History of Mangas

Manga, translated as “funny pictures,” are Japanese comic books. The popularity of manga has spread across the globe, with audiences in the United States and Europe enjoying manga in most bookstores and comic shops. However, the largest consumer base for manga is still in Japan, where it occupies about o­ne-fifth of the print market. Manga first appeared in Japan shortly after World War II as a cutting-edge art form. Similar to the Arts and Crafts Movement that flourished in Britain some years earlier, artistic inspiration abounded in post-Occupation Japan.

Although it has been said American political cartoons of that time gave influence to the field, artists such as the late Osamu Tezuka are often credited with creating the manga genre. During the post-war years, television sets in Japan were not common, and media giants relied o­n weekly publications to reach consumers. At the time, manga accounted for about 40% of the space in children’s publications; publishers realized they could increase readership by increasing manga content, as it was the most popular weekly feature.

As time progressed into the late ‘50s and ‘60s, readers began to age but did not lose interest in manga; thus, artists and publishers began to branch out from what was collectively considered “children’s” manga to more serious styles. Science fiction, horror, and love stories emerged, making manga desirable to a broader audience.

Today, there are manga subjects to appeal to readers of all ages and genders: the original action style, known as shōnen manga, is still popular with males under the age of 18; manga designed for adult males, often with more explicit content, is known as seinen; girls’ manga, shôjo, features themes and subjects experienced by younger females; yaoi, a variant of shôjo, broaches the subject of homoerotic relationships and caters to young adult females; and redikomi, manga geared toward adult females. Although these are some of the most commonly seen manga “styles,” there are other sub-genres available within each reader market.