Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Difference between Manga and Graphic Novels

We've read a lot of graphic novels on this blog.  And Alex did briefly discuss the differences between the two.  But why do we distinguish between the two?  Why are they considered two separate categories?  I mean, Barnes & Noble even shelves them in separate places (though, to be fair, one is shelved across the aisle from the other, but they're never mixed.)

They're from different countries.

Ok, so maybe this is the most obvious, but that doesn't make it less true.  Graphic Novels are (usually) American made.  They are read left to right, top to bottom because that's how the target audiences read.

Manga is Japanese, exclusively.  And it's read in the opposite direction.  You read the text right to left and, in fact, the books even open "back wards", or at least what Americans would consider backwards.  (This, actually, was not always the case.  About 10 or so years ago, the used to read like regular books, but it was decided that too much was compromised when they had to mirror it, so Manga started being printed in its original format.)


The artistic style of Manga vs. Graphic Novels is incredibly different.  Graphic Novels tend to depict real life, or at least in the sense that they look like people (big busted women aside.)

However, Manga is a bit more characterized.  The eyes are larger, the mouth smaller, the hair is usually not acting in the most normal of ways.  Their legs also tend to be longer and skinnier.  Just look at the differences between Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon.


Graphic Novels, while then can be, and have been, pretty dark in their storylines, they're still relatively family friendly.  All ages enjoy them in American, and a lot of them are directed at the youth.  That means things like sex, gratuitous violence, and excessive amount of bloodshed, are not found in American comics.

Manga doesn't have that same barrier that graphic novels do.  Part of that is cultural.  Americans are notorious for their prudishness, but part of that is that it's just a different type of media.  Manga frequently is explicit about violence and sex and, in fact, there is an entire subsection of manga called Hentai, that is manga pornography.

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