The Japanese economy happens to be one of the fastest growing economies of the world, coming third with 5.2 trillion USD after the United States and China. The anime industry of Japan contributes about 2 million yen or US $17.7 billion.
In the past, the manga industry was part of the publishing industry where books reflected the owner’s status with privileged people owning or publishing more books than the average person. Japan’s high literacy rate, lack of colonizers, and the presence of a singular language all contributed toward the reader base.
Manga became the primary form of nurture and learning for the middle-class children in Japan, especially due to sharing manga and books instead of everyone buying their own copy. Such was this practice that 30,000 book lenders were estimated to be present in Tokyo in the 1950s.
But what exactly is this popular form of entertainment that children seem to appreciate?
What Is Manga?
The term manga refers to Japanese comic books, whose writers and artists are given immense respect for their talent and creativity to weave stories into pictures on pages. Manga is ready on the daily and forms a large part of the Japanese culture. These publications are often turned into animations and cartoons broadcasted on television or available online. The primary language used is Japanese, although English translations are available for the overseas audience.
More than one person work on a manga as there are several features that need to be considered before production including drawing, storyboarding, cleaning, typesetting and scanners if the manga is to be published online. A large amount of work and labor goes into the production of manga, which is a booming industry but perhaps not quite as big as the anime industry. Anime is usually based on manga.
Manga vs Anime
Anime are basically the cartoons or animations that are produced based on a manga that has already been published. While anime and manga are inherently different mediums, they might be telling the same story, just like a book and movie. It’s also entirely possible for a manga not to have any animated adaptation or for an anime to be completely novel.
Often, if the anime series has been discontinued or not yet been produced, readers take to reading the manga to pursue the storyline and discover what happens next to their favorite characters. Sometimes, the anime storyline differs from the manga, leading to the comparison of notes on which was the better path.
Anime can also be based on videogames or vice versa, leading to a larger fandom base which can now read, watch and play with the same characters on different platforms.
Of some of the gems in the anime industry, Studio Ghibli is perhaps the most notable. Studio Ghibli is a Japanese studio that has received worldwide praise for its awe-inspiring and intensely detailed graphics and animation, heart-wrenching storylines and characters that stay with you for life.
The studio was founded by Hayao Miyazaki and has captured the hearts of many, including the Pixar artist John Lasseter who thinks of Miyazaki as one of the best animators and directors of this age.
Manga is read from left to right, unlike English comic books. This means the pages start from left to right as well as the panels. Manga artists have been successful in retaining the traditional Japanese style of manga after stamping down a wave that wished for manga to be published according to the American style and standard.
Most manga artists have their own distinctive style. Readers can often distinguish between authors from the manga style alone. The characters usually display a hyperbole in everything they do. From displaying emotions such as sadness, grief, laughter and happiness to their dialogues, manga portrays a deliberately heightened range of emotions.
Types of Manga
There are hundreds of manga you can read with some that go on to several hundred chapters. Some of your favorite anime that aired on television have seemingly never-ending manga like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece and Dragon Ball Z. Like any other publication, manga has different genres and subgenres:
- Shojo – aimed toward girls and is popular because of the romantic and lightweight plots
- Shonen – aimed toward boys and has gained popularity for its humor and action
- Josei – aimed toward women and liked because of the framing of mature issues
- Seinen – aimed toward men with grownup themes and explicit material
- Kodomo – meant solely for children of young ages
- Hentai – often pornographic in nature and features erotic images and themes
Slice of Life
This is a subgenre that is meant to capture the essence of everyday life and features realistic events as compared to a lot of the fantastical and adventurous plots featured in manga. It chooses to focus on the little things in life, from getting up and going to school and enjoying a simple meal to falling in love for the first time and especially the nostalgia-inducing high school life of Japanese teens. It is considered important because it provides an insight into the lives of Japanese people and promotes their culture.
Another intriguing manga subgenre is harem. If you come across a male hero confused by several women and their charms around him, you have most likely stumbled upon the universe of harem. Another spin on this subgenre is reverse harem, where a female character is surrounded by men who wish to pursue her.
