A Beginner’s Guide to Manga


While I’m still on my manga-and-anime kick, I thought I’d start on this mini-series, which I’ve been meaning to post for a while. I’m far from an expert on the topic, but I’ve been reading manga since my early teens, and from talking to others about it, I’ve noticed some of the things about manga that seem to confuse newcomers to the medium. Namely, the genres.

Manga has a lot of genres, of course, much like any other kind of literature, but the ones I’m thinking of – and which I’ll be trying to explain in this series of posts – are used almost exclusively in reference to manga (and anime): ShounenShoujoSeinen and Josei. But these aren’t even proper genres, really! The terms actually refer to the target demographic of the work, though its actual audience is often much wider than the terms would imply (and it’s often difficult to tell which genre a series belongs to without knowing what magazine it was originally published in). It’s similar to the way “Young Adult” is used in the West – books in this category will often share similar traits, but most of them can also fit within broader genres, such as “contemporary” or “fantasy”, etc.

Here’s the short version:

  • Shounen – manga targeted at boys aged around 9-15.
  • Shoujo – manga targeted at girls in the same age group.
  • Seinen – manga targeted at men and older teenage boys.
  • Josei – manga targeted at women and older teenage girls.

But anyway, this series will contain three separate posts (not including this one), in which I will talk a little about each genre in turn. I’ll also be giving a few recommendations for series from the relevant genre that I think would make a good starting point for someone who’s interested in picking up manga for the first time. And just to start you off, here’s a recommendation for those of you who’d like to learn more about the manga industry itself (it’s a shounen, in case you were wondering).

[Disclaimer: As I said, I’m not an expert. If you notice any mistakes, then please feel free to point them out.]


Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata//Bakuman vol. 1Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata is a series that follows two boys through their last year of junior high school and onwards, as they team up to make manga together, and try to make it as professional manga artists. There’s also several romantic sub-plots (one of them not-so-sub, involving the Mashiro’s girlfriend, who wishes to become a voice actor), but for me at least, the real highlight of Bakuman is the insight into the industry – the magazine that Mashiro and Takagi go to work for is based on Weekly Shounen Jump, and several of the characters there were apparently inspired by real people.


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