When it comes to anime vs manga, which is which? Both originated from Japan and are incredibly similar. Yet, there are some very distinct differences. Often, one leads to the creation of the other, which leads to much of the confusion, especially for those new to one or both of these.
What is Anime?
Anime is Japanese animation. In Japan, it refers to all types of animation. However, in other countries, anime refers to animation and cartoons in the distinct style of Japanese animation. For the purposes of this post, we’ll define anime as Japanese animation versus cartoons and animation in general.
Typically, anime stands out for the following characteristics:
- Very colorful animation
- Fantasy and sci-fi themes
- Often has exaggerated actions
- May have sharp or exaggerated facial features
It’s important to note when it comes to anime vs manga, that anime is always something you watch. You can watch it on TV, phone, tablet, or computer.
What is Manga?
At first, anime and manga look similar. In fact, the artistic style is incredibly similar and often identical. This is because manga is a type of Japanese graphic novel or comic book. Much like anime, exaggerated facial features and sometimes bright, high-contrast colors make this genre stand out.
On the other hand, manga is often in black and white outside of the book’s cover. This makes it feel more like reading text, but in a graphic novel or comic book format.
It’s important to note that manga can include adult content and may not be suitable for children. The same can hold true for anime, but overall, manga tends to be more adult-oriented.
How Do They Differ?
As you can tell, anime and manga are somewhat alike. The style for both originate from Japan. Both are also highly popular around the world.
The main differences include:
- Anime is meant to be watched (animated shows and movies)
- Manga is meant to be read (graphic novels and comic books)
- Anime is usually always in color
- Manga is often in black and white
- Anime is often safer for children, though not always (parents should check before letting younger children watch)
- Manga can range from safe for children to extreme adult content that includes nudity
- Anime involves a studio or larger team to create
- Manga can be created by an editor and mangaka (artist)
- Manga is regularly turned into anime, though not always
How Are They the Same?
While talking about anime vs manga, it’s important to point out that the two do have some distinct similarities. If you saw colorful manga and the cover for a popular anime series without any other context, you’d have a hard time telling the difference.
Think of manga as the more static version of anime. The art style is pretty much the same, though you’ll see noticeable differences based on the creator and theme. Typically, darker themes have more sharp lines and deeper colors while brighter, happier themes have softer lines and more vivid colors. This goes for both anime and manga.
How to Choose?
My suggestion is to not choose between anime and manga. Try out both. Check out the streaming services mentioned earlier to explore a wide variety of current and classic anime. Then, head to your favorite bookstore or online bookstore (such as Amazon) to try out manga. There’s a little something for everyone in both types.
As a side note for parents, remember that just because anime is animated, it doesn’t mean it’s all suitable for children. Some is more suited to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, while others are definitely more family friendly. The same holds true with manga.
What are your favorite anime and manga? Share with us so everyone can find something new to check out.
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