How To Read Manga: 5 Easy Steps

Young people around the United States and Canada have fallen in love with Japanese graphic novels, known as manga. The pop culture trend features stories and characters which appeal to people of all ages and interests. However, you must learn how to read manga. This article will ensure you are correctly interpreting panel elements in Japanese manga.

What is Manga?

Manga is the English word the western world uses to generically describe Japanese comics. It is an artistic storytelling style, making it similar to graphic novels like The Walking Dead, and it is different from traditional superhero comics.

It is crucial to note that Ameri-Manga also exists. This type of manga is by American writers but has a Japanese style. Usually, there are not many differences between these types of manga, but the background of the writers significantly influences the writing.

How do you read Manga?

It is difficult for Americans to pick up an original Japanese manga volume and read it correctly the first time. They often have trouble reading the panels correctly, so it is crucial to understand the reading flow beforehand.

Here are the steps you should follow to read Manga Correctly:

Step 1) Selecting Manga

Before you start to read manga, you will need to pick from the plethora of manga titles available. As there are thousands of options available, so we recommend picking a genre that interests you. Once you have a genre, you can look at the most popular manga volumes in that genre.

For example, people who love fantasy want to read the digital version of Dragon Ball. You can check out Ghost in the Shell if you like science fiction.

Step 2) Getting Started

Once you find a manga title of your choice, you can start reading it. However, If you chose a series, start with the first title to start the story from the beginning. Fortunately, you can find the issue number on the cover of most mangas, so you can tell which volume comes first.

Step 3) Right to Left reading

When you open a manga, it’s easy to realize that you cannot read it like a book written in the United States. Unlike graphic novels and books written in western culture, the spine of a manga should be on the right side.

To ensure you start on the right side, check that the title, author, and edition are on the front cover. You read manga panels from right to left, unlike American books, which read left to right.

Fortunately, many mangas printed in the United States come with warnings on the left side to keep you from reading them backward.

Check this image:

How To Read Manga

Step 4) Reading Panels

Remember, manga are like graphic novels, so you will read panels instead of traditional text. There is a dialogue in most panels, but there are also images and horizontal writing.

Read the panels starting in the upper right-hand corner so that you go from right to left and from top to bottom. Read the right page first, then the left. If the panels are vertical, start with the topmost panel on the right page.

How To Read Manga

Dialogue bubbles, the text that relays character conversations, follow the same rules as the panels. So you need to read the conversation between characters, starting with the rightmost bubble in each panel.

Moreover, it is also important to understand some stylistic tendencies. For example, if a panel has a black background, it is usually a flashback. While some artists do not follow this rule, it is a common tendency used by most manga writers.

Step 5) Reading Characters’ Emotions

Understanding how to read characters’ emotions is critical to appreciating manga. You will pick this up as you go, but there are some things you should know before starting.

Notably, a sigh bubble usually signifies relief or exasperation. While lines across the face indicate, a character is blushing or ecstatic about the situation.

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You should not interpret everything in manga literally. For example, a nosebleed does not necessarily indicate bleeding from the nose. Instead, it is usually a sign of lust. Similarly, sweat drops usually signify embarrassment.

What App Should You Use to Read Manga?

Here are some of the best manga apps you can use to read manga online legally and enjoy stories with your favorite characters.

1) Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is the most popular site for finding manga. It gives you access to lots of content with advertisements, but the interface is easy to use. It offers many free manga, but you must subscribe to get access to other content. Of note, purchase a premium subscription to access some titles due to licensing issues.


2) ComiXology

Amazon owns ComiXology, and you can purchase a subscription plan to access their entire library. Alternatively, you can buy individual titles to own permanently. Subscribers can also access Marvel and DC content.


3) Viz Media

To get access to content at Viz Media, you must make an account to read manga online legally. With a subscription, you get access to rotating weekly comics. You can also purchase titles individually through the website or app.

Viz Media

4) Book Walker

Book Walker app allows users to purchase several manga titles. You must use the international Book Walker app and website to get the original copies. Make sure you use the international site to avoid translation issues.

Book Walker

Visit Book Walker


❓ How can you read manga without breaking it?

As manga are mostly published in paperback format, they aren’t the most practical books to read in terms of preserving the original quality of the publication. The printed manga editions are stiff, and the spine breaks easily. In order to prevent your manga from bending, place it under a pile of other books, which will cause them to flatten.

🚀 How to read manga in English?

Unfortunately, most manga magazine is in Japanese, so they can be challenging to read. Google translate is one of the options, but it is not perfect. We recommend searching for an English copy or official online translation of your manga.

🏅 What are the different manga?

There are five different manga:

  • Shonen is a manga with a young male target audience that typically includes a lot of action and friendship between characters.
  • Shojo is for young and teen females focusing more on coming-of-age themes, social interactions, and romance.
  • Seinen is for men between 18 and 40, with more advanced and mature themes than a shonen manga.
  • Josei is a manga for women that typically involve standalone stories revolving around romance and drama.
  • Kodomo is a children’s manga that features fun characters with moral and educational storylines.


Reading manga is an ideal way to expose American children to Asian culture. However, it is crucial to understand how to read horizontal writing. Misreading it will have you reading the comic backward. You’ll be a pro at reading manga with just a little practice!