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What Are the Characteristics of the Manga Style?

Magna has become a pop culture phenomenon, as shown by this 2009 Anime Fair in Japan.
Junko Kimura/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In Japan, Magna art is highly respected for its ability to create distinctive characters and imaginative stories. It is a pop culture phenomenon that has spun off from simply art and comic stories to Anime fairs, merchandise, and movies. The characteristics of Magna characters have made all this possible. From the faces and hair to the clothing, accessories, and over exaggerated emotions, Magna is in a world all to its own.


The face is the first characteristic you notice on a Magna character. With oversized eyes, an almond-shaped face, and a very small mouth, the face stands out over the rest of the body. With the rapid switch from distance to close-up shots, the face is key to drawing you into the character and keeping you in the emotion of the story.


A Magna character's hair is a key characteristic, and therefore needs to be elaborate and eye-catching. It is not uncommon for the character's hair to be long with many lines and of an abnormal color. This is the look of traditional Japanese Magna characters and creates a visual dynamism that separates these characters from mainstream animation that comes out of the United States.

Clothing and Accessories

The way a Magna character dresses and accessorizes represent who and what they are. For example, if the character is of a spiritual nature, then they might wear a cloak or a piece of cloth that floats to represent the spiritual plane. This represents who they are. For Magna warrior characters, accessories are what define the character. Swords, spears and other weapons represent what they are. These details are important and should not be ignored.

Exaggerated Emotions

Magna characters are known for their over exaggerated emotions. When a cartoon character cries, visible tears fall from their face, but when a Magna character cries, it rains down in buckets. Eyes reduce in size, and the mouth either reduces in pain or expands if the character cries out. The same can be said for anger. Magna evokes intense color in the face and steam coming off the body. Magna characters become consumed by emotion.

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