Manga is one of Japan’s most popular exports and one of the biggest money-makers in the country.
Manga, which is a Japanese form of comics, has led to the production of some of the world’s most famous franchises, including DeathNote, YuGiOh, Naruto, and Dragonball.
There are thousands of amazing manga series to read from so many generations of manga creators, but as such, it can often be very daunting to try and get started with the medium!
Which series should you focus on first? However, easily one of the biggest barriers to entry for most people is the unique way in which manga is read.
You’ve likely heard someone describe manga as being read “Back-To-Front” before, and found yourself wondering just how to read manga. How do you read manga?
How do you look across the page? How do you even read each individual panel?
If you want to get started with manga and find out how to read manga panels, then make sure to read on down below, because we have all the answers you could need!
How Do You Read Manga?
This is the first hurdle that many total newbies to manga must cross if they wish to enjoy the comics, and though it may look daunting from the outside, reading manga is very intuitive once you know how.
The first thing you need to know when reading manga is that it is read from right to left, meaning your eyes will start on the top right of the page, and head all the way down to the bottom left.
This is in line with how most vertically-written texts in Japan will be read from right to left and is also why any manga books you own may look like they have been printed ‘backward’, with the spines on the right-hand side.
When you are reading a page of manga, you will want to start with the panel at the top right, and then move your eyes across the panels from right to left, bottom to top, until you reach the panel at the bottom left.
How To Read Manga Panels?
However, it is not always as simple as just reading the top right panel and then moving down toward the bottom left panel, as every page of manga is very unique, and what is contained within each panel is also equally unique.
So how do you read each panel individually?
Let’s say you are reading a manga, and you come across a panel that has a large amount of content, including sound effects, and multiple speech bubbles.
In order to tackle the panel, you would follow the same kind of steps you would usually follow for larger pages, but on a much smaller scale.
Start by reading the speech bubble closest towards the top right of the panel, and then move to the closest speech bubble on its left, moving down across the speech bubbles as you would larger manga panels on the page.
If there are sound effects on the page, then read them alongside the images on the page.
If the speech bubbles are drawn above a sound effect, then you will still want to read the speech bubbles first, before reading the sound effect!
Moving between panels often poses some difficulties to those new to reading manga, but with enough practice, you can get it down to second nature.
Let’s say that you see a set of three panels on a page, with two panels stacked atop each other on the right, and a larger panel on the left.
Many who are new to manga may find themselves wondering if they should go from the top right panel, into the larger left panel, and then back into the bottom right panel.
The correct order is to start with the top right panel, do the panel underneath, and then move on to the bigger left panel.
If there are ever panels stacked atop one another, they should be read in descending order first, before moving on to any panels on the left.
Why Is Manga Read From Right To Left?
The reason that manga is traditionally read from right to left is that most text in Japan is read in very much the same way.
Most books in Japan are printed in a unique way in which text is actually written in distinct columns that move from the top of the page to the bottom.
Each of these columns is read in an order going from right to left.
Some books in Japan are read from left to right, and these are called ‘Yokogaki’, but these are still mostly a modern innovation, and most readers in Japan are accustomed to reading from right to left.
Because most Japanese readers are accustomed to reading from the right to the left, it makes sense that manga publishers and manga authors would cater their content accordingly!
To Wrap Up
As you can now see, reading manga panels is actually incredibly easy once you get to grips with it.
Much like reading an entire page of manga, it can be very daunting to start off with, and training your mind to read the content from the right while moving towards the left can be a little tricky to start, but once you get the hang of it, you never quite lose the knack!
Whenever in doubt when reading a manga panel, simply start with all content in the panel on the top right, and read to the left, in descending order!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Read Japanese Manga Speech Bubbles?
Luckily, you need not worry about the content in manga speech bubbles, the words in those speech bubbles will be read as you are used to, from left to right.
Is Reading Manga Considered Reading?
Absolutely! Your imagination is still being stimulated as you read manga, so it can definitely still be classed as reading!
Is Manga Good For Brain?
Definitely. Reading manga helps you to develop your visual processing skills, as well as helping you to be more imaginative!