Beyond the Frame: Learn How to Read Manga

New to manga? Our guide shows you how to read manga right, from panel navigation to speech bubbles. Enjoy exciting stories now!

How to Read Manga
How to Read Manga

Step beyond the frame and enter a world where every panel explodes with emotion - discover the magic of manga! In manga, emotions explode through dynamic artwork, and captivating narratives unfold panel by panel. This vibrant form of Japanese storytelling has captivated readers of all ages worldwide.

Manga's roots can be traced back to serialized graphical narratives in Japanese newspapers and storytelling traditions dating back to the late 19th century, evolving significantly over time. From heart-stopping action sequences to tear-jerking romances, there's a genre waiting to ignite your imagination, regardless of your interests.

Unlocking the Secrets: How to Read Manga

Contrary to popular belief, diving into the world of manga doesn't require mastering a complex new language or deciphering ancient scrolls. Buckle up and prepare to embark on a journey where the panels themselves guide you through the story. But unlike Western comics you might be familiar with, manga has a unique reading flow that unlocks the secrets hidden within its pages.

The Basic Principle of Reading Manga: Unpacking the Panel Flow

Understanding the Unique Reading Direction

One of the first things you might notice when picking up a manga is the seemingly reversed layout. But This isn't a mistake; it's simply a different way of experiencing the story. Unlike Western comics you might be familiar with, where panels are read from left to right, how to read manga involves a unique right-to-left, top-to-bottom flow.

Think of each panel as a mini-stage where a specific scene unfolds. By following this right-to-left, top-to-bottom flow, you'll naturally progress through the narrative. This intuitive structure makes it easy to understand the sequence of events and follow the characters' journeys.

A Visual Guide to Panel Navigation

To solidify your understanding of how to read manga, let's take a look at a sample page layout:

Manga panels typically follow a Z-layout. This means you read the panels from right to left, starting from the top right corner, moving horizontally to the left, then down to the next row on the right, and so on. This zig-zag pattern is key to following the story's flow correctly.

Got the panel flow down? Awesome! Now, let’s crack the code on those pesky speech bubbles.

Also read: Comic Book Panels 101: Design Captivating Pages & Hook Readers

Transition to Speech Bubble

Now that you've grasped the basic how-to-read manga flow, let's delve into another key element – speech bubbles!

Understanding Voice and Thought Bubbles in Manga

Decoding the Dialogue

Now that you've mastered the art of navigating panels in a manga, let's explore another crucial element - speech bubbles! These little balloons popping out of characters' heads are where the magic of dialogue unfolds. However, unlike Western comics you might be used to, interpreting speech bubbles in manga requires a slight shift in perspective due to the right-to-left reading flow.

The One-Two Punch: Single and Double Bubbles

In manga, speech bubbles typically follow a one-or-two-bubble system. The first bubble usually conveys the main point of the character's message. If a second bubble appears, it might express additional thoughts, emotions, or reactions. Remember, just like the overall reading flow, these bubbles will also follow the right-to-left direction.

The One-Two Punch:

Here's an example of a one-two bubble system in a manga speech bubble. The first bubble states the main point, "Let's defeat the villain!" and the second bubble expresses an additional thought, "But I'm kinda scared..."

Exploring Bubble Shapes and Emotions

Speech bubbles aren't just containers for text; their shapes can also add another layer of meaning to the story. Rounded bubbles generally represent regular speech, while jagged or pointed bubbles might indicate yelling or anger. Additionally, some bubbles might have sweat droplets or squiggly lines to convey nervousness or excitement.

Now that you've cracked the code of speech bubbles, let's delve into the additional artistic elements that enrich the storytelling experience in the manga.

Manga Storytelling Elements

Manga goes beyond simply reading text in bubbles and following panels. It's a visual feast, where creators use a variety of artistic elements to enhance the story's depth and impact. Here are some elements you must know:

  • Manpu: These are those cool symbols you might see popping up around characters or within panels. They represent emotions, sound effects, and even movement, adding another layer of depth to the story. Imagine a lightbulb over a character's head to signify a sudden idea, or sweat drops dripping down their face to convey nervousness.
  • Gitaigo: Ever wondered how those "BAM!"s and "POW!"s come alive in the manga? That's the magic of Gitaigo – onomatopoeic words that capture sounds and feelings, breathing life into the action sequences. Imagine a giant "CRASH" bursting across a panel to depict a powerful punch, or a tiny "drip" echoing the sound of raindrops.

