Why Manga is Read from Right to Left Explained

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Why Manga is Read from Right to Left Explained

For those who just started reading manga, there might be one question that popped into their mind when reading: why is manga read from right to left?

Before we answer that, it is important that we define what manga is. A manga is a Japanese-style graphic novel or comic book. Those who read manga vary from children to adults.

There are tons of popular manga that everyone is familiar with, even for those who are not manga fans like One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball.

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With this, it is no longer a surprise that there are companies or publishing houses that offer an English version of these manga for international fans to read.

Fans now have the option to buy manga or read manga online, as there are sites like Viz Media and Crunchyroll that offer tons of manga in their libraries.

Related: The Best Manga that Don’t Have An Anime (Yet)

Why Manga is Read from Right to Left Explained

Why Manga is Read from Right to Left
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Credit: Julietta Suzuki | Hakusensha

The main reason for this is that kanji, a type of Japanese writing, follows Tategaki, a way of writing used in Japanese literature. This format starts from the right side to the left side of the page.

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Since the main target of manga is Japanese fans, the artist follows the natural way of writing. The panels are then done from right to left, then readers can notice that even the pages are suited that way.

International publishers sometimes turn the pages around to fit the needs of English readers, but most of the time, it can lead to minor changes in the storytelling, mostly the art. With this, most publishers decided to retain the original format of the manga.

For those who are new to the manga world, it is best to keep in mind that the best way to read it is from right to left and from top to bottom. This way, readers won't be confused about what's happening and can avoid spoilers.

There are also a lot of things that need to be considered when reading a manga other than the format. Some artists add symbols to further explain the feelings of the characters like sadness, tiredness, or anger. Even the speech bubbles have different shapes to further give a tone to the characters.

Related: What is the Difference Between Shoujo and Shounen? Full Explanation of the Two Types of Manga