By Sierra Tufts-Sicard
I am an English major who has finally reached her senior year in college. Do you know what English majors do for class? We read, then we read some more. A lot of English majors go into the major because they love reading; I was one of those people. By the time their sophomore year comes around, a lot of those people do not want to even think about books outside of class. I am also one of those people.
However, reading is so much more than analyzing a novel for a paper that will be graded harshly. Reading is an escape into a world different from our reality, so it is a shame when reading feels like a chore. It did not seem to matter what I did; I could not get myself back into a groove of reading. I tried rereading my favorite series, setting small goals, and asking my friends for recommendations. I was about to give up on reading completely when I discovered manga.
For anyone who does not know, manga are comics or graphic novels that originate from Japan. I first encountered manga a few months after I discovered anime, which makes sense because anime often uses manga for source material. I would watch an anime series that only had one season and desperately want to know what happened to the characters. However, I was wary of manga at first. There was a time when I thought novels were superior because they do not have pictures, but when I read my first manga series, I realized how wrong I was. It became clear to me that plot development, character development, and setting are just as important in manga as they are in novels. The only difference is that the setting and action are shown through beautifully drawn images. Now that I have something to read that is, visually, drastically different from novels, I have been able to get into regular novels again since I can shift between the mediums.
Now, let’s discuss some basics everyone should know before diving into manga:
- Reading Style. Most people are used to reading from left to right depending on where they live. However, manga is read from right to left. Therefore, when you pick up a volume of manga, what we consider the back cover is actually the front cover. Thankfully, a lot of publishers put a warning on the last page in case someone tries to start reading from left to right. This order applies to the order in which you read through the different panels on a page as well. To currently read a page, you must read the panels from right to left and top to bottom; when you finish one level of panels, you move down to the next level and read those from right to left as well. Once you get used to this style, reading manga is relaxing and enjoyable. Just be prepared for a time of transition when you pick up a book that goes from left to right again!
- Translation Notes. When I started my first volume of manga, I found myself having to stop to look up certain phrases or slang that are used in Japan. It wasn’t until I finished that first volume that I learned most volumes of manga contain “Translation Notes” at the end of the book with corresponding page numbers. Some of the volumes even explain concepts that are common in Japan but not in other countries. This made it a lot easier to read without taking prolonged search breaks.
- Where to Buy. When I first started reading and collecting manga, I wasn’t sure where to purchase them outside of using Amazon. Through some research, however, I found a few places that sell manga. The two websites I use the most are BAM!: Books-A-Million and RightStufAnime. I have also been able to find some manga at Barnes and Noble and local libraries. BAM! has some physical locations, but not quite as many as Barnes and Noble. Finally, if you also like to watch anime, Crunchyroll could be an option since some digital manga is included in their subscription price. Of course, you could always borrow manga from a friend if you have one that reads them too!
All in all, switching up mediums is a good way to try new things and break out of a reading slump if you’re in one. At the very least, manga introduces you to new stories and some beautiful art!
Edited by Jackie Morgan