, a similar bird with a similar role, an uncle that killed his father with a scar over his left eye, a banished young lion trying to regain the throne, A lion named kimba, and that famous scene where the lion looks up into a night sky and sees his father there and his father talks to him. Despite all this Disney has claimed this to be an original piece of work [when has Disney ever done an original piece of work], and the charges by many prestigious business men and mangaka in a petition was dropped.)

He also created the anime media. He is the one that made anime static, he is the one that made the first anime production studio. He set the standards that make anime what it is today.

Despite that he's not the sole person to make all of the genres he created famous.