What Makes Manga Different?

At EcchiToons, we create original manga. This may be surprising to some, as our manga is written and published in English, and we are an American-owned company. Isn’t the only difference between manga and comic books that manga is made in Japan?

Manga is far more than just a comic written in Japanese and read left to right. It has several distinct features that make them so loved the world over.

Camera Angles

Shiina’s manga on her computer | Camera Angles | What Makes Manga Different?
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, episode 1, 2012

The first time many people look at a manga, they notice that it is different from an American or European comic, but they can’t quite put their finger on why. The main visual difference is subtle, but manga is written in such a way to make your eye glide over the action of the scene from many angles, almost as if you are watching it on a screen.

You may see the same punch from over several panels during a fight scene as if you are there, hovering over the action. This is a big reason why many love manga so much; it is so immersive.

Speed

Umi and Sensei-chan drawing manga | Speed | What Makes Manga Different?
DENKI-GAI, episode 8, 2014

Manga is designed to be read fast. Words are not cramped into each panel; many panels have no text at all. Comic books are often full of dialogue, but manga generally has few words. This means it can be consumed at a fast rate. On average, it only takes a few seconds to read each page; whole volumes can be read in less than an hour.

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As it is consumed fast, it also has to be made quickly. This is one reason most manga is black and white; colorization takes time, so taking that step out speeds up production time.

How Manga is Produced

Manga assistants working | How Manga is Produced | What Makes Manga Different?
DENKI-GAI, episode 8, 2014

To speed up production times, most manga artists have a team of assistants. The process can vary from team to team, but assistants will often help draw backgrounds, add screen tones, and do the beta work (filling in areas with black ink). Some assistants may specialize in one area or be allrounders.

They may also help with research or upcoming ideas. In all teams, the mangaka will usually come up with the story, draw the main characters, and then direct how they want the assistants to help.

Published in Magazines First

Chiyo and Hori pondering the manga | Published in Magazines First | What Makes Manga Different?
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, episode 6, 2014

Manga is usually published in a magazine first. Publications can have a massive circulation; Shonen Jump had a weekly circulation of 1.6 million copies per week in 2019 and has had a consistently high circulation since it began in 1968. Popular manga series are then published in paperback volumes (and now as ebooks).

Another difference is manga artists own the content they produce and all the royalties associated with it. The artists behind top-rated titles can make it onto the rich list in Japan. Whereas in America, the publication houses tend to own the content, artists do as directed and do not earn royalties.

If you want to learn more about the drawing process, we will be publishing interviews from all our lovely artists to the blog very soon!

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