Yaoi and Yuri
Yaoi and Yuri manga set the stage for gay and lesbian relationships respectively. These genres help normalize the presence of LGBTQIA+ individuals in society and are basically romance manga involving homosexual relationships. One might also argue that this subgenre challenges the presence of heteronormative societies and the gender roles they place upon people as well as the repression of different sexualities.
A fascinating aspect of the entire manga and anime industry is the amount of fantasy it incorporates into its genres. Although the fantasy genre exists on its own, it often exists as a subgenre in many manga plots, especially in action, adventure and even romance to some extent. A lot of the fantastical manga are also graphical masterpieces, especially if they become anime. They include aesthetically pleasing images in the manga itself, let alone the brilliance they portray in anime.
Alongside the fantasy genre, the magic genre also appears in many popular anime. It portrays characters other than humans such as witches, wizards, warlocks, vampires and a lot of otherworldly beings. It incorporates many magical elements such as quests, spells and magical potions.
Speaking of vampires, this genre has a massive fanbase, especially considering the rise and fame of the vampire literature and on-screen productions at the turn of the century. A lot of this genre is based on the mystique and suspense that surround the vampire creatures. Some incredibly popular manga that define the genre include Vampire Knight, which probably set the stage for more manga and anime about vampires to emerge.
One of the most popular subgenres is known as cyberpunk. This genre of manga is essentially realist and focuses on the future to an extent that some might not appreciate it as much. This manga speaks of real-world issues as well as the future of humankind. It raises issues like climate change and global warming, the outbreak of war, the general will (very Rousseau of them), the social climate in the future and the type of governments that may emerge. It has an overwhelming amount of focus on robots and artificial intelligence.
With regard to the future, this subgenre also leans quite a bit toward the nihilistic and existentialist side of human nature and thought.
Just like any other industry, the horror genre also exists in the manga and anime industries. This is incredibly interesting to read and watch because most of the horror is completely out of the ordinary. It is almost as if the mangaka (manga artists) don’t know how to think inside a box, choosing almost always to create something unique.
We believe that the horror side of manga is compelling with a distinct horror to give chills to the reader any time of the day. Many Japanese movies based on manga have also been critically acclaimed for their distinctiveness. The manga itself is usually supernatural horror or just intensely creepy horror from deranged stalkers to evil spirits that push people to the brink of sanity.
It is obvious that psychological thrillers are also written. While this genre is featured in most manga, it also has complete standalones that focus primarily on the intrigue that surrounds the human mind and psyche. The characters involved possess razor-sharp wit and a tendency to lean toward the legally insane while being completely brilliant.
In this genre, nothing exists merely on a surface level. There are always multiple layers to what is happening on screen, which leaves the readers guessing about what will happen next and who will win this game of minds.
The manga of this genre can be incredibly reflective, especially when it leads to the individual pondering over it. It can be viewed only as entertainment or it can be viewed as an analysis of not just the way our mind functions but how people and society lead it to function that way.
We saved quite possibly the best for last. No list about genres is complete without including romance. Some of the best manga, anime and movies revolve around the characters’ romantic affiliations and how they affect their lives. Some of the manga in this category will include heart-wrenching moments and difficult decisions which will cause even the toughest among us to shed a tear. From sweet and simple plotlines to romantic comedies and seriously complex manga, this is a genre almost everybody has read.
Romance manga can also be questionable sometimes. Depending on the variables, sometimes the mangaka doesn’t draw the line between romantic or incestuous relationships with brother-sister relationships gaining popularity. The presence of harem also often blurs the line between socially acceptable and deviant behavior.
List of 30 Best Manga sites
This website went online in 2010 and is one of the best websites for online reading. There is a large variety of manga that can be read and downloaded. The website provides free access to the Manga which means you don’t have to register to be able to read your favorite manga.
The homepage allows readers to access newly added or updated manga. Not only that but it lets users download the manga in different formats. It provides in depth searching options with filters you can apply to find the manga you wish to read. They have many genres of manga that can be read.
This manga website has a large database of manga with variety that ranges from genre to genre such as comedy, romance, adventure etc. They don’t ask you to register and you can access your favorite manga for free. A good thing about this website is that it updates the manga regularly.
