Manga! Manga!

Manga

[mahng-guh, mang]

, , is the Japanese word for comics (sometimes called komikku コミック) and print cartoons. In their modern form, manga date from shortly after World War II but have a long, complex history in earlier Japanese art.

In Japan, manga are widely read by people of all ages, and include a broad range of subjects: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, horror, sexuality, and business and commerce, among others. Since the 1950s, manga have steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry, representing a 481 billion yen market in Japan in 2006 (approximately $4.4 billion dollars). Manga have also become increasingly popular worldwide. In 2006, the United States manga market was $175–200 million. Manga are typically printed in black-and-white, although some full-color manga exist (e.g. Colorful manga, not the anime series). In Japan, manga are usually serialized in telephone book-size manga magazines, often containing many stories each presented in a single episode to be continued in the next issue. If the series is successful, collected chapters may be republished in paperback books called tankōbon. A manga artist (mangaka in Japanese) typically works with a few assistants in a small studio and is associated with a creative editor from a commercial publishing company. If a manga series is popular enough, it may be animated after or even during its run, although sometimes manga are drawn centering on previously existing live-action or animated films (e.g. Star Wars).

Manga as a term outside of Japan refers specifically to comics originally published in Japan. However, manga and manga-influenced comics, among original works, exist in other parts of the world, particularly in Taiwan ("manhua"), South Korea ("manhwa"), and the People's Republic of China, notably Hong Kong ("manhua"). In France, "la nouvelle manga" is a form of bande dessinée drawn in styles influenced by Japanese manga. In the U.S., manga-like comics are called Amerimanga, world manga, or original English-language manga (OEL manga).

Etymology

Manga, literally translated, means "whimsical pictures". The word first came into common usage in the late 18th century with the publication of such works as Santō Kyōden's picturebook "Shiji no yukikai" (1798), and in the early 19th century with such works as Aikawa Minwa's "Manga hyakujo" (1814) and the celebrated Hokusai manga containing assorted drawings from the sketchbook of the famous ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. The first user of the word "manga" as its modern usage is Rakuten Kitazawa.

History and characteristics

Historians and writers on manga history have described two broad and complementary processes shaping modern manga. Their views differ in the relative importance they attribute to the role of cultural and historical events following World War II versus the role of pre-War, Meiji, and pre-Meiji Japanese culture and art.

The first view emphasizes events occurring during and after the U.S. Occupation of Japan (1945–1952), and stresses that manga was strongly shaped by U.S. cultural influences, including U.S. comics brought to Japan by the GIs and by images and themes from U.S. television, film, and cartoons (especially Disney). Alternately, other writers such as Frederik L. Schodt, Kinko Ito, and Adam L. Kern stress continuity of Japanese cultural and aesthetic traditions as central to the history of manga.

Modern manga originates in the Occupation (1945–1952) and post-Occupation years (1952–early 1960s), when a previously militaristic and ultranationalist Japan was rebuilding its political and economic infrastructure. There was an explosion of artistic creativity in this period from manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy) and Machiko Hasegawa (Sazae-san)

Astro Boy quickly became (and remains) immensely popular in Japan and elsewhere, and Sazae-san is still running today. Tezuka and Hasegawa were both stylistic innovators. In Tezuka's "cinematographic" technique, the panels are like a motion picture that reveals details of action bordering on slow motion as well as rapid zooms from distance to close-up shots. This kind of visual dynamism was widely adopted by later manga artists. Hasegawa's focus on daily life and on women's experience also came to characterize later shōjo manga. Between 1950 and 1969, increasingly large audiences for manga emerged in Japan with the solidification of its two main marketing genres, shōnen manga aimed at boys and shōjo manga aimed at girls.

