What Is a Manga Movie?

by Melissa McCormick
Manga movies are a popular cultural phenomenon in Japan.

Manga movies are a popular cultural phenomenon in Japan.

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Manga movies are animated movies featuring characters who have a specific look. Originally, manga could only be seen in Japanese comic books or sequential stories with animation. However, manga has grown in popularity, not only among the Japanese, but also in other countries including Korea and the United States --- so much so that these stories, especially in Japan, are oftentimes made into movies. Like many American movies that are based on comic books, manga movies usually fall into the action and adventure genres and often involve superheroes as well as demons or evil spirits.

Features of Manga Characters

Manga character drawings follow certain basics that are then translated into animation for the television or movie screen. While manga characters are all different, they are all given very similar features: All manga characters have large eyes, which usually have a mark representing a light reflection. Other common features of manga characters include choppy hair around the face and a small mouth that conveys a particular expression.

Origination of Manga Movies

During the Depression era in Japan, storytellers traveled to and from towns acting out scenes from illustrations that were drawn on notecards. This type of street theater was called "kamishibai" and became a popular pastime in Japan. The sequential style of art was eventually translated into the comic book style known as manga. Many of the elements drawn on the notecards in kamishibai, such as big eyes, monsters and large robots, are also found in manga. The person who creates a manga drawing is referred to as a "mangaka."

Types of Manga Movies

There are a variety of types of manga movies produced. For instance, "shounen" is a type of manga movie that targets a male audience, often featuring a sports team or a combat squad. "Shojo" is a type of manga movie that targets a female audience, particularly teenage girls, often featuring dramatic or romantic themes. "Kodomo" is a manga movie that targets children.

Popular Manga Movies

At the 10th Annual Japan Media Arts Festival, nearly 80,000 people voted for their top 10 favorite manga movies of all time. This list includes "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," "Dragon Ball," "Fullmetal Alchemist," "Doraemon," "Black Jack," "Phoenix," "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," "Mushishi" and "Death Note." The survey ranked "Slam Dunk" as the No. 1 manga movie of all time.

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