My Manga collection/Manga 102
Posted August 29, 2010on:
Hey, it’s my manga collection, in all its shelf and a half glory! I took this photo 2 days ago, have already added to the collection (OK, only one more manga got purchased).
The series I am reading include:
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arawaka
Nana by Ai Yazawa
Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa
Blame by Tsuhomu Nihei
Read or Die by Hudeyuki Karata
St. Lunatic High by Majiko
And there is a bunch of other random odds and ends there too that I can’t wait to talk about!
My Manga post last week garnered some lovely comments along with plenty of questions, so here you go, it’s Manga 102. I’m no expert at this – fan yes, expert no, so fellow manga readers, feel free to jump in at any time!
Q. Isn’t Manga more culturally specific that what we call in general “graphic novels”?
A. Yes. . . well, somewhat. If the story takes place in a real city, characters will often reference real places, or have an episode where they get dressed up for a holiday or Japanese cultural celebration. Stories that are more historical fiction will often reference real people, real battles, etc. What’s much appreciated by readers is when the artist gives a small aside with a short explanation as to what is going on, or what a specific Japanese festival or idiom is all about. Also, a big thing in Japanese culture is nostalgia. Most adults look back fondly to their teenage years, years when they would make the decisions that would define the rest of their lives. Looking back to your teenage years, what was and what could have been is a big thing there. That may explain all the manga stories that involve teenage romance, and all those awkward high school moment! But then again, I’ve seen plenty of american comics that are pretty culturally specific too. Manga is just specific to a culture that is different to ours.
Q. Is there a recognizable style to the artwork?
A. As far as style generalizations go, in Manga you will often see disproportionate heads and eyes, really long hair, very long and skinny body shapes, but again those are gross generalizations. Manga artists are known as “Mangaka”, and they all have their own recognizable style. So I guess the “style” goes to the artist, not the form or genre. I’d recognize American comic artist Phil Foglio’s art just about anywhere, and I’d probably recognize the style of Mangakas Ai Yazawa or Clamp (or someone trying to imitate their style) as well.
Q. Which types of Manga are translated and sold here, and which aren’t?
A. The biggest importer/translator of Manga in the US is Tokyopop. Viz Media, Del Rey, and Darkhorse are also getting in on the fun. What is translated and sold here? What the importers and publishers believe will sell. If a mangaka has multiple series in Japan, perhaps only the most popular or most recent will be translated (Ai Yazawa’s Neighborhood Stores, I’m looking at you!). A few years ago gothic stuff was all the rage, so that’s what many of the new titles offered. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of what I’d call paranormal and paranormal romance, which also reflects what is popular here. High school romance, historical fiction, and sex comedies seem to always be popular as well. We are often a year or more behind them as well. So while Hiromu Arakawa might already be working on volume 28 of Fullmetal Achemist, I’ll still waiting for Amazon to give a release date for Volume 24 in English.
There were some questions about the “adult” content of manga. Some of the romantic manga series that I read have “adult content”: consenting participants in adult situations, and well, adult stuff happens. Not so different from your typical American harlequin romance novel or even the growing genre of GLBT fiction, and no one looks twice at those. Publishers are not stupid, and if the story has any kind of “adult” content whatsoever – sexual relationships or nudity of any kind, ultraviolence, drug use or adult language, the cover gets slapped with a badge that says “18+ adult content”, similar to video games that are rated M, R rated movies, or CD’s with parental advisory stickers. That said, I’ve seen some pretty violent american stuff, and some pretty scantily clad american female action heroes, and the stuff is often being read by thirteen year olds.
Put bluntly, not all comics are for kids and that is as it should be.