In 1969, a group of female manga artists later called the Year 24 Group (also known as Magnificent 24s) made their shōjo manga debut (year 24 comes from the Japanese name for 1949, when many of these artists were born). The group included Hagio Moto, Riyoko Ikeda, Yumiko Oshima, Keiko Takemiya, and Ryoko Yamagishi and they marked the first major entry of women artists into manga. Thereafter, shōjo manga would be drawn primarily by women artists for an audience of girls and young women. In the following decades (1975-present), shōjo manga continued to develop stylistically while simultaneously evolving different but overlapping subgenres. Major subgenres include romance, superheroines, and "Ladies Comics" (in Japanese, redisu レディース, redikomi レディコミ, and josei 女性).

In modern shōjo manga romance, love is a major theme set into emotionally intense narratives of self-realization. With the superheroines, shōjo manga saw releases such as Naoko Takeuchi's Sailor Moon (Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn: "Pretty Girl Soldier Sailor Moon"), which became internationally popular in both manga and anime formats. The superheroine subgenre also extensively developed the notion of teams (sentai) of girls working together.

Manga for male readers can be characterized by the age of its intended audience: boys up to 18 years old (shōnen manga) and young men 18- to 30-years old (seinen manga), as well as by content, including action-adventure often involving male heroes, slapstick humor, themes of honor, and sometimes explicit sexuality. The Japanese use different kanji for two closely allied meanings of "seinen"—青年 for "youth, young man" and 成年 for "adult, majority"—the second referring to sexually overt manga aimed at grown men and also called seijin ("adult," 成人) manga. Shōnen, seinen, and seijin manga share many features in common.

Boys and young men were among the earliest readers of manga after World War II. From the 1950s on, shōnen manga focused on topics thought to interest the archetypal boy, including subjects like robots and space travel, and heroic action-adventure. Popular themes include science fiction, technology, sports, and supernatural settings. Manga with solitary costumed superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man generally did not become as popular.

The role of girls and women in manga for male readers has evolved considerably over time to include those featuring single pretty girls (bishōjo) such as Belldandy from Oh My Goddess!, stories where the hero is surrounded by such girls and women, as in Negima and Hanaukyo Maid Team, or groups of heavily armed female warriors (sentō bishōjo)

With the relaxation of censorship in Japan after the early 1990s, a wide variety of explicitly drawn sexual themes appeared in manga intended for male readers that correspondingly occur in English translations. These depictions range from mild partial nudity through implied and explicit sexual intercourse through bondage and sadomasochism (SM), zoophilia (bestiality), incest, and rape.

Gekiga is a style of drawing is emotionally dark, often starkly realistic, sometimes very violent, and focuses on the day-in, day-out grim realities of life, often drawn in gritty and unpretty fashions. Gekiga such as Sampei Shirato's 1959-1962 Chronicles of a Ninja's Military Accomplishments (Ninja Bugeichō) arose in the late 1950s and 1960s partly from left-wing student and working class political activism and partly from the aesthetic dissatisfaction of young manga artists like Yoshihiro Tatsumi with existing manga.

Publications

In Japan, manga constitutes a 406.7 billion yen (3.707 billion USD) publication industry for 2007. Recently, the manga industry has expanded worldwide with distribution companies license and reprint manga into their native languages.

When a series has been running for a while, the stories are usually collected together and printed in dedicated book-sized volumes, called tankōbon. These are the equivalent of U.S. trade paperbacks or graphic novels. These volumes use higher-quality paper, and are useful to those who want to "catch up" with a series so they can follow it in the magazines or if they find the cost of the weeklies or monthlies to be prohibitive. Recently, "deluxe" versions have also been printed as readers have got older and the need for something special grew. Old manga have also been reprinted using somewhat lesser quality paper and sold for 100 yen (about $1 U.S. dollar) each to compete with the used book market.

Manga are primarily classified by the age and gender of the target audience. In particular, books and magazines sold to boys (shōnen) and girls (shōjo) have distinctive cover art and are placed on different shelves in most bookstores. Due to cross-readership, consumer response is not limited by demographics. For example, male readers subscribing to a series intended for girls and so on.

Japan also has manga cafés, or manga kissa (kissa is an abbreviation of kissaten). At a manga kissa, people drink coffee and read manga, and sometimes stay there overnight.

