Home » The Enchantment of Manga on U.S. Teens

Are you the parent of a teenager? Do you know one? If so, very likely, you know they are off reading manga; their eyes nearly as big as the eyes of the characters rendered in the books.

Manga are print cartoons or comics written in Japanese and with the distinct Japanese-inspired style begun in Japan in the late 1800s. They are stories with central themes or topics which run the gamut from comedy, romance, adventure, mystery and more. Unlike western-style books, manga are read from back to front, and right to left…when teens in the U.S. unfamiliar with manga pick up their first manga book, they can be left utterly confused, trying to piece together a book that they are literally reading backwards.

Once a reader understands the format of manga, they can be enchanted and thoroughly engaged both by the text (often now also available translated into fiction in the U.S.) and the drawings themselves. Usually printed in black and white, these graphic novel-type books typically depict characters in a particular style: over-large eyes and heads, unusual hairstyles, often beautiful and beautifully-rendered landscapes, and with many modern-day Japanese cultural items such as school uniforms, Japanese toys and non-human fantastical creatures.

In Japan, manga are often printed in large, thick magazine volumes, in serial form. Each story averages 20-40 pages. After a series becomes popular enough, publishers often gather these serial stories together and publish them in books called tankobon. Tankobon most closely resemble the graphic novels of the western world, and it is this form of manga which is most often found and purchased in the United States.

Manga is read by all ages and both genders in Japan, but is primarily read by youth here in the United States. For U.S. teens, it is an exciting alternative to the books they are used to, and manga popularity is likely to only increase.

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