Oldest Manga in the World

10 Oldest Manga Ever Released

Manga is a Japanese word that means comics. It’s unique and different from other comics because of its style, graphics, and peculiar characters.

With its ever-growing popularity not just in Japan, but in various countries, you might wonder, “What is the oldest manga in the world?”

Well, that’s precisely what you will learn in this post. We have done the research, so you don’t have to. We have listed the 10 oldest manga in the world and will give you a quick glimpse of their history.

10. Golgo 13

Year first published: 1968
Genre: Thriller
Author: Takao Saito
Volumes: 205

Golgo 13photo source: Wikimedia

Golgo 13 is among the most popular thriller manga in Japan. It has been published by Big Comic magazine since its start in October 1968. Saito, the creator of Golgo 13 was already old and before his death in 2021, he wished for the manga to continue on. Today, the Saito Production editorial department continues the creation of Golgo 13.

The popularity of Golgo 13 grew even more when it was adapted into a video animation, anime film, and even two live-action feature movies. The total copies sold by Golgo 13 reached more than 300 million around the globe.

Among the awards received by Golgo 13 include the 1975 Shogakukan Manga Award and  2002 Japan Cartoonists Association Awards.

Did You Know?

Golgo 13 is currently the oldest manga in Japan that is still in publication. Because of this, it also holds the highest number of volumes for a manga series. Guinness World Records certified the record set by Golgo 13.

9. Chiisana Koi no Monogatari

Year first published: 1962
Genre: Romance, comedy
Author: Mitsuhashi Chikako
Volumes: yes

Chiisana Koi no Monogatariphoto source: AniDB

Chiisana Koi no Monogatari is a funny but romantic manga that tells about Chiiko, a tiny schoolgirl, who developed a crush on an older boy named Sally. Chiiko deeply believes that she is Sally’s boyfriend. However, Sally is already in a relationship with Tonko. The story revolves around the love triangle of these people.

Did You Know?

In 1984, Chiisana Koi no Monogatari was turned into an animated 71-minute movie. The movie was directed by Toshio Hirata.

8. Astro Boy

Year first published: 1952
Genre: Science fiction, adventure, superhero
Author: Osamu Tezuka
Volumes: 23

photo source: Wikimedia

Astro Boy is also known as Mighty Atom in Japan. It has become a global hit because of the English translation in 2022, which allowed it to reach more audiences. Not only that, but Astro Boy manga turned into a three anime series.

The story of Astro Boy is about a boy robot that comes with human emotions. Because of the death of his owner, he was sold into a robot circus. From there, he was saved by Professor Ochanomizu and eventually became a hero.

Did You Know?

Astro Boy became a household name, which brought manga to the rest of the world. Because Astro Boy isn’t just a mere manga and it has become a major media franchise, it has generated more than $3 billion in revenue by 2004.

7. Sazae-san

Year first published: 1946
Genre: Comedy
Author: Machiko Hasegawa
Volumes: 68

Sazae-sanphoto source: Wikimedia

Sazae-san is categorized as a yonkoma manga series. It means, the manga is like a comic strip that includes gags and jokes. Hasegawa worked for a local paper called Fukunishi Shinbun, which agreed to publish the manga. Later, Hasegawa moved to Tokyo where she eventually ended the series and took her retirement.

Sazae-san portrayed every life in Japan and also included contemporary events in Tokyo. Because of the popularity of Sazae-san, the manga comic received the 8th Bungeishunjū Manga Award in 1962.

Did You Know?

In October 1969, Sazae-san got its anime TV adaptation and it has become the longest-running animated TV series in the world, which gave them the Guinness World Record title. Aside from TV, Sazae-san has been adapted in theatrical plays, radio shows, and songs.

6. Eshinbun Nipponchi

Year first published: 1874
Genre: Magazine News
Author: Kanagaki Robun and Kawanabe Kyōsai
Volumes: three issues

Eshinbun Nipponchiphoto source: Wikimedia

Considered to be the first manga magazine, Eshinbun Nipponchi (Illustrated News) was created by Kanagaki Rubun and Kawanabe Kyosai. This manga comes with print and comics cartoons that feature the Japanese language in the later part of the 19th century. Japan Punch, a satirical and political magazine,  heavily influenced Eshinbun Nipponchi in its style.