Fukidashi: This is the fancy Japanese term for speech bubbles! Remember, they follow the right-to-left flow and can convey a range of emotions through their shape and design. A jagged bubble might indicate a character screaming, while a squiggly line around a bubble could represent excitement.


Engaging with the Manga Journey

Reading manga isn't just about passively consuming text and images. It's about actively interpreting the interplay between captivating visuals, thought-provoking text, and subtle cultural references. As you embark on this adventure, allow yourself to be swept away by artistic expression and unique storytelling techniques.

Want to Dive Deeper?

The world of manga offers a treasure trove of stories waiting to be explored. To enhance your journey, consider these resources:

  • Online Video Tutorials: Several websites offer insightful video tutorials that visually demonstrate how to read manga.
  • Explore Popular Titles: Dive into critically acclaimed manga like Nana, Spy x Family, Chainsaw Man, and Mob Psycho 100 to experience a variety of genres and artistic styles.
  • Connect with Manga Enthusiasts: Online forums and communities are excellent places to connect with fellow manga readers, discuss your favorite stories, and discover new recommendations.

                  “Remember, the beauty of manga lies in its accessibility. So, don't be afraid to experiment, explore different genres, and most importantly, have fun!”

Ready to unlock a world of manga possibilities? Explore Dashtoon today and embark on a captivating journey filled with laughter, adventure, and endless entertainment!

Also read: Creating your AI Generated Comic Book


By now, you've unlocked the basic principles of how to read manga. You've grasped the unique right-to-left, top-to-bottom flow, navigated speech bubbles and explored the additional artistic elements that enrich the storytelling experience.

The world of manga is vast and vibrant, offering something for everyone. From heart-pounding action sequences to heartwarming romances, there's a genre waiting to ignite your imagination. So, what are you waiting for?

 Read Manga on Dashtoon



Vast Library of Free Manga

Explore thousands of manga titles across a multitude of genres, all accessible for free.

Unleash a Reading Frenzy

Dive into action-packed adventures, heartwarming romances, or thought-provoking dramas - the choice is yours!

Discover Hidden Gems

Utilize Dashtoon's intuitive search function and curated recommendations to find your next favorite series.

Seamless Reading Experience

Enjoy a user-friendly interface specifically designed for comfortable manga reading. Effortlessly navigate panels, zoom in on details, and lose yourself in the story.

Always Expanding Collection

Stay updated on the latest releases and be among the first to delve into fresh manga series added regularly to Dashtoon's library.

Join the Conversation

Engage with the vibrant Dashtoon online community in the discord channel:

Ready to embark on a captivating manga adventure? Explore Dashtoon today and unlock a world of laughter, adventure, and endless entertainment!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

1. Do I need to know Japanese to read manga?

No! Manga is primarily a visual medium, and the story unfolds through the artwork and panel sequences. While some sound effects and character names might be in Japanese, you can usually understand the story without any prior knowledge of the language.

2. Is there a specific order in which I need to know how to read manga?

Yes! Unlike Western comics, manga has a unique right-to-left, top-to-bottom reading flow. Imagine each panel as a mini-stage, and follow the flow from the top right corner to the bottom left corner of the page, then move to the next rightmost panel on the following row. Remember, to know how to read manga, you must familiarize yourself and read more! 

3. What are those symbols popping up around characters?

Those are called "Manpu," and they represent emotions, sound effects, and even movement. A lightbulb might indicate a sudden idea, sweat drops could signify nervousness, and a giant "CRASH" bursting across a panel depicts a powerful punch.

4. How do I interpret the speech bubbles?

Speech bubbles in manga also follow the right-to-left flow. The first bubble usually conveys the main point, and the second bubble might express additional thoughts or emotions. Additionally, the bubble shape can offer clues about the tone - jagged for yelling, rounded for regular speech, and squiggly for excitement.

5. Where can I find free manga to read?

Dashtoon offers a vast library of free manga across various genres! Explore popular titles, discover hidden gems, and lose yourself in captivating narratives, all within the user-friendly Dashtoon platform.

The world of manga is incredibly diverse! Some popular genres include shonen (action/adventure for boys), shojo (romance/drama for girls), seinen (action/drama for adult men), josei (romance/drama for adult women), and many more. Explore and find genres that pique your interest!

7. I'm new to manga, where should I start?

Dashtoon offers curated recommendations based on your preferences. Check out our page to read manga for free: