The Difference Between Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua Explained

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The Difference Between Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua Explained
Credit: Tatsuki Fujimoto | Shueisha

For readers of East Asian comics, you have probably encountered many different terms. All of these are different in many ways, but have no fear — I’m here to explain the difference between manga, manhwa, and manhua!

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The main difference between manga, manhwa, and manhua depends on which country they came from. Manga is from Japan, manhwa is from South Korea, while manhua is from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.

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What is Manga? Explained

What is Manga Explained
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Manga refers to comics or graphic novels from Japan. A lot of these are used as source material for numerous anime adaptations.

Manga is read from right to left and is usually published in black and white. There are various genres such as seinen, shōnen, josei, shoujo, and the like. The creator of a manga is called a mangaka.

A common art style for manga would have to be cartoonish-looking characters with big eyes.

Think Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka, the 'Godfather of Manga'. His art style, which featured the now-iconic “anime eyes”, was inspired by Disney characters. 

What is Manhwa? Explained

What is Manhwa Explained
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Credit: Chugong | Dubu | D&C Media
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Manhwa refers to comics originating from South Korea. Similar to manga, manhwa has been used as source material for various series. K-dramas such as Cheese in the Trap and Itaewon Class were adapted from webtoons, the term for digital manhwa. 

Manhwa is read from left to right, similar to American comics. Digital versions are in color. Popular titles include Solo Leveling and Killing Stalking.

In terms of general art style, manhwa characters look more realistic compared to manga. A manhwa creator is referred to as a manhwaga.

Related: The Best Sites to Read Manhwa

What is Manhua? Explained

What is Manhua Explained
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Credit: Tanjiu | Zhejiang People's Fine Arts Publishing House

Manhua originates from either China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. The terms manga and manhwa actually came from the Chinese language.

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Manhua also have their own distinct genres. Wuxia refers to martial arts stories. Xianxia, on the other hand, is more for the fantasy and magic types.

Manhua is read from right to left and digital versions are published in color. Similar to manhwa’s art style, it’s also more realistic-looking.

One popular title is Battle Through the Heavens, which has been adapted in different forms of media. A manhua creator is called a manhuajia.

What's the Difference Between Manhua & Manhwa?

What's the Difference Between Manhua & Manhwa Song of the Long March
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Credit: Xia Da
A Cover from Song of the Long March by Xia Da

As mentioned above, the main difference between manhua and manhwa is their region of creation. Manhua are comics created in China, whereas manhwa are created in South Korea.

Beyond that, there are no limitations, meaning manhua and manhwa can look similar. Both have been heavily influenced in the contemporary age by the success of Japanese manga, which serves as creative inspiration for artists across Asia.

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Some Chinese manhua can be distinct due to their more lifelike drawing style, something synonymous with Chinese comics during their breakthrough in the late 20th century.

Some manhua can also have different layouts due to their typography. Works from the Chinese mainland are read in the Western style (horizontally left-to-right) while some manhua from Hong Kong and Taiwan are read in the Japanese style (vertically right-to-left)

All of these comic styles have their own certain appeal and storytelling due to their rich cultural differences. If you’re a huge fan of either manga, manhwa, or manhua, you should definitely check out the other counterparts too!

Related: What is Doujinshi, and Where Can You Read It?