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The Idiot’s Guide to Manga a.k.a. The Basics

Ever wanted a definition for pesky manga terminology on sites? Are you a manga virgin who wants to avoid the things which verge on, or indeed are, porn? Want to impress your friends, though God knows how, with casual bits of Japanese terminology? Well read on my good addict.

Ciel: The Last Autumn Story – I love this manwha

MANGA: Japanese graphic art used to tell a story, or as my mother calls them “those bloody Japanese comics.” Generally read from right to left, and way less associated with the superhero genre.

MANWHA: The South Korean equivalent of manga, I’m not sure if the North produce any as well. Generally read from left-to-right manwha has it’s own distinctive style, and if manga has a thing about cute school uniforms then manwha has a minor obsession with gang culture.

MANHUA: Manga of Chinese-speaking origin, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and (with some restrictions) China. Each manhuaga tends to have a highly original and distinctive style, with an emphasis in realism vis a` vis proportions etc.

SHOUJO/SHOJO: “Girly” manga, generally-aimed at the romance or cute-obsessed 10-18 year old. Obviously it’s not always quite that bad, and can be quite subtle – but the emphasis is on romantic love.

SHOUNEN/SHONEN: Male equivalent of shoujo, “boy-y?” Closely linked with the adventure genre, end of the world scenarios and ecchi.(See below).

ECCHI: A bit perverted. Not in a paedophile way, but in a seeing-up-girl’s-skirts and accidentally-walking-in-on-melon-breasted-ones-in-the-bath sort of way. Leave all knowledge of normal female proportions at the door.

JOSEI: Shoujo grown up, with a more realistic take on love. Closely-linked with mature.

SEINEN: Shounen grown up. Often involves the protagonist stepping up to the mark responsibility-wise.

MATURE: Either alot of violence or sex, depending on the manga and which other genre it’s been paired with.

SHOUNEN-AI: Literally “boys’ love”. Gay romantic love.

YAOI: We ain’t in Kansas anymore, as this is what happens when shounen-ai discovers sex. In a big way.

SHOUJO-AI; “Girls’ love”. Lesbian romantic love. It’s not quite so big in Japan yet as shounen-ai, so generally there are less examples to find.

YURI: Yaoi’s lesbian twin sister.

HENTAI: Porn, basically. Most mainstream manga websites don’t have this on their databases, but keep an eye out if you want to avoid this kind of thing; equally, if you don’t, be aware that it’s all very “male gaze” orientated and generally makes ecchi expectations of the female form look reasonable.

COMICS: Western sequential art, usually released in a weekly or monthly magazine format with some being collated into volumes (a.k.a. trade paperbacks) for release. Generally associated with superheroes and “frivolous” genres.

GRAPHIC NOVELS: Western sequential art usually released in book form, whether it be in one volume or more, which tells a story. Like a novel.  Like a comic. Less use of pre-established.copyrighted characters, and considered socially acceptable to have on your coffee table.

BANDE-DESSINÉ (B-D): Sequential art written in French, usually released in volumes rather than issues of magazines. Massively varied in terms of art and panel styles, the stories tend to slide along the scale of what we think of as comics to graphic novels.

Righto, that’s all for now folks. I might define some manga sub-categories at a later – or not. Half the fun is finding out this stuff, – would you believe that “vampire” has become a category in its own right?


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