Yonkoma, the four cell manga

Everyone saw this post coming, because I have been talking about it for ages—yonkoma, the four cell manga.

Yonkoma is a popular format of Japanese manga, which originated in the beginning of last century. It was inspired by American comics, namely Frank Arthur Nankivell’s and Frederick Burr Opper’s works, which both influenced the father of yonkoma (and Japanese manga in general), Rakuten Kitazawa.

As the (quite literal) translation indicates, yonkoma is a comic strip with four panels or windows. Here are three examples.

All of the yonkoma above are stand-alone mini stories. A plot can begin and end in those four panels. But in the case of all three of these, there is more. They are all parts of manga series, that are made up of hundreds of yonkoma with the same characters and themes. Most yonkoma series belong to the slice-of-life genre or something similarly light. Continue reading