Originally intended to be a leisurely comic strip with paintings and pictorial representations, manga has emerged as a ‘soft power’ of modern-day Japan. As the world’s largest manga exporter today, the country is considered to be a manga superpower. Its influence on a fanbase spread across the globe has proved to be a noteworthy component in developing cross-cultural empathy within the readers. Despite its traction, the genre entered the literati only recently. Many researchers have analysed the influence of Japanese traditions, history as well as culture upon modern-day manga and their adaptations. Several researchers have also attempted to study the intercultural translation of manga and the influence of manga across countries. The growing emergence of cultural studies as a field of enquiry and manga as a cultural and literary product provides the base for the current article.
With the country’s hybrid culture filled with urban and modern legends, myths, traditions and folklore, most of the stories created in manga are steeped in indigenous culture and are combined with modern lifestyle to create a unique reading experience. This renders these graphic novels as cultural products of manga, which are commodified and read throughout the world. The present article acts as a review of contemporary research in the field of manga as a cultural product and identifies its relevance in spreading Japanese cultural identity, thereby contributing to a global cultural identity. The study opens up new lenses to look at manga as cultural products of the 21st century and broadens the scope of recognizing individual and collective manga series for further research as expounders of Japanese cultural identity.