Manga vs Anime: Similarities and Differences Explored

There is always a never-ending debate in the anime community: which is better, manga or anime? The entire fandom has also been split into two sides, each vouching for their favorite medium. I’ve been a manga and anime enthusiast for over a decade now, and well, I have some thoughts on this incessant talk of the town. So, let me walk you through manga and anime’s biggest advantages and disadvantages to find out the ultimate winner.

No matter what, there will always be a person in our circle who argues that manga is better or that anime upgrades the quality of the source material. But, to educate you more about the similarities and differences between manga and anime, we have divided this guide into two sections.

What is a Manga?

Denji and Asa in Chainsaw Man manga
Image Courtesy: Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto (X/@VIZMedia)

The simplest way to explain this question is that manga are comic books and graphic novels that originate from Japan. They have been produced and published since the early 1900s and are one of the most renowned works of all time. Some of the popular manga that are still being enjoyed by fans worldwide are Berserk, One Piece, Attack on Titan, Naruto, and many more.

These mangas are the primary source for the majority of the anime we get to see today. That said, it’s time to take a look at the biggest positives and negatives of reading a manga:

Advantages of Manga

Image Courtesy: One Piece by Eiichiro Oda (X/@VIZMedia)
  • You are in control of pacing: Most of the manga are well-paced and can be read with ease. With you in the driver’s seat, it’s totally up to you to choose the pace at which you want to read, and that is a huge plus. So, if you want to wrap up your journey faster, you can do that. Or, you can savor the story and character development at a slower pace.
  • Let your imagination run wild: Manga gives you the creative freedom of imagining things while reading, like how certain characters will be colored, how your favorite characters fight, or how they experience emotion, etc.
  • The only source for the author’s intended vision: As the mangas are written and drawn by the mangaka, they remain the only source for the pure canonical experience.
  • Witness the peak of artwork: Many of the manga boast top-tier artwork that is a massive visual treat. Manga artists often meticulously craft their art with a sublime level of detail that’s hard to adapt to an anime. Best examples include One Punch Man, Berserk, Kaiju No. 8, etc.
  • Diversity and availability: Countless manga are available be it any genre you want and you can get them digitally or buy a physical copy to build a library as well.

Limitations of Manga

Image Courtesy: Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo (X/@VIZMedia)
  • Only black and white: Unlike Western comic books or Korean manhwas like Solo Leveling, manga aren’t colors. They are usually in black and white, but the official colored versions for a few manga do exist.
  • Lost in translation: While it is good to let your creative mind run free when reading manga, some of them do feel difficult to interpret when it comes to battles and how they roll out.
  • Unforeseen hiatus breaks: There are a lot of manga out there that suffer from unexpected breaks usually due to the author’s health issues. There are also instances where the manga has been stopped due to the creator’s passing.

What is an Anime?

Image Courtesy: Sousou no Frieren by Madhouse Studios (X/@Crunchyroll)

An anime is an animated piece of content produced or originating from Japan. So, all the movies, TV shows, and specials fall under the anime category. Anime is mostly the adaptation of a manga, however, there are also cases where adaptations of light novels, webtoons, etc. exist.

Apart from manga adaptations, original anime do exist and have their own stories and characters. Furthermore, in rare cases, a manga is created based on the anime original if it becomes extremely popular.

For example – anime like Code Geass, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Psycho-Pass, and many others received manga adaptations later on. With this in mind, take a look at the biggest positives and negatives of anime.

Advantages of Anime

Image Courtesy: One Punch Man Season 3 by J.C. Staff (YouTube/ EMOTION Label Channel)
  • Well-crafted adaptation: A proper anime adaptation can truly bring life to its characters, redefine the artwork, amplify the emotions, and more to make it a superlative experience.
  • Wonders of extra anime-only scenes: Anime has the freedom to craft additional scenes that further elevate the true essence of the source material. For example, the brief conversation between Shikamaru and his father Shikaku after Asuma sensei’s passing is an improv done by the anime team.
  • Unbelievable impact of sound: With anime, you have the advantage of sound design and voice acting. Impressive voice acting performances, great soundtrack, and sound designs can elevate the viewing experience beyond one can think of.
  • Trump Card: Anime has the power and potential to uplift an average story into a remarkable experience.

Limitations of Anime

Image Courtesy: Chainsaw Man by MAPPA Studios (X/@Crunchyroll)
  • Unwanted changes, fillers, and cuts: Though an anime can remain 100% faithful to its source material, there are cases where an abundance of fillers can hinder the experience. Also, they have the power to chop down and change any part of the story and censor mature scenes, which can be a huge bummer if you want an experience close to the source.
  • Unfulfilling and rushed adaptations: This is an ongoing trend where production studios decide to rush through the source due to budget and time constraints, resulting in ruining the whole experience.
  • Inconsistent quality: Not all animation studios out there can deliver top-notch quality every season. As a result, manga can’t be reproduced with the same quality and many frames can’t be as detailed as the source.
  • Excruciating wait period: It takes a longer time to produce an anime which solely depends on the size and quality of the source material. Additionally, you’ll have to wait much longer for follow-up seasons.

Verdict: Should You Read Manga or Watch Anime?

Image Courtesy: One Piece by Eiichiro Oda and Toei Animation (X/@OnePieceAnime and X/@VIZMedia)

At the end of the day, the choice of selecting the medium you want to enjoy your journey ultimately falls to you, and hence, the answer is purely subjective. There are many examples where anime has surpassed its source material, with the recent example being Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End. Also, there are cases where we can say the manga is better left alone to savor it by reading.

We are one of the luckiest people as we have two options, anime and manga, acting as the gateway to a paradise where we can commence our journey. Thus, imagine a mechanical balance, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each medium that matter to you, and you will have your answer to which is the perfect medium for you.

I hope I was able to present you with a clear analysis of each medium’s advantages and drawbacks along with real-life examples. I could only highlight the ups and downs of manga and anime to give you a clear picture. That said, which is your primary go-to for enjoyment – manga or anime? Let us know in the comments below.

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