Manga 101: Answering Common Questions

By Yona Y. RSS Tue, April 11, 2023

Some of the most popular titles at the Field Teen Center are manga, or Japanese graphic novels. Manga includes a wide range of genres and art styles with more than 100 titles in our collections. Navigating it all can be overwhelming, but we hope this guide will help you find your bearings. This is the first in our "Manga 101" series, with more to come soon!

You can also check out the video version on our YouTube channel:



Is manga like anime?

Sort of! Manga and anime are related but different art forms. Both originate in Japan, but manga is comic books, while anime is animated film or TV content. In fact, many anime series are adapted from original manga series!

Why does manga look different from other comics and graphic novels?

Traditionally, Japanese is written vertically and read from right to left, so the panels in Japanese comics are arranged in that order, too. A small handful of manga translated into English are mirrored to read from left to right, but most follow the original Japanese format. Training yourself to read in a new way can be tricky at first, but it gets easier with practice!

Most manga is published in black and white. It’s easier and faster for artists to produce, as well as less expensive to print. With the rise of digital publishing, the number of full-color manga is increasing, but many artists still prefer to work in the traditional black and white style.

Manga is often released chapter-by-chapter on a weekly or monthly schedule. Anthology manga magazines like Weekly Shōnen Jump collect and publish chapters from various series in print and digitally; other series may be self-published online. Eventually, a manga series may be published in tankōbon volumes. (These are the volumes of manga you’ll see on the shelf at your library!)

What are some reasons to read manga?

Not only are the illustrations in manga beautiful, but they can also offer a glimpse into Japanese life and culture. Manga can also give readers an escape into a fantasy world or make them laugh with over-the-top characters, often reimagining familiar tropes in creative ways.

Is manga appropriate for child and teen readers?

It depends on the series! Many manga titles at the Free Library are shelved in teen collections. However, just like any other book format, there are also titles available for children and adults. Our teen and children's librarians select titles appropriate for those collections. Check with your local librarian if you have questions about a specific series!

What types of manga does the library offer for teens?

We have all kinds of different teen manga: fantasy, adventure, romance, cozy slice-of-life, and more! We even have Manga Classics, which are classic works of American and European fiction retold in manga form.

What are some good series to start with?

Check out this list of classic manga series for all of the big hits from the last few decades, or these single-volume stories you can finish quickly. For even more popular manga recommendations, check our catalog list!


 Jujutsu Kaisen


How can I find manga at the Free Library?

Manga is available in a few different formats. Of course, you can find manga on the shelves throughout the Free Library system, but you can also read them on your phone, tablet, or computer! The Libby app allows library card holders to check out digital copies of many popular manga series, though you may have to wait if the volume you need is already checked out. You can also use your library card to log into the ComicsPlus databases, which offer graphic novels, comics, and manga for all ages with no wait lists. 


We add new stuff all the time, so check in with your local librarian about our latest additions!

Keep your eyes on this space for more Manga 101 posts! Coming up next, explorations of major types of manga: shonen, shojo, seinen, and josei.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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