Manga, the Japanese comic, is a widely popular form of entertainment with an ever-growing global audience. It serves as a window to Japanese culture, humor, and storytelling. Among the vast variety of manga genres, the depiction of pregnancy and motherhood is a significant theme. In this article, we explore the representation of motherhood in manga and how it reflects the Japanese culture’s values and beliefs.

The portrayal of pregnancy and motherhood in manga

The depiction of pregnancy and motherhood in manga varies greatly across different genres. From romantic to action-packed stories, pregnancy and motherhood have been depicted in various ways, reflecting the diversity of Japanese society.

Shōjo manga

Shōjo manga is a genre of Japanese comics marketed toward young female readers. Typically, shōjo manga depicts love stories and coming-of-age experiences with a strong female lead character. The portrayal of pregnant women in shōjo manga is often seen as romanticized and idealized, featuring couples embracing each other lovingly while the woman’s belly grows. The girls in shōjo manga are often shown as capable and strong while nurturing life inside them. A famous example is the manga Fruits Basket Natsuki Takaya; a shōjo manga featuring a pregnant female protagonist going through her journey of love and family.

Slice of life manga

Slice of life manga is a genre that portrays everyday life as the main theme. The representation of motherhood in slice of life manga is usually more realistic and down-to-earth, depicting the struggles of mothers juggling between childcare and other aspects of life.

One of the most popular slice of life manga about motherhood is Ba and Me, written Marimo Ragawa. The manga revolves around the life of a single mother and a young boy’s relationship after losing his father. It explores the difficulties of raising a child alone and balancing work and family life.

Action manga

Action manga is a genre that involves battles and conflicts as the main theme. The depiction of pregnant women in action manga is a rare occurrence. However, some manga portrays pregnant women as strong fighters. In Akame ga Kill! Takahiro, one of the characters, Kurome, is pregnant, yet she remains a fierce fighter, not letting her pregnancy slow her down.

Japanese Cultural Values influencing the portrayal of pregnancy and motherhood in manga

Japanese cultural values have a significant influence on the depiction of pregnancy and motherhood in manga. Most of the time, motherhood in Japanese society is portrayed as a crucial role for women. Mothers are seen as life-givers and caretakers, especially in the traditional family system, where the father is the provider and protector, and the mother is the main caretaker.

The Japanese society values the concept of Yamato Nadeshiko, meaning “the ideal Japanese woman.” She is portrayed as someone who is gentle, submissive, nurturing, and feminine. This value is often reflected in shōjo manga, where the pregnant women are portrayed as guardians of new life and embodying the ideal qualities of Yamato Nadeshiko.

Japanese society values harmony and peace, which are reflected in slice of life manga, where the focus is on the struggles and joys of everyday life, often normalized without any dramatic twists, even when portraying parenthood.

Japanese society also values perseverance and hard work, which is why, in action manga, even pregnant women are portrayed as strong warriors who don’t lose their fighting spirit.

Frequently Asked Questions about Manga Pregnancy

1. Are there any restrictions on depicting pregnancy or childbirth in manga?

In Japan, there are no official censorship laws regarding the depiction of pregnancy or childbirth in manga. However, manga publishers have guidelines for content that is deemed inappropriate for certain age groups.

2. Do Japanese people read manga instead of regular books about pregnancy and parenting?

While manga is popular among Japanese readers, it is not a replacement for books about pregnancy and parenting. Manga is a form of entertainment, and while it may depict pregnancy and parenting, it is important to supplement manga reading with more practical guides and information.

3. Are there any manga specifically targeted towards pregnant women?

Yes, there are several manga targeting pregnant women. One such example is Pregnancy Stories, a manga series providing information and experiences about pregnancy and motherhood. It was created in collaboration with healthcare professionals to provide accurate information to expectant mothers.


Manga is a powerful medium for storytelling and holds a significant cultural value in Japan. The portrayal of pregnancy and motherhood in manga reflects Japanese culture’s values and beliefs. Manga’s diverse styles and genres provide a range of representations of pregnancy and motherhood, each with its influence and perception. While some portrayals may be romanticized, the more realistic depictions explore the struggles and joy of parenthood. Overall, manga continues to be an essential piece of Japanese culture, and the representation of pregnancy and motherhood in manga will continue to evolve and reflect society’s values.

Source: The Japan Times

By Manga