Some of the most exciting stories that are produced come in the form of Japanese manga. From One Piece to Naruto many franchises have started as a manga before being turned into an anime and finding their way to America.
If you’re thinking of delving into the vast world of manga you must be wondering, is manga even available in English?
Yes, manga are available in English. Popular manga franchises are often licensed by companies in English speaking countries. Most of the popular mangas have been translated into English including One Piece, Dragon Ball, FullMetal Alchemist, Bleach, and Naruto.
Manga is translated into many different languages and is a popular form of graphic novel.
Manga companies also exist outside of Japan, some dedicated to publishing translated work from Japan.
Other companies produce original pieces of work that take inspiration from Manga, so these particular pieces will be English as standard. In America manga is an emerging market, which is driven by young consumers, riding the coattails of video games and anime.
However, before we jump in, here are eight answers about Japan you might be interested in knowing about.
What Manga is Available in English?
The amount of manga that is actually available in English is incredibly high. If you’ve heard of it, then it’s probably available translated. If it’s something that you’ve seen as an anime on TV or played a video game based on the property, chances are that manga will be available in English.
This includes all of the biggest names in manga like One Piece, Attack on Titan, Bleach, Naruto, and many more. While there are many different types of manga available, there are some names that will be more recognizable. Although it finished it’s run in 1995, Dragon Ball is the second best selling manga in the world.
Manga is very accessible to find as well. If you’re looking to start reading manga, you shouldn’t struggle to find somewhere to pick it up. Most book stores will have a graphic novel/comic section where you will be able to find popular mangas. They can also be purchased online from sites likes of Amazon, or through ComiXology.
Where you might struggle is picking which manga you want to start with. There is a vast selection to choose from and almost every taste is catered for. There’s something for boys, girls, or anyone who wants to give it a go.
America wasn’t always quick to adopt manga in the country. The work that derived from manga was the American adaptation of Astro Boy. It wasn’t until 1978 that the first original artwork manga was released, called Barefoot Gen.
It was in 1987 that Viz Comics began publishing mangas in the U.S, with the manga Akira making an impression on Americans. In the 1990s, manga popularity began to increase as more properties were released like Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon that young audiences adored.
Nowadays, many different mangas are translated and published in the U.S and across the world. Although manga is still most popular in Japan, its popularity has been on the increase in other territories. The overall number of translated mangas is increasing each year, giving new readers a great selection to choose from.
Is Translated Manga Read Left to Right?
In western cultures, we would typically read a book from left to right, but that’s the reverse in Japan. They read a book from right to left, which probably sounds quite unnatural to think about. This means that manga is produced right to left. So that leaves the question, what are the translated versions like?
The answer is a little bit tricky. You will be able to find some translated manga that reads left to right, but a lot of it is still produced right to left. When manga was first introduced into the American market, the artwork would be flipped (a process that’s been lovingly called ‘flopping’ by fans) to read left to right, to match how books are read in the country. Mangas would also be localized, so names will be changed to make them more relatable.
It turned out that audiences that were buying manga didn’t like it being flipped. Things were a little off like sound effects would be the wrong way round and the characters would all be left-handed. Ultimately this demand from fans was heard and Tokyopop, a popular manga publisher, announced a 100% Authentic Manga range.
Flipping manga was quite an expensive thing to do. The artwork is often done in black and white in Japan, but colored in America. The book size is also larger in America and the whole thing was more effort than it needed to be. By producing manga in the same way the Japanese do, the cost was able to come down from $16 to $10, making it easier for people to buy.
Other companies soon followed Tokyopop and now the majority of translated manga is produced in the original Japanese way of right to left. Although some manga is also produced flipped, like Dragon Ball published by Viz Media. This is done to make it more accessible to new readers who aren’t comfortable with manga that hasn’t been flipped.
What Are the Best Mangas to Start Reading?
If you’ve ever gone into a bookstore and looked at the manga selection, you might be quite overwhelmed. There is usually a lot on offer, lots of bright colorful covers, stunning manga drawings and interesting names. There are so many different things to choose from so if you’re not sure what to choose from here are some suggestions to get you going.
One Piece is the best selling manga of all time and it’s an ongoing story, so it’s something you can get started with, safely in the knowledge there is more to come. It’s the story of Monkey D. Luffy who sets off on a journey to find the one piece of treasure and become king of the pirates. The series goes beyond pirates and Monkey D. Luffy will run into criminal organizations, secret agents, and a corrupted world government.
