Manga Fans Trapped: Isolated Readers Explore New Genres in Quarantine
As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people all around the globe to stay indoors, fans of the popular Japanese comics called manga have found themselves having to adapt to new ways of getting their fix. With social distancing guidelines, many fans are overwhelmed with a feeling of being trapped and isolated from society, this leads them to explore different varieties of manga genres available.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how manga fans can make the most of their time at home delving into different genres, discovering new stories, and even learning Japanese.
The Thriving Manga Industry
Manga is a Japanese medium that has been around since the 19th century, originally published in newspapers as comic strips. It gained popularity during the post-World War II era and has since become a cultural phenomenon in Japan and around the world. Manga are usually published in weekly or monthly magazines, and the most popular series are then compiled into comic books called tankōbon, which are sold in specialty shops and bookstores.
The manga industry is thriving, with millions of copies sold worldwide every year. In 2019, the Japanese manga industry generated approximately ¥612 billion (about $5.6 billion USD) in sales. Manga has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and Europe, with publishers such as Viz Media and Kodansha Comics translating and releasing titles for English-speaking audiences.
With the pandemic restrictions, the industry is facing some challenges but overall the sales of the digital versions have soared high.
Exploring New Genres
One of the benefits of being stuck at home is having more time to delve into new genres of manga that you might not have considered before. For example, if you’re a fan of action manga like Naruto or One Piece, you might want to try reading a romantic comedy like Toradora! or Kaguya-sama: Love is War. Alternatively, if you’re into horror manga like Junji Ito’s Uzumaki or The Promised Neverland, you could try out sports manga like Haikyu! or Your Lie in April.
Exploring new genres allows you to broaden your horizons, discover new stories and characters, and helps you escape from the real world for a few hours.
Learning Japanese Through Manga
Manga is a great tool for learning Japanese, especially if you’re a beginner. Manga often includes furigana, which are tiny readings of kanji characters next to the word in hiragana (the Japanese script used for phonetic writing). This makes it easier for Japanese language learners to read and understand the words.
Reading manga in its original language can also help you improve your pronunciation and listening skills. In addition, many manga are written with colloquial language, which gives you a better understanding of how Japanese people speak in real life.
For a beginner who is less familiar with the kanjis, there are manga series available with basic terminologies as well such as Fullmetal Alchemist or One Piece.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I read manga for free?
A: Yes, there are several websites that allow you to read manga for free legally but the exposure to ads is inevitable. Some examples of such websites are MangaPlus, Shonen Jump and Comixology.
Q: How do I know which manga to pick?
A: There are various criteria to pick a manga such as the genre, author or artist. Try to go through synopsis and reviews of the manga series before starting with the first chapter.
Q: How can I support the manga industry?
A: One way is to buy the authorized version of the manga, either digital or physical, from the publisher. This supports the creators and ensures that the future of the industry is stable.
Q: How do I know if a manga is appropriate for all ages?
A: Manga publishers typically put an age rating on the cover of each manga, much like movies or video games, to indicate the target audience. Make sure to check the age ratings before starting the series, especially for children.
Q: How do I keep track of my reading progress?
A: There are several websites and mobile apps such as MyAnimeList, MangaRock and Tachiyomi that allow you to keep track of your reading progress, rate the series and make a list of your favorite manga.
Q: Are there any manga podcasts available?
A: Yes, there are various podcasts hosted avid manga readers that usually discuss the newly released or popular manga series, events and conventions. Some examples are Manga Mavericks, Shonen Flop and The Manga Raiders.
Being trapped inside can be frustrating, especially for manga fans who are used to attending conventions, visiting local shops and enjoying the social aspect of the fandom. However, there are still ways to enjoy manga and discover new stories even while stuck at home. Try exploring new genres, learning Japanese or even just reading your favorite series.
Whether you’re a longtime manga fan or a newcomer to the medium, there is bound to be a story out there that will captivate you, and can help you cope with the situation we’re all currently facing.
So, pick up a manga, immerse yourself in the world of the characters, and enjoy!
 Japan Times, Japan’s Manga Industry Generates Over $5.5 Billion In Sales For 2019
 VIZ Media LLC.