What is the Difference Between Anime and Manga?

By Adelia Ladson

As any connoisseur will tell you there is a big difference between Anime and Manga and don't make the mistake of getting them confused.

According to Wikipedia, Anime is "a term used to refer to Japanese animated productions featuring hand-drawn or computer animation" and Manga are "comics created in Japan, or by Japanese creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century." So basically, in very simple terms, Anime is a cartoon and Manga is a comic.

Sailor Moon Sailor Moon as portrayed in Manga.
Sailor Moon Sailor Moon as portrayed in Manga.
But those laymen definitions aren't the sum total of what these two entities are and have become in our society. In fact, they have actually created a society around them with avid participants and followers. Each group is loyal to their chosen format because of their connection with the characters. However, when a Manga character, is picked up for an Anime series, there can be a crossover audience. Also some fans, prefer the subtleties of Manga drawings to the brashness of the Anime illustrations. There is a definite difference in appearance when viewing a character that is portrayed in each medium.

Although the medium is different, Anime and Manga share similarities as to the way the facial features of their characters are exaggerated and the stories are told in serial form, whereas, in American cartoons, they are told episodically. Anime series will carry one story-line for as long as a 26-episode run and Manga story lines can actually last for years or decades.

The pros of following a Manga story is that it is pretty cost effective because a single volume has several months of issues and can cost as little as $10. This allows new readers to go back and read older volumes so that they are caught up. To catch up with an Anime series, can be a little more difficult and buying DVDs of the preceding episodes can be a little more expensive. Yet, many fans still think it's worth it enough to make Anime a booming business.

Sailor Moon Sailor Moon as portrayed in Anime.
Sailor Moon Sailor Moon as portrayed in Anime.
Since Anime is an industry which brings in lots of money, it is also much more creatively controlled, has a larger budget and an entire production team of decision makers. In contrast, Manga, tends to be driven by a single author that only deals with a publisher or not. The important thing for a Mangaka (Manga creator) is that they develop and keep an audience. Because of the larger number of parties involved with the production of Anime, it can take months to produce each episode. A single Manga issue can be written and illustrated by its author within a week. But I am sure Anime fans will tell you that it's totally worth the wait to see new episodes of their favorite show.

Since Manga works are regularly turned into Anime shows, there has been some dissension of fans, of specific characters, over whether they are happy with the conversion or not. Some fans don't like changes in the storyline or even the way their favorite character is visually portrayed. There are other fans who find the conversion an improvement or an enhancement of their favorite Manga series.

Regardless of the similarities or differences and the like versus dislike of each, what is certain is that Anime and Manga has made its way from Japanese Culture into Western Culture in a big way. And it doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon.

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