This allows readers to stay updated and in touch with the manga they are reading. They also have content meant for adults but don’t display it on the home page of the website. Site does not have a limit on downloads and allows users to download manga for free.
Manga rock is one of the few websites that hold an extensive and ever increasing database of manga. If you’re a fan of creating art inspired by manga and want it to be seen, you can send it to the website administrators who will publish your submission for other to view.
One other option is that the administrators are always looking for translators. If you have the capacity to translate and edit manga, you can do it here. However, because they respect the Mangaka who are the actual writers of the manga they only translate and publish a small amount of Manga.
Not only is this a great website which lets readers view free manga it also provides free news and spoilers. You can find a ton of latest manga here and the ones that are popular with readers too
Not all manga written is for teenagers or adolescents. For those of you who have been looking for manga aimed towards and adult audience, this is the right place for you. MyreadingManga is extremely popular with the adult readers. The website doesn’t require users to register or log into it.
This does not allow readers to download the content available on the website but the admins make sure to keep the website regularly updated. It is an easy to use website because of its friendly interface. Readers can find the latest or newly updated manga on the home page without difficulty.
This is one of the favorite websites of users who want more features than just reading manga. Kiss Manga provides readers with an interactive forum where you can connect with other likeminded readers and debate about manga. It also has more than one type of manga for instance the Manhwa, novels and Chinese manga.
It has one of the largest varieties of manga. These manga are alphabetically arranged. Another feature of Kiss Manga is the ability for users to buy the manga online for themselves. Instead of fragmenting the parts of a chapter, the website displays all the pages inside a chapter on one screen.
In this website you can find a large number of manga which is also alphabetically categorized. Different search options are available for the user and they can search by genre as well as the latest releases and updates. Manga Panda offers one of the biggest collections of works translated to English.
Not only is it a great website to find free manga without any prior registration or log in, it also allows for the readers to become a part of the manga community. It also has some of the most famous and critically acclaimed manga which have been translated into English.
This is a website that also has a large collection of manga for the viewing pleasure of readers. They have an intricately designed system of categorization. They categorize through lists of new or updated manga, through the most popular manga, by rating, by alphabet and by the number of times it has been viewed.
Some more features include the ability to keep a track of the themes and bookmark chapters. It displays in grids and allows readers to view the history of the manga they’ve previously read. You can read all sorts of comics for free. Different genres are also available here.
Bato is another website which allows users free access to its manga database. Like some other sites mentioned, this one also has a forum to bring together different people through a forum and allow them to chat each other up. Bato requires users to sign up to connect with others.
It employs the use of different filters to limit your search. For example, you can choose between language, style, genre, completed or ongoing status etc. It is not as organized as some other choices but makes up for it by binding a community together. It also has categories for latest updates and popular manga.
This has been acknowledged as a company of innovation and creativity. The first thing that attracts the user is the incredible, smooth and attractive interface. It has the option to read manga and watch anime too, also allows users to become a part of a community.
Viz has hot releases shown on the front page and also has options that allow you to share things on their social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. It also has a fan zone meant for fans to show off their talents and thoughts. They also have a library dedicated to Studio Ghibli.
Manga Kakalot offers readers a diverse selection from genres like, romance, humor, slice of life, one shots etc. Due to its pleasant interface and high quality chapters, it is well liked by users. This websites sorts manga by different genres, according to alphabets, and according to the status which shows if a manga is complete or ongoing.
It employs a grid pattern instead of a list. The interface is simple and the website is easy to use. The home page allows readers to search through the latest manga and updates. The website compels reader through offering over a thousand series. It is organized too.
Zing BOX has a ton of free manga. It is not just an online website but the administration has also designed apps specific to Android and iOS so you can read manga on the go and on your smartphones. It employs a unique feature where readers can also post their own manga and works.
This makes it a good platform for them to be picked up by publishers or just have their art appreciated. Zing BOX also offers a premium version of itself. This version allows for the reader to read without having to deal with ads. The normal version includes the ads.
Mangadex seems to have a large collection of manga with different features like top chapters by ranking. It shows the latest updates by two ways; one that shows all updates and the other which shows updates for the ones you follow. You can sign up on the website.
