While manga is ubiquitous in Japan — just ride the subway in any major city and you’ll see people from all walks of life flipping through a comic book — many Japanese people are surprised to hear how popular manga has become overseas. After all, aren’t Westerners only interested in macho superheroes or short comic strips?

Perhaps that was the case in America before, but in recent years many major bookstores have begun to reserve more space near the front of the store for Japanese comics and in some European countries like France and Germany manga occupies a large portion of overall comic sales.

But why?

Earlier this month, we sent one of our Japanese reporters to Comic Market (or “Comiket“), the world’s largest self-published comic book fair and otaku mecca, to interview real live foreigners and ask them why they like Japanese manga so much.

(Note: This is the second part of our “RocketNews24 asks REAL LIVE foreigners” series. Check out the first part here!”)

【What do you like about Japanese manga?】

Dana (F/26/Germany)
The story. Japanese manga that are based on mythology and history are very interesting, like how Dragonball was inspired by China’s Journey to the West.

Ann (F/22/Estonia)
I can learn about Japanese society from manga.

Valdar (M/25/Estonia)
I like the art style.

Matthieu (M/20/France)
I think most comics overseas try to appeal to the general public, but Japanese manga is drawn to appeal to specific groups of people. I like that about it. I also like the artwork. Even if the story is bad, you can still enjoy it if the artwork is interesting.

Daniel (M/25/the Netherlands)
The depth of the stories.

Dennis (M/29/the Netherlands)
I’ve never read manga and the only anime I have seen is “Death Note”, but the story was very interesting.

Robin (M/25/the Netherlands)
I like reading stories based on the culture of countries other than my own.

Brigitte (F/24/Austria)
American comics are very monotone: funny comics try only to be funny and serious comics try only to be serious. But Japanese comics are good at mixing serious and funny. I also like how normal it is in Japan to read manga.

Susanne (F/25/Austria)
The variety of genres is great. American comics only have a few genres, like superhero comics, but I love how there really are so many different kinds of manga.

Victor (M/18/Austria)
There are many different types of stories.

Nicolas (M/24/France)
I read a lot of shounen manga (manga oriented towards young males) and I think the stories are interesting. The way characters learn new skills is drawn out in depth and its very fun to watch. And I like how not just young people, but everyone in Japan reads manga.

Jeremie (M/24/France)
It’s fun to watch the characters develop and get stronger.

Jessica (F/24/Canada)
Japanese manga have great stories. On the other hand, American comics can be very dark and depressing. Japanese manga also use male and female characters who are normal, everyday people and so its easy to relate to them.

Gladzy (F/21/Canada)
American comics have very realistic stories and art styles, but I like how manga are more based on fantasy.

【What don’t you like about Japanese manga?】

Dana (F/26/Germany)
Boys love manga (female-oriented manga that focus on romantic or erotic relationships between males). Boys love manga are extremely popular in Europe, but I don’t like them.

Valdar (M/25/Estonia)
Boys love and harlem (one protagonist and multiple love interests) manga. I think Japanese manga have too much sexual content and there are other things they should draw.

Matthieu (M/20/France)
I don’t like mecha or giant robot manga. Magical girl manga aren’t good either.

Brigitte (F/24/Austria)
I don’t like how there are some Japanese manga that you can’t get in my country (laughs). It’s also a little frustrating when I can’t understand the nuances of something because I don’t know Japanese.

Victor (M/18/Austria)
I don’t like how there is so much lolita (underage girl) manga.

Nicolas (M/24/France)
I don’t like manga with excessive sexual content. I think recently, Japanese manga has too much fan service. In the manga “Fairy Tail,” there is always a fan service scene featuring a big-breasted character. So I stopped reading “Fairy Tail” (laughs).

Jessica (F/24/Canada)
This is more regarding anime than manga, but a lot of Japanese anime gets censored and edited when brought over to America or Canada.

Gladzy (F/21/Canada)
Sometimes the English translations are strange.

【Among recent manga, what is one title that you like?】

Dana (F/26/Germany): Skip Beat!
Ann (F/22/Estonia): Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning
Valdar (M/25/Estonia): Gantz
Matthieu (M/20/France): One Piece, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Daniel (M/25/Netherlands): Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~
Robin (M/25/Netherlands): Full Metal Panic
Bridgette (F/24/Austria): Pandora Hearts
Susanne (F/25/Austria): Bleach
Victor (M/25/Austria): Naruto, One Piece
Nicolas (M/24/France): Bakuman
Issac (M/21/Canada): Medaka Box, K-On!, Gurren Lagann
Jessica (F/24/Canada): Card Captor Sakura, Trigun
Gladzy (F/21/Canada): Fruits Basket

And there you have it! Our reporter tells us that all of the foreigners he spoke with at Comiket said they felt welcomed by the Japanese crowd and had an excellent experience. This should be a point of pride for everyone who attended the event and we hope more and more people from abroad have the opportunity to join the festivities in the coming years.

So what is it about Japanese manga that you find appealing? Help us educate our Japanese audience further by letting us know what titles get your heart beating!

Photos, Original Aricle: Daiichiro Tashiro

▼Comiket 82 at Tokyo Big Site: A big thanks to everyone for answering our questions!

▼(from the left) Dana, Ann & Valdar

▼ Matthieu, an exchange student from France

▼ (from the left) Robin, Daniel and Dennis of the Netherlands

▼ Exchange students Brigitte and Susanne

▼ Victor (left) and friend

▼ Jeremie and Nicolas

▼ Cosplayers Jessica, Gladzy and Issac

▼ Jordy (yellow shirt) and friends
[ Read in Japanese ]