Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Discover Another World... Manga
If you've ever ventured into the Manga section of your local bookstore, you may feel overwhelmed... I know I did. I was confronted with colorful covers, titles that gave me no clue as to what the book was about ("Fruit Basket"?), and books that had over 27 issues in a series! The artwork is highly stylized (big eyes, small mouths, wild colorful hair), but some of it is absolutely amazing. Between the covers there is love, sex, violence, and a whole range of emotional stories. I decided that I wanted to learn a little more about this wildly popular genre, and while I was at it, I searched for a Manga reading challenge, which I found... but more about the challenge later. Right now, let me share what I found out about Manga...
First, the definition of Manga:
Manga are Japanese comic books. Manga is often made into Japanese cartoons, or Anime. The art in Manga has a very definite look to it and is often referred to as “Manga Style.”
Next, how do you Pronounce 'Manga':
(Maw – Nnnnn – Gah) In Japanese, it is actually three syllables, although the middle "N" is spoken very quick. Americans have a habit of pronouncing it "Man-Gah", but that is not actually correct.
How to Read Manga:
Traditional Manga is read from the back of the book to the front, right to left; text and images read right to left... see illustration at right... The bold numbers represent the boxes that contain the drawings, and the circled numbers represent the order of the dialogue.
Types of Manga: These are just some of the categories
Shônen – Boy’s Manga – (Pronounced Show-Nen) Usually involves action & adventure.
Shôjo – Girl’s Manga – (Pronounced Show-Joe) Usually has romance & is more lighthearted.
Seinen – Men’s Manga – (Pronounced Say-Nen) usually for a mature audience.
Josei (or redikomi) – Women’s Manga – (Pronounced Joe-Say) usually for a mature audience.
Kodomo – Children’s Manga – (Pronounced Kow-Dow-Mow)
The word Manga can be translated as, “humorous pictures.” Manga became very popular in the 20th century when laws prohibiting the publication of those kinds of items were lifted. It has since become a huge part of Japanese culture. Unlike in America, Manga is read by most people in the country. The artists and writer of Manga are well respected for their work, much like the writers of literature in America. The stories first usually appear in serial form in a Manga magazine. If they become popular, they are reprinted in book form, usually small digests.
So now that we know a little about Manga, how do you figure out what to read? Recommendations from people who read Manga are my first choice. Next I would look through the books at my local bookstore and see what artwork & story-lines capture your attention. On the website Manga Worth Reading there is a section called 'Manga starting points', which highlights some books. And of course the online bookstores all have a comic & graphic novel section, which would include Manga. Another way, is to join a challenge and find reviews and recommendations from other people who are part of the challenge! Not only does a challenge give you a goal, but it's fun to chat with other people you meet about what everyone is reading. So, I joined the Manga Challenge 2010, hosted by Rhinoa of Rhinoa's Ramblings.
Here's the Rules of the Challenge...
The Manga Challenge will be running from it's own dedicated blog, Manga Challenge Blog. You can join throughout the year at the Manga Challenge Blog (there is no cut off time to sign up) and it ends on 31st December 2010. The goal is to read a minimum of 6 mangas. There will be the odd prize throughout the year and bonus points if you manage to watch at least one anime film or 3 episodes of a series.
So, it's as easy as that! Sign up at the Manga Challenge Blog and read Manga and review what you've read. If you don't have a blog to link your review, you can email Rhiona directly about posting your reviews on the Manga blog. So, are you up for the challenge? Any of you Manga readers out there? - what are YOU reading!? I would love to hear suggestions here too!
*BTW, the beautiful Manga Challenge Button above was designed by Nymeth's boyfriend. Who's Nymeth? She has a blog called things mean a lot, and she's part of the Manga challenge too!
As I begin to read and review the Manga stories, I'll post review links here... Right now I'm reading my first one called solanin by Inio Asano. The artwork is pleasing and the story is really good! This is it's description,
"College graduates struggle to cope with the real world. Music offers refuge in this modern manga with an American attitude."
Manga is a bit of a reach for me, but it was interesting to learn more about what it is all about. Some of the suggestions I've gotten have been Emma: Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori which is a victorian story, Fruit Basket: Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya which is a series with mysterious family curses, and Vagabond, Volume 1 by Takehiko Inoue, Nominated for an Eisner Award in the category for Best Writer/Artist, and is based on the life of a true samurai warrior. What do you think about Manga? Is it something you were ever curious about?