A question was recently asked about anime/manga:

When discussing my art, particularly some of my graphic novel pieces, with several of my younger colleagues they have mentioned Manga. All they could say is that it is Japanese cartoon art and also mentioned Anime.

Is there any specific definition of Manga, it's style, and content? And how does it relate to Anime?

(It was closed as off-topic, and now self-deleted, so I won't link to it.)

Discussion of art styles has not been really categorized as either on- or off-topic. The closest I could see it as right now would be art critique, but "what characterizes a drawing as manga" or "how do identify manga style" seems more objective and answerable than "is my manga any good".

I'm interested in the communities thoughts on this. How relevant is style (art theory, I guess) to our site's topic(s)? Would questions be acceptable if they met some standards (e.g. nothing subjective like "why is cubism so ugly")? Could the above question have been on-topic with some editing? Are questions about art styles or genres on-topic for A&C?

For reference, our site description is for artists and crafters, from professionals to hobbyists, who are interested in creating handmade, tangible works.

3 Answers 3


Understanding art theory can be a fundamental part of being an artist -- perhaps less so at the hobbyist level, but certainly important as a professional. I think it is important to allow these questions to some extent.

There is some precedent for this. Photography, for example, has philosophy and art and style tags -- it's not just about lighting and composition, but also about understanding how aesthetics combine with photography to capture images. Music's theory tag is its second most commonly used tag (although admittedly the site is Music: Practice and Theory). Indeed, we allow (e.g. What is the name of the drawing having free hand shapes of animals, birds, flowers combined together to form a pattern/story? or What is the name of this 3D object creation technique?), so it seems odd to not allow the reverse: asking for a description of a given style or technique.

That being said, the usual expectations of quality would apply. The question should be focused and answerable. Opinion-based ("Why is abstract art so ugly?") is not an option, nor speculation ("What was Picasso thinking when..."). History is only topical insofar as it leads to a discussion of modern work ("Woodworking was of course done entirely by hand in the middle ages, but now we've got Dremel tools...")


There is a new tag to allow for questions like these.
It's description currently reads:

"When trying to find the correct name, terminology, or description for a certain art or design style.
Use in combination with the appropriate medium tag (e.g. [illustration], [sculpting]). Style in this context can be defined as a distinctive, recognizable manner in which an artifact has been made. Please provide images, and preferably a detailed description or list of the characteristics you are specifically interested in or that stand out for you.

This tag is currently exclusively used in combination with one or more specific artworks, but I can see it being used for more general questions.
It is also exclusively used to ask for the correct terminology, and not for giving a description and list of characteristics of a certain style (although the latter also would enrich our website, as a good analysis of more obscure styles (i.e. those not found on Wikipedia and the like) can be very helpful and educational).

Like Erica, I believe this topic/tag is relevant, as long as these questions are objectively answerable.
The images in question often are used as reference material for a project or artwork, and finding a correct description of existing artworks - and the right set of keywords to isolate a specific style when searching the internet - can dramatically increase the workflow of such a project.
And it will simply broaden the scope of our platform in a meaningful (practice-based) way, and the creative potential of our users along with it.


The guidance I left on that post reads:

Thank you for the post, unfortunately a discussion defining manga and its relationship to anime is only coincidental to the subject of Arts & Crafts. It is not within the scope of this site. Incidentally, we have a site on both subjects: Anime & Manga.

Arts & Crafts is an applied, hands-on site for artists and crafters who are either doing or leaning about creating handmade, tangible works. This includes questions about things like media selection, technique, and overcoming obstacles. But it does not include subjects like "what is art?", art appreciation, critical analysis, history, the purpose of art, advocacy, art history, biographies, chronicling art movements, etc.

There may be some crossover. An author might ask, "if I did {this}, would it be true to the Manga style?" But the author of this particular post only mentioned their art in passing. The rest of the question was asking about the subject of manga itself. Their curiosity "as an artist…" was merely coincidental to the subject of the question.

To put it more generally, there are the artists (the doers), and there are those who engage in the study or consumption of the various arts: consumers, collectors, historians, critics, philosophers.

This site is for the practitioners: those on the "skill" or "craft" side of that definition.

  • I think that question could have been saved by an edit much in the way you describe. Not comparing the genres but asking for clarification of ones own work. An answer could cover details from both genres in order to explain why it is a certain way.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 17:21
  • 2
    Did you see this question: crafts.stackexchange.com/questions/1742/… ?. I think it is related to this discussion as well.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 17:21

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