Let’s geek out over Manga and Anime
Pop Culture
Most of us here have watched cartoons. Most of us still do. Many here are still in the habit of reading comics and if the latest trend is anything to go by, a lot of us like to see those comics come to life in the form of movies and cartoons. Under the broad generalisation of cartoons and comics lies a distinction many of us have come across but perhaps not fully understood. We are talking Anime and Manga.

We have a lot to thank Japan for. Superbly built cars, video games, sushi and what not. But for us who grew up in the 90s, we will be forever indebted to Japan for the likes of Dragon Ball Z, Akira, Ghost in the Shell and more. These 'cartoons' aren't really cartoons per se. You might even be looked down upon if you call them cartoons. They are Anime, short for animations. It's basically anything animated to come out of Japan.

Just as comics are the precursor to cartoons, Manga is the precursor to Anime. If Anime is pictures in motion, Manga is set in pages. It's just like comics. But the language is Japanese and the creator is usually from Japan. Also, Manga is read from right to left.

Both Anime and Manga conform to a style developed in Japan in the 19th century and it's easy to notice the style. Large almond shaped eyes, wacky hairstyles, exaggerated emotions and of course the infamous sweat drop that's seen on the faces of characters when they are in distress. These render a sort of dynamism that set them apart from comics and cartoons from other countries.

Manga has existed long before Anime did. Most historians state the explosion of Manga happened in post-war Japan. Astro Boy, created by Osamu Tezuka was one of the most popular Manga to come out from that period. It still is. Especially after its Anime adaption. Similarly, many popular Anime are taken from Manga. Dragon Ball was created by Akira Toriyama as a Manga first and then adapted as an Anime. There are many such instances where the same story will have an Anime as well as a Manga version.

In essence, Anime and Manga are different storytelling media that originated in Japan. Both are closely related but are actually two different things.

Now producing an Anime is almost like making a cartoon series. It requires a lot of production and needs the work of an animation studio requiring a large number of people. They are brightly coloured with deep contrasts with the popular ones usually exploring a sci-fi or fantasy theme.

Manga, on the other hand is usually in black and white. It usually require less number of people to make. In the least, a Manga will have a Mangaka - the author who is also the illustrator and an editor. Often a Manga is the basis for an Anime but not always. Most Manga are never adapted as Anime.

Undoubtedly, Manga is hugely popular in Japan. People of all ages read Manga and as a result, the stories can be downright serious and informative to being childish and immersed in fantasy. After World War II, in the 1950s, Manga became a major part of Japan's publishing industry. You will find successful Manga serialised in Japanese magazines, each presented as a single episode which is later continued in the next issue. Genres broadly include everything from science-fiction, fantasy, detective mysteries, horror, romance, sexuality and more.

Similar diversity is also seen in Anime. It has distinctive production techniques and methods restricted only by the technology available at that time. More often than not, Anime are hand drawn with a prime focus on graphic art, realism and camera effects and because of its hand drawn nature, Anime are set far off from reality which renders them with a sense of escapism as seen in Hayao Miyazaki movies like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and more.

If you have been treating Anime and Manga as simply cartoons and comics so far, you would be doing a gross injustice to the medium. They are vastly different and much more diverse. It truly is a gift from Japan to the world.