Traditional Japanese comics are called manga, a word that literally means irresponsible drawings. This is attributed to the 18th century artist Hokusai, although manga did not become popular until after World War II. Classical authors of the genre, such as Osamu Tezuka, endowed these drawings with their own personality. In addition, the comics, conceived for adolescents and adults, were really surprising and, above all, different from those that circulated in the West. Today these comics and their animated version – anime – are all the rage not only in Japan, but throughout the world. Akira, Pai, Ranma, Momiji Kushinda, Kyuuketsuki Miyn and Goku are the Japanese heroes that compete with all western comics such as DC Comics, Archie Comics or Marvel.
As part of the «otaku» culture, these comics have been a major factor in the country’s publishing industry, creating a robust market, reaching millions of readers of all ages, and influencing a number of comic book works in a variety of nations outside of Japan. From history and adolescent romance to futuristic science fiction and deep life themes, manga became an important, almost inevitable aspect of Japan’s identity, helping to spread knowledge and understanding across the planet. .
What many believe was the first manga in Japan to appear in the 12th and 13th centuries, in a series of drawings featuring frogs and rabbits, titled Choju-giga produced by various artists. In fact, his technique of drawing a character’s legs to simulate running was adopted by many manga-ka who work today. During the Edo period another picture book, Toba Ehon, incorporated the concept of manga, but the term was first used in 1798, to describe Santō Kyōden’s Shiji no Yukikai picture book. In 1814, it appeared again, as the title Manga hyakujo by Aikawa Mina and the famous Hokusai Manga picture books by the famous ukiyo-e artist Hokusai.
The influence of manga is very noticeable in the original comic industry of almost all the countries of the Far East and Indonesia. To this day, manga has also consolidated in Western society due to the success achieved during the past decades, ceasing to be something exclusive to a country to become a global commercial and cultural phenomenon, in direct competition with the American narrative hegemony and European. The clearest example of the international influence of manga is found in the so-called amerimanga, that is, the set of artists outside of Japan who have created comics under the influence of Japanese manga and anime but for an American audience.
With all this we could come to define the manga as the first step of the anime, that culminating moment that determined the history of animation not only in the East but in the West as well.