Yon-Koma: The Four–Panel Humorous Manga

  • Comics are popular all over the world and where outside Japan mostly children are targeted, the land of the rising sun has a wide range of manga for all ages and regarding almost any kind of topic. There are the typical genres like adventurous manga for children, love stories for teenagers, horror for young adults, comedy for everyone, fantasy, mystery and many more. There are unique ones like explorational ones for certain fields for college students of law, medicine, music and even art! The purpose is while being educational to keep a certain degree of entertainment. This way it is ensured to make even a dry topic more interesting!

    Yon-Koma Manga

    Another significant kind of manga is the so-called yon-koma manga (4コマ漫画). Yon stands for the number four, and koma is the panel or cell of a manga. Whereas western comic strips have usually 3 panels, sometimes 4 or even more and are usually horizontally, the yon-koma manga is a strictly fixed format or four panels and is most of the time vertically placed.

    Since the 4 panels are a rule, there are also rules for the contents for each panel.
    The first panel is called Ki (起) and introduces the story (起 means rise/wake). Shō (承) is the name for the next panel which gives more details of the scene (承 is also the second line of a four-line Chinese poem and was adapted to the yon-koma manga) . Ten (転): is the third panel and has the turning part of the story, usually with a plot-twist. The last one is named Ketsu (結) which means fasten or tie, but has also the meaning of end.

    Yon-koma manga are widely used in newspapers, magazines, pamphlets at the end of “traditional” manga with a short comic, in advertisements, and even in other publications like books. The aim is usually to entertain with a light humour, though some have series topics, too.

    Especially the ones targeted at children are perfect for Japanese language students and are therefore highly recommended.