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What Makes The Perfect First Manga For Beginners

They say if you don’t like reading novels, it’s only because you haven’t found the right one for you yet. The same thing holds true for every other storytelling medium, including manga. 

That’s why for those who have never read manga before in their life, I believe that their very first title is highly crucial. Not only as an introduction to the medium, but also to set up their expectation on what manga is all about. 

So if you, or somebody you care about, are interested in dipping your toes into the world of manga, these are some of the things that I believe could guide you to that perfect first title. 

Keep in mind that these things take a little work on your end, so if you would rather have the recommendation up front, then I suggest  you take a look at some of the titles in my manga starter pack. Otherwise, let’s get started. 

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1. Know the basics of manga

Going at it blind for the first time is not recommended, especially if you’re not familiar with Japanese books. You need to know some basic stuff about manga first. Such as the fact that it is read from right to left, it is printed in black and white, so on and so forth. 

Those are the kind of things that would throw you off if you don’t know about it beforehand. I’ve compiled a handy list on what you need to know about manga. So be sure to give it a quick glance before you pick your first manga.

2. Judge it by the cover

Manga is a visual storytelling medium. And considering the millions of titles that have been published throughout the years, I’m sure there must be something out there that will catch your attention. 

So before you get to the story, it is better to make sure that you like the art first. Because that is what you’ll be staring at for hours. After all, unlike most American comics, with manga what you see is what you got. The art in the cover is the same with the art that you’ll see inside. 

So picking a manga based on the cover art that you like is an absolutely valid way to go about it.

3. Be mindful of the demographics

The world of manga is divided into four main demographics. Shounen for teenage boys, Shoujo for teenage girls, Seinen for young adult men, and finally Josei for young adult women. 

These demographics will affect everything from the theme of the story, the topics that are explored, whether it has graphic content or not, the complexity of the story, and many more. 

You can certainly read from whatever demographics that you like, but for your first manga, I believe it is better to stick to your current demographic. 

4. Consider the genre

Similar to other storytelling mediums, the story of every manga also lives within certain genres. So if you already have a favorite genre from another form of storytelling, like movies or novels, then you should start from there. 

Action, comedy, drama, all of them at the same time, you name it, there’ll be a manga on it. For your first manga, I believe it will be easier to start from something that feels familiar for you. That way, good or bad, you’ll more or less know what to expect from the story. 

5. Read the synopsis

A synopsis is a well-crafted paragraph that is designed to give you a glimpse into the story that you’re about to consume. It talks about the premise, the setting, and sometimes even the goal of the story. 

There are places that will let you read some of the first pages or even a chapter, which is great. But if you don’t have access to something like that, then a synopsis is the next best thing. 

Some titles are arguably better at creating a synopsis than others, but at the very least, you should be able to decide whether you are attracted to the story or not based on the synopsis. 

6. Keep it short

Getting a manga means you have to dedicate your time and money to it. Which is the reason why I think it is better for new readers to read something short. 

Manga is a serialized medium. Which means there are stories out there that have hundreds of volumes available. Now why would you spend your precious time and money on something that long with no guarantee that you’d like it, right?

That’s why for beginners, I recommend getting a manga with less than 10 volumes. That’s not too expensive and won’t take so long for you to read the whole thing through. 

7. Get physical

Yeah, you should punch and kiss those damn manga. Wait, no, not that kind of physical. What I mean is you should get the physical version of the manga. 

Just like books, most manga is published in a digital format along with the physical release. It is usually cheaper than the paperback version and you can read it through your computer, tablet, and even through your phone.

So why do I recommend getting the physical one? Well, because that is how a manga was originally published. As a new reader, I think it is better if you experience reading your first title the way it was supposed to be read. 

By holding it in your hand and flip the pages with your finger. Of course, this is just my personal preference. You can ignore it if you want. Or you can give it a try and see if you like getting physical with it.

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Reading all of these points might get you thinking, “How the hell am I supposed to find the information about all of this stuff?” The answer is a manga database website called MyAnimeList. 

Whenever you find a manga that you like, you can visit MyAnimeList, enter the title, and it’ll spit out all the information that you’d need to know. The demographic, genres, length, synopsis, everything. 

There are some other websites that I believe you should know about. But for now, if you can get yourself used to navigating MyAnimeList, then you’ll be a master manga picker in no time. 

I’ll try to compile more manga that I think will be suitable for beginners, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, have fun exploring!


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