Home Art What is Manga Art? | History and Styles of Manga

What is Manga Art? | History and Styles of Manga

Are you a lover of Manga art? Or do you just want to start reading this interesting art? Then all the basics you need to get started is right here for you. Manga comes in various genres of which it satisfies the demand of different class of people. If you prefer the action genre, there is manga art that soothes that purpose. Other genres include comedy, romance, business, erotica, horror, sports, etc.

This art style has quite an interesting history that cuts across different countries. It also has various unique styles that are fun and enjoyable to any age group. In this article, you will read highlights of all these and more in the most explicit approach possible. Read on to see what you knew and didn’t know about Manga art.

What is manga?

Manga is a Japanese term that serves as the mother body for all comic books. A more elaborate definition will describe Manga as a word used originally by the Japanese to illustrate not just comics but graphics novels also.

Though originated in Japan, this word has found acceptance in places like America and Europe and is quickly moving into other areas. The word Manga is a combination of two syllables which are “Man” and “ga”. The Man in Japanese is translated to mean “spontaneous” while the “ga” means pictures. The combo then gives a full meaning of manga which is “spontaneous pictures”.

To say that manga is just slightly popular in Japan and not the rest of the work is an understatement that needs facts to be understood. Manga is not just popular but about 2 billion of it are being sold out yearly in just Japanese stores alone without including other countries. It is a big-time mainstream of income for most Japanese sellers. Not only is it loved in Japan, but Manga is also one favorite art that is enjoyed by Americans and Europeans also. Both young and old are loving this art every day and the next big question will be “How did this art start?”

Origins of Manga

  • In Japan:

Different manga art history has hints to date to as far back as the 12th century where scrolls were used, however, the name came into existence by the late 18th century when Sant? Ky?den coined it. Years after which was 1814, Katsushika in conjunction with the originator of the name, officially used ‘manga’ as a description of a book they both sketched. After that exposure, the manga art concept was thereafter used by Japanese leaders to spread the word about what they have to offer to all citizens.

This politically inspired manga publication continued until after WWII, which was the beginning of new light for Manga artist in Japan. They were now free to create manga art that was not sponsored by political agendas and this means more recognition for their excellent designs. During this time, magazines were seen to fill their columns with different cartoons of which cartoons for kids was also included. Gradually, there was an upgrade in the printing which moved from hardback to Redbook which made it affordable for a wider range of readers.

One major artist that took to the limelight more rapidly than others after the war was Osamu Tezaku. Tezaku wasn’t just creating manga art but also animes that were inspired by the manga. He was able to create close to 40 comic books that were enjoyed by all and was also cheaper to afford. His art was quickly known because it was a red book and also because it was more relatable than the previous stereotype political mangas.

Beyond his professional line in medicine, Tezaku became a god in manga art and was known as the most influential in Japan. His major work that was widely spread across Japan was “New treasure island” which is known in Japan as Shintakarajima.

Another major voice in the manga arts revolution after WWII was Machiko Hasegawa. Hasegawa was also creating amazing manga in Newspapers at that time of which the most popular was Sazae-san. It was through Tezaku and Hasegwa that manga was able to move from its previous state to have more styles like shon?n and Sh?jo that is now widely known.

  • In America:

As Manga began to spread by the hands of an artist like Tezaku, it began to meet some modifications when the western world drew closer to Japan. In the process of these two countries mixing, the culture and lifestyle of the westerners greatly affected the Japanese and their manga was no exception. The comic books that Americas also produced now became a benchmark for a manga artist to take a cue and used it to improve on theirs. It was not until the Western invasion was evident before the manga artist became more concerned about adding life to their art. Tezaku was quick to follow the trend and one of his works at that time was “Astro boy”. This piece didn’t just become only Japanese favorites but westerners were also in love with it.

However, the first attempt of the manga art in America was a revamping of the Astro boy manga that was drawn by Tezaku. Though redrawn and published by Gold Key, this manga was not in any way unpopular as it followed the trend from Japan to catch the heart of both manga lovers and every other citizen that came across it. After its publication in 1965, the same publishing firm Gold key published another big-time manga named ” Book of planets”. Consequently, after that,  manga artist, Keiji Nakazawa rose to popularity as he was the first manga artist to create an original manga. His first manga was titled “Barefoot Gen” was not just popular in America but became widely accepted beyond his home shores.

Other artists that work to increase the popularity of manga art after Nakazawa include Terry Yumura and Yoshiharu Tsuge. Even though these two artists produced more short works yet their impact was greatly felt in the manga art industry.

The movement of manga art in America didn’t stop there as it continues with major publishing firm translating Japanese mangas to English. Publishers like Ellipse and Viz comics brought the manga more popularity in America.

Now a days, the American style of manga is sometimes called Animerica.

  • In Europe:

Europe didn’t quickly accept the manga art until the 1970s when it became more pronounced in broadcast anime. After the introduction, the popularity rose steadily to being a household commodity for comic lovers. France, in particular, was already known to have used Japanese culture to create awesome comics before manga influence in the country and hastily jumped at the art. Gradually, the manga art with specifics in Sh?nen and Sh?jo which was in form of anime was converted to manga and was enjoyed mostly by youths.

Manga art continued trending in France as several manga artists evolved that made the art host lots of readers yearly. In fact, the unbelievable record France and Germany manga art sold out early in the 21st century was over 200 million dollars which were breaking sales for this art. Currently, France is the second leading manga market next to originator Japan.

Styles of Manga art

In manga art, there are specific genres for a particular audience and there are also sub-genres. The pattern of the manga and the message it carries will determine which style of manga that is being portrayed As manga evolved in different countries and among different artists, they have modified each style to express themselves more in this art. Among the many manga styles available, these five are the most commonly used styles in the manga world.

  • Shonen

If you are already a manga reader, you would have come across a manga with the sh?nen genre especially if you are a young boy. This style “Sh?nen” is a Japanese word that means “boy” and is directly targetted at boys but can also be read by lovers of action or violence themes.

Interestingly, this style got its full design after WWII which brought westerners to Japan. The major influence was from Mickey mouse that was in form of both anime and comics. When artists like Tezaku saw it, it inspired him to create the popular manga “Astro boy” that made major waves during that time. Another popular artist,  Go Nagai also took the hint and used this style to produce Devilman which followed the Sh?nen style. Shotaro Ishinomori also used this style to create the popular Cyborg 009 in the early 20th century.

When the 20th century was taking a bow, this style became modified to include more violence and actions with a more breathtaking plot that involves protagonists that were fighters. This type of manga style was seen in Naruto, Dragon Ball, Fairy Tall, and many more. No doubt, this style has many fans as the characters of the manga were more relatable and fun to watch. Also, the designs are pretty straightforward and it makes it easy for readers to know how the plot is unfolding.

  • Shojo

This style is just the opposite of the Sh?nen style with the Japanese name being translated to mean “girl”. Unlike the Sh?nen style, the Sh?jo is more emotion-filled with the plot mostly talking about romance or girls misunderstanding. More so, it has a unique style in the way the characters appear, which is mostly soft-faced and calm eyes that accentuates the feminine features. However, the style has become more enhanced to accept more cuteness for this type of style. If you haven’t seen adorable faces, beautiful gowns that even inspire some celebrity outfits, then it is not the improved Shojo.

Aside from the gorgeousness, the face change as every scene hits the character differently is well defined that it becomes unmistakable to not enjoy this manga style. With this uniqueness, it is easier to spot this style from a far distance just by the familiarity with the style.

Shojo Manga first came into the limelight when Osaku Tezaku, the master of Manga produced the popular ” Princess Knight” that was centred on fiction with an interesting storyline. After his work, other shojo artists like Riyoko Ikeda, Chiho Saito, Naoko Takuechi came after produced beautiful works titled, Rose of Versailles, Revolutionary girl, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. All these mangas followed the theme and style of Tezaku and are now enjoyed by many young females.  

