Africa and the Manga Craze: What African Creators Need to Learn from Japan

Attack on Titan and African comics on the Zebra comics blog

Let’s make this clear; Japanese manga is the most popular comic book style in the world. Any human being who has interest in comics should be aware by now that there is no other comic book variation that has more following today than the Japanese version of the artform. From Akira, passing through Dragon ball and One Piece to Attack on Titan, Japanese manga has continued to take the world by storm, telling stories which have entertained many in very deep ways. It is even more interesting to note that there are a ton of mangas out there, with new publications hitting the market every year. From Japan, the culture has become so popular that it has been fully adopted by geeks in North America and Europe. During comic book conventions across the world, it is impossible for cosplays, games, animation and merchandise created from Japanese manga to be absent. The manga market has grown so widely that in 2022, its global market value was at 12.13 billion dollars and it is projected to grow to 42.2 billion dollars by the year 2030. Ultimately, Japan even used manga characters like Son Goku from the DragonBall series as ambassadors for the Tokyo Olympic games, evidence that manga has become so popular that they contribute to country branding.

Indeed manga has grown tremendously, moving from Japan to the west and entertaining so many people in deep ways. This movement did not miss Africa too. The love for manga in Africa today is greater than it ever was. Africans have read manga, enjoyed anime and even formed Otaku groups which swear by nothing else than their love for Japanese creativity in comics. This love has even grown to the extent where many African Otakus literally swear that they prefer to become Japanese in soul and nationality, than to renounce their love for manga. This, more than anything, shows how much comics can contribute to brain drain and rid a culture of the recognition it deserves in its own backyard.

tokyo olympics manga characters and African comics on the zebra comics blog

This huge love for Japanese manga in Africa has contributed its quota in making it difficult for African comics to get the recognition that it deserves. Even though the problems plaguing the sector have nothing to do with the influence of Japanese manga directly, there is no denying that the huge popularity of manga have swayed Africans away from their own products so much that they are beginning to resist creations based on their own cultures.

That said, it will be wise to stop whining about what Japanese manga has or hasn’t done to make life difficult for African creators. As a wise man once said, to be the greatest, learn from the greatest. African comics have great value, as we can clearly see in recent interest from global production houses. So, what African creators should be doing is to identify what Japanese manga is doing to make it the most popular comic book form in the world. African comics creators can learn a lot from their Japanese counterparts so as to position themselves in a market which is constantly demanding for more and which is in constant evolution. In this light, therefore, African creators and publishers can learn the following from Japanese manga.

Unique Art Style

Berserk manga art style and African comics on the zebra comics blog

One of the things that makes manga stand out from other forms of comics is its unique art style. Manga characters often have large eyes, exaggerated expressions, and dynamic poses. This art style is both visually appealing and expressive, and it helps to set manga apart from other forms of comics. African comics creators can learn from this by developing their own unique art styles that reflect their own cultures and traditions. Standing out with their unique art styles will inevitably position African comics very favorably on the international market.

Wide Range of Genres

Another reason why manga is so popular is its wide range of genres. Manga covers everything from action to romance to comedy to horror. This means that there is something for everyone, regardless of their interests. African comics creators can learn from this by creating comics that appeal to a wide range of audiences. This is even very possible given the deep well of untold cultures and traditions from different parts of Africa. The possibilities for African creators today are practically endless.

Captivating Stories

Death Note manga and African comics on the Zebra comics blog

Manga stories are often very captivating and well-written. They can be funny, exciting, heartwarming, or thought-provoking. This makes them a great way to escape from reality and explore new worlds and ideas. African comics creators can learn from this by creating stories that are both entertaining and thought-provoking. No one can ignore the storytelling genius of manga like Attack on Titan, Death Note or Naruto. African creators should work on this seriously because the very primal reason why people consume comics is to experience awesome stories.

Strong Sense of Community

The manga community is very strong and supportive. Manga creators often collaborate with each other, and they share their work with each other online. This sense of community can be very helpful for African comics creators, as it can provide them with support and feedback. African comics lovers, Otakus included, should also show love for local content because this does not only promote the comics themselves, but they also contribute in promoting entire nations.

LToday, the African comics market is growing. Publishers like Zebra Comics PLC, Comic Republic, YouNeek Studios, Etan Comics, Peda Comics and Epoch Comics are doing great work in growing the industry. The results of this work can already be seen in the adaptation deals which they are garnering from big places. Nevertheless, compared to Japanese manga, African comics still have a long way to go to be as popular as Japanese manga. African comics creators can therefore learn a lot from their Japanese counterparts. By developing their own unique art styles, creating comics that appeal to a wide range of audiences, and creating stories that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, African comics creators can help to make African comics more popular and accessible to a wider audience.

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