Dragon Ball is an excellent choice for beginners as it’s one of the most recognizable franchises in the world. The story is about Goku who is one of Earth’s greatest defenders, protecting the world from vicious attacks from a colorful cast of villains. It’s a complete story so there won’t be any waiting around for new issues.
Fullmetal Alchemist has been an introduction to manga for many people, so it’s a fantastic manga to start with. The manga is about two brothers Edward and Alphonse who are trying to resurrect their mother through alchemy. Although unsuccessful the consequences send them on a thrilling adventure.
If you’re someone who already likes superhero comics then One-Punch Man is a great introduction to manga. It’s the story of Saitama, a superhero that is so strong he can defeat any opponent with just one punch. After becoming bored by the lack of challenge, he sets out on a journey to find a worthy foe.
Love Hina is a wonderful story about childhood promises that’s an easy introduction to manga. The story is about Keitarō and his attempts to find his childhood crush who moved away. They made a promise to reunite at the University of Tokyo and Love Hina documents his attempts to find her.
What’s the Best Way to Sample Manga?
If you’re not sure if the manga is for you, or you’re unsure what manga to choose, then you might want to consider opting for a manga anthology. A manga anthology is an excellent way to dip your toes in the water of multiple different mangas at once. Anthologies contain chapters from different mangas currently in serialization.
The most prominent of these was the Shonen Jump magazine released in America, which was based on the popular Japanese magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump. It launched with serializations of Dragon Ball Z, Sand Land, Yu-Gi-Oh!, YuYu Hakusho, and One Piece and became the most popular manga anthology in America. Although the original magazine has been canceled, it’s possible to pick them up secondhand for cheap.
Shonen Jump has since moved online and readers can enjoy a couple of free chapters for most manga available on the website. This is an easy way to sample anything you are interested in before making a purchase. There are new chapters released weekly, and they include some of the most popular mangas ever, like One Piece.
New manga excerpts can be sampled in Otaku USA, the only magazine of its type left for sale in print form. It contains new material by leading manga publishers such as Viz Media, Dark Horse, Yen Press, and more. It also covers various different elements associated with the otaku lifestyle, like anime, video games, and cosplay.
Neo, a similar kind of magazine from the United Kingdom, is imported and sold in some American stores as well. There are more options online however, Crunchyroll which is the premier place to find anime, also has a manga collection for its paying customers.
How To Discover New Manga?
New mangas are being released all the time; It can be quite hard to keep up with it. Add that to the ginormous list of mangas that are ongoing, or have completed their run, there’s a lot to choose from. Once you’ve finished whatever you’re reading, you might be wondering where to find something new.
The first place to look would be on websites such as Manga Plus, Shonen Jump, where they will be releasing new mangas all the time. Here you’ll be able to find a description to help you understand what you want to read next. Both websites have nice layouts that make it really easy to find something new to read.
You might find that you want something more collaborative where you can discuss mangas with other people. In which case Reddit r/manga is an excellent place to pop your head in, especially the stickied thread ‘What manga have you read this week?’. People go into detail about what they think of a certain manga, so it’s a good place to get a conversation going.
Another place to get suggestions is My Anime List, which rates the top anime and manga based on user rating. The list is updated twice a day so it remains current and you can also add mangas to your own list. It’s a great way to keep track of what you want to read and find new mangas to start.
MangaUpdates is a useful resource that tracks all manga release dates. They also have a fantastic list that lists the best new mangas released each year, as voted for by its community. It’s a very comprehensive collection, so there’s plenty of recommendations for you to try out.
The world of manga is vast and there will be a lot to keep you entertained. Manga is available in all sorts of different genres. There’s bound to be something that appeals to anyone. Mangas cover things like romance, action, adventure, superhero, mystery, and much more.
The manga community is also very active and it’s an excellent thing to be a part of. Although many manga fans in Japan are called otaku, which is an insult, the community is very welcoming to newcomers. People who love manga can run very deep so it is something that they enjoy discussing.
There are lots of different ways to access manga, whether you opt for traditional book stores, ordering online, or opting for the digital-only version. Online websites offer certain chapters for free, so giving a new property a try has never been easier. This try before you buy model is the perfect way to see if the manga is for you.
Manga distributed online is still displayed from right to left, so you may need to get used to that presentation, depending on how familiar you are with manga. Don’t let that be discouraging though, it’s easy enough to get used to and once you have reading manga will be a breeze.