There has been an increase in the amount of publications of original webmanga. It is internationally drawn by enthusiasts of all levels of experience, and is intended for online viewing. It can be ordered in graphic novel form if available in print.

The Kyoto International Manga Museum maintains a very large website listing manga published in Japanese.

Magazines

Manga magazines usually have many series running concurrently with approximately 20–40 pages allocated to each series per issue. Other magazines such as the anime fandom magazine Newtype features single chapters within their monthly periodicals. These manga magazines, or "anthology magazines", as they are also known (colloquially "phone books"), are usually printed on low-quality newsprint and can be anywhere from 200 to more than 850 pages long. Manga magazines also contain one-shot comics and various four-panel yonkoma (equivalent to comic strips). Manga series can run for many years if they are successful. Manga artists sometimes start out with a few "one-shot" manga projects just to try to get their name out. If these are successful and receive good reviews, they are continued.

Dōjinshi

Dōjinshi are produced by small amateur publishers outside of the mainstream commercial market in a similar fashion to small-press independently published comic books in the United States. Comiket, the largest comic book convention in the world with over 510,000 gathering in 3 days, is devoted to dōjinshi. While they are many times original stories, many are parodies of or include fictional characters from popular manga and anime series. Some dōjinshi continue with a series' story or write an entirely new one using its characters, much like fan fiction. In 2007, dōjinshi sold for 27.73 billion yen (245 million USD).

International markets

The influence of manga on international cartooning has grown considerably in the last two decades. Influence refers to effects on comics markets outside of Japan and to aesthetic effects on comics artists internationally.

Traditionally, manga are written from top to bottom and right to left, as this is the traditional reading pattern of the Japanese written language. Some publishers of translated manga keep this format, but other publishers flip the pages horizontally, changing the reading direction to left to right, so as not to confuse foreign audiences or traditional comics consumers. This practice is known as "flipping". For the most part, the criticisms suggest that flipping goes against the original intentions of the creator (for example, if a person wears a shirt that reads "MAY" on it, and gets flipped, then the word is altered to "YAM"). Flipping may also cause oddities with familiar asymmetrical objects or layouts, such as a car being depicted with gas pedal on the left and the brake on the right.

United States

Manga were introduced only gradually into U.S. markets, first in association with anime and then independently. Some U.S. fans were aware of manga in the 1970s and early 1980s. However, anime was initially more accessible than manga to U.S. fans, many of whom were college-age young people who found it easier to obtain, subtitle and exhibit video tapes of anime than translate, reproduce, and distribute tankōbon-style manga books. One of the first manga translated into English and marketed in the U.S. was Keiji Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen, an autobiographical story of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima issued by Leonard Rifas and Educomics (1980-1982). More manga were translated between the mid-1980s and 1990s, including Golgo 13 in 1986, Lone Wolf and Cub from First Comics in 1987, and Kamui, Area 88, and Mai the Psychic Girl, also in 1987 and all from Viz Media-Eclipse Comics. Others soon followed, including Akira from Marvel Comics-Epic Comics and Appleseed from Eclipse Comics in 1988, and later Iczer-1 (Antarctic Press, 1994) and Ippongi Bang's F-111 Bandit (Antarctic Press, 1995).

In the 1980s to the mid-1990s, Japanese animation, like Akira, Dragon Ball, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Pokémon, dominated the fan experience and the market compared to manga. Matters changed when translator-entrepreneur Toren Smith founded Studio Proteus in 1986. Smith and Studio Proteus acted as an agent and translator of many Japanese manga, including Masamune Shirow's Appleseed and Kōsuke Fujishima's Oh My Goddess!, for Dark Horse and Eros Comix, eliminating the need for these publishers to seek their own contacts in Japan. Simultaneously, the Japanese publisher Shogakukan opened a U.S. market initiative with their U.S. subsidiary Viz, enabling Viz to draw directly on Shogakukan's catalogue and translation skills.

