Manga in Theory and Practice Review

Title: Manga in Theory and Practice
Author: Hirohiko Araki
Publisher: Viz Media
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 280
Genre: Educational, Manga
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Manga in Theory and Practice is an instructional book written by Hirohiko Araki, the creator of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. While you may have seen series such as Mastering Manga by American mangaka Mark Crilley, this book takes a novel approach to teaching you how to create manga. In other words, while there are pictures to provide examples, the process is explained more like a personalized textbook.

For example, the book starts out with an introduction and then tells you how to start. Starting is pretty self-explanatory: pick something you’re interested in and go from there. Araki talks about the importance of getting people to turn the first page of your manga. You need to make the first page interesting enough for people to want to continue. He cites that there are a few ways to do this with different styles of artwork. It could be pretty art, creepy art, art with little or a lot of motion lines, etc. The point is to create something that instantly grabs the reader’s attention!

Of course, art isn’t the only thing you should do on your first page. You also need an interesting title. Naming something like “The Adventure” is pretty dull, but if you call it JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, now you’re conveying to your reader that not only is it an adventure, but it’s a bizarre one and it involves someone named JoJo. This makes people wonder who JoJo is and what kind of adventure is he going on that makes it bizarre. Just a good title alone can spark many questions that draw in readers.

Of course, the last part to hook a reader is good dialogue. Not only do the characters need to have their own personalities, you need to be able to convey that through text. The words you choose form the way these characters will end up talking so it’s vitally important to not only give your characters personality, but to also use those words to craft a compelling story. If you can throw all of that together, you’re well on your way to writing a manga!

Once the book gets you started it then talks about the fundamentals of manga structure (like how it is read right to left, top to bottom in Japan), how to write a story, how to design characters and how to connect all elements into the theme of your manga. Araki even talks about the overall process of making manga from storyboards, to drafts to finished manuscripts, etc. Even if your goal is to make a manga, Araki even talks about how to craft a one shot first before drawing an entire series. A one shot is, usually, a 45-60 page chapter of a manga that tells a summarized version of your entire story. Typically, one shots are the things that get turned into manga serializations so it’s nice to see Araki talk about that here rather than give readers the impression that making a manga from start to finish is the way to go.

Final Thoughts

I have read a lot of “How to” books on creating manga and most of them deal with instructing you on how to draw the characters, different poses, body types, genders etc. Manga in Theory and Practice is very different than any of those other books. This is a very in-depth and comprehensive lecture on the process of making manga by one of the best in the manga industry. What you will find inside is a treasure trove of knowledge about the inner workings of the manga industry and the advice you need to be given on how to get started.

Araki puts a personal touch on all of his lessons by recanting personal stories about himself in order to get his point across. He takes his experience as a mangaka and applies it to his lessons so that the readers can understand his reasoning on a personal level rather as just someone spouting forth instructions like a drone. He even goes as far as how he dealt with personal criticisms and how he ended up finding his own style in Italy of all places!

If you are interested in learning how to create manga or if you’re just interested in how manga is created and process behind it, I cannot think of a more comprehensive book that will give you this kind of insight.

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This item was provided for review by Viz Media.

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.