Manga - What is it?
This question can easily be answered in that Manga is simply the Japanese word for comics. Throughout English-speaking countries the word Manga is used as a generic term for every type of comic book and graphic novel which had been originally published in Japan. In addition to using Manga as a word about Japanese publishing, the same word can also be further used to describe a style of work such as artistic and storytelling.
There are a couple of other words which are regularly used - AmeriManga - this can be used as a description of American artists who create comics in the manga style. There is also a comparable Korean word which means the same thing - Manwha.
Who reads Manga?
Japanese people read manga in a serialised format in a comic book which is usually in a monthly magazine. Alternatively it can be published as a graphic novel which is simply a book-length comic. Graphic novels are very popular but because of their length they can fill several shelves at the bookshop!
In the UK and US people who think about comics would normally expect them to be about superheroes which appear in strips in the daily newspaper. They aren't thought of as great works of art - however they are extremely popular amongst devotees. In Japan the situation is completely different with boys, girls and their parents and even grandparents all finding pleasure in comics. The overall spend on manga in Japan runs into billions every single year.
This is only possible because of the broad spectrum of titles, and subjects which have interesting topics for every age group. Whatever hobby, sport or knowledge anyone likes or wants further information about there will be a great choice of titles available. From the smallest child who loves the adventures of Pokemon to adult drama and everything between, manga will have it covered. There will be manga for all subjects, but they aren't superficial, as in comics in the UK and US.
Whilst every manga artist naturally has their own unique style there are shared characteristics between individual artists which give manga its unique appearance. All drawings are in pen and ink and aren't over-embellished. The characters will usually have oriental almond-shaped eyes and other parts of the body may be out of proportion, or over emphasised.
Anime and Manga - Opposite Sides of a CoinManga and anime (Japanese animation) are closely associated as in some cases manga can be adapted from a popular anime television programme. This can also work in reverse with manga available on the bookshelves which is then recreated in anime. As they are both drawn in a similar style it is easy to understand why there is a crossover between the two products.
It is clear that both manga and anime are both exceptionally well received in Japan and are now reaching a wider audience. The characters are given much greater depth enabling them to be featured in more detail which makes for longer stories. Humourous characters in manga and anime are obviously taken very seriously, which is exactly what the targeted audience expect.