The world of graphic novels and visual storytelling is vast and can be categorized and divided according to literary genres, intended audiences, and even nation or culture of origin. There is now a huge but unofficial rivalry between Western comics, such as Marvel and DC titles, and the ever-expanding world of Japanese manga.
Ultimately, there is no definitive “best” between these two, as readers will have their own preferences based on their tastes and experiences. That said, a compelling case can be made as to why Japanese manga not only caught up with the decades-old comic book titles, but surpassed them. Japanese manga offers many things that American comics can’t, and more and more readers appreciate the broader appeal of manga, even if they don’t speak a word of Japanese.
Japanese manga is much more welcoming to beginners
There are literary and cinematic genres so that all kinds of stories can be told for the enjoyment of all possible audiences. A wide variety of genres also allows for an equally wide range of subjects, themes, and characters in a comic series or manga title, as some ideas work better in science fiction, romance, or historical dramas. While the world of Western graphic novels has some variety in this regard, manga that deviate from standard hero stories are much more accessible.
Western comics, especially American comics, are largely rooted in the pulp-style action stories of the 1930s and 1940s, or the Golden Age of comics. Early superheroes like Superman and Batman made their debut then, along with more generic crime thrillers or cowboy western action series, some written by Stan Lee himself in the pre-Marvel days. In contrast, Japanese manga have deeper and more ancient cultural and artistic roots in Japan, allowing for an impressive variety of genres.
Today, many action/adventure manga titles dominate the market such as those inspired by superheroes My academic hero or dark fantasy action Demon slayer, but there is ample room for all other genres. Western comics are relatively genre-simplified, with superheroes and action stories evidently being the default, and similar stories Mouse or The Adventures of Tintin.
This means that while American action comics are strong when they focus on violent superheroes and anti-heroes like the Preacher series, this alienates many potential readers who miss out on many strengths of the comic industry, such as its colorful art and talented writers. Such comics have always been aimed at action-loving boys and men, and while women are prevalent in the comics community, there seems to be a self-perpetuating idea that comics are “for boys only” and that girls shouldn’t. worry, so they often feel alienated from a space meant to include them. A focus on action and superheroes seems to drive all of this, with few comics having a broader appeal to readers of all demographics. But Japanese manga avoid all of that.
Japanese manga is divided into four quadrants for different demographics, and each has a strong fan base. Better yet, many manga/anime fans can easily enjoy two or more of these watch faces. Shonen is action for boys and is similar to American superhero comics, while seinen is for more mature male readers, similar to Preacher or Guardians. Then there’s shojo, the watch face optimized for younger female readers, whether they’re middle school girls or young adult women. Josei is similar to seinen, though often aimed at a more mature female audience, comparable to Western works such as Gone With the Wind or Jane Austen.
All of this means that manga can appeal to absolutely anyone and everyone with a wide but also spread of genres, themes, characters, and more. The film and novel industry caters to all audiences with their immensely diverse offerings, and Japanese manga does the same as comics cling to superheroes and gritty action stories with a strong but restricted.
Japanese manga has less convoluted starting points for new readers
Another advantage of getting into Japanese manga over comics is the clear starting points for a story. American comic book franchises are decades old and have many different storylines, writers, eras, and more, which can be intimidating for new readers. Luckily, the comic industry knows this and regularly provides starting points for new readers or even reboots an entire universe so that new and veteran readers are on even ground. Examples range from Batman: Year One to standalones like Guardians, although the industry is so vast, fans may find it difficult to know and find them. And then they have a lot of lore to catch up with and the material might feel inconsistent with different writers and artists.
Meanwhile, Japanese manga is about “one author, one story, one series.” There are exceptions, but overall, it’s easy to get into the manga because each series stands on its own and is completely linear with only one continuity. Even mega-long series like that of Eiichiro Oda A piece they have an obvious starting point: volume 1, chapter 1. Then the reader proceeds in a straight line from there. There’s also less hassle finding rare comic book issues or omnibuses, since manga series are relatively new and are widely available in paperback volumes. Each volume has only a few chapters, with each individual chapter equivalent to a number of comics. This makes it much easier to collect a new series and not miss a hard-to-find issue or two, and manga volumes are also more easily viewed on a shelf. All of this makes it much easier and more convenient to get into manga than comics in general.