Since the anime boom of the late '90s, Manga has become one of the most-read pieces of literature across the US. Back when NY times had a list of the best selling graphic novels, a lot of Manga was featured on there. However, there are some things about Manga that could take a lesson from US comic book companies, like Marvel and DC.
Be they certain character traits or different trends happening in the medium, were taking a look at ten lessons that Manga can learn from Marvel and DC. If you want to see what Manga can teach Comic Books, you can check out this article we wrote on.
10 Don't need dozens of supporting characters for one series
It can be daunting for newcomers diving into the world of Manga to learn about the dozens of characters that populate the world. For example, let's take a look at My Hero Academia. Sure, you have Deku, his mentor, his two friends, his rival, and the League of Villains. But, then you have dozens of characters like the rest of Class 1-a, Class 1-b, other adult heroes that act as teachers/mentors to our young heroes, the Big 3, a dozen of side-characters, and est. That's a lot to keep up with, and it can be intimidating for someone who wants to check out the series.
Worse is that you'll have heroes with an interesting design and trait that goes unexplored as you have to focus on the main characters. You could argue that there are dozens of superheroes, but most are well known by both hardcore fans and those who watch them on the big screen. Even when looking at the solo series, superhero stories won't introduce a backlogs worth of characters.
9 Allow different artist and writers to work on ongoing series
One of the best things that the greats, like Stan Lee, did was allow different writers to bring their ideas for storylines for the many heroes he created back in the '60s. If only Stan Lee, Bob Kane, and other comic creators were the only people writing them, we would have never had amazing stories like Dark Knight Returns, Civil War, Infinity Gauntlet, and much more. Creativity is such a large part of sequential art, and there's only so much that one person can make up before they begin to lose interest or run out of ideas.
By letting other writers make new stories, not only does this relieve a lot of the stress from the creators, but it also allows a new generation of fans to craft new characters and relationships with establishing lore. How interesting would it be if Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto, would write a Dragon Ball Z storyline?
8 Re-Do origins with modern conveniences
A fun idea that comic creators love to do is to re-write classic origins with contemporary twists. Like, what would Peter Parker's life be like if he was a high school kid in modern times? How would Captain America react to the ongoing debate of the border wall in Mexico? What technology could Iron Man or Batman use that wasn't available back in the'70s.
A lot has changed since these heroes were created decades ago, and manga writers could do so much with these ideas and conveniences. What would Goku's life be like in rural Japan of the current era? What if a writer could lean into the Superman angle and have Goku parody a lot of the origins of the Man of Steel? The possibilities are never-ending.
7 Characters we can look up to, as well as relate to
The big difference between Marvel and DC comics are in how they portray their heroes. Marvel characters are people you can relate to, they deal with everyday issues, and some even face prejudices. DC's heroes are people you look up to; they're people you aspire to be better.
While it's always essential to have a hero you can relate to, it's just as important to have heroes that inspire you to be a better person. A lot of manga characters are young, so it can be easy for young fans to relate to. Yet, we also need heroes that will make us want to do better. We sure can't relate to Goku, but he's still a beloved character because he inspires young kids to push beyond their limitations.
6 Sex doesn't need to sell
Okay, a lot of manga and anime have been doing this less lately, and this is part of cultural differences. However, it's still uncomfortable for readers to see an underage girl groped by one of her fellow female students, have a schoolgirl's skirt be flipped by wind, or have a girl be caught naked by some magic spell.
Superhero comics had a history of using sex appeal to boost readership, but those days are far behind us. You won't see a female hero showing off cleavage in an uncomfortable manner that's made to titillate the reader or have her clothing drop off for no reason.
5 Appeal to the non-adolescent audience
One of the most popular manga genres is the Shonen genre. While most will think of anime and manga like Dragon Ball or One Piece, the actual term is meant to describe the target age group in Japan, 8-16-year-old boys. While we wouldn't want Manga creators to stop targeting a massive audience, we would like a few more Manga that had adult characters that elder audiences can relate to.
4 Don't follow trends
One of the more tiring aspects of manga, anime, and light novel is seeing a trendy story being milked to death. Back in the late '90s, you had companies trying to get some of that Pokemon money, and then you had anime continually striving to be the next DBZ in the mid-2000s, now you have every other writer thinking they can make the next Sword Art Online. Say what you will about superheroes stories being about the hero trying to fight bad guys, at least you don't see Iron Man and Captain America trapped in Skyrim, or Superman forced into the world of The Witcher by Lex Luthor.
Sure, DC tried to make its Cinematic Universe, but look how that turned out. Two critically panned movies like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad and the financial disappointment of Justice League. While it's nice to borrow from what's currently popular occasionally, you don't want to copy it all the time.
3 No Need to power up for drama
Even if you have seen some manga or anime, you'll notice this trope from a mile away. A hero is defeated and has to train to overthrow the bad guy. Sure, it was interesting when Goku and Yusuke had to do this the first few times, but we see this too often with a lot of manga heroes.
Rather than coming up with a strategy or having your friends aid in with a big bad, most of the time, Manga heroes rely on brute force to kill a villain. Do you think Batman trains to get stronger when he has to fight the Joker? No, he finds another way with his brains to beat the Clown Prince of Crime. We always want to see muscle-bound heroes, but sometimes we want to see minds over brawn.
2 Enough with Friendship
Do you want an idea for a terrible drinking game? Pick up two or three random volumes of Fairy Tail and take a shot every time Natsu or someone else mentions friendship. You'll be dead within the hour. We get it. Friendship is the unbreakable bond that can never be defeated, and the bad guy will never win because the good guys are BFFs and have love, acceptance, and some other stuff that Sesame Street taught us.
Hey, here's a better idea for a drinking game. Marathon the Marvel movies and take a shot every time someone in the MCU says, "he's my friend." You might get a little tipsy after finishing Endgame.
1 The cast doesn't need to be all teenagers and high school
All you need to is take a glance at the manga at your local book store or library, and you'll notice that 90% of every manga available right now has a teenage protagonist. We get that teenagers are easily identifiable, but they don't face EVERY challenge in the world. Why would the fate of the entire universe be trusted to a teenager in 10th grade for the 100th time, or why is there a school that teaches you to hunt demons for the 57th time? This wouldn't be a problem if this were a recent trend, but this is CONSTANTLY happening in every manga, anime, and light novel series.
Please, give us a 26-year old with college debt that needs to save the world. We'll even let you give him a young female side-kick that wears revealing clothing. Just give us another age grope of main characters, so we don't have to see another teenager kill Satan for the one-millionth time.