What's new

??Just What Is Anime/Manga ??

Uncle Frank

21 May 2003
What's the difference between American type cartoons and annimated movies and comic books ??? Is it "ONLY" that they are produced in Japan or done by Japanese people ?? I'm too old to understand !!

That's a good question... I can't call myself an expert, but I'll relay what information I've heard over the years.

"Anime" and "manga" are in the most literal sense the Japanese words which mean "animation" and "comic book" in English. But the words, much like the Japanese word "otaku", have developed more specific meanings in each culture.

Americans these days tend to use the Japanese terms to differentiate between the country of origin... so normally if you hear an American refer to something as "anime", they mean a piece of animation originally created in Japan for a Japanese audience. Previously, the term "Japanimation" was commonly used in the U.S., or simply the descriptive phrase "Japanese animation"... but nowadays "anime" is the most often used word.

What makes things more confusing is when you get to "manga". Typically, "manga" is used specifically to comics presented in one of the major Japanese publications, serialized in a weekly compilation and later released separately as a graphic novel ("tankoubon" in Japanese). This use has good precedence, since the Japanese do make a distinction in their own language between Japanese and American comics. For example, "X-Men" comics sold in Japan aren't referred to as "manga"... they are actually called "ame-comi", which is just a shortened way of saying "American comics". So, here in the U.S., we use the term "manga" specifically to refer to Japanese comics.

However, what makes things more confusing is that now there are some American comic artists and writers who sell their work as being made in the "manga" style. This means they are copying what many American people believe to be the predominant drawing/writing style in Japan, which really can be a bit of a misnomer. Truthfully, there is no real "manga" style... anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the material in Japan itself knows that manga has a tremendous amount of variety both in art style and writing/plotting technique, so implying that "manga" is that formulaic is a bit of an insult IMHO. It's like comparing "Strangers in Paradise" to "The Legion of Superheroes" in America... these works are of radically different styles both in art and story, and claiming that both books are done in the "American" style is patently ridiculous.

Hopefully, this little diatribe explains a bit about these terms. Like I said, I'm really not an expert in this field... this is just my understanding of the terms. I could be wrong in some of my assertions here, and if I am, I'd appreciate it if someone could post about it with some corroborating facts in this matter as well. It would be good for the global anime/manga fan community to really understand how/why these terms are used.

Nice to meet you, by the way... thanks for bringing this subject up. When I sat down to think about it, it's really an interesting subject.


The thing I love about this forum is the info you can get on so many subjects.Hope people's heads can't explode from over-learning !

Thanks again,

Top Bottom