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Manga and Anime: Two Japanese Storytelling Media

Manga and Anime are the names of two Japanese forms of storytelling. These two forms of Japanese visual art have similarities and differences. Let's learn about them both.

3:05 min read
  Teri Lapping  —  Grammar Tips
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Comparing Manga and Anime

Manga is a hand-drawn story in comic book format, featuring compelling, detailed characters and complicated plots that will hold your attention for hours. 

Anime is a story in movie format, shorter than the manga comic book, inviting you to sit back and enjoy the multimedia experience: colorful animation, music, and a thrilling, concise narrative. 

First came Manga

Manga is a visual storytelling media from Japan, in the form of a comic book or graphic novel and is from the Japanese word meaningcomic book.”. 
Manga is a Japanese art form. It is recognized by its black and white, hand-illustrated images and their accompanying text. 

The first manga stories were published in late 1800s. After WWII, Japanese art was influenced by western cartoons, comics, and superhero genre.  At the same time, magazines worldwide began to publish stories in a serialized style, and manga comics began to have a wider audience. 

Today, manga comics are universally popular and sell better than American comics. 

Manga are presented in long expressive narratives with detailed-filled chapters, often providing the basis for many anime movies.

Genres and Audiences
Manga comic books can be found in a wide range of genre: action, detective, comedy, science fiction, adventure, drama, sports, and romance. 

Manga caters to a variety of audiences and age groups, including young girls, young boys, female adults, and male adults.

Then Came Anime

Along with manga, anime is a popular storytelling media from Japan. The word anime is derived from the word “animation”, and it is an art form that is expressed through movies or TV shows. 

Anime movies were first produced in the 20th century, 
often depicting an animated version of its manga counterpart, based on the same storyline and characters.

Anime movies are either hand-drawn like manga comics but, more often, are generated on computers.

Unlike the detailed black and white manga drawings, the anime movies are vividly colorful and bold.

The story line is usually short and can be covered in a feature-length film, or in a few episodes. 

Character depiction in anime has a characteristic style and is usually exaggerated: for example, emotions can be highlighted by emphasizing facial features, like large, tearful eyes. 

A range of sizes and shapes are also used in anime, along with other scene details and effects. 

To audiences in Japan, the word anime is used to refer to animation and cartoons from all over the world. To those in the Western culture, however, anime refers to the unique and distinctive style of animated movies that are made only in Japan. 

Genre and Audience

Anime has a wide range of followers, of all ages and cultures, and is available for viewing on television, home media, on the Internet, and in movie theatres.  

To summarize

Both manga and anime are art forms that come from Japan.

Manga is a graphic novel and anime is a movie format.

Manga is in black and white while anime is in vivid color.

Manga stories are typically longer than anime movies.

Manga is drawn by hand whereas anime is usually computerized drawing.

Manga originated in the 18th century and anime began in the 20th century. Historically, manga evolved first, and then anime was influenced by the manga style. Many anime movie plots are based on manga storylines, not the opposite. 

Describing these visual art forms do not do them justice. Manga and anime must be seen in order to be fully appreciated. I invite you to search out examples and enjoy their style and their stories. 

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