I, like many people, have read manga from my teen years well into my adult life. Many people scoff at manga and comic books as just a pointless and childish hobby. There is nothing that can be learned from them and they serve no purpose other than avoiding reality. Some believe manga to make people antisocial, violent, or somehow emotionally stunted. Those people will just never understand, even if they read manga. It can teach people a lot of things and there are a lot of well-adjusted people who read manga as a hobby.
Learn About Japanese Culture
Sure, in Japan there are no giant monsters attacking Tokyo or giant mechs being rolled out to fight them. Some mangas do not teach about Japanese culture, but many slice of life ones do give a glimpse. Japanese manga gives a unique glimpse into a culture that is not western. Sometimes it is inaccurate, but it does awake a thirst in people to learn about the culture. From the hot springs, to the iconic kotatsu table, and even the food. Everything just seems so different from how things are done in the west.
It also merits mentioning that I took study habits from manga when I was in high school. The characters in my slice of life mangas just studied so diligently it was actually contagious. When I caught the fever, my grades skyrocketed.
Learn How To Draw
Some artists learn by doing, all artists have to 'do' eventually. However, a good way to improve your art is to look. Manga is all drawings, many are still drawn by hand. Just looking at the pictures gives you a better idea of anatomy, perspective, and offers diverse poses and facial expressions.
I personally went through stints where I wouldn't draw for years, but when I picked it up again, I drastically improved. Everyone says the key to drawing well is to practice, but I improved from looking at manga. Everyone thinks the manga style is overtly cartoony, but they are reading the wrong mangas. The works of Ryoichi Ikegami and Takehiko Inoue can blow the pants off of realism artist any day.
Learn To Read Japanese
Manga and its animated counterpart anime are great tools to help people improve their Japanese. Manga improves reading Japanese and anime improve pronunciation and vocabulary. Many a fan has tried to learn Japanese so they wouldn't have to wait for translations. Many fail, though a handful of them are living the dream because they used manga and anime as a learning tool as well as entertainment.
Though, these two things are to be used in conjunction with a learning program like classes or Rosetta Stone.
Learn How To Cook
The above things I have learned were all pretty obvious, but this one tends to throw people. I get heavily praised for my cooking by a lot of people, most of it I learned from watching my mother but a portion of my recipes came from manga, surprisingly enough. There are quite a few mangas about food, but only a few teach you how to actually cook the food.
Two manga that actually give specific recipes are Cooking Papa and Addicted to Curry. Addicted to Curry has actually a really inventive story as well as fantastic curry recipes, but Cooking Papa is probably my favorite. It teaches readers how to make things like traditional Japanese food to easy breakfast meals to ice cream! There is a recipe in every chapter. The story is a little weak, but it is a funny little manga. Other than that I learned the basics of bread-making from Yakitake!! Japan, but there are other food-based mangas I have even checked out yet. You never know what you can learn from manga.
Learn How To Be A Decent Person
Heroes and heroines are cool. People want to act like them, emulate them even. Not always their actions, but just their personality and life philosophy. The main characters in manga usually (but not always) teach such virtues like honor, honesty, integrity, hard work, and perseverance. These are all things that will lead a young person well on their way to not being a jerk. Through these fine examples, they teach young people how to be good adults. Though some heroes have faults, like real people, and can teach less desirable lessons like obsession and vengeance. However, most of the time manga operates in the realms of white and black and not always in shades of grey.
These heroes, though, are usually good role models. Sometimes kids and teens do not have very good role models in their real life. I think I would rather have my child have Goku from Dragonball Z as a role model compared to someone on the Jersey Shore, wouldn't you?
Learn To Always Have Hope
Oh, all your friends were killed by the villain? You lost a limb or two? You stand alone against impossible odds? These are all things that main characters in manga will face at some point. Some great life-altering tragedy. I have met people who, when faced with a great tragedy, just shut down. Manga teaches the important life lesson of hope and faith, like the Bible. Especially the manga version of the Bible.
If Gutts from Berserk can overcome having his best friend brutally slaughter all his other friends and girlfriend, I think people can overcome losing their job or a death of a loved one. Things get better, it may seem like they never will, but hoping and knowing that hoping things will get better will help. However, manga also teaches that you sometimes have to take action to make things better.
Silly and Fun Miscellaneous Lessons
The above were fairly serious things that one can learn from reading manga, but there are a lot of fun little tidbits that you can learn, though mostly they are just cliches. So let's add in a bit of funny.
- You CAN have too many women that want you.
- The hero will always lose the first fight with his nemesis, but will train/power up later and beat the crap out of him.
- The more average you seem, the more destined you are to save the planet.
- Tokyo is destined to get destroyed by something (Godzilla, Angels, Fireballs, Gundams, Robots, Reptar, ect.) every time it gets rebuilt.
- All teenage kids in Japan lack diligent or present parents.
- The coolest character that is not the main character is going to die.
- No matter how many guns people are using, the sword is still the bee's knees.
- If it is snowing, something romantic or sad is going to happen. Prepare for feels!
- Smart people will be wearing glasses, their chances of being evil also rise significantly.
- When mortally wounded, you will always have time for a long speech. Always.