The Differences in Anime vs Manga
Date Published: March 4, 2017
Anime has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, even early on as I was growing up I could see the distinction between a series like Dragon Ball Z compared to a cartoon like Dexter’s Laboratory.
Manga however, has always been a medium which I’ve avoided due to the thought of that it’s probably not as good as moving animation, but as I’ve grown older, the way I think about both anime and manga has changed mightily.
Whether it’d be after school or Saturday morning reruns, anime was a prominent if not the only reason I watched television growing up, I’ve never been too interested in shows like Sesame Street or a kid-catered scripted comedy. If I watched TV, the odds that Dragon Ball Z was on were pretty high.
It wasn’t until my early teens that I found out that the reason Cardcaptor Sakura and Johnny Bravo seemed so different to me, was because one was a Japanese anime and the other was an American cartoon. Whilst I enjoyed both shows, I found myself more interested in the structure of Cardcaptor Sakura than of Johnny Bravo’s.
There are multiple factors that pushed me to enjoying anime more than cartoons, few being the art style, the different language, even the foreign setting, however, the glaring reason was the focus on plot and character development, rather than the mini scenarios coupled with quirky jokes.
Anime became what I thought adults watch only in an animated form and although the action scenes were often exaggerated, and the cultural references didn’t resonate, if you stripped anime of those elements and focused solely on the story that is told, as well as the characters that are telling it, you could tell that there was something special there.
In many ways, anime managed to treat me as if I were an adult by showcasing an interesting and thought out plot, while still maintaining my child like interest with the over-the-top action or comedic sequences, however, it wasn’t until my early 20’s which I’ve found that I’ve outgrown the need for the exaggerated elements.
Consequently, I’ve become more interested in the written medium of entertainment, and much like my comparison of anime vs cartoons, somewhat of the same reasoning applies to manga vs comic books, the emphasis on characters rather than flashy sequences is ultimately what made the difference.
In my early experience with manga I’ve managed to fully understand why I’ve had a tougher time enjoying anime like I used back when I was in my early teens, and the reason is that unlike anime, manga is at my own pace with no exterior deterring elements.
Anime, like other television series, holds a certain dramatization to how things unfold; the tone and cadence used by the actors who voice the characters, a queued-up soundtrack that plays to set the scene emotionally, as well as the multiple frames and angles.
Henceforth, many times the viewer is already pre-programmed to assume a concept before it technically happened, making the scripted nature of the show quite glaring. The subtraction of those elements with the reading nature of manga, made my overall experience much more concentrated and intimate.
Certainly, it’s a case-by-case basis, as there are many anime that deliver a superb experience and are greatly benefited from fitting voice acting and original soundtracks a la, Death Note, Code Geass, and others. As well as there are manga series that can’t seem to shake the inflated comedic tropes and fan service anime often relies on.
Whether it’d be anime, cartoons, manga, or comic books, what ultimately is the determinate factor is personal taste. Personally, as I’ve grown older, I’ve moved beyond having to listen to an overly dramatic character yell out “Ehhh?!” when something surprising happens, and substituting that with a simple read of “?!” above a character’s head seems more grounded to me.
However, there is a mood and place for everything, be it Ed, Edd n Eddy’s one liner comedy, to Terra Formars scientific and grueling drama. Of course, there also the outliers such as Courage the Cowardly Dog, which at first glance may seem like a kid’s cartoon, but holds some of the most dark and adult centric symbolism in any show catered to children.
In conclusion, I still enjoy anime as it’s been a big part of my childhood growing up, and while I’ll still watch a series like One Piece, I’ve found myself enjoying my experience the most when reading manga, as the feeling is a bit more intimate.
While there are a few serious-minded anime out there, the truth is there are simply more manga series that cater to young adults with a focus on narrative, whereas anime tends to fall under either high action oriented shows, or exaggerated comedy/drama with the occasional fan service.