Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday 3 February 2024

How do I Know Which Manga is Suitable for My Reader?

Why not set a goal for 2024 to explore different forms of children’s literature. Our first post for the year introduces manga, an increasingly popular form that crosses all ages and genres - many targeting adult readers. Felicity provides important information that identifies the diversity and breadth of the form to assist in choosing appropriate titles for children and young adults - and may whet your own appetite and assist you in locating a title for your own consumption.

It’s been a few years since the blog specifically addressed the world of manga (pronounced mun-guh). I was surprised to learn that manga has its origins in 12th Century scrolls, and the term came into common usage in the late 18th Century. In Japan, manga refers to all comics, cartooning and animation. In English speaking countries it is applied only to Japanese comics, with anime the term used for animations. Our school focus in 2024 is on the language that is required to access the curriculum. Manga too has a lexicon which may help us to identify suitable manga sources for our readers.

It can be challenging to know which manga is suitable for inclusion in library collections catering for our readers who are 18 and younger. The Japanese terms used to identify the genres is very specific, but this knowledge doesn’t seem to have transferred well to the western world. 

Shōjo manga is produced for females (under 18’s) and is usually a romance style. Josei is produced for adult women and may include pornographic content. It is also commonly termed redikomi in the western world.

Shōnen manga is produced for under 18 males and is often enjoyed equally by females. Seinen manga is produced for males aged 18-30 years. Seinen means ‘youth’ even though the western world would be more inclined to use a term young adult. Seeing the word ‘Youth’ on the cover of a manga book or magazine may indicate the content is for a much older age group. Seijin manga is often pornographic and/or violent.

There is even a special term to describe the book in which collected chapters of published manga are bound – Tankōbon.

Gekiga is the manga genre aimed at adult audiences: it has more mature themes and a more cinematic art style.

Dōjinshi are self-published stories, usually original but may also be the unauthorised use of recognised characters from other manga, to create additional stories or further develop a character. This style is akin to fan fiction.

Mangaka is the term used for the creator of the visual images in manga. They may also be the story writer.

I have tried to use these terms to search Booktopia, but without success (unless the word was in the title of the book). Their default is to list all styles as ‘Audience: General Adult’, unless the manga is specifically upper primary/lower secondary in content. I have also searched shōju manga and shōnen manga and there are many sites offering the 10/20/30 best manga. I checked if the bookstore Kinokuniya Australia enabled a search using the terms above, but as for Booktopia, results were only returned if Shōju or Shōnen appeared in the title. Unfortunately they don’t even have an ‘Audience’ rating on their site.

A selection of Youth titles available from Libraries Tasmania

I wish you well as you build a collection suitable to your clientele. In 2023 we had a student request the Beserk series, and I have just discovered that these are Seijin manga…it’s a challenge! A search on Manga in Microsoft Bing presents a range of images, book sets and subheadings to help you explore different styles and audiences. Another useful starting point is the Libraries Tasmania Search where, after searching for ‘manga’, the results can be refined by genre, audience and series. 

A selection of Children's titles available from Libraries Tasmania

Felicity Sly is treasurer of CBCA Tas and a recently retired/retiring Teacher Librarian.

Reference: Manga (2024) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga (Accessed: 01 February 2024). 

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