A Basic Manga Primer


Just a small holiday weekend exercise…the various forms and variations on Manga/Anime always fascinate me, especially growing up in American comic book culture. That they are so accepted in Japan as both an art form and as literature amazes me, as do the sheer number of stories told by them.

As for those stories, they cover the gamut from action to historical fiction to romance to porn – each in the infinite variety of human combinations. Literally there are manga for EVERYONE. Which ones might be right for you? Let’s find out….

The following very brief and cursory guide is reprinted from Wired.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go reorder my Naruto collection.

Comic books aren’t just for kids who long for superpowers to teleport them out of social studies class. In Japan, manga is a mainstream educational tool, used by police officers to teach safety, doctors to explain vaccination, and cults to proselytize. Modern manga was pioneered in 1947 by Tezuka Osamu, creator of Astro Boy. Since then, it has grown into a $5 billion industry — 30 percent of all print publications sold in Japan — and spawned a dizzying array of genres. Find out here which sort of manga is right for you.

If you’re a boy coming of age or a man who can’t grow up…
looking for stories about adventure- seeking youths bonding over sports, undertaking ninja missions, or battling little monsters that pop out of Poké balls
then check out the genre called shonen
by reading Pokémon, Naruto, or Dragon Ball Z

If you’re a girl coming of age or a jaded single woman…
looking for stories about a starry-eyed, small-waisted girl drawn into melodrama in a flowery European castle setting, torn between her prudish upbringing and her desire for freedom
then check out the genre called shojo
by reading Princess Knight or Sailor Moon

If you’re a straight girl who wishes your relationships were more exciting…
looking for stories about a pair of pretty boys who enter into an illicit, violently sexual relationship
then check out the genre called yaoi
by reading My Sexual Harassment or Sensitive Pornograph

If you’re a gambling addict…
looking for stories about a mysterious murder at the pachinko parlor that can only be solved through a deep understanding of pinball strategy
then check out the genres called mahjong manga and pachinko manga
by reading Modern Mahjong Gold or Manga Pachinker

If you’re a sci-fi fanboy with robot envy…
looking for stories about heroic heavy equipment — man builds machines, bad machine threatens man, good machine saves the day
then check out the genres called robot and mecha
by reading Astro Boy or Gundam

If you’re a grown man seeking answers to existential questions…
looking for stories about adults who search for spiritual fulfillment and assassins who kill and then have a good cry
then check out the genre called gekiga
by reading Crying Freeman or Phoenix



  1. Granted, I have more facility with anime than manga, but I have been learning more about the categories. I’m less a fan of shōjo than I am of shonen, apparently, but I’d love to learn more about josei, manga/anime aimed at adult women, centering around more ‘realistic’ relationships.

    Amusingly enough, I’m on the edges of the SL yaoi culture, due to certain friends, and I’m always amazed at the lengths they have to go to, to present the idealized yaoi willowy youth–given the strictures of the male avatar on SL. That they do it is less a triumph of skin technology–many of them have to adapt female skins, or have skins custom-designed–and more a tribute to their stubborn devotion to goal.

  2. Hmm… Antique Bakery, Kare Kano, Paradise Kiss, and Lupin the 3rd – one of these things is not like the others.

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