And kanji with manga
Monday, October 10, 2016

manga 漫画

So I'm pretty sure you've heard about "manga" already. Those strange asian comics which are read backwards and from which anime is often born. But what about manga 漫画? The actual Japanese word from which "manga" is derived? Is manga 漫画 how you actually call manga in Japanese?

Well, yes, and, also, not really. First off, yes. Indeed. Believe it or not, manga is manga, it means "manga," and unlike the word anime アニメ, which is used for things which we wouldn't call "anime" in English, all manga is pretty much just "manga." However is all "manga" manga?

Disregarding details like comic strips in journals and yonkoma 四コマ, which are comics with always and only "4 panels," are manga which we'd call "manga" in English always called manga in Japanese and only ever called manga in Japanese? Actually, no. Ironically, manga is more often than not called "comics" in Japanese!

Yep. You heard it right. Synonym with manga 漫画 is the word komikku コミック which, as you might have guessed, comes from the word "comic" in English (it's a gairaigo 外来語). Worse yet, the word komikku is more popular than the word manga in Japan!

For example, the largest doujinshi fair there is is called komiketto コミケット (website). Not mangaketto or doujinketto. Komiketto.

That is not to say the word manga is not used. It is. It's just that komikku has a nicer ring to it than manga, so it's more popular.

Why is komikku used instead of manga?

Now after all this newly attained knowledge you might be thinking: what the fuck is wrong with these Japanese that they are using these baka gaijin words to talk about glorious nippon manga?! Well, the answer's actually pretty simple.

"Comic" is an English word.

That's basically it.

No, I don't mean that historically comics were invented in England or the USA, that makes no sense, I mean the word is not in Japanese, therefore it's cooler, more kakkoii カッコイイ, than your usual Japanese words like manga 漫画. Also, katakana カタカナ letters look cooler than kanji 漢字.

To look at it from another angle, why are you calling Japanese comics "manga"? Do you call Korean comics... you know, whatever they call comics in Korean? Or French comics the word comic in French? No? So why are you calling Japanese comics manga? Why aren't you calling Japanese comics komikku like the rest of the Japanese people?

What about western comics?

When it comes to "foreign" comics, as in, foreign to Japan. Comics that wouldn't be called manga in the west. There are two words that can be used (in addition to just calling them manga or komikku) to specify where they come from:

First, kaigai komikku 海外コミック, refers to any "overseas comic." Anything outside of Japan.

Second, amekomi アメコミ, refers only to "American comics." Things like Marvel, DC, etc.


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  1. I live in Japan and this is totally correct! It's never advertised as "manga" in any shop I've seen, but yes, "kommikku" or "komikksu". The only time I hear the word "manga" used is when Japanese refer to the overall artform in the Japanese general sense.

  2. because generally by saying it in their respective language we can easily get rid one word, rather than saying japanese comic we said manga, manhwa for korean, and comic for western one