Manga is a great alternative or substitute to anime, especially if your weekly animes are on hiatus (or you're too impatient to wait). The majority of anime shows are based on/originate from Manga. The arcs and plots in anime deviate on occasion to keep fans on their toes but they usually follow what the Manga dictates. If you are reading Manga for the first time and need suggestions and tips, you have come to the right place. *Cue angelic choir*
Although Manga is renowned as Japanese, many well-received 'Manga' are named differently depending on where the mastery is hailing from. Korea's 'Manhwa' market is equally as popular. The main differences between Manwha and Manga are the distinct art styles. The majority of Manga is in black & white, whereas a lot of Manwhas are webtoons, which are in colour (first-time readers are more likely to choose colour over black & white). This is the same for 'Manhua'. Originating from China, Manhua is more of an even split between traditional Manga styles and modern webtoons.
1. Manga is read from right to left
Try to remember, it's important. There tends to be an order to reading the panels from right to left. It may be something you need to keep reminding yourself at first, but it becomes second nature very quickly. This tip mostly applies to Japanese manga, and not Chinese and Korean (which are usually read left to right).
2. Take time to enjoy the art
The illustrations make the story far more than the dialogue does. Think of the speech as guidelines, rather than verbal communication. The art in manga is usually more detailed and graphic in comparison to anime and therefore deserves more credit, time and appreciation. Make sure you pay attention to the Japanese characters that appear in the panels that offer another dimension to the reading experience.
3. Buying manga is expensive, there are apps
Manga is not cheap, in the slightest. Paperback versions are normally sold in volumes and buying numerous volumes together can amount to around £30 or more. Luckily, there are apps such as Manga Rock and Crunchyroll that can provide the latest chapters for free. The only downside is that, due to licensing problems, not all of the popular titles are featured. Investing in physical copies is still a good idea, especially when it comes to your favourites.
4. Be patient
Anime and Manga are similar in many ways but they are ultimately two different artforms. It is imperative not to compare the two in terms of grasping your attention. A typical anime episode could possibly include 3-4 chapters of the manga it originates from, to keep the show fast-paced and 'interesting'. Manga explores arcs intricately so that the plot is not rushed. It may take a while to sink your teeth into a story, but when you do I can guarantee letting go will prove difficult.
Lastly, before you delve into the abyss that is Manga- a vague insight into genres may help. Action and Adventure are two genres that seem to be symbiotic in the world of Manga. There are countless tales of those seeking items, knowledge and powers in far away lands and even though the foundations are the same, people will engage with the story every single time because of the variations in subgenres that give a unique narrative. For example, Seven Deadly Sins is a very action-packed Manga that uses mystery to its advantage.
Romance is another interesting genre because it is layered. It is more of an umbrella term with smaller niche genres underneath it, but that is something you can explore for yourself. In general, it acts as a guilty pleasure that warms the heart. Most settings for romance Mangas are realistic or ones that the reader can relate to because love is a universal feeling. Magic and fantasy are thrown into the mix every so often to show how enchanting romance can be. Fruits Basket is a perfect example of this, with a blend of romance in a school setting and the reoccurring problem of a cursed family.
Psychological Manga is supposed to make you feel on edge as if you are watching a thriller. Whether it is with a battle of intellect or witnessing mental, physical and emotional pain- this genre will make you think in advance, and then shock you when your prediction is false. Tokyo Ghoul is an approved and admired Manga that embodies the psychological genre to a tee. Trauma is the main focus throughout where pain is seen in a multitude of ways and on a spectrum too.
Hopefully, you now have what you need to start your Manga journey. Remember there are a plethora of genres and art styles so no matter who you are and what you enjoy, there will be something out there for you. Good luck and enjoy.
Boku no Hero Academia
Tower of God
Zui Wu Dao
Song of the Long March