The U.S. manga market took an upturn with mid-1990s anime and manga versions of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell, translated by Frederik L. Schodt and Toren Smith and becoming very popular among fans. Another success of the mid-1990s was Sailor Moon. By 1995–1998, the Sailor Moon manga had been exported to over 23 countries, including China, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, most of Europe and North America. In 1998, Mixx Entertainment-TokyoPop issued U.S. manga book versions of Sailor Moon and CLAMP's Magic Knight Rayearth. In 1996, Mixx Entertainment founded TokyoPop to publish manga in trade paperbacks and, like Viz, began aggressive marketing of manga to both young male and young female demographics.

In the following years, manga became increasingly popular, and new publishers entered the field while the established publishers greatly expanded their catalogues. As of December 2007, at least 15 U.S. manga publishers have released 1300 to 1400 titles. Simultaneously, mainstream U.S. media began to discuss manga, with articles in the New York Times, Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and Wired magazine.

Europe

The influence of manga on European cartooning is somewhat different than U.S. experience. Manga was opened to the European market during the 1970s when Italy and France broadcast anime. French art has borrowed from Japan since the 19th century (Japonisme), and has its own highly developed tradition of bande dessinée cartooning. In France, imported manga has easily been assimilated into high art traditions. For example, Volumes 6 and 7 of Yu Aida's Gunslinger Girl center on a cyborg girl, a former ballet dancer named Petruchka. The Asuka edition of volume 7 contains an essay about the ballet Petruchka by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and first performed in Paris in 1911. However, Francophone readership of manga is not limited to an artistic elite. Instead, beginning in the mid-1990s, manga has proven very popular to a wide readership, accounting for about one-third of comics sales in France since 2004. According to the Japan External Trade Organization, sales of manga reached $212.6 million within France and Germany alone in 2006. European publishers marketing manga translated into French include Glénat, Asuka, Casterman, Kana, and Pika, among others. (see French Manga publishers)
European publishers also translate manga into German, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch, and other languages. Manga publishers based in the United Kingdom include Orionbooks/Gollancz and Titan Books. U.S. manga publishers have a strong marketing presence in the UK, e.g., the Tanoshimi line from Random House.

Localized manga

A number of U.S. artists have drawn comics and cartoons influenced by manga. An early example was Vernon Grant, who drew manga-influenced comics while living in Japan in the late 1960s-early 1970s. Others include Frank Miller's mid-1980s Ronin, Adam Warren and Toren Smith's 1988 The Dirty Pair, Ben Dunn's 1993 Ninja High School, Stan Sakai's 1984 Usagi Yojimbo, and Manga Shi 2000 from Crusade Comics (1997).

By the 21st Century, several U.S. manga publishers began to produce work by U.S. artists under the broad marketing label of manga. In 2002, I.C. Entertainment, formerly Studio Ironcat and now out of business, launched a series of manga by U.S. artists called Amerimanga. Seven Seas Entertainment followed suit with World Manga. Simultaneously, TokyoPop introduced original English-language manga (OEL manga) later renamed Global Manga. TokyoPop is currently the largest U.S. publisher of original English language manga.

Francophone artists have also developed their own versions of manga, like Frédéric Boilet's la nouvelle manga. Boilet has worked in France and in Japan, sometimes collaborating with Japanese artists. A Francophone Canadian example is the Montréal, Québec based artists' group MUSEBasement, which draws manga-style artwork.

Awards

The Japanese manga industry has a large number of awards, most sponsored by publishers with the winning prize usually including publication of the winning stories in magazines released by the sponsoring publisher. Examples of these awards include the Akatsuka Award for humorous manga, the Dengeki Comic Grand Prix for one-shot manga, the Kodansha Manga Award (multiple genre awards), the Seiun Award for best science fiction comic of the year, the Shogakukan Manga Award (multiple genres), the Tezuka Award for best new serial manga, and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize (multiple genres). The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also awards the International Manga Award annually since May 2007.

See also

References

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