Difference Between Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua
One of the most common confusion among people is the difference between manga, manhwa and manhua. The latter two terms of manhwa and manhua may be completely new to some people. People who only indulge in manga and anime may not know what manhwa and manhua are.
So naturally, when they come across these two words they may start scratching their heads. The only thing common between them is that all three of them are comics. This is why in this article we will cover all the details about manga, manhwa and manhua and highlight all the key differences between them.
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The most common word out of these three is manga. Since anime has become so popular all around the world, it is a no brainer that manga has been on the rise too. After all, the anime we see are based on manga. If we are to describe manga in one word, it will be Japanese comics or Japanese visual novels. They are also a form of art that reflects a story with a gripping plot.
The style of manga dates back to the 19th century but its history goes way back to the Japanese arts. The original publications of manga are done in the Japanese language but they have become so popular over the years that now they are also translated to other languages.
Manga play a very significant role in generating revenue for Japan as the stats show that the valuation of the manga market was already around $7 billion in Japan in 1995. It did not take long for the popularity of manga to spread to the US and Canada as the world saw a major rise in this brilliant art form.
The key difference between manga from western comics is that they are published in a black and white form. You will rarely see colourful manga other than some coloured cover pages. The typical characteristic of manga is that they are printed in weekly magazines. Shueisha and Kodansha are two of the major publications with Weekly Shonen Jump and Weekly Shonen Magazine being the most popular magazines of manga. There are also some monthly manga like Boruto and Dragon Ball Super.
Usually, when a manga gets popular and crosses a lot of chapters they are compiled into volumes and sold later separately. The creators of manga are also known as mangaka. But a mangaka is not the only person working behind the scenes of a manga.
A manga requires a lot of work and there are many instances where the story and artwork are done by different persons. Manga has a huge influence on anime as we saw in the case of Demon Slayer Mugen Train which broke all records of an animated film.
Another great thing about manga is their variety and diversity. Manga are available in various genres and almost any age group can enjoy them. Two of the most popular genres of manga are Shounen and Seinen with Shonen targeting a lower age group while Seinen targeting a bit more older audience.
Manga also produces many job opportunities for people as they provide career opportunities for Japanese citizens. In Japan, awards are also given to authors and their works to recognise their hard work and effort behind the creation of a manga. Any aspiring manga artist can take courses provided in many universities in Japan which opens a path for them to achieve their dreams.
The main difference between manhwa in comparison to manga is that manhwa is created in South Korea. Just like manga are Japanese comics, manhwa are Korean comics. Although it may seem like they are not as popular as manga, recent times have seen an uplift in manhwa too and they are a very important part of Korean culture.
The trend of manhwa in Korea started around the 1920s when it was under the occupation of Japan. Naturally, it is no coincidence that the culture of manga slowly spread in Korea in the form of manhwa. Manhwa may not have the worldwide popularity like manga at the moment but some of the titles have already become quite famous.
Solo Levelling, Noblesse and The God of High School are just a few of the titles that have acquired a solid fanbase. Although the trend of manhwa started around the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that they started becoming popular.
One of the most popular genres that rose at that time was sunjeong. Unlike shonen, sunjeong is aimed at the audience of young women with its intricate romantic plots. Just like a mangaka, the creator of a manhwa is called manhwaga. It also led to many budding artists taking up manhwaga as a career as the manhwa culture started blooming.
Another key difference between manga and manhwa is that, unlike manga, manhwa are read like English books from left to right. People reading manga for the first time often become confused since it is read from right to left but in the case of manhwa, there is no such problem. The animated versions of manhwa did not have a great start but recently the likes of Tower of God and Noblesse have started to make a lot of noise.
The art style of manhwa is also starkly different to that of manga. While the manga characters are identified by their big eyes and cartoonish style, the characters in a manhwa are more realistic and look like original people. Moreover, the digital versions of manhwa are available in coloured copies which is never the case of manga.
Manhwa also has a major political history as during the Japanese occupation of Korea political manhwa were banned as topics were forced to be on less controversial issues. At a certain point, the government had also shut down manhwa magazines completely. Thus it is clear that manhwa had rather a rocky path in its road towards popularity and the government had a major influence in dictating that.
As we have talked about previously, digital copies of manhwa are mostly coloured. They are known as webtoons. The most interesting fact is that while all webtoons are manhwa, not all manhwa are webtoons. It can be a pretty confusing thing but once you know the main difference it is not much of an issue.
