(Continuing from Part 2)
The Genre Conundrum
Manga has the widest variety of genre you can ever find in any media and not to mention the convenient categorization of each genre in a way that gives you an idea of the contents of the story before beginning to read it. The categorization depends on various factors too. Sometimes it depends on the target audience, at other times themes that our now considered tropes for the industry mark out the genre. Sexual orientation of the mangaka’s target audience matters. As does the type of story itself.
Based on the theme of the story, manga is categorized as
- Shojo (Themes that appeal to girls like romance, fantasy, school life etc.)
- Shonen (Themes that appeal to boys like action, mecha, robots etc.)
- Seinen (Extreme gore and violence)
- Hentai (Adult themes, usually for boys)
- Children (Themes that appeal to little children, usually revolving around fantasy and simple action themes)
- Josei (Drama and slice of life manga made for older or working women)
Based on Sexual orientation,
- Yaoi or Shonen Ai (Gay themes)
- Yuri or Shoujo Ai (Lesbian themes)
- School life
- Martial Arts
- Slice of Life
- Sci fi
One could go on forever. Keep in mind, that this listing is only a broad classification of the genres manga can touch. It is estimated that there are around 3000 professional manga artists in Japan. All of these individuals have published at least one volume of manga, but most of them make their living as assistants to famous manga artists or have some other supplementary source of income.
Only 300 of these, or ten percent of the total, are able to make an above-average living from manga alone. In addition, there are also a great number of amateur manga artists who produce small magazines intended for private circulation, called dojinshi. Ever artist strives to make his manga as unique as possible, for individual traits are what make a manga great and memorable. Thus what you have is a comic book style that ultimately defies genres outright.
I firmly believe that manga should simply be made a genre in itself and all this clutter should be done away with it. This is not a fool’s myopic viewpoint that I ask for, rather the farsight of seeing the whole picture with all its colorful details intact. Genres are after all essentially classifications. And a you can quite honestly ignore them completely if you want to. Just go from cover to cover and read the brief to see which storyline actually attracts you. Or flip through the pages until something catches your eye.
The three largest publishing houses producing manga are Kodansha, Shogakkan, and Shueisha. In addition there are some ten odd publishing firms which come in at a close second, including Akita Shoten, Futabasha, Shonen Gahosha, Hakusensha, Nihon Bungeisha, and Kobunsha. This does not take into account the countless other small-scale publishing firms. As we can clearly see Manga is a force to be reckoned with. Its a massive industry with solid roots reaching well back into time and with each passing year it only grows.
In India, a country as far away as could be possible from the conventions and norms of Japan, a following is now slowly yet surely developing for manga. That in itself is a triumph for everyone involved. Fans come together across the globe in Comic Conventions dressed up as their favorite character. Such is its reach in the world. And the beauty of it all is, manga has nowhere near realized its full potential for growth yet.
The impact if global and the entertainment moguls of the civilized world no longer ignore this comic book juggernaut from Japan. They simply cannot afford to.
So step right up… into the world of manga, you know of it enough. Pick a series, any series you like and read it a chapter or two.
If you dont like it, pick another one,
eventually you shall find one that will surely click.
A story will be found, a story so familiar and attuned to your tastes.
A story that you will instantly love, and then you will for a moment begin to doubt,
If the author knew you, knew what you were all about.
And that is how it begins.
After all, no introduction to manga ever ends.