Joe and Jenny’s Beginner’s Guide to Manga – Part 2

Hey Everyone! This month we have decided to continue our guide to manga which we first posted last year in August.  We told you in that post about how you read manga, but this time around we thought we would tell you about some of the manga book publishers and some of the manga artists behind popular series you may or may not know.

Manga Publishers

Viz Mediviza: – Viz Media was established in 1986 and is one of the biggest distributors of manga in the Western world. They have released such manga series as Fullmetal Alchemist and Blue Exorcist. They are also responsible for publishing works by the following Japanese manga magazines in America:

Shonen Jump – Which has published such series as Bleach, Naruto, Death Note and One Piece.

Shojo Beat – Which has published such series as Ouran High School Host Club and Vampire Knight.

Clamp: – Clamp was established in 1987 in Japan by a small group of artists and is known for its signature art style and publishing such works as Tsubasa Chronicles and XXXHolic.

Yen Pyenpressress :- Yen Press was founded in 2006 and is an American publishing company. They have published titles such as Black Butler, Soul Eater and Higurashi When They Cry.


Tokyopoptokyopop:-  Tokyopop was founded in 1997 and as well as being one of the largest American publishers of manga, is also one of the most well-known. It is responsible for publishing Phd:Phantasy Degree, Fruits Basket, The Vision of Escaflowne and D.N.Angel, to name a few.



Dark Horse Comics/Manga:- Dark Horse Manga is a sub-division of Dark Horse comics publishing, established in 1986 and responsible for publishing such series as Trigun, Hellsing and Lone Wolf and Cub.



Manga Artists

There are many very talented artists out there but we have chosen a few popular ones to introduce you to and briefly sum up their most popular works and the general themes of their writing. These are good ones to get you started if you’re new to manga as they are readily available and accessible.

Tite Kubo –Creator of such series as Bleach and Zombie Powder.  Art style – Shonen, bold contrast, clean lines. Themes- Battles, monsters, powers/weaponry, friendships, training, resilience.

Tsugumi Ohba (writer) & Takeshi Obata (artist) – Creators of series such as Death Note and Bakuman.  Art style -Shonen, very fine detail, unique artwork/storylines. Themes- demons, battles of wits, friendship, rivalry.

Hajime IsayamaCreator of very popular new series Attack on Titan. Art style – Shonen, rough almost sketch like drawings. Themes -desperation, fight for survival, impossible odds, secrets, fear of unknown.

Eiichiro OdaMost well known as the creator of One Piece. Art style – Shonen, comical, unusual proportions.  Themes – Pirates, adventure, treasure, friendship, believing in yourself, strange powers/skills.

Hiromu ArakawaCreator of Fullmetal Alchemist. Art style – Shonen, heavy shading, expressive detail. Themes – Alchemy, fair exchange, family, love, tragedy.


Akuma – Demons.

Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Shogun of the Kamakura shogunate.(Source:

Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Shogun of the Kamakura shogunate.(Source:

Bento – Square lunch box, can consist of one box or many boxes stacked in layers.

Dojo – Martial arts training school.

Geisha – female artisans who perform traditional tea ceremonies, dances, music etc professionally.

Geta – Wooden sandals usually worn with traditional dress.

Go – A popular game of Chinese origin played in Japan, consisting of opposing black and white stones on a grid with the goal being to occupy as much of the board as possible and capture opponents’ stones.

Hakama – traditional pleated baggy trousers worn as part of martial arts uniforms, usually kendo and aikido.

Two fighters wearing Hakama having a Kendo match. (Source:

Two fighters wearing Hakama having a Kendo match. (Source:

Hanafuda – A card game whose name literally translates to ‘flower card’. The object of the game is collecting pre-set groups or hands of picture cards to win more points than your opponent. Many games exist which can be played with a Hanafuda deck, one of the most commonly known ones is Koi-Koi and a particular hand from the game is known as Inoshikacho (which is made up of a set of three cards depicting a boar, a deer and a butterfly respectively). This is referenced jokingly in the Naruto manga as the characters of Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji shorten their names to give their battle formations the same name as this hand.

Honorifics – Similar to western titles such as Mr/Miss/Lord, a suffix added onto names to indicate respect or social status. Here are a few examples: chan – for children/dono– higher ranked-highly respected people/sama-for superiors/san-for equals or common use/kun-for friends.

Kami – God/Gods.

Kanzashi – decorative hair ornaments worn in traditional Japanese hairstyles. Historical examples suggest some may have doubled as sharp weapons.

Kawaii – Cute.

Kendo – Martial art/sport involving fencing with long wooden poles.

A traditional Japanese Mahjong set. (Source:

A traditional Japanese Mahjong set.

Mahjong – A game using pictured tiles which originates from China and was originally played with coins in ancient times. Often compared to dominos, but works more like a card game with players gathering sets/hands of tiles to win points. Quite frequently games are portrayed to involve people gambling on the outcome in manga and anime. There is also a form of divination involving the reading of Mahjong tiles.

Moe – Cute, young characters.

Onsen – These are hot springs and can be found in both indoor and outdoor versions, and can sometimes be attached to resorts.

Ronin– masterless samurai.

Sakura – Japanese cherry blossom, a very iconic flower in Japan with festivals dedicated to observing the blossoms and considered unofficially to be Japan’s national flower, with it appearing on coins and various consumer goods. It is also a very popular name for girls.

Sakura trees in blossom.

Sakura trees in blossom.

Shogi – Japanese chess, similar in some ways to western chess but with pieces capable of more complex movements.

Shogun – Feudal military ruler of japan.

Yakuza – Japans equivalent of the mafia.

Yukata – A less formal type of Kimono usually worn to festivals.

Dub/Sub – Abbreviations for ‘voice dubbing ‘and ‘subtitled’. A lot of anime is dubbed and subtitled to make it available to a wider audience who don’t understand the original language. Dubbing is recording over the original voices with new ones in the desired language whereas subtitles retain the original voice actors and provide text translations at the bottom of the screen. Most films/series will have dub and sub viewing options, though some releases only have a subtitles option as this makes them cheaper to distribute. There is often a lot of debating between otaku’s about which is better, dubbing or subbing. (We both think subbing is better – what do you think?)

Send your opinions to and we will post some opinions in our next blog entry.

If you want to find more about the history of manga/anime or the history of Japan search the Library Catalogue and reserve a book today!

We recommend; The Rough Guide to Anime by Simon Richmond, The Anime Encyclopedia by Jonathan Clements, The Rough Guide to Manga by Jasan Yadao, Manga: Masters of the Art by Timothy Lehmann, A Short History of Japan; From Samurai to Sony by Curtis A Andressen.

In our next blog we will be reviewing the darkly brilliant manga series; Death Note.