Mihiraki, or “double-page spread,” is a manga technique. It consists of left and right pages facing each other. The purpose of mihiraki is to draw the attention of readers. A large image or scene is depicted every time a reader opens a manga. It can be an establishing scene, the centerspread, or the story’s main climax. Readers will think more about the scene as they scan each corner of the mihiraki. The usual process of reading manga is reading two pages apart. Scanning from right to left, readers would thoroughly check panels towards the last one. The mangaka, meanwhile, can show off their drawing talents in the mihiraki. Other than large scenes or establishing shots, they can even insert fan service to please the readers.
The word mihiraki (見開き) comprises of two kanji: mi (見) or “to see,” and hiraki (開) or “to unfold.” It literally means two opposing pages that face each other.
Before digital art existed, mangaka had to manually layout the mihiraki. It requires a special sheet of paper called “manga genkou youshi., which has blue grids and margins. The mangaka can only draw inside the designated margins, and the other portions are trimmed down. The printing machines can only copy the black lines and colors to look clean in print.
For the creation of mihiraki, the mangaka had to cut the “nodo” (ノド) or “throat” portion of the two sheets. Then, they aligned the cut sides of the paper. The last part was fixing both cut sides with adhesives like masking tape, turning two sheets into a mihiraki. One of the frequent beginner mistakes was drawing at the paper’s “throat” portion, which would mean it gets accidentally cut down by the editor.
With the help of modern technology, mangaka can design mihiraki easily. They can combine two separate pages and draw at them as a single page. Programs such as Manga Studio can combine two facing pages without overlapping at the sheet’s “throat” portion.
Mihiraki does catch the attention of readers. A large image or scene that spans within two pages conveys a lot of expressions. It can help readers to grasp the moment, anticipate the climax or surprise them. Some scenes in manga require more than a page. If one page is used for establishing scenes, then it looks too cramped. Mihiraki can cover massive scenes into two pages.
Mihiraki is important in the manga industry. Most physical copies of manga have mihiraki. Even if readers access manga on handheld devices, mihiraki always leaves a strong impression on readers. Handheld devices can display mihiraki on landscape view. The manga editors would read in spread pairs to gauge a manga’s impact. A two-page scene always leaves a long-lasting impression compared to a single-page scene.
On the other hand, mihiraki has its downsides. First, it is expensive because a lot of resources are needed to draw two pages as one. However, as long as the mihiraki looks compelling, it will eventually cover the printing cost. Second, the excitement or climax diminishes if mihiraki is done repeatedly. Readers would eventually get tired of reading multiple double-page spreads.
Contreras, Ralph. Comic Art Terms – Double Page Spread. Comic Book Graphic Design., https://comicbookgraphicdesign.com/comic-art-terms-double-page-spread/, Retrieved 06 June 2021
What is a Double Page Spread? openPR, https://www.openpr.com/wiki/what-is-a-double-page-spread, Retrieved 06 June 2021
Japanese Meaning of 見開き, みひらき, mihiraki. Nihongo Master, https://www.nihongomaster.com/dictionary/entry/24637/mihiraki
Nakashima Taiyo. “Two is better than One” / JapaneseManga101 #002 Double page spread. SILENT MANGA AUDITION, https://www.manga-audition.com/japanesemanga101_002/, 29 December 2014
Nava, Joshua. Manga Tachikiri. Joshua Nava Arts, https://www.joshuanava.biz/manga-2/b.html, 06 January 2021. Retrieved 06 June 2021
花咲 ちゆ.【漫画の描き方】原稿用紙の使い方と枠線について. 楽しくお絵かき空間, https://hanasakichu.com/manuscript-paper/, 7 April 2020. Retrieved 06 June 2021.
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