I know manga is usually read right to left, top to bottom, but this panel confuses me a bit.

enter image description here

The guy on the right looks all annoyed and "!" first, and then we have the blonde sliding in like 'are you guys on a date too?', but chronologically isn't this a contradiction? Shouldn't we have seen the main character ask his question first and then spiky guy's reaction?

Or is this panel showing things simultaneously?

If someone could show me in what direction/chronology I'm supposed to read/understand this, it'd really help.

  • Which chapter do you get this panel from?
    – nhahtdh
    Sep 7 '15 at 15:33
  • 1
    tankoban no. 28, chapter 247
    – Hedgehog
    Sep 7 '15 at 15:43
  • 2
    Could it be that Naruto does his 「ズイ!」first, which alarms Shikamaru before Naruto follows up with the question? Sep 8 '15 at 21:42
  • I think @HotelCalifornia has nailed it here, it lines up with the height idea too, since it's partially out of the frame.
    – giraffesyo
    Oct 14 '15 at 9:54

This would be a personal answer based on my own experiences: in cases like these I interpret the height of the speech bubble as order. The left bubble is higher up than the right one, so that happens first. There's nothing stopping the right one to be placed higher up, as it wouldn't hide any important details or anything in the art. Therefore I would read the bubbles in this panel left to right.

The following image is from http://shadow.randomfandom.com/gh/styles.htm and shows reading order. Look at number 4 and 5, that's how I interpret the two speech bubbles in your example.

Reading order of Manga panels and speech bubbles

  • 1
    The 7/8 thing is a bit confusing without reading the site's explanation. Otherwise, yes (+1), height is important. A simple reason being: if it was strictly right-to-left, then the first person to speak will always have to be on the right side of the panel, which may disrupt the desired scene. Especially so panel-to-panel (if people talk in different orders each panel they'll be constantly moving around each other!), but even within the same panel it'd feel a bit unnatural and forced. Oct 13 '15 at 20:39
  • I would add something about the drawing including shikimaru's reaction even though it what naruto said happened in the same panel, as that seems to be the point of the question.
    – giraffesyo
    Oct 14 '15 at 0:22
  • @zibadawatimmy Yes, the picture is from a style guide for a group that translates manga. I only intended to show the 4th and 5th text fields to show that the left one is before the right one because of height (as an answer to the question). The 7/8 thing surely looks confusing without any explanation.
    – timlarsson
    Oct 14 '15 at 21:37
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    @MichaelMcQuade Manga and comics would be twice as long if reactions wouldn't happen in the same panels as the text or action invoking said reaction. But yeah, I maybe should've stated that the panel drawings is a scene that includes both dialogue and following reaction. Just like a still frame from a movie (where reactions doesn't wait until all the dialogue is done).
    – timlarsson
    Oct 14 '15 at 21:44

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