7 Effective Ways to Enhance Storytelling in Anime and Manga
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Use character development
  2. Incorporate suspense and mystery
  3. Use flashbacks effectively
  4. Create a complex plot
  5. Use symbolism and foreshadowing
  6. Create a unique and engaging setting
  7. Focus on theme and message

If you're an anime or manga creator looking to captivate your audience with spellbinding narratives, you've come to the right place. It's not just about doodling characters and settings, it's about telling a story that resonates. That's where the art of storytelling comes in. This guide will provide you with seven effective strategies on how to improve storytelling in anime/manga, turning your work from 'just another manga' to a must-read sensation.

Use Character Development

Character development is the backbone of any compelling story. It's not enough to have a character that looks cool or has powerful abilities. Your audience wants to see growth, change, and evolution. That's what keeps them hooked. Here's how to improve storytelling in anime/manga through effective character development:

  • Establish a clear character arc: A character arc is a transformation or inner journey that a character undergoes throughout the story. It could be anything from overcoming a fear to achieving a lifelong dream. The more dramatic the arc, the more invested your audience will be.
  • Make your characters relatable: Your characters don't have to be perfect; in fact, it's their flaws that often make them relatable. By giving them real-world problems and emotions, you help your audience connect with them on a deeper level.
  • Let your characters drive the plot: Rather than having events happen to your characters, let your characters' actions, decisions, and growth drive the events. This makes the story more engaging and provides a stronger sense of continuity and flow.
  • Consistency is key: While your characters should evolve, they also need to remain consistent in their core traits and values. This helps maintain a sense of realism and continuity in your storytelling.

Remember, compelling characters are not born, they are developed. The more thought and care you put into their development, the more engaging your storytelling will be. So, don't skimp on this crucial aspect of how to improve storytelling in anime/manga.

Incorporate Suspense and Mystery

Who doesn't love a good mystery or suspenseful moment? They are the spices that give a story that extra kick. They keep your audience on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. Let's explore how to use suspense and mystery to improve storytelling in anime/manga:

  • Keep them guessing: The essence of suspense is the element of surprise. Don't give away all the details too soon. Keep your audience guessing by revealing information bit by bit, building up to a grand reveal.
  • Create a sense of urgency: A ticking clock can do wonders for suspense. It could be a literal deadline or a metaphorical one, like a character's health deteriorating. This adds a sense of urgency and tension to the story.
  • Use cliffhangers: Cliffhangers are a great way to end an episode or chapter, leaving your audience eager for the next installment. Just make sure to follow through and deliver on the suspense you've built up.
  • Introduce mystery: Mystery is about the unknown. Introduce elements in your story that are unexplained or secretive, sparking curiosity in your audience's minds. This can range from a character's hidden past to an unexplored world.

Incorporating suspense and mystery not only makes your story more exciting, but it also engages your audience's curiosity and keeps them coming back for more. It's an effective way to improve storytelling in anime/manga, making your work stand out in the sea of stories out there.

Use Flashbacks Effectively

Flashbacks are like windows into the past, offering glimpses of a character's history, motivations, or secrets. They are a powerful tool to deepen your story and characters. So, how can we improve storytelling in anime/manga through effective use of flashbacks? Here are a few strategies:

  • Use flashbacks for character development: A well-placed flashback can reveal a lot about a character's personality and backstory. It can uncover their motivations, fears, or desires, helping the audience better understand and connect with them.
  • Make it relevant: Don't just throw in a flashback for the sake of it. Ensure it adds value to your story. It should either reveal something about your character or move the plot forward.
  • Keep it concise: A long, drawn-out flashback can lose your audience's interest. Keep it short and to the point. Only include details that are essential to the story or character development.
  • Blend it smoothly: A sudden, jarring flashback can disrupt the flow of your story. Find a natural transition into and out of the flashback to maintain a smooth narrative flow.

When used effectively, flashbacks can add depth and complexity to your story, making it more engaging and memorable. They are a great technique to improve storytelling in anime/manga, helping you create a rich, layered narrative that resonates with your audience.

