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Apr 08, 2021

The Beginner’s Guide to Manga

The Beginner's Guide to Manga

If you’re thinking about starting a manga collection, or you’ve already bought a few and are a little confused about what you’ve purchased or where to go next, we can help you with our manga guide.

What is manga?

Manga is a term for a variety of comic books and graphic novels that originate from Japan. While American or English comics are usually full of colour, manga is typically black and white. Although, there have been some published in full colour.

Reading a manga can be a little confusing if you’ve never read one before, as they’re read from right to left. It can take some getting used to!

Manga is usually released in weekly or monthly magazines. If they gain enough popularity, they may be produced in volumes known as tankōbon, which are like chapters of the overall story.

There are plenty of manga series running for decades, so you’ll want to make sure you collect the volume in the correct order if you’re going to make sense of the story.

For example, Golgo 13 has 199 volumes, whereas Grandpa Danger has 44. Something worth considering when it comes to what manga you buy and how much it’s going to cost.

How is manga different to anime?

How is manga different to anime?

If manga is the umbrella term for comics and graphic novels, anime is the umbrella term for animated series. Anime is animation. Manga is print.

Some anime is transformed into print, and some manga is transformed into anime – such as Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. However, this doesn’t always happen and either can stand independently.

How do I start a manga collection?

If you’re thinking about starting a manga collection, there’s something for everyone. But it’s probably better to get an idea of how it works, being as though there are many audiences and genres available. You could end up spending a lot of money on random manga and making a lot of mistakes. However, you can resell manga, so it isn’t all bad.

The first thing to remember is that manga is first categorised by the audience and then genre, which will relate to gender and age. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy a particular manga if it’s aimed at the opposite gender; it’s merely a case of marketing.

Because there are so many genres and subgenres of manga, we’ll help you get started by categorising audiences:

1. Shonen – manga for teen and tween boys

Shonen – manga for teen and tween boys

Common themes: action, adventure, coming-of-age, friendship

Covers for shonen manga usually feature a young man in an action pose or looking ready to take on a challenge. This manga will be packed with action and comedy and usually revolve around a storyline where the protagonists build friendships and get involved in adventures where they’re ‘growing up’.

Popular shonen manga:

  • Ashita No Joe
  • Slam Dunk
  • Koe No Katachi
  • Haikyu!!
  • Death Note

2. Shojo – manga for teen and tween girls

Shojo – manga for teen and tween girls

Common themes: drama, romance and coming-of-age

Shojo manga moves away from the action and takes a more drama-centric theme, almost always driven by romance. Shojo manga usually has feminine symbols like flowers, hearts and pink colouring.

Shojo isn’t always about cutesy romance though, they do tackle themes like drug use, sex and there is plenty of fantasy manga out there, too. The most popular manga is Sailor Moon, which became a popular anime in The West.

Popular shojo manga:

  • Nana
  • Fruits Basket
  • Glass No Kamen
  • Fruits Basket
  • Strobe Edge

3. Seinen – manga for adult men

Seinen – manga for adult men

Common themes: action, violence, sex, adult themes

Seinen manga deals with similar themes to shonen manga, but the stories are usually darker and grittier and aren’t as idealistic as their younger counterparts. This manga may contain sex, violence and foul language, and the hero doesn’t always save the day. Again, there are many genres and subgenres that deal with everything from post-apocalyptic worlds to gang crime.

Popular seinen manga:

  • Gangsta
  • Your Name
  • Blue Period
  • Innocent Rouge
  • Urara Meirochou

4. Josei – manga for adult women

Josei – manga for adult women

Common themes: romance, sex, drama

Josei manga is similar to shojo manga in that it follows similar themes, but the nature of these themes has more depth and more adult content. Plus, shojo manga usually follows a female protagonist, whereas josei manga follows both male and female protagonists. 

Some are graphic and start to become similar to pornography. Females usually pursue heterosexual relationships, whereas men tend to engage in homoerotic relationships more.

Popular josei manga:

  • Beauty Bunny
  • QQ Sweeper
  • Perfect World
  • Wakatoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
  • A Silent Voice

5. Kodomomuke – manga for younger children

Kodomomuke – manga for younger children

Kodomumuke will often educate kids and teach them life lessons, while others are strictly for entertainment purposes. Some contain slapstick humour, and it’s often up to the characters to save the day. Common kodomomuke include Pokemon, Astro Boy and Hamtaro.

What else should you know before starting your collection?

You don’t have to buy manga that’s targeted to your age and gender demographic; you can buy whatever you like! Also, there are many genres of the manga so explore what you enjoy. Some people prefer action while others prefer romance or humour.

Also, remember that some manga may not be appropriate for people of a certain age. You wouldn’t want to go into a school or give your kid’s friends a copy of a sexually-explicit manga because you didn’t do your research…

So, do your research! There are plenty of online groups for manga enthusiasts, so do a little digging before you buy.

Sell your manga to We Buy Books

If you’ve already started collecting manga, but your collection is too extensive, or you’ve made a few mistakes, you can sell your manga to us to generate some extra cash that’ll help you buy the manga you want. All you need to do is enter your ISBNs or download our app and scan your barcodes. Accept our offer and send your items free of charge. Once we’ve received them, we’ll pay you the day after we’ve checked them.