Comic Book Curious

Unlocking the Door to the Board: Mangaka

December 27, 2021

Write, draw, and create your way to comic author fame!

What a journey…This is the last article in the 5-part series of anime-themed board games! Throughout this series, we've been introduced to quite a variety of board games: from a game that includes vampires in Tokyo (Tokyo Ghoul) and playing through the world of Disney, to being a matchmaker and talent agent! Now, I wanted to save this last game for something unique. This week’s game really brings everything full circle, as well as bringing a particular element of 'meta' (think, the game is a bit more in your hands). How could this week’s game do that you might ask? Well, luckily for you, I happily discuss it below! But, before we dig deep into this game, I want to bring up some examples of famous manga and comic authors. The reason for this, is because to play this week’s game, you have to think a bit more… artistically. Having some inspiration from well-known authors would seem rather helpful.

A collage of different mangas including One Piece, Naruto, Sailor Moon, Fruits Basket, and Jojo

Credit: One Piece by Eiichiro Oda; Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi; Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya; Jojo's Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki; Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

We've all heard the titles of these manga and manga writers before. Or maybe if you're not a manga fan, you've heard of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller. Now, how in the world can Stan Lee be talked about in the same vein as Eiichiro Oda or Takeuchi? Both authors are comic writers, as manga refers to both comics and the act of cartooning.

Now, for many (and probably for many reading this article), most of us have always dreamed of writing our own manga or comic, visualizing a story, and eventually having it play out over the many panels of a comic book page. Sadly, most of us probably don't have the time to properly sit down and fully flesh out our ideas (I know because of my own schoolwork and professional work, that Pelican superhero manga I want to do will never be fully visualized). HOWEVER! What if I told you that you COULD write your own manga series, and in the span of game night! (Well ok, maybe under an hour) With this, I would like to introduce the game:

Game box for Mangaka

Image: Kyle Norris

Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics. This is a creative and fast-paced game where throughout 4 rounds, you have to draw an ongoing narrative. With each round, you only have 5 minutes to create either two, four, six, or even eight panels that contribute to the theme of the comic you're writing. At the end of the game, the player with the most "fame" wins.

Pieces of the board game Mangaka

Image: Kyle Norris

How this game is broken up is by the four rounds mentioned earlier. In round 1, you have the initial five minutes to brainstorm, draw and express your themes on paper. To clarify: you do get a piece as to what style of comic you will be writing, whether it's a mainstream battle comic (nothing wrong with a good Berserk or Dragonball style series now and again) to Kaiju/Giant monsters (Ultraman or Godzilla anyone?), or even something as odd as "Desiring to be a parent" (yes, that is an option). After that five minute is up, players then share with the others what they came up with. Personally, this would be the enjoyable part, as you'd probably get to see which player got that "desiring to be a parent" theme and somehow turn it into a "How to be a parent 101 with Godzilla". After the reading, the players decide who created the best initial story, and the winner receives 2 fame tokens.

An image of the trend cards from Mangaka

Image: Kyle Norris

An image of Theme cards from Mangaka

Image: Kyle Norris

Round 2 introduces the concepts of trends (trend card), allowing for more potential fame at play. What is a 'trend'? Within this game, a trend card is essentially different 'categories': science fiction, Shojo Manga, Slice of Life, etc. What these trends do is provide new victory conditions via instructions. However, the tradeoff to having more rules is that you'll get a boosted amount of fame tokens that comes along with that trend. Some trends are open for everybody, while others can only be claimed by one or two winners.

In rounds 3 and 4, you basically repeat this process: writing your story, collecting trend cards and fame tokens along the way; however, each successive game after the first becomes increasingly more stressful. Why? Well, after round 1, you have to draw more panels than the last, with round 1 having you draw 2 panels, round 2 is 4 panels, round 3 is 6 panels, and finally, round 4 is 8 panels. Ultimately, after that fourth round, the player with the most fame tokens wins the game.

Despite the rather stressful last half of the game (rounds three and four), this game does incur a lot of laughter. Having your friends, family, or whoever plays alongside you has to draw the required number of panels within the time constraints. You get to see how people utilize their panel space and how much detail they go into. Do they create highly detailed works of art? Or is it just stick figures? However, everyone seems to be a winner with this game, having lived out their fantasy of being a manga artist or just scratching that creative itch for a quick time.

I wanted to end this series with this game because it seemed like a perfect fit for this anime/manga-themed board game series. Mangaka is the ideal full circle in that regard as it allows YOU, the player, to control how the manga goes and the game! More often than not, most manga-themed board games tend to lean towards the already established series, such as Sailor Moon or Tokyo Ghoul. However, with this, the creative power is in YOUR hands. Who knows? Maybe playing this game a few times with friends may even inspire you to really start your own manga or comic book series! In fact, I really hope so! That would be amazing to see someone creating a series based off of a playthrough. Moving forward, I plan on continuing the 3–5-part series; however, let me know what you would like to see written about! You can contact me either here at or my IG: chuck_dez94.

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