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Robin Pizzo, WKAR director of education, responds to frequently asked questions from parents and educators

Q: What is manga?

WKAR Family FAQ What is Manga.png
Image courtesy of PBS Digital Studio/PBS LearningMedia.
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A: Manga is a comic or graphic novel originating from Japan.

Learning about manga offers some much-needed joy. I can remember hosting a manga-inspired birthday party for my seven-year-old daughter over twenty years ago. Every kid in the place beamed like a vibrant ray of light as they readied to take on a manga adventure. As an educator in English literature and world history, I found that manga provided me with a gateway to struggling and reluctant readers who hadn’t quite found a favored genre.

According to PBS Digital Studio video essay show, It’s Lit, “Manga is similar to traditional comics and graphic novels with the added twist of presenting the history of Japan.” Manga’s highly engaging stories are saturated in expressive, fanciful, pop illustrations that ensure each comic is exciting and fast paced.

Here are a few more manga fun facts:

  • The word manga is translated as ‘whimsical pictures’ and ‘political cartoons’
  • In 1798 the term manga was first used.
  • Rakuten Kitazawa is considered the father of modern manga as Stan Lee is considered the father of superhero comics.
  • Manga is the highest selling genre in the world doubling 2020 sales of $250 million in 2021.

Another great fact about manga is the insight it offers into another culture, making the world a more inclusive place.
Happy Learning,

Mrs. Pizzo

Robin Pizzo leads the education outreach efforts of WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University, the PBS and NPR affiliate serving Michigan's capital region. Robin convenes partnerships and coordinates station initiatives such as WKAR Family and Ready to Learn to bring workshops, learning tools, and other resources into the community to help kids be resilient, lifelong learners.
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