Japanese cartoons called anime or manga continue to gain popularity.  Watching, reading, and creating anime or manga is a growing hobby with Americans of all ages. 

Amine or manga works are found in book, film, video and online formats.  It is easy to identify their trademark artistic style with its stark colorful graphics and characters with large child-like eyes. 

Less quickly discovered is the genre’s use of thought-provoking themes, often related to the relationship of man and technology.  Drawing on Japan’s Shinto and Zen traditions and flavored with strong martial arts, these cartoons offer both an exciting adventure and a peak into another culture.

One piece. Vol. 19, Rebellion
story and art by Eiichiro Oda ; [English adaptation, Lance Caselman ; translation, JN Productions].
San Francisco, CA : Viz Media, [2008]
As a child, Monkey D. Luffy had dreamed of becoming the King of the Pirates. But his life changes when he accidentally gains the power to stretch like rubber. Now Luffy and other pirate wannabes are searching for the One Piece, said to be the greatest treasure in the world.
Naruto forever : the unofficial guide
[compiled by Kazuhisa Fujie, Ivan Rorick].
[Tokyo] : Cocoro Books, 2008.
In this must-have for anime fans of "Naruto," otaku researchers have dug deep to find the answers to a plethora of questions that this complex and endlessly fascinating story has raised, as well as uncovering the many secrets surrounding Naruto on his quest to become the number-one ninja.

Those just discovering the anime and manga art form may find the words new or confusing.  It is interesting to distinguish between anime and manga.

Manga is the Japanese word for comics.  Books and magazines of this form are examples of manga. It is easy to identify manga—it opens from back to front and the reader starts the story from the top right corner.

Manga can be further broken down into types according to their specific audiences.  There is a manga story for everyone. 

For instance:

  • Josei is the name of manga where the stories are for Japanese women in their twenties, and
  • Shonen is the name of manga where the action stories are set to appeal to boys between six and eighteen.  

Anime is the distinctive style of animation used by the Japanese, often to animate manga titles.   Films, videos, or animated clips on websites of this form are examples of anime.

While many Americans may not know either the word anime or manga, they are likely to be familiar with the name of some popular characters and programs. 

  • Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Akira, Inu-Yasha, DragonBall, and Spirited away have huge followings.
  • The complex stories and unique artwork found in Grave of the fireflies, Sprint and chaos, Last exile, and Neon genesis evangelion demonstrate the genre's power for those seeking an introduction to the anime and manga.

Pop culture, art form, entertainment, or commentary?  Fans would answer that manga and anime are all of these plus lots more.  

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff