Cati Gayá
Cati Gayá
@cati.gaya
Staff Plus
Illustration

5 Interesting Facts about Manga

  • by Cati Gayá @cati.gaya

Discover 5 amazing facts about the history and industry of Manga

Manga means short story in Japanese, but the rest of the world uses this term for one of the greatest comic traditions. Manga is a vital part of the Japanese publishing industry. Its stories have been adapted into animated series (anime), films, video games and novels.

Want to find out the name of the first ever Manga comic, the reason why Manga characters all have oversize eyes, and the right way to read them? Then watch this video:

Five amazing facts about manga and the Japanese comics industry

1. Why do manga characters have such big eyes?

This universal trend was started by Osamu Tezuka, creator of the legendary Astroboy. Specifically, it sprang from Tezuka’s love of Walt Disney animation. Bambi was one of his favorites. He confessed having watched it over 80 times. Tezuka was obsessed by 1930s and 40s Disney film style, and he borrowed its huge, expressive eyes technique. Because his work is a foundations of contemporary Manga, this trait became a defining feature of its character designs.

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2. The right way to read Manga

Japanese is always read from right to left (unlike Western languages, which go from left to right). So the same system applies to manga comic strips.

You might even have read one the wrong way round! When Manga comics are published outside Japan, the pages and strips are inverted, to make them ‘suitable’ for Western readers. This distorts page layouts, originally designed the other way around. But, as Manga has become increasingly popular, more publishers have decided to keep the original direction and respect the author’s designs.

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3. Doujinshi: Manga fan art

Are you an amateur artist? Do you love fan art? Then perhaps you’ve created a doujinshi drawing! Doujinshi are self-published Manga comics and fanzines launched outside the mainstream market. While some are original creations, many are based on existing stories and characters.

Doesn’t this infringe Japanese copyright law? Absolutely. But violations are generally overlooked, as doujinshi often improves commercial Manga sales and is an ideal way for publishers to find new talent.

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4. The first modern Manga

Although many people think of Astroboy as the first contemporary Manga, the honor actually goes to Tagosaku and Mokube’s Sightseeing in Tokyo, created by Kitazawa Rakuten for the Jiji Shimpō newspaper’s Sunday supplement in 1902. It tells the story of two inexperienced country bumpkins adventuring in the big city.

Kitazawa was the first person to use the modern definition of Manga. He founded an academy and trained many young artists and cartoonists in the arts of caricature and Manga.

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5. What is the best-selling Manga of all time?

Everyone tends to think it’s Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z by Akira Toriyama, but this legendary title actually only comes in second place.

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Having sold over 470 million copies, the world’s best-selling Manga of all time is One Piece by Eiichiro Oda. This tale of pirates, adventure and fantasy now has over 96 volumes and is still published regularly. So it will probably continue to break records and defend its top position for a very, very long time.

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You may be interested in:

- Creation of Manga Characters, a course by Andrea Jen.

- Watercolor Illustration with Japanese Influence, a course by Flor Kaneshiro.

- Illustration for Comics: Anatomy of a Superhero, a course by Ariel Olivetti.

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