Rummanah Aasi
   I've been inspired by Small Review's Tips and Tricks feature and thought I could do something similar for readers who have questions about manga. This week's question has to do with the format of manga:

Is all manga written back to front and by Japanese companies like Tokyopop?

  Manga that is found in the U.S. and other countries usually follows the traditional style as found in Japan. Japanese Manga is to be read from the right side to the left, which is the opposite of how we ordinarily read books in the U.S. Not only do you read the pages from right to left, but you also read the panels and text from right to left. This is why when you open the manga volume like a regular book, you will find the ending and have to flip it to the opposite to begin the story. There are a few manga series that I've read that are published in the U.S. that are look and read like traditional books, but many artists have opposed this. Fans of manga, who are generally interested in the Japanese culture have requested and been active that many manga produced in America today retain their traditional Japanese style.
   Manga is generally published differently than American comics. Manga is usually much smaller and collected in small volumes. Unlike American comics, manga are first published in manga magazines that collect different stories. If they gain popularity, then the stories are collected and published in a new volume, which is why it takes so long for a new manga volume of your favorite series to come out in the U.S.

How do you read a manga?

  While this question was not asked, I think it's logically the next question asked. Reading a manga for the first time can be a bit confusing. Where do you start? What do I read first? Reading a manga is a bit like watching a movie. You have to pay attention to the actor's facial expressions, body language, and their interactions with other actors and the setting on screen. Instead of seeing all of this on the screen, you have to read it.

Below is a panel with instructions on how to read a manga:

Image from: Manga Page Turners

Okay, now that we have a grid to help us out, let's see how it applies to different pages of a manga:

A.) One panel:
Image from Manga for Kids

B.) Single Page:
Image from Manga for Kids

C.) Two Page Spread: 
Image from Manga for Kids

 It takes time to get adjusted to the new format, but with practice it becomes less jarring and noticeable.

Do you have a question about manga? All you have to do is simply fill out this simple form. The form is completely confidential so please don't feel shy in submitting a question and remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

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8 Responses
  1. Aaaaah! This explains so much!! I honestly had no clue. LOL

  2. Wow I honestly had no idea you read it from right to left, I would have been totally confused. Not kidding. Thanks for clarifying. Once I clean up my TBR I am going to try one for sure! Have a great Monday Rummanah.

  3. Jenny Says:

    Whoa. I had no idea you read from right to left like that, good to know! I would have been thoroughly confused if I'd picked one up without being aware of that! I would think that takes some getting used to, but like anything else, I'm sure becomes second nature once you read enough of them. Learn something new everyday, thanks Rummanah!

  4. I didn't know that! I've only read a scant few manga (most are film that I see) and the ones that I've read go trad. US way. I'm curious now and want to read one in the Japanese way (english because I'm terrible at other languages).

  5. The pictures are so helpful and make it really clear what you mean, Rummanah. I'm sure it takes a while to get used to reading right to left but you probably noticing once you get hooked onto the plot.

  6. I have to admit that it took several tries before I could read even the first few pages of the first manga book(?) I tried. Then I had to ask for help.

    Then I got one of the Wicked Lovely Desert Tales that is part of the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. It is about one of the characters that Keenan meets while he's wandering in his funk but we don't get to hear about it. She was the Winter Girl before Donia. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's published by Tokyo Pop but it reads front to back. It's was in color. Which is it?

    And here's a question. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick just released a graphic novel? Black and white read front to back right? Why aren't graphic novels in color?


    Oh and GREAT! graphics on how to read a manga! What gets really confusing is when the squares change size and you're trying to figure out if that's the next one to go to or not. But I am enjoying your tutorials very much!

  7. It took me several volumes to get used to the writing style. The page turning was easy to understand. What I had trouble getting was knowing what order to read the blocks on each page. Because sometimes it didn't follow the obvious pattern that the examples show.

  8. @Buried in Books: I think that's one of the few mangas that I mentioned are written in the American format and I guess that makes sense since it's trying to aim the same audience as the book version. As for color issue, the only thing I can think of is that it's expensive to have everything colored. So, in the case with Wicked Lovely and Hush, Hush, the manga is referred its appearance.

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