• Manga comes from Japan, manhwa is Korean, and manhua hails from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. The Japanese word “manga” and the Korean word “manhwa” are both derived from the Chinese “manhua,” which translates roughly as “impromptu sketches.”
  • Before these art forms gained global popularity, the terms were often used interchangeably to describe all types of comics and graphic novels, no matter where they came from. But these days, due to a rapidly growing international readership, the definitions have become more fixed in order to designate the comic’s country of origin. 
  • Manga is Japan’s biggest export. NO matter where you’re from the world, you’re probably familiar with those iconic illustrations featuring cartoonish characters with oversized eyes.
  • The art form first gained traction in the nineteenth century, but its famous imagery is inspired by much earlier Japanese art.

Manga: What Makes it Unique?

  • The most noticeable feature that sets manga apart from manhwa and manhua is its monochrome format. While you sometimes find full-color front covers, manga is almost universally published in black and white.
  • The layout is designed to be read from right to left, and as you’d expect, all original manga is written in Japanese. But these days, thanks to a huge international fanbase, many famous series are now translated into multiple languages for a global audience.
  • When a manga is released, it’s traditionally published in weekly magazines, such as Shonen Jump, Shueisha, and Kodansha, but monthly manga publications have also become popular in recent years.
  • Once a series becomes established, and multiple chapters are developed, issues are often compiled into complete volumes. Hence, there’s no need to collect every original publication to follow the story.
  • A manga creator is known as a “mangaka,” but since a series can span years, if not decades, multiple mangakas often work on the same manga. Plus, these gripping stories paired with intricate artwork require a whole team to see it through to publication, so there are usually plenty of non-mangakas working behind the scenes too.

The Rise Of Manga

  • Manga generates a massive amount of revenue for the Japanese economy. Over the last three decades, its popularity has spread around the world, first to the US and Canada, then across Europe, and now, readers can be found in every corner of the globe.
  • In fact, manga now outsells any other type of comic or graphic novel in the United States, and the same is true elsewhere too. Because manga is such big business, aspiring artists and writers train at universities across Japan, all competing to be the best in their field.
  • Many creatives have also made the transition from manga to another major modern Japanese artform anime. In fact, the majority of anime is based on an original manga publication, such as the smash-hit Fullmetal series and Demon Slayer Mugen.

Manga Genres

  • There are hundreds of genres in the manga world, meaning there is something to suit every reader, regardless of their age or interests. So, as there are too many to cover in this post, here are a few popular ones.


  • Shônen manga is traditionally aimed at adolescent boys, but thanks to a recent shift in attitudes around traditional gender roles, many young girls are also reading shônen these days. That being said, the main character is still almost always male.
  • Shônen is all about high-action scenes and epic adventures, and it often incorporates elements of light horror and violence.


  • The majority of readers of this manga genre are teenage girls, which makes sense since Shôjo takes its name from a Japanese word meaning “young girl.”
  • Shôjo is less about action and adventure and more about emotional issues and relationships between friends and couples.
  • The artwork is highly idealized with plenty of bold, feminine symbols such as hearts and flowers, which are used to display the feelings of the characters within the stories.


  • The word “seinen” means “youth,” but this is a much more adult-focused genre than Shônen and Shôjo. Readers tend to be males aged between 18 and 30, and some seinen publications also attract a fanbase of businessmen in their 40s and beyond.
  • All kinds of themes can be found within the seinen genre, from science fiction to pornography. 
  • The storylines usually feature grittier subject matters, and they put much more focus on character and plot development than the more simplistic high-action shonen manga.


  • Josei manga is a kind of grown-up version of shôjo. While it still features themes of friendship and romance and focuses on emotion rather than action, the artwork is less idealized, the characters are more complex, and the plot contains more mature and challenging themes.

Shoujo-ai and Shounen-ai

  • Also known as yuri and yaoi, these two genres focus on LGBTQ+ relationships. Subject matters and themes within these genres are broad, and so while some stories are strictly romantic, many are packed full of action and adventure, horror and violence, and everything in between.

The Key Differences Between Manga, Manhua, And Manhwa

  • Here’s a recap of some of the major differences between these East Asian publications.
  • Manga is from Japan, Manhwa is from South Korea, and manhua hails from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
  • Manga is read from right to left, whereas manhwa is read from left to right, and manhua varies depending on its place of origin.
  • Manga artists depict characters highly stylized, whereas manhwa and manhua comics feature more realistic-looking characters.
  • Manga is published almost exclusively in black and white, whereas manhwa and manhua can frequently be found in full-color formats, especially online.
  • Multiple manga issues are often collected into chapters and sold as volumes. In contrast, manhua and manhwa are almost always stand-alone and published weekly on webtoon platforms or in print.

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