Ask Manga Mom: Manga as Literature

Nikkita asks:

I am Nikkita Bechdel and a senior at Bald Eagle Area high School in Central Pennsylvania. For the final in my Advanced Placement English class, I must write a research paper on any topic relating to literature. I chose to prove the literacy value of manga. I am having difficulties finding sources on sections such as why Japan considers it literature. If you could please help me, it would mean a lot to me.

Wow, this is a tough one.  A bit of a lofty goal, but a worthwhile one.   When I was in Jr. College, I did a sociology study on anime fans, so I can relate on the difficulty in finding sources.

There hasn’t been a lot of analysis of manga in english, but there are a few books you can look at that may have the information you’re looking for.

These books should give you a good foundation for your paper.  You should be able to find these books at a library or use interlibrary loan to get them.  The amazon links have the ISBN numbers.

I invite the much more knowledgable mangasphere to weigh in other books or links that might help Nikkita out.  If you know of something that might be a good resource, please post it in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Ask Manga Mom: Manga as Literature”

  1. Nikkita,

    I would begin searching for “manga literacy” to make definitive connections between traditional literature and manga as literature. The latest book to discuss this is “Reading Japan Cool: Patterns of Manga Literacy and Discourse” by Allen & Ingulsrud. Here is a handy link to the Google Books page:

    A few more would be:
    Applied developmental psychology – David W. Shwalb:,M1

    Best Practices in Adolescent Literacy Instruction – Kathleen A. Hinchman, Heather K. Sheridan-Thomas:

    (and by a fellow Librarian) Understanding manga and anime – Robin E. Brenner:

    For best results, feel free to ask a Librarian! Hope this helps!


  2. I know Japan Pop has a few essays in it about manga as a literary/art hybrid, and I’d check Roland Kelts’ Japanamerica and maybe even Manga from the Floating World: Comicbook Culture and the Kibyoshi of Edo Japan for s’more discussion beyond the titles already listed.

  3. Well first of all of course its literature. Manga is like a form of literature. Its a story described with pictures. Just like how you can try to picture what is going on in your head while reading novels. The comic strips helps justify your imagination of whats going on. It tells a story within a story. Just like you im researching on how manga is a form of literature. To me I love reading mangas but its hard to find info. So im glad i came by chance on your page. It’s for our senior project and im deciding to draw a manga in the end so im wishing you luck on your search and project too!! If you find anything out that seems interesting please note back to me at my hotmail. Thanks and i will msg back at this site if i find out anything thank you.

    P.S. i dont have a website um if thats what it was asking.

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