It’s natural for anime watchers to eventually move onto the manga, especially if they love reading, but what is the transition for manga readers? Eventually, manga can get stale or you run out of stuff to read if you’re an avid reader. If that’s the case, let us recommend making the switch to manhwa?
Why manhwa, you may ask. It’s not Japanese. No, but it’s the Korean counterpart and like the differences between Japanese vs Korean drama, you’ll be sure to enjoy the differences, even when the overall concept is the same. Join us today as we tell you why exactly you should read manhwa!
New Culture & Storylines
The fun part of looking at new mediums is that with it comes new ideas. Sure, certain themes will always have cliches and tropes, but manhwa brings with it whole new takes on similar story lines thanks to a whole new culture that’s introduced. While Japan and South Korea are very close in proximity, they have entirely different cultures and religions. In fact, South Korea is a Christian country with old traditions as opposed to Japan’s shinto religion and mixture of history and tradition, which you’ll see in the way stories are played out.
This means that overall, even if the genres are the same—say, romance—they will still play out differently thanks to how people prefer them to play out in those respective cultures. You see tropes more often in Japanese manga, which has millions of series that play off what is more popular so you end up with lots of character types that are similar like the tsundere as opposed to South Korean Manhwa that hasn’t really established tropes, although they do follow a different character archetype. The same can be said of historical manga versus historical manhwa as manga may pull from events from other eras like the Sengoku era or following World War II while manhwa may pull stories from a time when a Korean monarchy existed or the time when Koreans were under Japanese rule.
Even with differing storylines, you’ll notice a clear difference in art style and drawing style in manga versus manhwa. While it may depend on the mangaka/manhwaga, manhwa characters tend to be drawn with longer leaner bodies and somewhat more realistic proportions as opposed to manga. The characters have more Korean features. That being said, you can see a difference in how culture plays in art style as well depending on the genre. Shoujo manhwa and manga can show the differences in what is thought of as “feminine”. There’s also a great deal less fan service in manhwa, which may have to do in part thanks to South Korea being conservative, even compared to Japan, and having things like porn being illegal. So if you are looking for ecchi manhwa, you are clear out of luck!
However, if you want beautiful artwork that’s less flowers and sparkles and more on character drawings and background detail, manhwa may be for you. The art style is visually stunning, especially in series like The Bride of the Water God and Noblesse. If you want to open your mind up to more art styles than just Japanese art (as plentiful as it is), then give South Korean manhwa a shot.
While making the transition from manga to manhwa may be like pulling teeth, you’ll realize that once you’re there, you may actually enjoy the breath of fresh air that manhwa provides in contrast to all of the manga series you’ve been enjoying. It’s different and interesting, and it opens you up more to different styles of graphic novels available. Of course, there’s a learning curve to manhwa as well (which you can learn in our What is the Difference between Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua? article).
What are your thoughts on switching to manhwa? Do you like manhwa or would you prefer to stick to manga? Or perhaps, you like manhua? Share all of your thoughts below!