The evolution of Japanese manga

Megumi, a Japanese office worker, said she reads 20 pages of manga on her phone during her lunch break, and turned to the manga apps when stuck at home with her kids during pandemic lockdowns.

She became “addicted” to and paid for hit Line Manga series “True Beauty,” about a young woman whose makeup skills make her popular with men.

The strip is from Korea, where the rise of the internet saw paper sales collapse, replaced by smartphone-optimised comics. Manga apps offer a vast back catalogue of titles and exclusive strips.

“You can read manga carrying just your smartphone – it’s handy,” said Kana Misaki, a 36-year-old Tokyo care worker who reads manga overwhelmingly via apps.

In Japan, online manga is still formatted like a book, and traditional publishers are a powerful force, with editors closely involved in each stage of production. Even the most ardent app users say they will buy paper editions of their favorite titles.

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