The website allows readers to voluntarily support the admins rather than charging a mandatory fee. Users can register and log in. Supporters also get supporter badges. It is a nice website but a little cluttered and not as smooth as the others in the list. They also display reading history, new titles, and popular titles.
CrunchyRoll is one of the most famous manga platforms. However, it is not a free service. Readers have to pay and subscribe to CrunchyRoll to access manga and purchase them online. There are different subscription packages. Some provide access to everything. Other provides complete access to a few series.
CrunchyRoll began from an anthology that was distributed in 2013. Not only can you use it with kindle, you can also watch anime on it. There are only a limited number of ads on it. Some series might not be available on it if the physical versions are being sold.
Manga Doom is a completely free website. It incorporates not just a ton of different manga but also includes scans from popular anime. It is regularly updated, especially throughout the day to keep readers engaged and excited about new releases. Readers have to sign up to enjoy the content on it.
The website has many different genres available like horror, action, adventure, comedy, gender bender, yaoi, yuri, sports, etc. It provides high quality manga and manhwa with the hottest manga featured on the website. It has over 15000 series available and many popular and lengthy series too.
Instead of a blazing white light, avid readers of manga can protect their eyes by using Manga Freak, which has a dark theme. This website has an unbelievably large number of manga available for reading. It categories manga through alphabets, but lets the user search on their own terms by availing the advanced search.
Most of the popular and well-read manga can be easily found on Manga Freak. Regular updates make the website appealing. The manga is sorted according to the release dates in a well maintained grid system. It permits the user to distinguish completed and ongoing series.
This has a large database of manga and supports various genres and categories. An intriguing factor about this website is that it has a feature which can choose a manga for you. If readers have trouble choosing manga to read or simply don’t want to make the effort to pick one, TenManga can do it for you.
The website is good on labels which help the reader to easily navigate among manga. Another feature that draws in the viewers is the presence of eccentric and exotic manga that may not be found anywhere else. If you’re looking for something different this is the place for you.
This is a favorite among users, has a rich collection of manga and a great interface. It is organized by ratings for example; Top 50 of a category, Top 100 of a genre etc. For readers who like to be surrounded by their manga, Otakusmash allows them to save a number of anime wallpapers for desktops.
It lets users stay updated about news regarding release dates and other news from both the manga and anime world. It also has a sidebar which lets you explore the most viewed manga and lets readers create a wish list. Some of the best manga can be found at Otakusmash.
This website is also known as Easy Going Scans and is run by the group of the same name. Although this is a great website with many manga available, it features Manga translated primarily by Easy Going Scans. You can find some great manga here like the popular Feng Shen Ji and Bungou Stray Dogs etc.
This kind of website allows for the makers to provide quick translations of manga that aren’t available in languages other than Japanese. Although some people look down on these websites, others argue that rather than doing a disservice to the original creators, they’re bringing in newer fans.
If you thought the above mentioned websites have large collections of manga, you should be pleasantly surprised to know that Manga Bat has the kind of database that puts others to shame solely because of its sheer size. It also makes sense that in addition to a huge database it also is rich in diversity of genres.
The interface is easy going and user friendly which attracts most readers from the very start. It also features manga aimed towards adult audiences. Readers make use of the platform by publishing their own manga and art and sharing them with other users to gain a following.
This might be one of Japan’s largest publishers of manga. Although it is primarily a Japanese publisher website, it allows users to choose between the English language and Japanese. Many popular series can be found here. Given that it is a publisher not a website that displays all manga, only some of them can be found here.
The manga found on the website comparatively limited so readers might have to look at other options. However, the ones present are of high quality and are updated regularly. The interface is pleasant to look at. The website is easy to use.
The website holds a large number of manga. It is also updated on a daily basis. However, if you’re one to shy away from popular manga then this website if for you; the admins of the website pride themselves on their ability to discover diverse manga. The website is unique.
It has one of the most diverse collections. It allows readers to go away from manga everyone is reading to rarely read manga. This means a lot of hidden and undiscovered gems can be found on MangaReborn. It also allows readers to buy coins and get their hands on more manga.