This has also happened because manhwa has been more open to digital platforms compared to manga. The shift to digital platforms also had an influence on their art styles as manhwa became more long and vertical, manga remained more horizontal. This difference in panels is also quite noteworthy between manga and manhwa.
Lastly, we came to manhua. Just like Japan and South Korea, the comics that are created in China are known as manhua.
Manhua first came to existence around 1904 when a comic titled “Current Affairs Comics’ was published. Most of the works around that time were based on political scenarios and wars. Manhua slowly started to grow and the first manhua magazine was published in 1928. It was known as the Shanghai Sketch which was the start of a revolution in the manhua industry in China.
Once the number of Chinese immigrants started to rise in Hong Kong it became the centrepiece of the manhua market. A magazine called Cartoons World emerged in 1956 which became very popular at that time.
Slowly televisions came into play in the 1970s which saw a shift in the genre to Kung Fu manhua. With the dawn of social media in the 2000s, Chinese artists started posting satirical comics online which led to interference from the government. Amidst all these some websites like Sina Weibo and Douban kept publishing manhua to make them reach as many people as possible.
The manhua industry saw a major boom only with the start of digitalisation. Similar to manhwa, digital manhua or webcomics opened a new pathway for artists. The increased use of smartphones was also seen as a way to target the younger generation and make them fall in love with manhua.
This also gave many opportunities for upcoming artists to post their works online and choose a career path as a manhua artist. Slowly the popularity of manhua saw two of them being animated into anime series – Yi Ren Zhi Xia and Soul Buster.
One difference that highlights manhua is that they are not as diverse as manhwa and manga. At present, there are only four categories of manhua – Political, Comical, Action and Children.
Similar to manhwa, the art form of manhua is more realistic than manga. Moreover, they are also mostly in coloured forms rather than being black and white. Manhua can be read from both left to right and right to left. It only depends on where the manhua is created.
All the works from mainland China are read from left to right while works from Taiwan and Hong Kong are read from right to left. Digital copies of manhua or webcomics have seen more popularity than printed comics.
This is also where manga differs from manhua and manhwa since the printed copies of manga are considered highly valuable and are often collected by fans. In terms of the revenue generated digitals manhua have far surpassed printed manhua. This has also seen many manhua artists shifting to the digital medium in order to maintain a livelihood.
Key Differences Between Manga, Manhua, and Manhwa
One of the main differences between manga, manhwa and manhua is the readers they aim to target. As we have stated before, the shonen category is the most popular genre of manga and it targets young boys with their action-filled plot. Similarly, there are shoujo manga with young girls as the audience consisting of stories of magical girls. The concept of publishing chapters separately as volumes exist only in the case of manga.
As for manhua and manhwa, they are uploaded weekly on webtoon platforms but they are not compiled into separate volumes. Manga is more focused on fantasy and supernatural stories while manhwa has been seen focusing on Korean beauty culture. There is also a stark difference between printed and digital comics. While printed manga and manhwa have detailed backgrounds in the panels, the digital copies of manhua rarely have so.
We are more accustomed to seeing colourful manhwa in digital devices but we have to note that in the case of printed forms they are similar to manga and are published in black and white. Digital manhua and manhwa have a unique way of using music to enhance the reader’s experience. Since it is not possible in the case of manga, they use words to express sounds of animals and objects.
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In conclusion, we can say that the industry of manga, manhwa and manhua can only reach greater heights from this point. At this moment manhua seems the least popular out of the three but it is only a matter of time that it makes a big breakthrough. Just like manhwa started making a lot of noise with Solo Leveling and The God of High School, manhua is also expected to do so.
Many years ago no one would have believed that manga will be a worldwide phenomenon with such a huge fanbase. But with the passage of time and the quality works, it is only natural that it has produced such a global impact and craze. Similarly, manhwa and manhua also need that little bit of time to gain a strong foothold. The day is not far away when we will be discussing manhwa and manhua along with top manga like One Piece and Naruto.
The digitalisation of the works will massively help their cause. Although manga haven’t been digitalised to a huge extent, people can still read them by visiting the official website of Shueisha. This is also exactly what helped to spread the popularity of manga in far and wide countries. So for those of you who still haven’t read manhwa or manhua, you should definitely give it a try.
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