A History of Manga

For all of you parents who are asking "what is Manga," this post is for you. Manga is Japanese comics, and anime is Japanese animation. The West has always liked Japanese pop culture, from the Godzilla movies of the 1950's, through Speed Racer in the 60's, PacMan in the 70's, Transformers in the 80's, and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers of the 90's. Now, in 2007, Manga is the hottest trend in American publishing, and at $10 a book, and the $330 million a year market, the publishers are making quite a killing.

Manga was a little slow to gain a market in this country because it is read reversed, the Japanese way, starting from what we expect to be the back, tends to be in black-and-white, and are epic story lines, some of which go on for decades. One reason Manga did catch on though is that it contains more sex and violence than American comics and more bizarre, magic-related story lines than traditional US comics. There are two types of Manga, Japanese Manga translated into English, and American Manga, which I am told by several knowledgeable teens, sucks!

There are many different types of Manga, for example, Shojo (girls) Manga, the most recognized being Sailor Moon, focuses on romance and relationships and Shonen (boys) Manga involves nonstop action. Then there is Shonen-ai is about guy-guy relationships with no sex, Yaoi is guy-guy relationships with sex, and Yuri is female-female relationships with sex. There are also mysteries, horror, drama, romance, comedy, and even historical series.

Parents will be happy to know that the books and Internet sites where kids download free Manga come with ratings (on the back of the book) - T for teen, Teen 13 and up, Older teens, all ages, and M for mature. Unfortunately, the ratings are not consistent and depend on the publisher for the cut offs and what it is rated for - violence or sex.

Photo credit: ginieland

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