Anime vs. Manga – What’s the Difference?

Anime and manga have become immensely popular in the English-speaking world, and for good reason. These Japanese storytelling media convey rich stories filled with dynamic characters and vibrant settings that are enjoyable for both children and adults.

You would not be alone, though, if you wondered what the difference is between anime and manga. Both forms originated in Japan, and they have similar visual styles. But, there is an important difference between these genres.

Continue reading to learn whether the popular new series you keep hearing about is manga or anime.

What is the Difference Between Anime and Manga?

In this post, I will compare anime vs. manga, and I will try to avoid offending the sensibilities of fans of these styles. I will use each of these words in example sentences.

I will also give you a helpful memory tool that will allow you to distinguish between manga and anime in the future.

When to Use Anime

anime versus manga What is anime? Anime is a particular style of animation that originated in Japan. It is characterized by high contrast, bright colors, and thematic elements of science fiction and fantasy.

Today, media in the style of anime are created all over the world. Some people only categorize Japanese productions as anime, while others refer to any animations that use this visual style as anime, regardless of where they were produced.

The word anime has an interesting backstory. The Japanese animēshiyon is a loanword from the English animation, which eventually made its way back to English as anime. Essentially, Japanese borrowed a word from English, and then English borrowed it back.

Here are some examples of anime in a sentence,

  • Sailor Moon is a popular anime among teenage girls.
  • The anime Howl’s Moving Castle, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is widely regarded as a hallmark of the genre.
  • Gao, a 27-year-old cosmetician in Wenzhou, has watched Japanese animation, or anime, since she was a teenager. –The Wall Street Journal

When to Use Manga

Definition of manga definition and definition of anime definitionWhat is manga? Manga is a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels. Like anime, it is characterized by exaggerated facial features and bright colors.

For example,

  • Ashley flipped through the pages of her new manga while riding the bus.
  • Students in dorms debate the merits of various manga series well into the early hours of the morning.
  • Hidden amid the manga stores and costume shops in a labyrinthine subculture shopping complex is Bar Zingaro, a cafe that fuses Norwegian exports — midcentury Scandinavian furnishings, Fuglen coffee — with the colorful art of Takashi Murakami. –The New York Times

The word manga originated in Japanese, from man-, meaning aimless, and -ga, meaning pictures.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define manga and define animeTo oversimplify manga vs. anime, anime are TV shows or movies, while manga are comic books or graphic novels.

The two media share a unique visual style, and many manga serve as the basis for anime. Still, most manga are never made into anime series, and not anime series are based on manga.

Since the word anime is so closely related to the English animation, you will always be able to remember that anime means animated shows or films.


Is it anime or manga? Anime and manga are two visual media that originated in Japan and share a unique visual style.

  • Anime refers to animated shows or movies.
  • Manga refers to comic books or graphic novels.

Both storytelling media use hand- or computer-drawn images that reflect similar visual sensibilities.