The international appeal of Manga

What is Manga?

Manga is illustrated works comparable to the Western comic books, although many differences exist between the two. In Japan, manga is not only considered a form of art, but they also play a central economic and cultural role for the country.

There are of course substantial differences between Western comics and the Japanese manga, and they are mainly to be found in the format and the intention of the piece.

The first evident difference is immediately noticeable when holding a manga: they are read “backward” (in our perspective) – that is to say, from right to left. Each page contains more illustration blocks than the standard comic book but often with fewer words. It’s also worth mentioning that, while comics are produced by a creative team, manga is ideated and illustrated by a single artist, which is called a Mangaka. He (or she) is the one to decide how the storyline has to be developed and when it will end.

Although the main theme and the setting can vary, manga is not so centered on an individual character, the one we would call the Hero, but they favour the story itself, the feelings and the emotions provoked by it. Just check out popular titles like Marvel Zombies and see for yourself.

There are several manga sub-genres available, to cater for almost everybody’s taste, from housewives to confused schoolboys.

Why are they so appealing?

In the past couple of decades, we have noticed a bigger and bigger influence of Japanese elements in Western culture – from movies to clothes, from food to music. This “Nippon attack” includes of course also manga!

For being such a culture-specific phenomenon, deeply linked to its country of origin, it’s amazing to see how much it managed to transcend its own barriers.

The country of Japan is in fact an extremely peculiar nation, an island not only in geography. Therefore, it’s interesting to see how widespread the appreciation and even obsession for manga is throughout the globe.

Possible reasons could include the peculiar art of the illustrations, the possibility of getting an insight on the (often cryptic) Japanese culture or the fact that it’s the story to have a predominant role, instead of the main character.

Yes, the target audience and the social group that is most intrigued by them are young people, but it’s not just them…

Not only on paper

The influence outreach of manga isn’t limited to comic readers and cosplays, but it crossed different borders and extended its appeal to other branches. Its popularity has not gone unnoticed and several businesses, sooner or later, have landed on this gold mine.

A good example of this is provided by the online gaming and gambling industry. Countless video games have been inspired by manga and many Japanese-themed online slots are added regularly to the already large number of existing ones.

Let’s think of games like Koi Princess, Panda Manga or Fortune Girl. They have the same entertaining features as many other online slots, but their added value is the quirkiness and the Nipponese flavour. No wonder they are constantly ranked amongst the players’ favourites!

What do you think? Are you also under the manga spell or does that not interest you?

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