Sunday, August 10, 2008

Anime/Manga 101: A "What's What" and "How To" Guide from a Christian Perspective - Manga Formats

In the last entry to this series, we looked at Anime Formats, where we talked about anime movies, OVAs, and TV Series. In this entry, we are going to look at Manga Formats. The series is going to be reordered and renamed to the following:

Anime/Manga 101 - A "What's What" and "How To" Guide From a Christian Perspective
I. Anime Formats
II. Manga Formats
III. Genres
IV. Vocabulary
V. Common Themes

The previous entry to this series has been updated accordingly.

2. Manga Formats

Manga is a printed media, rather than its audiovisual counterpart, anime. Therefore, it doesn't suffer from the same time constraints. Though anime always has to be 23 minutes long and broken into chunks of 13, manga can really be as long or short as it needs to be. So, as we talk about manga formats, understand that the numbers are much more approximate than the numbers we used last time.

Manga exists in four major formats pertaining to when and how the manga is published. Most manga exists first in a magazine that can be bought at a convenience store. They are phonebook-sized, quite heavy, and very cheap (from 250-600 Yen apiece for a 300-700 page magazine). The ink that is used is low quality, and the paper is akin to newspaper. After a certain number of chapters are published, they will be collected into a tankoubon (aka. Trade Paperback, volume), which uses acid-free paper and high-quality ink. The number of chapters in each paperback depends on the publishing format. Let's take a look.

Unserialized/ Volumes
- This is the rarest type of (popular) manga. It is not serialized in a magazine at all, but is released in whole volumes. Sometimes, these have chapters, and sometimes they just read straight through. Many non-Japanese manga (specifically Original English Language [OEL] manga from Tokyopop) use this format. New Life League Japan's manga series also uses this format.

There is a subsection of this format called doujinshi, or self-published works. This is a wide category that can include fan works from pre-existing series (akin to fan fiction), original manga from popular artists that they don't want to sell in the mainstream, and original works from non-professional authors. However, be careful searching for the word "doujinshi" on the internet. Though it isn't the case in the actual world, a majority of internet doujinshi that's posted is pornographic in nature.

How to Read: in general, series that are published this way tend to be much shorter, often less than five volumes. However, these volumes tend to be spaced very far apart; often up to a year or more. Therefore, it is good to read the volumes as they come out and then re-read the previous one before you move onto the new one. For me, a manga volume takes a little over an hour to read. I often read it in multiple sittings.

Monthly Mangas - These manga, as the title suggests, are published monthly. Many monthly manga magazines exist in Japan, including Shounen Ace, Shounen Gangan, and Jump S.Q. Monthly magazines, because of their release schedule, tend to have much longer chapters than weekly manga. Oftentimes, a chapter is between 30 and 50 pages, though I have seen some that go up to 60. This also means that there are less chapters in each paperback volume. Paperbacks from monthly mangas range between 4 and 6 chapters per volume, and are generally released about 2 months after the last chapter is finished, meaning that the magazines are often 6 months ahead of the books.

Similar to monthly mangas, but much rarer, are bi-monthly mangas. These are exactly the same except for their release schedule.

How to Read:
unlike the mangas published in volumes, it is a little bit easier to remember the story from month to month. I would suggest reading these chapters as they come out, and then once every six months or once a year, re-read everything again.

Weekly Mangas - These are manga series that are published every week, with the exception of certain holiday weeks. Some of the most famous manga in history are weekly mangas, including Dragonball, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Slam Dunk, Death Note, and far too many more to list. Many weekly magazines exist, but none of them come close to Weekly Shonen Jump, which sells 3 million copies a week in Japan, and is even published in America. Because of their frequent releases, weekly manga tend to be much shorter; usually 15-20 pages. This also means that in their bound form, there are more chapters per volume. Each trade paperback has about 8-12 chapters in it, and they are released much more frequently than the tankoubon for monthly mangas.

How to Read: Read these as they come out. There should be little reason to go back and re-read chapters, as the weekly releases keep your memory fresh. Even if you are only reading these in trade paperback format, the more frequent release schedule makes things much easier. Also, because of the frequent releases, weekly manga tend to be less "dense" in terms of story (with some notable exceptions).

One-Shots - One shots are manga stories that are contained within a single chapter. They appear in both weekly and monthly magazines on a regular basis, usually when one of the regular artists is taking a break. One-shot mangas sometimes operate as a standalone story, and sometimes they are simply pilot-chapters that an artist uses to sell a new idea; if it gets good ratings, they may get an offer to turn it into a series. One-shots are usually a first step into the business for young artists, though establish artists are also known to try out new ideas in this format. Some magazines even hold one-shot competitions. Unlike the other three formats, one-shots rarely make it into trade paperbacks, because of their size.

How to Read:
Read it straight through. If you like it, you may want to physically cut it out of the magazine you read it from and keep it in a file.


anime hunt said...

manga is Japanese comics and anime is Japanese animation. I usually wait for the translation edition so I can read it easily

Scot Eaton said...

You're right. I thought I made that clear enough when I said "Manga is a printed media, rather than its audiovisual counterpart, anime." Anyway, that's why I'm including a whole post on vocabulary in section 4.