Japanese comics and cartoons, also well-known as manga, have long been considered an important aspect of Japanese culture. Those of your reading this article today will almost certainly be familiar with the likes of Naruto and One Piece, the kind of manga that are usually full-length works spanning multiple issues and telling one, over-arching story.

But there is another kind of manga that exists, one called called “yonkoma manga“, which is a comic-strip format and consists of just four panels…


Yonkoma manga has four panels and each panel plays a particular role. The first panel is called “ki (起)” and depicts the scene and story where characters are found. The second is called “sho (承)” and develops the story that the first panel presents. Next is “ten (転)” which brings the climax of story. The fourth and final panel is called “ketsu (結)” and provides the outcome as a result of the third panel.

Sazae-san, now perhaps known most for its family-friendly anime series, began life as such a manga.


Yonkoma manga tends to appear in newspapers

Yonkoma seems short compared to full-length mangas like Naruto and One Piece. However, though readers in the West will likely have seen them in their own countries before, there exists an even shorter, more direct form of manga: the “hitokoma manga“, which is just a single panel long.

He says "it has been a hour since you told me to hold a ball"

He says “it has been a hour since you told me to hold a ball”

Hitokoma manga often makes use of caricatures to get their point across. The satirical comic magazine “The Japan Punch”, for example, which was begun by Charles Wirgman in 1862 and aimed at foreign residents in Japan, features plenty of caricature fun and has also built up a solid reputation among native Japanese over the years. Caricatures have been used in manga all over Japan ever since.

This caricature criticized Japanese government who control journalists strictly. (They did not have the freedom of expresssion)

This caricature criticized the Japanese government who controlled journalists strictly.

Today, people have few opportunities to see such openly critical caricatures in Japan’s newspapers, but caricature still survives thanks to otaku culture!

Check out these one-panel comics satirising Japanese otaku life!

He eats ramen with idols.....at least he thinks.

He eats ramen with idols…..or at least he likes to think so.


He insists that he does not change his "oshi" but, instead refers to is as increasing the number of his "oshi".

He insists that he would never support another idol group member (his “oshi”); rather he’s simply increasing the number of idols he shows support for.


He jumps to appeal to his Oshi.

He jumps to appeal to his oshi.


and she is surprised by his high jump

The idol, in turn, sees his marvellous jumping ability and is overwhelmed.


These images were drawn by Rin Kaname, also called “Perorin Sensei”, who belongs to idol group “Baseball Girls” – making her both an actual idol and an illustrator! You can check more images on her Twitter page, so be sure to check them out!

Hato ga Osu also provides the images called “Kyo Ota 100 Sen” which introduce a group of 100 imaginary hardcore otaku. The title, Kyo-ota, consists of two words: kyo and ota. Kyo means strong and ota is short for otaku, so kyo-ota describes “strong”, or hardcore, otaku.

Let’s take a look at just four of his otaku here:

the number of Zaitaku, otaku who never comes to live concerts, decreases, so they are protected by other otaku. (Zaitaku is usually despised by not coming to the concert)

This comic talks about “zaitaku”, otaku who never actually attend live concerts — and are despised by other otaku as a consequence. Here, one such zaitaku watches a live performance on his computer screen, seeing ‘true’ otaku holding up placards reading “Save the Zaitaku” and wishing them well as they sit at home being poor fans.


Otaku people can not enter the live house because of the cups of Starbucks. Starbucks is too hard for Otaku people (Starbucks is sometimes treated as the symbol of cool peaople)

In this comic, two otaku find themselves unable to enter the concert venue because their path is blocked by a row of Starbucks cups. (Starbucks is considered by otaku to be the symbol of “cool people” in Japan, and something they would never associate with.)


He has been waiting his oshi coming from lthe live house but she never comes. He becomes the new symbol like the statue of Hachiko.

This (now bearded) young man has been waiting his oshi (his favorite idol) to come out from the live-house to give her flowers, but alas she never comes. He becomes the new symbol of the area, like a modern day Hachiko statue, for people to meet their friends at.


Every otaku people at least once want to be a director but the sad ending always comes. Not to repeat the sad history, the fairy story is created.

Every otaku dreams of one day being an idol manager. Sadly, the dream never comes true for most, resulting in countless copies of “sad fairy tales” titled “I wanted to be a manager”.

Be sure to check out more of these hitokoma manga and level up to become a true kyo-ota!

Related links:

Rin Kaname Twitter: https://twitter.com/peroperorinko01
Baseball Girls official: http://area-promotion.jp/?p=789
Hato ga Osu Twitter: https://twitter.com/HatoOshi

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