Is Manga Considered a Graphic Novel?

Manga and graphic novels refer to popular forms of immersive storytelling done through a mix of text and illustrations. They originate from different cultures but share similarities as they both rely on graphics to tell a story.

Understanding Manga

Manga is a medium that originated from Japan and has a rich history stretched over several centuries. Manga translates to “whimsical pictures” and can refer to both comics and cartooning. It covers a broad range of genres and caters to various audiences, including children, teenagers, and adults.

Manga is often black and white due to keeping printing costs low and time constraints. Some common genres of manga are Shonen (boys), Shoujo (girls), Josei (women), and Seinen (men). Yuri and Yaoi are genres focusing on lesbian and gay relationships, respectively.

reading manga

Understanding Graphic Novels

Graphic novels, predominately an American term, refer to book-length comics. They generally contain a self-contained story in a comic art format. They stand out for their varying length often stretching over several hundreds of pages and multi-layered plot lines.

Graphic novels can also boast several genres and target audiences. Some authors view the term “graphic novel” as an effective way to frame their work, dismissing the notion that it’s purely for marketing purposes.

Manga Versus Graphic Novels

Though both originate from different cultural backgrounds, graphic novels and manga maintain unique similarities and differences. To start with, they are distinct due to their origin – manga is Japanese, while graphic novels are Western/American.

An easily noticeable difference is in their reading directions—Graphic novels are read from left to right as per western tradition, while Manga follows the traditional Japanese right-to-left reading order.

The pacing and emphasis also differ—while manga characters’ actions are in sync with the dialogues, ensuring a cinematic feel, graphic novels are more prone to breaks and often prioritize action scenes.

Published manga often constitutes a significant percentage of all the published books in Japan and underly a large number of anime or animated films which are quite popular.

comic book and coffee


Manga and Graphic novels are powerful mediums of storytelling that appeal to a wide range of readers globally. Each carries its identity and cultural references, influencing their storytelling, art, and audience. Considering manga as a graphic novel is partially accurate, given they share common ground. However, the cultural nuances, visual style, narrative techniques, publication practice, and the societal role they play in their countries of origin make them unique in their own right. Ultimately, both offer immersive worlds, rich narratives, and memorable characters, proving them as significant contributors to the fascinating world of visual storytelling.

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