In Japanese, katakana is used for loan words/foreign words, but it shows up a lot in backgrounds of manga as what seems to be onomatopoeia. Is this manga-specific, and where did it originate?

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The center white katakana on the bottom panel seem to be "fuaaaaa", for instance.

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    You would probably get better answers by asking this on japanese.stackexchange.com. – senshin Sep 19 '13 at 18:57
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the Japanese language (which already has a SE), not something specific to anime/manga. – atlantiza Sep 21 '13 at 1:06

Using onomatopoeia to stress sound effects in literature is not manga-specific or even comic-specific. For example, 1966's Batman TV series or even Nickelodeon's The Fairly OddParents had readily available audio to match their onscreen text with emphasis. But several cultures have their own origins. Tracing back when this particular artistic/literary device caught on would be pretty exhaustive, if even credible at all.

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