Although they possess a vast collection, there is one downside to this manga. It is solely meant for Japanese and if you don’t understand the language, this may not be the website for you. Many manga can be found here in their original and unedited forms.
The user interface is great and minimalistic. This prevents users from being overwhelmed by choices or leaving the website due to too much clutter or ads on it. The website is not meant for non-Japanese use so if you’re only interested in drawings without understanding them, this is it for you.
Among the websites mentioned above, this is still a relatively new website. It is still in its primary form. It has less than 1000 volumes available. This generally uses manga scans. All of these scans are free if any cost and updated daily as soon as they become available.
A good feature is the ability to track the manga. If you sign up, you can see what you’ve read so far. It lets you chat with other readers. The website is updated many times in one day. It is a great interactive experience. The UI is very simple but a little primitive.
This manga website has successfully incorporated a beautiful interface which attracts readers when they begin to use it. It runs smoothly. This is a native website for manga. According to the statistics they present, 92% of the manga they have on the website is straight from Japan.
The website provides popular eBooks from various genres. A fascinating feature that sets it apart from other website is that it provides more than softcopies. They also give paper backs. These include popular manga and especially vintage or old manga. It lets you download your manga and is made for different software like android, iOS, MAC, PC, etc.
The origins of BookWalker are 100% Japanese, making it the only store completely in possession of Japanese companies. This is not a free website, but a paid website. It is also totally legal and does not pirate. The company that owns it is called KADOKAWA. Sometimes, they also offer free manga.
They don’t just provide manga but also light novels which have gained popularity around the world too. They also allow readers to try out the free view. It has hundreds and thousands of books that are delivered to them daily. They also have surprising giveaways.
Unlike many, Renta is not a free website. This allows you to rent manga. The website means to support artists who work on a budget. This is a great initiative to promote artists and their work given that a lot of effort goes into making a single volume of manga.
Renta features many genres but primarily, harlequin, romance and Yaoi. This makes it seem like the audience might be women. They provide licensed manga and have new volumes released every Friday and Tuesday. They also offer special sales on festive occasions and have stopped charging taxes to users outside of Japan.
The website does not support ad blocker which means that ads will be present to support the admins. The user interface is a little primitive and looks a little like Facebook’s blue and white theme. They have categories available on their homepage that sort into latest chapters, popular manga, and a list of manga.
They are also community oriented and feature sections like the comments section, the chat section, the announcements section. You can find a section dedicated to recent comments and one that sorts manga into genres to ease the reader into the experience. A large section displays the recent updates with icons.
How to Read Manga in English
It only makes sense that a worldwide phenomenon would be translated into one of the world’s most spoken languages, English. A ton of websites online offer you the ability to read your favorite Japanese comic books online. However, it takes a lot of work to translate the books into English. It is mostly dedicated bilingual or multilingual fans who feel the need for a certain manga to have a wider viewership.
There are entire teams who carry out this work. They require translators, typesetters, cleaners, etc. to get all the work done. Fortunately for you, this means you get to read manga available on these websites that provide translations. However, the process takes time and this means that the translations come out a little while after the original Japanese release of the manga.
How Much Does a Manga Cost?
This depends on what part of the world you are from. Currency differences have to be taken into account when buying manga. In Japan, the cost ranges from 400 yen to 1400 yen. Some deluxe or preordered editions or those signed by the mangaka might cost more.
In USA, the costs can vary between $10 and $20, whereas in Canada, the cost ranges from 10-23 Canadian dollars.
Is Manga Cheaper in Japan?
Manga in Japan is aimed at providing entertainment and nourishment to a wide age range but mostly for high school kids. These kids don’t have a lot to spend on manga alone, which is why the cost remains low in Japan.
It also depends on how many copies one wants to buy at a certain time. Buying a volume on its release might cost more than buying it a few weeks later. Buying consecutive volumes is also heavier on the pocket than buying one volume at a time or as it is released to the public.
Official copies translated into English may cost more in some cases, but the surge in piracy sometimes undermines the publishers.
Are Manga Books Appropriate?
This question is subjective in nature. To answer it, we would need more information regarding the kind of manga in question and who the audience is. Action manga aimed toward young kids or teens is usually fine to read by anyone, but there are several genres which might be considered inappropriate.
