Monday, January 15, 2007

The Manga Talk

I am a working female in her twenties but recently I've been reading a pretty good amount of manga. Manga, for those who don't know, is a Japanaese word for Japanese comics. It certainly is sort of like a very tacit understanding that manga is for children, or teenagers at the oldest, but even then so many of the adult population - from twenties to fifties or even sixties are regular readers of manga, and I guess it's socially acceptable.

Since I have a younger brother and a sister the manga selection in my house is pretty random. A good portion of the bookshelf is dominated by shonen manga (that's comics geared towards teenage boys but girls too read them anyway) mostly coming from the weekly manga magazine JUMP. Shonen manga's got a lot of action, adventure and bits and pieces of erotic essences.

And then, my high school sister's got a collection on shojo manga (for girls) like Fruits Basket - which I recently learned that it's pretty popular outside of Japan as well - and "Bokura ga Ita" (tranlates to "we were there"), a monster hit. Shojo manga mostly if not completely focuses on love romance issues and is extremely popular among teenage girls.

It has always been and still is part of teenager life to lend and borrow manga with your friends in school (just have to do it secretly cuz they're not allowed in school) and expand your manga reading selection. My sister brings loads of manga and she swapped with friends from school. In fact, I myself still do it sometimes in office with my colleague :p

The strong tendency these days is the making of live-action versions of the best selling manga. A good number of manga are made into movies and TV dramas, but there are also stages and musicals. Since I haven't seen any of the musicals I can't really say anything about them but I've been watching a few TV dramas based on manga. It wasn't until very recently that nearly half or even more than hald of the TV dramas we have in the past five years are "based on the manga by ...", not "based on the novel by ...".

Some of them do the justice of the original but in most cases the dramas have their own storyline that don't go as far as a different work or a filler. Two of my favorite works have made into a film and a TV drama: "Honey and clover" into a movie, and "Nodame Cantabile" into a TV drama. Both are... love-romance comedies with a somewhat serious theme... and the latter one was pretty good on TV. I even think it was more comical than the original and easier to follow because it had sounds, which is an essential element in Nodame Cantabile since the comic is on classic music. Right now, my generation's all time favorite "Hana yori Dango" 's 2nd ed. is shown on TV and this one has been made into a TV in Taiwan as "Meteor Garden" way before Japan.

My most recent favorites are PLUTO, a manga based on the manga by "The God of Manga" Tezuka Osamu (the artist of Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom), Black Jack and SO MANY MORE with deep philosophy) created by Urasawa Naoki, a genious on SF thriller suspense best represented by his works Twentieth Century Boys (
film coming out next year) and MONSTER. The only thing about this is that it comes out veeery slowly. Twice a year at the best. So I have to wait a lot.

The other is "Kami no Shizuku" (subtitle: Les Gouttes de Dieu = The Drops of God) a manga on wine. It gives a long but entertaining talk on all kinds of wine (so far mostly French and Italian) and reading this, I tell you, really really makes you want to drink wine :-) I don't know so much about wine - I only appreciate it with cheese as an evening drink - but it's fun to read and gives you knowledge as well as curiosity about the world of wine. The art is pretty good too.

Both these works are personal recommendations, though I'm not quite positive that there're foreign language versions published yet.

As I started writing I came up with another topic on manga so I think I'll write about that tomorrow or some time soon.

Oh, and speaking of manga, we have a small web manga going on our website too. Come have a look, it's free. lol.

Today's update:
This Week's Events in Tokyo - January Third Week... there's one on snow, one on video-games and one on fire. Check it out ;-)


Raquel Méndez said...

Hello Monami,

It's very interesting your post about manga issue. I like a lot, both of them, I mean Manga and Anime.

I liked so much Monster, and Monster, and I'm very excited to heard that it is preparing the anime version.

You told that you have to wait a lot to a next one, well If this makes you feel better here in Spain we have to wait so much more.


Thanks for your nice post!!!

Un saludo, =O)

Elena said...

It certainly is sort of like a very tacit understanding that manga is for children, or teenagers at the oldest, but even then so many of the adult population - from twenties to fifties or even sixties are regular readers of manga, and I guess it's socially acceptable.

Have you sampled josei manga yet? It's manga written with an actual adult female audience in mind. Mostly it has to do with working women and their many romantic misadventures.

monamie said...


I haven't read so many of them, at least not enough to make a fair analysis. I get a feeling it's like an older version of shojo manga with a little more mature elements. Both of them invite emotional connection of the readers and in my observation Japanese females have a tendency of emotinally resembling herself with characters in comics, TV dramas and movies. Anyway, the existence of josei & seinen manga is another evidence of the social acceptance of manga as an established culture even for adults, right? I remembered there's a series here about manga in Japan. You can see that the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs is a HUGE fan of manga (which, I'm not sure if it's sth we can be proud of).

Raquel, Elena, thank you for the comments :-)

tivome said...

monamie, sounded like you're my generation. Have you read any of the josei work by Saimon Fumi like Tokyo Love Stories? Back in the 80's her works became some of the biggest dorama ever made. I would recommend them if you have not read them yet.

So how do you feel about the movie version of NANA?

As for Minister Aso... well, it's not that he's a manga fan, but the fact that he reads "Rozen Maiden", which makes him a potential lolicon otaku. It would be kinda embrassing to think that a high govn't official enjoy stories of pretty, living dolls in gothic-lolita dresses beating the crap out of each other for the affection of a mythical "daddy". ^^;