Manga Wiki

Traditional Yonkoma layout

Yonkoma manga (4コマ漫画 "four cell manga", or 4-koma for short?), a comic-strip format, generally consists of gag comic strips within four panels of equal size ordered from top to bottom. (They also sometimes run right-to-left horizontally or use a hybrid 2x2 style, depending on the layout requirements of the publication in which they appear.) Though the word yonkoma comes from the Japanese, the style also exists outside of Japan in other Asian countries as well as in the English-speaking market.


The first Yonkoma was produced by Rakuten Kitazawa (who wrote under the name Yasuji Kitazawa) in 1902. It was entitled Jiji Manga, and was thought to have been influenced by the works of Frank Arthur Nankivell and Frederick Burr Opper.[1] Jiji Manga appeared in the Sunday edition.


Traditionally, Yonkoma follow a structure known as Kishōtenketsu. This word is a compound formed from the following Chinese characters:

  • Ki: The first panel forms the basis of the story; it sets the scene.
  • Shō: The second panel develops upon the foundation of the story laid down in the first panel.
  • Ten: The third panel is the climax, in which an unforeseen development occurs.
  • Ketsu: The fourth panel is the conclusion, in which the effects of the third panel are seen.[2]


These comic strips appear in almost all types of publications in Japan, including manga magazines, graphic novels, the comics section of newspapers, game magazines, cooking magazines, and so forth. The plot often ends within the four panels, although some serial development may pass on to future installments, creating a more continuous story. Some yonkoma also tackle serious topics, though most do so with humor. Some manga occasionally use yonkoma, usually at the end of a chapter or bound volume, as a non-canon joke to complement the story.

Internet Popularity

Yonkoma eventually found a place with online communities after Gaijin 4Koma (also known as Reaction Guys, a title originating from 4chan) caught the attention of the notorious Futaba Channel.[3] Yonkoma have since been adapted to many Internet memes[4], and the original The Reaction Guys image has inspired countless spoofs as well.[5] [6]

Examples of Yonkoma Manga

Well-known manga drawn using the yonkoma style include:

See also

  • Kishōtenketsu - A writing technique specific to 4-panel comics.


  1. Carolin Fischer,'Mangaka,Unknown date of publication, "", 2009-10-29
  2. Carolin Fischer,'Mangaka,Unknown date of publication, "", 2009-10-29
  3. User:Comixed,',2009-10-06, "", 2009-10-29
  4. User:Victawr,',2008-06-13, "", 2009-10-29
  5. User:Sixtaz, 'Know Your Meme,Unknown date of publication, "", 2009-10-29
  6. User:Victawr,',2008-06-13, "", 2009-10-29

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