I have often wondered, what are the differences between anime and manga? Furthermore, what are the differences between these two and what would be called "cartoons" to the rest of us?

Is this purely down to where in the world it's made or other cultural differences, or is there more to it?

  • 7
    Anime is a cartoon whereas Manga is a comic.
    – krikara
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 3:25
  • 2
    What are you even doing on this Stack site?
    – Psy
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 3:52

2 Answers 2


The following is mostly copied from my answer on Scifi to a very similar question.

Anime and Manga are two different storytelling media. They both originate in Japan, and are closely related, but are ultimately two different things. The confusion between the two arises mostly because it's often the case that the same story will have both an anime and a manga version. The terminology will vary a little bit depending on whether the person you talk to is a Japanese person or a westerner; I'll try to point out where this happens.

Anime (アニメ, a shortened form of アニメーション, which is literally "animation" when written as a loanword in Japanese) are Japanese animated cartoon videos. These air on television or are released to home video. Producing an anime is a large undertaking, and requires the work of an animation studio with a large number of people.

There is some debate as to whether non-Japanese cartoons qualify as anime. A Japanese person would say that any cartoons at all can be included as anime, including western series like Avatar: The Last Airbender or Spongebob Squarepants. The word "anime" in Japanese is almost exactly equivalent to "cartoon" in English. Most people outside Japan use the term solely to refer to Japanese-origin series, or at least those which are inspired significantly by Japanese anime (so Avatar might count, but Spongebob certainly wouldn't).

enter image description here

An image from the Saint Seiya anime

Manga (漫画, which could be literally read as "whimsical drawings") are Japanese comics. Unlike anime, they're typically black and white. Manga are often used as the basis for anime, but not every anime is from a manga and most manga are never made into anime. Manga usually only require a small number of people to produce, at minimum a mangaka (who is the author, illustrator, and all other major roles) and an editor. Unlike western comic books, most manga are read right-to-left.

As with anime, Japanese fans wouldn't have much problem labeling comics from other countries as manga. In the English-speaking world, it's more complicated. OEL Manga (Original English Language Manga) is now a standard term for comics like Megatokyo which are inspired by manga but produced in English-speaking countries. There's also manhwa (Korean origin comics) and manhua (Chinese origin comics), both of which heavily borrow from manga. Japanese people would usually label all of these as Manga, but English-speakers will usually make the distinction.

enter image description here

A couple of panels from the Saint Seiya manga

As for what differentiates anime from cartoons, I'd suggest you look at What differentiates anime from regular cartoons?. There's no universal answer, and different people have different approaches for defining anime. Here's a summary of the answers there:

Some people (I suspect most) choose to define anime as just "cartoons originating in Japan" in which case there's no fundamental difference between anime and cartoons. The only differences are in terms of what are more common tropes, plot points, etc. Anime does often tend to be somewhat more mature than western cartoons, if only because there is a significant fraction that is produced for consumption by adults (whereas the vast majority of western animation is not primarily marketed to adults).

However, there are also stylistic differences between most western cartoons and most Japanese anime, and some people like to include non-Japanese works which are strongly inspired by Japanese art styles and storytelling, e.g. the Avatar series. This is a trickier business since it becomes very subjective as to what exactly qualifies as anime, so most professional anime organizations (e.g. Anime News Network) stick to the first definition and prefer to call these works "anime-inspired" or some other similar terms.


Anime, is the Japanese word for "Animation"

Manga, is the Japanese word for "comic" although, people call them "graphic novels" all of a sudden

Though, most people, like myself, refer to "anime" and "manga" as "Japanese animation" and "Japanese comic", which, that is not what it means unless you added the Japanese word for "Japanese" in front of it... which would be highly confusing.... so anime and manga ;D

and also, the words "anime" and "manga" are both singular and plural. just for your future reference ^^

You can tell a manga apart from a comic because, the begining is at we consider the end. They read just so, "right-to-left"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .