Manga 101: Related Concepts

By Meg B. RSS Mon, November 20, 2023

In our Manga 101 series, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions, defined some common manga terms, and looked at some of the most popular manga genres found at the Free Library. This time, we’ll take a look at other forms of media that are related to manga.


While manga refers to comics, anime refers to animation. Lots of manga series eventually receive anime adaptations, and likewise, original anime shows or movies can receive manga adaptations. Looking for anime you can check out at the Free Library? Try browsing this catalog list of animated shows and movies from Japan, or check out this list for everything Ghibli. In addition to materials, the Free Library also hosts anime-related programs and clubs! Check out all the anime-related events on the Free Library events calendar.

Light Novels

Light novels are another type of Japanese media closely linked to anime and manga. Light novels are short, often serialized novels that are usually illustrated with manga-style art. In some ways, light novels are the Japanese analog to Young Adult fiction in the United States, since light novels are often aimed at teen audiences and are frequently written in the genres of fantasy and romance. Many popular light novel series receive manga and anime adaptations, and many manga series receive light novel spin-offs. Several of the manga series on the shelves of the Free Library originally got their start as light novels — for example, The Apothecary Diaries, Adachi and Shimamura, The Devil Is a Part-Timer, or Toradora. On the other hand, several of our popular manga series also have associated light novels — like Jujutsu Kaisen, Naruto, and Demon Slayer. For more light novels at the Free Library, check out this list

Manhwa and Webtoons

Manhwa is the word for Korean comics. Webtoons are a particular type of comics, originating in South Korea, that are designed to be read on digital devices, particularly smartphones. Manhwa is the broader of the two terms since it refers to any Korean comic, but most contemporary Korean comics are published in the webtoon format, so the two terms are often used interchangeably in English-language discussions. Though traditional manga conventions, art styles, and genres have had an influence on manhwa, there are several differences between the two types of comics. For one thing, manhwa is read left to right, unlike manga. For another, unlike the traditional black-and-white art style of manga, manhwa/webtoons are often (though not always) in full color. Another major difference between manga and webtoons is the fact that while manga paneling is based on a traditional rectangular printed page, webtoons are designed to be read in a continuous, horizontal scroll. Want to check out some examples? See this list of manhwa available at the Free Library. 

Now you know some of the differences between manga, anime, light novels, and manhwa! Stay tuned for future Manga 101 posts. 

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