Create a Complex Plot

Creating a complex plot is a surefire way to improve storytelling in anime/manga. A plot that twists and turns, keeps the audience on their toes, and makes them think, can turn a good anime or manga into a masterpiece. But how do you create such a plot? Here are a few tips:

  • Add layers to your story: Introduce subplots that intertwine with the main plot. This not only makes the story more interesting but also creates more opportunities for character development and world-building.
  • Introduce conflicts: Conflict is the lifeblood of a plot. It could be a clash between characters, a struggle against nature, or an internal battle within a character's mind. Use conflicts to drive the story forward and keep the audience engaged.
  • Keep the end in sight: While it's good to have a complex plot, don't lose sight of the end goal. Every twist, turn, and subplot should ultimately lead to the resolution of the story.
  • Surprise your audience: Predictability can kill a story. Keep your audience guessing by throwing in unexpected plot twists. But remember, the twists should make sense in the context of the story.

Creating a complex plot can feel like solving a puzzle, but it's worth the effort. It can truly elevate your anime or manga, making it more intriguing and satisfying for your audience.

Use Symbolism and Foreshadowing

What better way to add depth to your anime or manga than to sprinkle some symbolism and foreshadowing throughout your story? These are powerful tools that can make your work more thought-provoking and engaging.

  • Symbolism: Symbols can be objects, characters, or events that represent something else. For example, a character's unique necklace could symbolize their connection to their family or their past. Using symbolism can add a layer of depth to your story and make your audience think.
  • Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing is a way of hinting at future events in your story. It can be as subtle as a passing comment from a character, or as obvious as a looming storm cloud. Foreshadowing can create suspense and keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

Using symbolism and foreshadowing effectively can enhance your storytelling by adding an extra layer of depth and suspense. It can make your audience think, anticipate what's coming next, and engage more with your story. So, why not give it a try in your next anime or manga project?

Create a Unique and Engaging Setting

When it comes to telling an engaging story in anime or manga, where your story takes place is just as important as what happens in the story. The setting can be a character in its own right, adding depth and color to your narrative. Let's explore how to create a unique and engaging setting.

  • World-building: This involves creating a detailed and immersive world for your characters to live in. From the bustling cityscapes of "Tokyo Ghoul" to the serene villages of "Naruto", the setting can set the mood, influence the plot, and even shape your characters' personalities and actions.
  • Consistency: Ensure your world is consistent. If magic exists in your world, set the rules and stick to them. If your story is set in a futuristic world, maintain the same technological advancements throughout.
  • Details: Pay attention to details. The food your characters eat, the clothes they wear, the architecture of the buildings — these all contribute to making your world feel real and lived-in.

Remember, a unique and engaging setting can draw your readers in and make them want to stay. So, put on your creator hat and start building that world!

Focus on Theme and Message

The heart and soul of any compelling anime or manga is its theme and message. It's what gives your story its purpose and can leave a lasting impact on your audience. Let's discuss how to weave a powerful theme and message into your storytelling.

  • Identify Your Theme: Before you even start drawing the first panel or scripting the first episode, identify the theme or the central idea of your story. It could be about friendship, as in "One Piece," or the pursuit of knowledge, like "Stein's Gate."
  • Develop Your Message: The message is what you want your audience to take away from your story. It's the lesson or moral that you want to impart. For instance, "Attack on Titan" presents the message that freedom is worth fighting for.
  • Integrate Your Theme and Message: Now that you have your theme and message, integrate them throughout your story. They should influence the plot, character development, and even the visual style of your anime or manga.

A well-crafted theme and message can elevate a simple story to something memorable and impactful. So, when you're plotting your next anime or manga, remember to give your theme and message the attention they deserve.

If you enjoyed this blog post on enhancing storytelling in anime and manga, you'll definitely want to check out Mirelle Ortega's workshop, 'Storytelling In Illustration.' This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to create compelling stories through your illustrations, making it a perfect complement to your anime and manga storytelling journey.