Is Newer Manga easier to read than older manga?

Something I found interesting. I’ve bought a couple of volumes of Dragon Ball Super in japanese and found that, I can get through a lot of it pretty easily. I also have one of the complete editions for the original Dragon Ball and I really struggle with getting through it. A lot of words and slang that I don’t understand.

Seems to be the case for a lot of the manga I read. Stuff like Chainsaw Man I can get through fairly fine, but I try reading an older work like Yu Yu Hakusho or Jojo and find it really hard to get through. Has anyone had this problem too? Has there been some turning point in the japanese language from stuff from the 80s to stuff now?


I don’t have an extensive enough manga reading background to give a properly informed response, but I imagine that part of it is that the audience for manga has grown. And especially, the number of people creating manga has grown.

As a result, newer manga includes both the more difficult material, and easier material that reaches a wider audience.

Another factor may be that a lot of the easier manga from the 90’s wasn’t that good (both art and writing), so it’s not as well known. With the increase in skilled manga artists and improved writing in manga in the following decades, we’re seeing better manga at the younger reading level. (There’s still poor quality coming out, but the Internet may help filter the good from bad, adjusting the perceived signal to noise ratio.)


Do keep in mind “manga” hasn’t ever been like, one monolothic thing. The one word covers a ton of genres and a ton of audiences. so I’d caution against drawing too-broad conclusions from specific examples. There are going to be larger factors than age impacting the difficulty of the material.
For example, the beginning of Dragon Ball is basically about a teen girl discovering a weird little feral child out in the woods - so it makes sense to me that the characters would speak less clearly than in Super, when the same characters are presumably adults in long-established roles.

Also, I believe all the series you mentioned are published in Jump. So to some extent more than manga (or the language) broadly, it might be a question of Jump’s publishing customs over time. I could totally believe a magazine (and publishing empire) so popular for so long might tend to sand over any hard edges over time.

All that said – I’d generally say the further back in time you go, that’s one factor increasing the difficulty to one extent or another.
It’s certainly not going to make it any easier for a modern reader!


It’s also worth noting that Dragon Ball Super is written/drawn by a completely different person than the original DB-series. It’s got the original mangaka’s blessing, but you can feel the differences in both visual and literary styles. :eyes:


I tried reading 銀河鉄道999. I have the physical editions.

The problem? Blurry kanji. They are also tiny to my old eyes. It’s hard to read the kanji, worse if you need the furigana. I found the series on Bookwalker and it seems to have been scanned from the print manga and suffers from the same problem. Even zooming in on Bookwalker the kanji never become legible for me, so I gave up on reading it for now.

That’s a different answer than your question, I think. And with newer Manga, say late 90s to now, you are unlikely to have that particular problem.


TBH, I find that in ebook copies of even newer manga, the kanji are often blurry if you try to zoom in - I do suspect a lot of them are effectively scans of the physical editions - which, of course, was how I ended up ordering a bunch of physical editions (which are also satisfying to have on my shelf). I can imagine that older manga might not have as clear printing at times - I guess if you’re more familiar with the kanji and vocabulary, it’s probably easier to make out the not so clear ones.