Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist
Read, Watch

Your Guide To Getting Started With Anime and Manga

I’ve been reading manga since September 2014 and started on anime a year before that. I started watching anime because my friend explained the entire plot of Fullmetal Alchemist to me and I decided I needed to see it. What really drew me in was that I had never seen anything except content for children. This was grownup animation, for teenagers and adults. Since discovering the extensive world of manga, I’ve assembled cosplay, watched well over twenty animes, and begun to learn how to draw in the manga style.

First and foremost, I’d like to address the few beginning struggles of an aspiring manga enthusiast.

Art Style

Manga and anime are different. Anime is the animated television shows and movies, and manga are graphic novels. They both qualify as ‘Manga’ — which is the name of the art style.

The manga art style can be incredibly detailed and important depending on the scene. All manga and anime have different artists and vary slightly — no two manga are the same. It’s very easy to get caught up in the storyline and miss part of the physical action. I suggest slowing down and remembering that the picture adds more to the story than the dialogue. The dialogue is there to clear up plot points. You are not reading a novel.

Reading Backwards

If it is actual, qualified manga, it will have been translated from Japanese. The Japanese language is read from right to left, top to bottom, therefore you must read the book backwards. It can take a few hours of reading this way to get used to it and read fluently. After a while, I found myself accidentally trying to read English graphic novels this way. Suffice it to say, I have mastered the art of reading backwards.

Be Cautious

If there is anything you object to, anything that grosses you out beyond belief, or anything that would scare you out of your mind, find a summary or someone who has read the manga or watched the anime beforehand. Anime and manga can take unexpected turns for the worse, and its better to find warning of anything you won’t be able to handle. Make sure the person you ask has a fairly clear understanding of what is unacceptable in your perspective.

Concerning Subbed vs Dubbed

The anime community is divided over the issue of Subbed (subtitled) vs Dubbed (audio dubbed). Some say the only way to watch it is subbed, saying that it retains its Japanese origins that way. Some dubs are just plain awful. I, for one, prefer dubbed. I like to watch the action, rather than read the dialogue off the screen. You should test out both just to see which you prefer. Most animes have both a sub and a dub, but a few have only a subbed version available.

Here are three anime and manga that I highly recommend to get you started:

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist, written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. My number one favorite.  There are two animes for this one, Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Brotherhood follows the storyline of the manga, while the original anime was completed before the manga. All of them are brilliant in every sense, fantastic art, characters, and storyline. Warnings: Gore and some unsettling scenes involving a few serial killers.
  2. No.6, originally written by Atsuko Asano, adapted into manga by Hinoki Kino. This anime is mind-blowing. I have not read the manga and therefore cannot give you any warnings or otherwise on that score. Sci-fi cannot get much better than this. Sadly, it only has twelve episodes. Warnings: Several disturbing concepts, blood, sexuality.
  3. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. A recently popular anime, this one will have your heart beating faster and keep you on the edge of your seat with frequent plot twists and intense, well-executed action sequences. The art for the manga is noticeably less impressive.  Warnings: Very gory and violent.

Keep in mind, these are mangas and animes to get you started. There are many more great mangas and animes that I could not include here and some I haven’t discovered. Happy ‘backwards’ reading!

If you are an anime or manga fan, what other title would you recommend for new fans?

If you’ve been interested in anime and manga but haven’t started, what has held you back?

Ellie is a geek teen who loves to read, watch, draw, and talk about all things manga. When she’s not doing that she’ll be playing Minecraft with her gang or gaming with her family.

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