Manga Edutainment!

Works of manga deal with a broad range of subjects and always provide readers with new knowledge. Here, we look at manga as a way to have fun while learning.

By Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry


Shogakukan’s version of the educational manga "Sekai no Rekishi" [World History] (complete 17-volume set)Original Source: (Shogakukan)

What is educational manga?

Educational manga is a manga genre associated with subjects taught in school, such as history and arithmetic. However, the diversity of manga published in Japan can provide new knowledge to readers regardless of their school or age. Here, we put a spotlight on the rich relationship between manga and education.

Most educational manga is in the form of introductory books, such as children’s reference books that include knowledge of historical figures, science, and other topics. Such books could therefore be called how-to books that are for acquiring information and differ from entertainment works. At the same time, educational manga itself has become more diverse up until the present day, and—as one example—educational manga works for adults were written in the 1980s, including Shōtarō Ishinomori’s Manga Nihon Keizai Nyūmon [An Introduction to Japanese Economy] (Nihon Keizai Shimbunsha, Inc., 1986) and Fujio Akatsuka’s Nyarome no Omoshiro Sūgaku Kyōshitsu [Nyarome’s Fun Math Class] (Pacifica, 1981). 

Manga Edutainment! Official Handbook: 200 Selected WorksOriginal Source:

What is the Manga Edutainment Project?

Manga Edutainment! is a project started by the Nippon Foundation in 2015, and the purpose of the project is to select and announce both manga works that enable readers to discover new worlds and manga works that lead to learning, thereby introducing such works to readers both in Japan and abroad. There are full of valuable wisdom and knowledge to be learned from many entertainment works that are not considered educational manga as well, which means that such works can be viewed as a different type of educational manga. 

 Up until now (January of 2021), the project has resulted in the establishment of an expert committee that has classified 250 works into 11 categories—including art and diversity—and conducts activities to promote the spread of these works. The purpose of the project is to focus on the fun of manga, how easy it is to understand, and its ability to create empathy in order to improve society and continuously promote manga as a means of having fun while learning (= manga edutainment). On the following pages, works that represent various fields are introduced. 

Hikaru no GoOriginal Source:

Go as taught by "Hikaru no Go"

This work tells the story of an elementary student who is haunted by the ghost of a brilliant Go player and goes on to find success in the Go world. The protagonist starts out with no knowledge of Go, so readers have the opportunity to learn about Go alongside the protagonist as

Wandering Son, Book 1Original Source: ©︎志村貴子/KADOKAWA

Diversity as shown by "Wandering Son"

This work focuses on a boy who wants to become a girl and a girl who wants to become a boy as it depicts their daily life with their families and friends. The themes tackled by the work include not only gender but also issues—“Who am I?” and “Am I different from other people?”—, and other issues many people struggle with during puberty. Wandering Son shows us that there are gradations among sexual minorities and that the concepts of individual identity and L (lesbian), G (gay), B (bisexual), T (transgender), and Q (queer) are inseparable. 

Arakawa, Hiromu, "Silver Spoon"Original Source: (小学館)

Learning about life and the world from "Silver Spoon"

The setting of this work is a dairy farming course at an agricultural high school in Japan. As a whole, the work depicts student life at a technical school, and it seems especially useful as a reference for middle-school readers in the process of considering their future direction. In addition, knowledge of dairy farming—a central theme of this work—gives readers the opportunity to learn more about how the food they eat reaches their table. The chance to think about “eating life” is a useful study for not only students but adults as well. 

Hanawa, Kazuichi, "Keimusho no Naka" [Doing Time], SeirinKogeishaOriginal Source:

Society as viewed from the perspective of "Keimusho no Naka"

This manga depicts the experiences of the manga artist Kazuichi Hanawa—who was imprisoned for three years due to the illegal possession of firearms and swords as well as a violation of the Explosives Control Act. The work offers a rare and detailed look at what it is like to do time in Japan, including the floor plan of general prison cells, solitary confinement cells, and multi-person cells, the meal menu and manners, how to use the restroom, how to take baths, and how to fold clothing and bedding. 

Matsumoto, Taiyō, "Ping Pong"Original Source: (小学館)

Youth spent on sports as depicted by "Ping Pong"

This work depicts the youth of high school boys who are devoted to table tennis. In this manga, the childhood friends Peco and Smile encounter rivals and grow both as people and athletes. Smile leads an isolated existence, but his talent is recognized by those around him. In contrast, in spite of being a genius, Peco does not like trying hard and grows increasingly desperate. Smile—who realizes that Peco has talent he could never hope to match—longs for his friend to step up and become the hero he is meant to be. 
A wide variety of characters appear in the work—including a rival who despairs at his lack of ability and a friend whose only talent is the ability to try hard—and one theme of the work is coming to grips with one’s particular talents. 


How families should be as presented by "Yotsuba&!"

This work depicts the heartwarming daily life of the five-year-old girl Yotsuba and her father, Daddy. In the work, Yotsuba repeatedly asks the question “why,” which causes the adults around her to remember forgotten scenes of their first encounters with different things and shows how much fun it can be to look at the world with a truly free perspective. 
In addition, this work is a story about how family-like people—including the neighbors and Daddy’s friends—help to raise Yotsuba. For their part, even as they watch Yotsuba grow, perhaps they also relearn some of the basics from her. This work also shows how a new family should be and how children should be raised. 

Hoshino, Yukinobu, "Munakata Kyōju Denkikō" [Folklore Studies of Professor Munakata]Original Source: (小学館)

Learning about history from "Munakata Kyōju Denki"

This is the story of how the folklorist Professor Munakata unravels the folklore of ancient Japan, and it stimulates curiosity regarding the traditions and customs that have been passed down in Japan. To ascertain the truth behind old stories, fairy tales, and other folklore well-known to Japanese readers, the protagonist engages in repeated field research, comes up with theories, and then proves them. In addition to giving readers a good look at the fun of folklore studies and fieldwork methodology, this manga offers the opportunity to savor the best part of unraveling ancient mysteries. 

Manga Edutainment! Exhibition: 11 Worlds as Taught by MangaOriginal Source:

The future of the Manga Edutainment! Exhibition

Ever since this project was started in FY 2015, it has spread throughout the country, mainly through libraries and bookstores. In particular, the project has led to opportunities to introduce entertainment works as educational manga at libraries, where it was difficult to introduce such manga in the past. 

 In 2019—as one of the Culture City of East Asia 2019 Toshima Manga & Anime Divisions projects—the Manga Edutainment! Exhibition: 11 Worlds as Taught by Manga was held at the Toshima City Office, which made it possible to introduce works and efforts to the residents who use public facilities and do not normally read manga, and the exhibition was well-received.

Credits: Story

Text: Yasuhiro Yamauchi+Nanae Matsuo(MANGANIGHT
Edit: Taisuke Shimanuki, Narika Niihara, Natsuko Fukushima(BIJUTSU SHUPPAN-SHA CO., LTD.) 
Supervisor: Hirohito Miyamoto(Meiji University)
Written in 2020

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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