Manga as a linguistic resource for learning

Giancarla Unser-Schutz

Interest in Japanese manga (comics) has increasingly become an important reason for studying Japanese as a second language. As a result, there has also been a trend toward trying to use manga as an educational resource, with claims that it is “realistic” and “easier”. However, with a lack of comprehensive research on language in manga, still much is unknown—a major problem given that understanding how manga function as a medium is essential to utilizing them effectively. By introducing a corpus of eight manga series compiled for linguistic research, this paper considers some of the claimed advantages and disadvantages. To that end, this paper focuses on two points: One, manga-specific orthographic styles and their effect on ease of reading, and two, realism and stereotypes in gendered speech patterns. While supporting the use of manga as a learning resource, this paper will argue that the linguistic characteristics of manga necessitate more consideration.