Ever since I discovered the Manga world thanks to my kids, I was curious (and concerned) enough to learn about it. Reading Manga is not like reading any other comic or book…here’s the How and the Why.
Manga is a style of comic books and graphic novels that originated in Japan. It has become popular worldwide and is known for its distinctive art style and storytelling techniques.
How Do You Read Manga?
Reading manga might seem a bit different from reading traditional books or Western comics due to its right-to-left format (as in Japanese language) and unique conventions.
Here are the steps to take:
1.Start from the Right:
Unlike Western comics, manga is read from right to left, meaning you begin reading from the upper-right corner of the page and move towards the left. The first page is often the cover, so don’t forget to flip it open to the right.
2.Panels and Speech Bubbles:
Read the panels and speech bubbles in the order they appear on the page. Typically, you’ll start with the top-right panel and move left and down. Speech bubbles also follow this order. The direction of speech bubbles will guide you on who is speaking and in what order.
3.Pay Attention to Expressions:
Manga often relies heavily on facial expressions, body language, and artistic cues to convey emotions and actions. Take your time to analyze the artwork, as it plays a crucial role in understanding the story.
4.SFX and Onomatopoeia:
Manga frequently uses onomatopoeic words (SFX) to depict sounds. These can be written in Japanese characters, but they’re often adapted or translated into your language. Pay attention to these, as they add to the atmosphere and action in the story.
5.Read the Right Page First:
When you turn the page, remember to start with the right page again and continue reading from right to left. You’ll continue this pattern throughout the manga.
6.Follow the Flow:
Pay attention to the flow of the story. Manga artists often use creative panel layouts to guide your eye across the page and convey a sense of motion and pacing.
7.Enjoy the Extras:
Some manga volumes include author’s notes, extra illustrations, or bonus chapters at the end. Don’t skip these if you’re interested in learning more about the creator’s insights or the series.
If it’s your first time reading manga, it might take a little while to get used to the right-to-left reading style and the flow of the panels. Be patient, and it will become more natural with practice.
Bonus Tips to get familiar reading Manga
Series and Volumes:
Manga is often released in serialized chapters in manga magazines and later compiled into volumes. Keep in mind that not all manga adaptations follow the same pattern. Some series might have specific reading orders, such as spin-offs or prequels.
Enjoy the Story:
Ultimately, reading manga is about enjoying the story and the art. Let yourself immerse in the world created by the mangaka and have fun exploring different genres and series.
Why is manga right to left?
Manga is read from right to left, which is the traditional reading direction in Japan. This right-to-left reading format has historical and cultural reasons:
Traditional Japanese Writing:
Before the introduction of Western writing styles, traditional Japanese writing was done vertically from right to left. This means that you would start reading a line of text from the right-hand side of the page and move to the left. This format was used for both written text and illustrated works like ukiyo-e prints.
When manga as a form of storytelling and art developed in Japan, it naturally adopted the right-to-left reading direction to maintain cultural continuity. This format was already familiar to the Japanese audience, so it made sense to apply it to manga as well.
Many manga creators and publishers believe that maintaining the original right-to-left format is important for preserving the authenticity of the work. It allows readers outside Japan to experience manga in the same way Japanese readers do.
The right-to-left format also affects the layout and composition of manga pages. Manga artists often plan their artwork and panel placement with this format in mind, which can influence the flow and pacing of the story.
While some manga series have been flipped or adapted for left-to-right reading in certain international editions, many purists and fans prefer to read manga in its original format. Publishers often include translation notes and explanations to help readers who are new to this reading style adapt to it.
Overall, the right-to-left reading direction of manga is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and tradition and is considered an essential part of the medium’s identity.
Is it hard to read manga?
Reading manga certainly poses a challenge due to its right-to-left format, distinctive art style, and unique storytelling techniques. However, with a bit of practice, most people quickly adapt to these conventions.
Needless to say that, at my age, any new challenge (specially mental) is rather beneficial so Hey! I welcome it!
The key adjustment is getting used to the right-to-left reading direction, which becomes more natural with time. Paying attention to panel layouts, visual cues, and the story’s flow is essential for a complete understanding.
While manga varies in complexity depending on genre and theme, translation notes often help bridge cultural gaps. Starting with beginner-friendly series and gradually exploring different genres can make the experience enjoyable and rewarding, making reading manga accessible to anyone willing to give it a try.
Is it legal to read manga?
Of course it is! However, it is not the legality of reading manga per se but it depends on how you access it and whether you’re obtaining it through legal or illegal means.
Here are some thoughts:
Legally Purchased or Borrowed Manga:
It is entirely legal to read manga that you have purchased through legitimate means, such as buying physical manga volumes from bookstores, comic shops, or online retailers, or using legal digital platforms like ComiXology, VIZ Media, Crunchyroll Manga, or Shonen Jump. Borrowing manga from a library is also a legal way to read it.
Public Domain Manga:
Some older manga may have entered the public domain, which means they are no longer protected by copyright and can be freely accessed and distributed.
However, this is unlikely to be an option since the Japanese Copyright Law states that:
“Under Japanese law, copyright protection continues “until the end of a period of seventy years following the death of the author” or, in cases where the work bears the name of a corporate body, “until the end of a period of seventy years following the making public of the work.”
Illegal Scans and Websites:
Reading manga through unofficial or pirated websites that offer scans or translations without the authorization of the copyright holders is illegal. These sites often infringe on the intellectual property rights of manga creators and publishers.
It’s essential to support manga creators, artists, and publishers by purchasing or accessing manga through legal means. Piracy not only violates copyright laws but also hurts the industry by depriving creators of their rightful earnings. Additionally, many legal platforms offer high-quality translations and official releases, ensuring that you can enjoy manga while supporting the industry.
In summary, reading manga is legal when done through legitimate channels, such as purchasing physical copies, using licensed digital platforms, or borrowing from libraries.
However, accessing manga through illegal websites or downloading unauthorized scans is illegal and discouraged. Always choose legal options to support the creators and the industry.
Is Manga good for Kids?
Well, again, Manga is a versatile medium suitable for various age groups, but its appropriateness for children can vary widely.
Consider factors like age ratings, genre, themes, and content when determining whether a particular manga is suitable for kids.
Some manga is specifically designed for children and offers age-appropriate storytelling, while others target teenagers or adults with more complex themes.
Parents and guardians should read the synopsis, utilize age-appropriate categories, and consider parental guidance to ensure that the manga aligns with their child’s age and maturity level.
Additionally, seeking recommendations from experts or online communities can help find suitable manga for young readers.