An Introduction To Japanese Manga Terminology And Genres

The world of Japanese manga is most certainly a truly fascinating one. Its unique style have set it in its own category and helped it to seriously succeed in the graphic novel framework. This world, however, is still unknown to many. Even those who are considering jumping into the marvelous world of manga tend to get a little lost when it comes to the Japanese words used for a terminological purpose. That’s why I would like to list a few of the most important vocables that you may come across while looking through shelves filled with these wonderful graphic novels known as manga.

1. Mangaka

The person (author) who writes/draws a manga is commonly known as a mangaka. It is possible, although not essential, for a series to have more than one mangaka working on it.

2. Shōnen Manga

A genre of manga aimed towards to young male adults and boys. Series pertaining to the Shōnen genre are full of action-adventure stories (in both real and fantasy settings) as well as young protagonists that possess that wild “die young” spirit. This is, arguably, the most popular genre among Japanese graphic novels.

Popular series: Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama, One Piece by Eiichiro Oda, Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

3. Seinen Manga

Publications destined for more adult/mature male audience. Topics in this genre diverge greatly, varying from horror to politics with many more in between. Higher focus on plot and deep character development, instead of raw action, give this genre its much needed mature atmosphere. Some Seinen series could be easily  mistaken for  Shōnen usually when it comes to action-adventure but, undoubtedly, Seinen’s action issues way more violence.

Popular series: Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue, Berserk by Kentaro Miura, Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama.


Source: Amazon

4. Shōjo Manga

These series are written (not exclusively) for a young adult feminine demographic. Centering its themes around human interactions and relationships, Shōjo works usually deal with love and friendship stories in a less action-oriented way.

Popular series: Boys Over Flowers by Yoko Kamio.


Source: Amazon

5. Dōjinshi

Dōjinshi are, some may say, parodies of other manga series. They are written by amateur, sometimes unprofessional mangaka and most of them are based on current popular series from any genre.


Source: Deviant Art

Those are the basics! With these core concepts clear, you’re now ready to follow up any manga related thread without getting lost in translation.

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Featured image via Deviant Art

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