  • Seinen

The Seinen style is an advanced version of the Sh?nen because it is directly focused on an adult male. It also features the same theme but the plot is more focused to tell a story that is mostly understood by adults yet with actions and violence as toppings. A good way to easily differentiate between the two styles is through the content and also the tone. Seinen style is more of dealing with sexual matters and would not restrain the addition of curse words.

Instead of a plot that just centers on the hero saving the world without having to face what life truly is, Seinen’s style is more encompassing of necessary everyday cases of an adult hero. More so, this style doesn’t forget to add more experienced characters that have a better view of how the world has been and how it is. Some of the popular manga art you need to read include One Punch Man(Yusuke Murata), Berserk(Kentaro Miura), Outlaw Star(Takehiko It?), and many others in this category. So, if you are looking for a manga that is not Sh?nen because you are above 18 years, the next interesting choice is Seinen manga because “Seinen” means “youth” and that is your current class.

  • Josei

Just like Sh?jo, Josei’s style of manga is addressed to older females that are in the same range as Seinen. A young female is entitled to read through a Josei because she will understand what is being portrayed as it has the regular life issues older females can effortlessly interpret.

The theme of the manga is mostly romance and personal matters that are more advanced to the Shojo style. Some even say it has a theme that is slightly more erotic which makes it widely different from Shojo on all levels.

In Josei manga, there is not just one protagonist which is usually a female in the Sh?jo style. In this case, the protagonists are two with both male and female standing together to fight for a cause. Also, the male protagonist has a focus beyond the heroic most times to be more of relationships which include both homosexual and heterosexual depending on the artist concept. This is also similar to the female protagonist being particular about relationships and saving the world alongside. Even though Josei mangas are quite an enjoyable read, they are not easy to identify because of their close similarity with other styles until the contents are read.

One very popular Josei manga that depicts this style explicitly is “Loveless“. This book which was authored by Yun Koga illustrates a young girl trying to understand certain mishaps in her life of which she has to find solace in a man before she can get the answers she wants.

  • Kodomomuke

If you think Manga art left out children in their classification of style, then look at the Kodomomuke style before concluding. The Japanese word ” Kodomo” means child in the English language which means the manga is directed at kids. Instead of the dark and violent themes that other styles are bound to depict because of the age group reading it, the Kodomomuke is more of adventure in the most cutest way possible.

This style of manga is not just enjoyed by kids but even parents as they read it for them. By simply reading it to these kids hearing, parents are bound to get the homely concept and fall in love with it also. A very popular example of this style of manga is the Pokemon created by the manga artist, Hidenori Kusaka. The big eyes and funny head is intentionally drawn that way to make the kids have fun laughing at the character before they even understand the message.

Here you go all the five styles of manga that have a unique genre to a different class of people but not restricted to those classes. So, if you are more of the action theme person and you are a young girl, you are not doing anything wrong in reading the sh?nen manga because you prefer that. But, if it is beyond your age limit, it becomes a prohibition to do so.

Final thoughts

It is important to note that, all the Manga styles listed here is not just to help you choose your preference but to also help you make a good pick for the younger ones. It would be unhealthy for them to lay hands on the wrong type. But if you are above 18, you can read any style of manga based on your preferences.

No doubt, this is not all that manga is all about but it sure is a good place to start getting interested in what the manga world offers. Going through history, it is evident that manga had been evolving and doesn’t seem to stop. With the daily advancement in technology, it is bound to keeping advancing into new structures that would make manga readers never stop reading. So, keep reading your mangas and stay captivated.  

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What is Manga Art? | History and Styles of Manga
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What is Manga Art? | History and Styles of Manga
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In this article, you will read about Manga´s definition, styles, and origins. Read on to see what you knew and didn't know about Manga art.
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Improve Your Drawings
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