Discussion: Why Not Manga?

This is a multi-faceted question that could apply to a whole bunch of people (I hope. And I hope they find this question on this blog)

I’ve always felt like anime is more popular than manga, but for reasons I don’t really understand as a very devoted manga reader.

That being said, there are so many reasons why people choose anime over manga, or just fall out reading manga or watching anime altogether. Disinterest in reading, passionate interest in animation, waning interest in manga and its tropes or really just interest in other things are all valid reasons to spend time away from manga.

But I want to hear the nitty, gritty details of why, so please share your answers to your heart’s content.

About Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

Daniella is a freelance manga editor and blogger. She likes collecting out of print manga and playing with her puppy. Yes, someone got her a puppy already.
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19 Responses to Discussion: Why Not Manga?

  1. Scott Frye says:

    I’ve tried many times to get into manga but it just doesn’t seem to stick with me. I never had an interest in comics and graphic novels to begin with. They just never was of interest to me. And animation has sort of been part of my life since childhood.

    I do have several reasons I can’t seem to get into manga. I think the first would be is that I go through a volume of manga faster than one episodes of anime. Second, each volume is released slower than a release of anime. And I can usually get either the whole series or most of one series in one release. I also don’t have to wait months if not years to finish one series. Third, I honestly prefer to read actual novels where I actually have to use my imagination and visualize the images described. And a novel takes much longer to through than just one volume of manga. Lastly, I would say that one complete manga series will usually cost more than one complete anime series in the long run.

    I guess the above are the reasons I don’t like manga. Now, the reasons I like anime over manga is that first animation has always been a part of life. Ever since childhood, I have always enjoyed cartoons and animation. I think I begin to like Japanese animation back when I was in college, which was also right around the time Toonami aired. I think I liked anime because it seemed to have more variety than Western animation and more mature. It was just different than most animation I had seen.

    Honestly, I never even knew of manga until 5 or 6 years ago. Never heard of it before. As I said, I had never been into comics so might be why. And I actually didn’t get involved with the anime community until then.

    I do own some manga but those because I enjoyed the anime and wanted to collect it. And most are of failed attempts to get into manga. I guess I go tired of the series that I did read. I didn’t care to read anymore. I got burned out. I’ve come to accept that manga just isn’t my thing.

    I guess that sums up my thoughts on why I prefer anime over manga. Sorry for the very long comment.

    • No worries about the longevity of your comment. But I’m curious: have you ever tried reading wordier manga or manga with more emphasis on art and paneling? Death Note and some Tezuka manga come to mind. Perhaps manga like that would present you with more enjoyment, but it’s certainly up to you if you want to try them out or not.

  2. Robin Gash says:

    From my perspective in the UK.

    Anime has effectively been around for 10-15 years longer than manga. (Akira vs Tokyopop getting book shop distro)
    Anime was (is for Ghibli) on TV, most of the groundswell is from people who saw it there (very, very casual fans who’d never buy anything, but would watch DBZ on their parents satellite/cable if they could).
    A few anime routinely come up in film discussion /critique, Akira ,GitS, Spirited Away

    Manga rarely comes up in nationally circulated discussion of books (unusually, the British Library’s exhibit last year on the history of SF had a fair few). Would never see it in discussion of foreign literature as you might anime in film discussion.

    So partly manga still has the “for kids” label far more than anime does. Despite it being totally the opposite in Japan.

    Online manga only became casually accessible through the scanlation aggregation sites, equivalent for anime came in with youtube. Don’t forget the pirates are still vocally fans, especially young inexperienced pirates.

    I do now read manga, but got into it years after the anime; which you could always buy in shops as a teenager (still can, just about). Manga I started buying at university, as I was in London which has plenty of good enough comic shops (and a major con).

    • That sucks that it’s mostly considered “for kids.” One thing I do really like about Japanese society is that comics are kind of, sort of considered “for everyone”, even if usually otaku who read it after a certain age.

      Also, everything I’ve heard about the UK and manga has been that it sucks, which I’m very sorry to hear.
      Seems so odd considering the general popularity of comics & manga in Germany and France. :<

      • Robin Gash says:

        Not so bad, we get next to everything you guys do, excepting some digital stuff. We just did much worse on getting it into the bookshops when you did.

        Had Viz, Del Ray and Darkhorse stuff initially came out sub-licensed here or under other imprints. Comic shops all carry US stock anyway, so got wiped out by grey-imports amongst the hardcore.

        Companies your side of the pond still get support of hardcore collectors, over here they all import US. Now, however, most US manga companies have the licenses to deal with this, so things can appear in chain shops (mostly shounen jump stuff in W H Smith’s) through proper channels (and most importantly no longer behind the USA) .

        Having no local market is better for us than having a little struggling one was, as it means we can just join your market.

        • I guess, but that ups the prices you have to pay considerably, right?

          I’m surprised they don’t have Viz Europe print stuff in English and ship manga from France instead of all the way from the US.

          • Robin Gash says:

            Nope, no sales tax on books, don’t think they carry customs duty either, So shipping them from the USA is cheap. Shipping to UK (as a consumer at least, not sure comercially) form USA is cheaper than from France or Germany.

            There’s a few volumes where the £ list price is printed on wrong as the exchange rate changed, and there’s some rounding. We might pay $1 extra.

          • Huh. Didn’t know that. Interesting that it’s cheaper to ship from so far away, but not from much closer areas.