For instance, some parents might be conservative and don’t wish for their children to know about sex, arousal or promiscuous activities. Other parents might not want their children to find out about sex through a comic book instead of proper sex education classes within a monitored and secure environment at school. Some parents may be religiously inclined to ignore LGBTQ activity inside manga due to their faith.
Thus, the answer to this question depends on both the age of the person in question and their preferred genre. Some genres might be considered more problematic by certain individuals but not by others, especially those meant for adults and in the hands of children. For instance, some reverse harem manga portray female characters going through what one might identify as domestic abuse or sexual harassment. Similarly, some might object to exposing children to such fantasies.
Teenagers are impressionable young people and such behaviors might go on to influence their own. Yes, there are chances that they might identify these behaviors as unpleasant as well, but do we want that to happen through manga where there is a risk of them adopting these behaviors too?
A lot of sexual content can be found in adult-themed manga or hentai. Hentai can be thought of as pornography inside a book. It can’t be compared to books such as the scandalous Playboy magazine because the images depict actions between characters and supporting dialogues as well. When research proves that pornography is quite possibly one of the worst ways to discover or practice sex, no one would want to use any kind of pornography as a learning tool for children to discover about their bodies.
One of the most harmful consequences of hentai manga is in its depiction of female characters. We need to understand how a lot of the females depicted appear to have very young, girl-like features. This is not a coincidence. This is easily a fetishization of prepubescent girls, which leads to people fantasizing about underage or minor girls. This behavior is harmful for not just girls but also any adult who, after reading the manga, normalizes this behavior or justifies an unknown attraction toward minors.
Many of the manga can be incredibly graphic as well. For instance, some action manga portray gory scenes in a lot of graphic details, which parents may not want their children to be exposed to. Then, it all comes down to parental control.
It is easy to occasionally flip through comic books to examine what your children might be reading. If you find something untowardly, you may sit down and have a talk with them about the themes you consider problematic.
Is Anime Appropriate for 12-Year-Olds?
Considering all the reasons above, the answer to this question also depends on what type of anime is the child being exposed to. Are you allowing your child to watch anime meant for their age?
This raises the question, how would you know which anime is appropriate, especially if you keep a busy schedule and can’t monitor all anime series? There’s an easy solution to this.
Age ratings are available on anime series and movies. One look at these ratings, and you can find out the intended audience. A fun, family and child-safe recommendation to get your kid through the weekend would be to watch movies made by Studio Ghibli.
A lot of the focus in these movies is on childhood. There is love, there is grief and there is a ton of fantasy that can be used to allow kids to escape into their own world. Studio Ghibli is one of the movie studios with creativity spread in every scene, both in artwork and plot. A 12-year-old would greatly benefit from this creativity and learn about human emotions and how different people process them.
Some anime can include a lot of violence. This may have a negative impact on a 12-year-old, especially due to them learning or imitating these behaviors. In the worst case, psychological trauma or deterioration might factor into the equation if the adolescent is exposed to extreme violence such as the ones portrayed in action, horror and psychological thrillers.
For the most part, if anime based on shojo or shonen manga is given to kids, most of it is PG, so the chances of them going through a traumatic event due to what’s on the screen isn’t very likely. In fact, such anime are made by keeping kids in mind, making them perfect for 12-year-olds.
Instead of asking questions about how appropriate anime is, maybe we should consider pushing children toward it, given the right genres. Anime shows often include rich, complex characters with fascinating stories. Anime can be one way to teach a 12-year-old about morality and human nature without being too obvious about it. Not only that, but it could even inspire them to get their creative juices flowing and create their own characters and worlds.
This is very similar to the videogame debate, which ultimately resulted in research that claimed that videogames promote brain activity, thought process and critical thinking instead of violence. Maybe we ought to apply the same philosophy to manga and anime. Although parental control should exist, most 12-year-olds should be able to make the decision for themselves.
We believe that readers should try out reading manga at least once, especially because legal websites on the internet provide access to free and almost unlimited manga translated into different languages. The creativity and variety should also appeal to those looking for something extraordinary.