Like the rest of my classmates in my first Japanese class, I was inspired by manga to start learning Japanese. Although manga is usually deemed as ‘leisure’ reading, there are some quality manga that deal with serious societal issues. In fact, at National Cheng Chi University, one of the top universities in Taiwan, there is actually a class in which you have to read manga. Mandatory manga readings? It’s no wonder the class is so popular that some students have to wait four years to get in!

The legendary course taught at Cheng Chi University is titled “Japan Through Manga“. Even though the class was started in 2006, it gets in the media limelight once every few years due to its popularity among students. Professor Cai Zeng Jia who teaches the course started it in order to reach out to more students. When he first came to teach at Cheng Chi University, he titled his class, “Japanese Political Economy”. As you might have imagined, the topic sounded so dry that he had but a few students. He remembered that when he was in Japan, he had observed many people reading manga, so he started looking into some of them. Much to his surprise, he found that many of these manga actually describe in shocking detail several social phenomena in Japan.


Although he only accepts 120 people into his class each year, there are often thousands of students who apply for it. According to a 4th year student at the university, “I’ve heard that the class is fantastic! But it’s impossible to get in.” Going along with the success of his manga class, Professor Cai now also teaches a class titled “Movies and International Relations” which only holds 180 students but gets hundreds of applications each year. The passionate educator commented,

“Teaching is all about passing on knowledge. In order to do that, we need to find the right means. No matter what methods we use, we must first get the students’ attention so that they can learn.”


If you were wondering what students in this class are taking away from the course, here are some of the readings and their related themes:

  • Sanctuary – Money and politics in Japan
  • Kencho no Hoshi (Star Reformer) – Japanese bureaucracy
  • Kaji Ryuusuke no Gi – Japanese politics
  • Naniwa Kinyudo – The economic bubble in Japan
  • Money no Ken – Japanese conglomerates
  • Gu.ra.me! Daisaishou no Ryourinin – Japanese international relations
  • Black Jack ni Yoroshiku – For-profit organizations in Japan
  • Dragon Zakura – The educational system in Japan
  • Ministry of Finance – The ‘corporate army’ in Japan
  • Kacho Shima Kousaku – The promotion system in Japanese companies
  • Double Face – Life-long employment in Japan
  • The Drops of God – Professional occupations in Japan (Sommeliers in this case)

Want to read manga and learn something new at the same time? Be sure to check out some of these titles!

Sources: Lianhe News, Liberty Times, The Journalist
Images: Liberty Times, The Journalist