  3. Suspi says:

    I’ve read all the CLAMP mangas.. and for the life of me, I can’t understand what happens in most of them. I think for the action genre, it’s easier to see the flow of exactly what happens in a movie format. While it’s fun imagining how the fight progresses by viewing snapshots, it’s much more easily consumable to watch it unravel.

    That or I just hate CLAMP’s art style.

    • I don’t think CLAMP are the best creators when it comes to a lot of stuff, but I would never really consider them any good at action manga. There are so many better mangaka in that respect. Have you ever read Naoki Urasawa? Waaaay better at action than CLAMP.

      That being said, I don’t think any manga could beat animation or live action because manga is inherently stationary. Action will always look better when it’s actually moving.

      • lys says:

        Hmm, I can’t help being a bit of a contrarian—I think the “action” illustrations of ballet dance in Swan are gorgeous, and more effectual than seeing the actual animated movement would be. I mean, that delightful 70s shoujo linework , the stark black and white compositions… it’s just so… gah♥! Ariyoshi-sensei is definitely making the limitations of the medium work for her.

        But I know that’s very much the exception to the rule, and animation totally makes sense for action in almost any other case 😀

        (I’m on the other side of your question—a manga reader who doesn’t bother with anime so much these days—so I had to get my comment in by going a little sidetracked ^^; )

        Actually, maybe I do have something to say. So, I think it’s fair to say that outside of anime/manga, movies and tv shows are more popular and more talked-about than books, right? It seems like a more accessible format—something you can passively view; opening a book and reading can seem like “work.” Another factor may be that watching something can be done in community with others—it’s hard to share a book and read along with someone else. But on the other hand, for someone like me who spends a lot of time alone (at least my geeky-interest time—most of my family and friends aren’t interested in manga/anime), books and manga are great because they’re individual-oriented. I feel a little lonely sitting in front of my computer watching an anime or a movie alone… but maybe that’s just me?

        • Yeah, it would be pretty pointless to write a whole series about struggling to master ballet and not show readers just what is that the dancers are attempting to do. But it’s also something of a guide to help non-experts see what’s going on with the dancers, something that live-action and animation would have trouble doing unless the frames were slowed down considerably. (Or animated to show that detail, but I feel like it wouldn’t work out with Swan.)

          Swan is definitely the exception in that case.

          I get what you’re saying about books, but I feel like that’s only the case because we don’t watch movies for homework as often as we read books. Would books really be so hateful if we weren’t pushed to read them so much in our academic lives? I wonder…
          And at the same time, it’s just as easy to connect with someone who’s read a book or a TV series, but the chances they’ve read that same book are slimmer these days.

    • Ade says:

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one!! I love their artwork style but sometimes (most times) when I read their manga I’m left going, “what just happened?” I thought it was just me haha.

  4. Séri says:

    I have always felt the same way as you, so I’m just as baffled. To me, watching anime takes up more time and energy than reading manga does. But I guess it’s more immersive experience overall, maybe that’s why?

    • I really wouldn’t say I’m baffled as to why people like anime. I don’t really get why it’s more popular than manga though. I’ll usually take reading a good book over TV any day, but then again I can’t concentrate on TV as well as I can on manga.

    • Ade says:

      I agree with you about anime taking up so much time and energy. Although I do watch some anime, I find it incredibly hard to devote my time to complete a series (especially if its a series like Bleach where there a hundreds of episodes). I normally watch an episode here or there when I’m really bored. Most of my time is spent watching TV (American tv, not anime), or reading manga.

      • Likewise! But also, I had a really fun atmosphere to watch anime in, back in college. We had a big stadium-seating lecture hall as our club meeting room and we’d turn off the lights and watch anime on a gigantic screen! It was so good, especially since I find myself really bored with TV when things aren’t dark and on a big screen.
        TV is too passive for me. 😛

  5. Apple says:

    I talk about this a lot, I think I have even mentioned it on the comments section of this blog (so forgive me if you’ve heard me say this already), but I don’t buy near as much manga as I used to. When I was a teenager, I can’t even fathom the amount of manga I went through. Every week, I would go through my favorite bookstore and set a stack of books on the counter, sometimes as many as 15-20 at a time. Now, at 26, I probably buy an average of two books a month (to give you an example of my tastes, last week I bought volume 2 of Wandering Son, and re-purchased Solanin because I loaned it out and never got it back). There just aren’t as many titles that interest me–and I am pretty sure that it’s because my interests changed. If there were more manga that appealed to me now, I would buy more manga.

    As far as “anime vs manga” is concerned, I would imagine it’s the same reason that people watch more TV than read. There’s a sort of passive consumption that goes on when watching television, whereas when reading (novels, manga, graphic novels, etc) it’s a more active sort of consumption. It’s just plain easier to watch something on TV.

    • Hm, for as much as you comment on this blog, I didn’t expect you to be buying so little. What exactly are you interested in seeing out of manga? Maybe I can help out if you want some suggestions.

      I actually find TV so boring because it’s passive consumption. With the exception of going to movie theaters where the whole experience is a lot better (and the dark prevents me from doing much else), you will almost *never* find me *just* watching TV. Unless it’s subtitled and I really, really have to pay attention to it. But I don’t watch that much subtitled stuff and part of that is because I find TV so boring. Sooooooooooooooooooooo this is why I have a lot of manga. 😛

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