So, you’ve started getting into manga…and it’s a bit weird. Why is everything backward? And why are the stories so confusing?
For westerners, it can be frustrating to read manga at first. That’s because manga writers assume you already know how to read this style of comic. But manga is not like normal books. There are a few tips you need to know before you get started to make the most of your experience.
Just read the tips below and you’ll be flying through manga faster than Makoto (from the awesome manga “Flying Witch!”).
- Read from Right to Left
Most new manga readers have trouble getting used to reading backwards. Especially if they are avid readers of western comics.
Unlike the western left-to-right style of reading, manga is meant to be read right to left, starting from the top right on every page and ending on the bottom left.
Apart from the text bubbles, readers should keep an eye on the way the panels are arranged, too. For example, if the panels are horizontal you should read from top to bottom. If there is a mix of horizontal and vertical (or frames within a full-page image), try to remember to read top-to-bottom and right-to-left.
If you notice that the story isn’t making sense, you may have started reading in the wrong order. Go back a few pages and try again. Don’t worry—it doesn’t take long to start reading manga naturally!
- Keep an Eye on the Background Color
Western readers don’t pay much attention to the background color in a comic. But it’s really important in manga. The background provides context on when the action takes place.
There is a simple rule used in manga: If the background of the panel is black, it means that the action takes place in the past (such as a flashback).
There may also be some panels where the background’s first half is black and slowly fades into a white one. Here, the story is transitioning from a point in the past to a point in the present.
By comparison, in western comics, the black background means that the current panel is important and should be read slowly and with more focus.
- Listen to Music while Reading
This is a tip many fans vouch for. Quiet reading music can help you read more fluidly and give more life to the story. It’s a very good idea to play the anime’s soundtrack if the manga you are reading has been adapted into an anime. Not only does this immerse you in the story, but it can also reduce stress and empower your brain to absorb more.
Imagine reading a chapter of Demon Slayer where Tanjiro Kamado is in a middle of a fight and you are listening to the anime’s amazing OST.
- Don’t Rush
Reading manga is meant to be a relaxing activity. However, many people speed through the content thinking that the most important thing is to read as much as possible in a short period of time.
This takes the beauty out of it and makes the story less enjoyable. My recommendation is to read slowly and dive deep into the story. Take time to appreciate the artwork and the nuances of the action.
Read one or two chapters at a time and then reflect on the characters’ journeys and the themes of the story. You’ll enjoy manga much more this way!
- Find Friends who Like Manga
The best way to get into manga is to find a group of friends who inspire you to read more. Go to forums, social media pages, or your local library to connect with people who enjoy the same genres of manga you do.
Talking about the stories—as well as anime adaptations, fan fiction, and more—will make reading much more enjoyable. You can discuss your opinions, your favorite characters, etc.
Also, If money isn’t a problem for you, I highly recommend reading physical copies of manga instead of scrolling through them on your phone or computer. Manga is not always cheap, but with friends, you can buy the volumes together.
Manga Newbie? Not for Long
If you’ve decided to start reading manga, you will not regret it. We hope the tips in this article have cleared up some of the confusing things about reading manga and inspired you to enjoy reading more.
Get started by choosing a manga in your favorite genre. Action, romance, horror, sports—there’s no limit to what you can read. Set the mood with some music, read slowly, and let the story do its magic!