Comparing Cultures: Comic Books Vs. Manga

Comic Books And Manga

There are profound (very great) differences between American comic books and Japanese manga besides the obvious country distinction. Comics are thought of as a staple of Western geek culture; manga also has a similar feeling in the East.


Yet, comic books have spawned famous characters such as Batman and Superman while more notable characters of manga include Naruto and Luffy from One Piece. In light of National Comic Book Day, here are some notable differences between comic books and Manga.

Comparing Comic Books and Manga

If you’re familiar with comic books and manga, you’ll notice manga is read from right to left while comic books are read from left to right. The text for comic books is also read horizontally while manga is read vertically.

Comic books are often printed in full color while most manga is printed in black and white. However, sometimes you will find a few pages of manga printed in color. This usually depends on the manga’s popularity.

comics book

Manga has long story arcs which means the plot can span volumes. Comic books, on the other hand, are often standalone and are finished within one volume.

For comic books, the story and art are jobs done by different people. However, for manga, the story and art are done by the author. In terms of artwork, comic books are often more realistic than manga.

Comic Book Recommendations

While not a big fan of comic books, the Archie series was a popular comic book that has an American TV show based off of its characters. Riverdale, anyone? Marvel and DC are also popular genres of the American comic book genre. If you’ve heard of Stranger Things, an original science fiction Netflix series, the show will be having its own comic series.

Manga Recommendations

While not having read a ton of manga, I am a fan of animé, Japanese cartoons usually made from manga. My personal favorites include Blue Spring Ride and Kuroko No Basuke, a romance and sports manga respectively.

Which Do You Prefer?

Comic books and manga have their unique differences and are catered to different tastes. Which do you prefer to read? Which comic books and/or manga would you recommend?

Book Recommendation – Battle Royale

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

I was already familiar with the concept of Battle Royale, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the author executed the plot.
The plot takes place in a fictional fascist Japan. The government established a military program, the Battle Experiment No. 68. This program randomly selects fifty third-year junior high school students and forces them to kill each other until one student remains.
This year, the selected group of students are from Shiroiwa Junior High School. They are dosed with sleeping gas en route on a “field trip.” When they wake, they are in a classroom on a vacated island. Psychopathic sadist, Kinpatsu Sakamochi, tells the students they have three days until one stands as the victor. Or else, the metal collars around their necks will detonate.
Armed with a bag of random supplies given to them by the government, each student must come to terms and figure out a way to survive.
Battle Royale was first written in Japanese and then translated into English. It had a manga, movie, and theatre adaptation. It was also Takami Koushun’s debut novel after leaving his job as a journalist in 1996.

My Thoughts

Battle Royale focuses on three characters: Nanahara Shuya (last first), Nakagawa Noriko, and Kawada Shogo. But, it also jumps to different perspectives of other students. Thus, our protagonists may not know how some students died, but the reader does.
“By then she was dead. In fact, she may have been dead a while ago. Physically, several seconds ago, mentally, ages ago.”
– Koushun Takami
If you’ve seen a physical copy of the book, a question you may have thought is why is this so thick? Besides knowing how each student died, the author also sheds light on their background–some more than others–and their relationship with their classmates. By the end, you’ll know the class of Shiroiwa High School inside out.
Battle Royale focuses on camaraderie and emphasizes maintaining bonds and trust for one to succeed, an evident theme in Japanese culture. You could argue that is a reason why the author decides to give each student character depth. To learn, relate, and emphasize with the students brings you a little closer to them. And when they are ruthlessly killed, they vanish before you get a chance to familiarize with them.
Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides informative and entertaining articles to boost your English reading comprehension and listening skills.
Battle Royale and Hunger Games often are compared to each other as their premise is identical. For those unfamiliar with The Hunger Games, here is a brief breakdown. The Capitol of Panem controls twelve districts by selecting tributes, a boy and girl, from each district to compete in The Hunger Games. It’s a nationally televised show. The tributes will fight to the death until one person remains.
Having read both novels, here are my two cents on the differences between the two books. The Hunger Games is glamorous; it carries fantasy elements that appeal to a younger audience. Battle Royale, on the other hand, has a historical background which is explained thoroughly near the end. The Hunger Games also adds a prominent romance; the romance in Battle Royale is very soft-pedalled. If anything, it boils down to cultural differences and its impact on a plot’s execution rather than the plot itself.
If you enjoyed The Hunger Games for its premise, I would recommend Battle Royale. In addition to cultural differences, the deaths in Battle Royale are much more graphic than the Hunger Games. Some will make you cringe a little, even more so when you remember they’re junior high kids. There are also mature themes such as attempted rape.
I’ve reread this book twice and will probably do so again in the future.

Book Recommendation – Vicious

Book Recommendation – Vicious by V.E Schwab

Vicious was my first book by V.E Schwab, and I’m glad I picked it up by chance.
The plot revolves around Victor and Eli, two brilliant college students. They recognized the same ambition and cleverness in each other. In their senior year, Eli’s thesis topic of near-death experiences and supernatural abilities unveils an intriguing hypothesis. Under specific conditions, someone can develop “extraordinary abilities.” Yet, things go wrong when they shift from academia to the field.
Ten years later, Victor has broken out of jail and accompanied by a young girl and another ex-prisoner. Together, they work to find Eli, who developed a twisted mentality. Who will be alive?
Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.
–Joseph Brodsky
My Thoughts
A great woven revenge story, Vicious makes the reader question the notion of heroism. There’s no good or bad; only bad or worse. The book jumps from past to present, yet it pushes the plot forward. It gives the reader a better understanding of Victor and Eli’s strained relationship.
Eli was the first to test his theory of the supernatural. Through his experiment, he develops supernatural abilities. Thus, he begins to develop a twisted mentality: God gave him a gift which he will use to eradicate all other supernatural beings like himself. Victor, on the other hand, also develops supernatural abilities through albeit questionable methods.
Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides informative and entertaining articles to boost your reading comprehension and listening skills.
The relationship between Victor and his comrades contrasts against Eli’s camaraderie with his sidekick, an enigmatic woman. You could argue that the reason why the book ended the way it did was due to these bonds in addition to their own intelligence and abilities.
The book alternates between Victor and Eli’s point of views, though still written in the third person. Through these different viewpoints, you begin rooting for one or the other. Yet, regardless of who you want to succeed, you come to understand the motives behind their actions. Eventually, it boils down to a battle of wits and pride and arguably no longer about values and beliefs.
If you’re looking for a modern-day superhero novel, I strongly recommend Vicious by V.E Schwab. It’s relatable, entertaining, and keeps you hooked page to page. Vicious was Schwab’s first adult novel and is one I will definitely revisit in the future.
(This post is also cross-posted on