Eshinbun Nipponchi uses simple drawings, which might be the reason it didn’t become too popular among the Japanese people. In fact, it has ended in just three issues.

Did You Know?

Kawanabe Kyōsai, one of the creators of Eshinbun Nipponchi, was a son of Samurai. He lived through the Edo and Meiji period, which allowed him to witness the transformation of Japan, from a feudal country to what it is today.

5. Hokusai Manga

Year first published: 1814-1878
Genre: Sketchbook
Author: Hokusai
Type: Woodblock prints

photo source: Wikimedia

The Hokusai Manga is named after its ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai, one of the most famous artists in Japanese history. The manga is Kokusai’s sketches of different subjects known in Japan. His sketches were collected and bound together as a book.

The Hokusai Manga includes sketches of animals, plants, landscapes, people, life in the community, and even the supernatural.

What’s so amazing about Hokusai Manga is its massive collection of images. The manga has 15 volumes and includes thousands of sketches.

Did You Know?

The “manga” from the title, “Hokusai Manga” doesn’t technically make the collection as a manga. In modern terms, manga refers to a collection of pictures with stories that are connected to each other. However, in Hokusai Manga, the sketches stand alone.

4. Manga hyakujo

Year first published: 1814
Genre: Sketchbook
Author: Aikawa Minwa
Material: Ink and paper

Manga hyakujophoto source: National Museum of Asian Art

Manga hyakujo means Sketchbook of One Hundred Women. It was created by Aikawa Minwa and his works show the daily life of women in Japan. The medium of this artwork was woodblock and used ink on paper.

Aikawa Minwa revived a renewed interest in an ancient Japanese painting style that thrived during the 12-13th century. Today, the work of Aikawa Minwa was being sold for thousands of dollars because of its historical and cultural value.

Did You Know?

As mentioned, the term manga was slowly used to refer to picturebooks. However, it was Minwa’s Manga hyakujo that really cemented the trend. Other comic-style books soon followed and used manga to refer to their work.

3. Shiji No Yukikai

Year first published: 1798
Genre: a collection of drawings
Author: Sandou Kyouden
Period: Edo Period

photo source: Pinterest

Shiji No Yukikai, which means Four Seasons, is a picture book created by Sandou Kyouden. The picture book includes scenes of daily life in Japan.

What’s interesting is the life of Sandou Kyouden. He lived during the Edo period and served as a writer, Japanese artist, and tobacco shop owner.

At first, Kyouden draws pictures that promote his shop. Later, he created picture books that include more text. Because of that, his writings and drawings became so popular that he could sell thousands of copies, which is already a phenomenal feat during their time.

2. Toba Ehon

Year first published: 1603-1867
Genre: multiple, from fables to comedy
Author: various authors
Material: paper and ink

Toba Ehonphoto source: Boston Book Company

Toba Ehon is a book of drawings created in the Edo period 1603-1867. It was at this time that the concept of manga started to develop. That’s why, if you look at manga today, it has some similarities with Toba Ehon.

As a book of drawings, Toba Ehon has a lot of stories and pictures created based on the painting style of Toba Sojo. The drawings include people and animals acting like human beings.

Did you know?

Toba Ehon paved the way for the creation of manga. At first, drawings were created and distributed separately. However, during the Edo period, drawings were collected and bound together. They are then read and sold as one whole book, which led to the comic-style book we are now seeing today.

1. Choju Jinbutsu Giga

Year first published: 12th-13th century
Genre: Fable
Author: Toba Sōjō (Not established)
Present location: Tokyo National Museum/Kyoto National Museum

photo source: Wikipedia

Choju Jinbutsu Giga is considered to be the oldest manga in history. Also known as simply Choju-giga, this manga is translated into English as “Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and humans.”

Some historians believe that it was created by Toba Sojo, but because of its different drawing style, some suggest that it could be created by different artists.

Choju-giga is made of four scrolls, which include drawings of animals and people. You can see animals wrestling with each other, monkeys and rabbits bathing, and people playing.

Did you know?

Choju Jinbutsu Giga is generally considered the oldest manga in recorded history. However, there are those who dispute this claim. They argue that Choju-giga is a masterpiece that should be treated differently from the manga.

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