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Manga page

A Brief History of Manga

Manga (漫画) are original Japanese comic books that have a solid niche of followers from all around the world.  Japanese manga creators conform to a particular style of artwork creation developed in the late 19th century.  The story lines of the comic books tackle a broad range of genres such as action-adventure, romance, comedy, drama, science-fiction, and fantasy. Manga plays a large part in the Japanese publishing industry and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Manga artist

Manga artist.

The Japanese term manga refers to cartooning and comics or whimsical sketches. Outside Japan, manga can mean, simply, comic books published in Japan. The origin of manga may date back all the way to 12th century scrolls. But many dispute this because of the right-to-left reading style of manga comic books.  Modern manga as we now know it has been historically and culturally influenced by two factors—pre-War (Meiji and pre-Meiji) Japanese culture and arts, and the events following WWII.

The very first manga magazine, Eshinbun Nipponchi, was published in 1874 by Kanagaki Robun and Kawanabe Kyosai. It was likely influenced by the pioneering Japanese magazine The Japan Punch, which was published between 1862 and spring 1887 by Charles Wirgman. Eshinbun Nipponchi did not have initial success and was discontinued after only three issues. This was followed by Kisho Shimbun in 1875, Marumaru Chinbun in 1877, and Garakuta Chinpo in 1879.

The pre-War manga works are a mixture of elements, especially words and images. The words were synonymous to the social and economic needs of pre-War Japan and Japanese nationalist, while the images were largely associated with Chinese graphic art.  After WWII, manga was shaped by U.S. culture derived from television, film, cartoons, and comic books.

The Japan Punch by Charles Wirgman.

With manga as a billion dollar industry in Japan and a steadily growing fan base worldwide, it’s no wonder there will be manga film adaptations to look forward to in the near future, such as:

As the Death God Dictates (Kami-sama no Iutoori) – a horror genre manga series by Fujimura Akeji initially published in 2011. It follows the story of high school student Shun Takahata and his classmates. They are forced to play children’s games with deadly consequences, and the story unravels from there. The film is set for release in Japan in autumn 2014.

The Japan Punch by Charles Wirgman.

Hot Road – Taku Tsumugi’s popular mid- 1980s manga series about Kazuki Miyaichi’s love story with a hot motorcycle gang member, Hiroshi Haruyama. The film is slated for release in Japan in summer 2014.

Interested to know more about manga? Read our other blog posts.

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Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!