We are all aware of the prevalence of the term ‘manga’. Some prefers to call it cartoon that we read and some call it comic. But what is it truly? How it all started? Let’s read about history of manga books in Japan.

What is Manga?

Manga as pictures and texts has by tradition been an important part of Japanese admired culture, amusement, art form, and “literature.” Japan has an extensive history of comics that goes back to ancient times. Initially, in the 19th century, Katsushika Hokusai commenced publication of “Hokusai Manga,” which became a success. He invented the term manga. He was a renowned artist who left many masterpieces such as “Fugaku Sanjû-rokkei,” and “The 36 Sceneries of Mt. Fuji.” Later on, “Japan Punch”, a satirical comic magazine continued for twenty-five years and was very well-liked among the foreigners living in the overseas and as well as the Japanese residents. The word ponchi derived from the English word ‘punch’ began to address to what we call manga in the present day, and it substituted terms such as Tobae, Ôtsue, and Kyôga.

History of Manga Books in Japan
History of Manga Books in Japan

How it All Started?

Japanese have always taken pleasure in drawing and looking at caricatures. For example, Hôryûji Temple in Nara was created in 607 CE; it smoldered in 670 CE, and was steadily rebuilt by the beginning of the 8th century. It is the oldest wooden architecture in Japan and most likely the oldest in the world as well. A technique of amusing caricature called Tobae was commenced in Kyoto during the Hôei Period (1704 -1711). The term Tobae stems from Bishop Toba, and it was utilized to imply to caricature. Initially, in the 18th century, Tobae books, which were printed with woodblocks, were published in Osaka, which bloomed fruitfully.

From the Genroku Period (1688-1704) to the Kyôhô Period (1716-1736) so-called Akahon (a Red colored picture book of fairy tales) was very trendy, and Tobae books also became the latest thing because they were like the variation of Akahon. The publication of Tobae books extends to Nagoya, Kyoto, and Edo, modern Tokyo. This marked the commencement of the commercialization of manga in Japan. Manga then became a product to be sold to the public whether woodblock printed or hand-drawn. But it is only after World War II that it began to flourish. American comic strips such as: Superman, Blondie, Crazy Cat, Mickey Mouse, Popeye, and Donald Duck, were converted and commenced in Japan. Japanese people after the war devastation craved the privileged American life.

History of Manga Books in Japan
History of Manga Books in Japan

What was the function of manga in its long history?

The substantial purpose of manga in its long record was a satire of council, particularly during the civil rights and political reform activity. In 1875 Shojiro Goto, Taisuke Itagaki, Shimpei Eto, etc., recommended a notion for the institution of the National Assembly. They had been exceedingly inclined by the thoughts of Jean Jacques Rousseau. The supposed “Manga Journalism” appeared at this time, and manga began to persuade Japanese political views as well. There was a range of factors that supplied to the appearance of mass production of manga satire in a very short duration, such as the arrival of the technology of zinc relief printing, lithography, copperplate printing, photoengraving, and so on. The enlargement of shipping and mail service also added to the process.

Some Famous Manga Artists

Osamu Tezuka, Naoki Urasawa, Kentaro Miura, Hirohiko Araki, Junji Ito, Sui Ishida, Go Nagai, Eiichiro Oda, Yusuke Murata, Hiromu Arakawa are some of the legendary manga artists.

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