Category: Comics Art
Manga are comics created in Japan, or by creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century. They have a long and complex pre-history in earlier Japanese art. The term manga is a Japanese word referring both to comics and cartooning. “Manga” as a term used outside Japan refers specifically to comics originally published in Japan.
In Japan, people of all ages read manga. The medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action-adventure, business/commerce, comedy, detective, historical drama, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and fantasy, sexuality, sports and games, and suspense, among others. Although this form of entertainment originated in Japan, many manga are translated into other languages, mainly English.
Since the 1950s, manga has steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry, representing a ¥406 billion market in Japan in 2007 (approximately $3.6 billion) and ¥420 billion (approximately $5.5 billion) in 2009. Manga have also gained a significant worldwide audience. In Europe and the Middle East the market was worth $250 million in 2012. In 2008, in the U.S. and Canada, the manga market was valued at $175 million; the markets in France and the United States are about the same size. Manga stories are typically printed in black-and-white, although some full-color manga exist (e.g., Colorful).
In Japan, manga are usually serialized in large 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 tankōbon volumes, frequently but not exclusively, paperback books. 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. Sometimes manga are drawn centering on previously existing live-action or animated films.
Manga-influenced comics, among original works, exist in other parts of the world, particularly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan (“manhua”), and South Korea (“manhwa”). In France, “manfra” and “la nouvelle manga” have developed as forms of bande dessinée comics drawn in styles influenced by manga. The term OEL manga is often used to refer to comics or graphic novels created for a Western market in the English language, which draw inspiration from the “form of presentation and expression” found in manga.
Many people might say “Manga are Japanese comics, and Anime is the Japanese version of animation. Anime is usually, but not always, the animated version of popular manga.” That’s partially true, but it can be misleading. (Note that “anime” in Japan technically means any animated film, and “manga” is any printed cartoon, but people in the rest of the world take them to mean animated films or comics from Japan.)
First of all, though an outsider might think Japan “stole” comics from the West, this is not true. Japan has been making cartoonish art for a very long time (there are humorous ink drawings of animals and caricatured people from hundreds of years ago, bearing striking resemblances to modern manga). True, some aspects of manga are taken from the West (Osamu Tezuka, the “father” of modern manga, was influenced by Disney and Max Fleisher), but its main features, such as simple lines and stylized features, are distinctly Japanese. It may be that Chinese art had more influence than Western.
(Also, speaking of China, I should note that Anime is now a general Asian phenomenon, not just Japanese. I understand there are many fine works of manga and anime being produced in many places around the world. However, as far as I understand, the roots are in Japan, and Japan is still considered, at least here in the US, the center of the anime world. This may well change in the future.)
Secondly, Japanese manga and anime come in all types, for all sorts of people. Unlike the U.S., which generally seems to believe that “comics are for kids” (though this has been changing recently), Japanese manga-ka (manga writers) write for everyone from innocent young children to perverted sex-starved men (there is even a category for ex-juvenile delinquent mothers!). But even the kiddie stuff tends not to be as simple-minded as the American versions (not including intelligent American comics, but more thinking of TV shows).
Children’s manga and TV anime shows in Japan will sometimes depict death — while the U.S. (on children’s TV) seems determined to run away from such realities of life (note how the U.S. version of “GoLion” (“Voltron”) deleted all references to one of the protagonist’s death). And, not surprisingly, much of Japanese manga and anime includes scenes of students in class or doing homework, or of people working in their offices. The work ethic seems omnipresent in the background. Manga and anime also tend to protray technology sympathetically, while some U.S. comics seem almost to avoid it, or revile it, or simplify it as much as possible.
A third major difference is the unique Japanese manga and anime style, which is distinctive and fairly easy to recognize. This is not to say the style is limiting. Within this broad common stylistic ground, each manga artist’s technique is distinct and unique. The stereotype is of characters with huge hair and large eyes, but there are many, many variations, from L. Matsumoto’s seemingly unevenly drawn squash-shaped “ugly” protagonists, to the soft-edged figures in Miyazaki’s work. And, of course, there is less emphasis on the “superhero” world of the U.S..
In most manga, the men and women aren’t necessarily exaggerated extremes of their gender stereotypes, and they wear things other than skin-tight costumes. In fact, manga and anime characters tend to have unique and aesthetic tastes in fashion. (It’s also true that many modern U.S. comics have thankfully broken this stereotype, and serious-matter cartoonists like Alan Moore or Art Spiegelman have always been around.)
And one minor difference between Japanese manga and general superhero comics like D.C. Comics or Marvel Comics (aside from the black and white nature of manga), is that manga are usually the vision of a single writer (though editors have a large say, and sometimes direct the story). Unlike the general superhero type, where many writers tend to do different plots and stories, manga are more like novels, complete and detailed worlds that are the vision of a single author.
The characters remain consistent, and they are allowed to grow and develop. On a related topic, manga also tend to be drawn for a weekly or biweekly publication containing numerous other comics by other authors — and the editors expect cliffhangers/you-really-want-to-read-the-next-issue endings each time. So the plot HAS to develop and HAS to be interesting at a fairly rapid clip. (There are, after all, crowds of hopeful would-be manga-ka waiting in the wings).
(One last difference is the onomatopoetic characteristic of the Japanese language; sound effects fit in much better, and look less stupid, than in English comics. This is just a facet of the language; translated manga sound effects also don’t work as well.)
Perhaps it is the mix of harsh reality with the tantalizing world of fantasy that makes Japanese manga and anime so appealing. Many popular series, such as Doraemon, Ranma 1/2 and Kimagure Orange Road, follow the lives of seemingly ordinary people — they go to school, do homework, get reprimanded by parents — who have a shadow life that makes them somehow special, whether by psionic talent or friends who are rather different (robots from the future, or aliens from other worlds). I suppose all this serves to allow the reader to sympathize with the characters, and yet escape from bland, normal daily life to a fantasy world that is far different.
Even in worlds that exist in the far future, or long ago, the reader is drawn into a 3-dimensional character, one who is far from perfect, one who has stupid little habits or major character flaws — and who has hopes and dreams that the reader can sympathize with. Unlike some American super heroes, who often seem to just go around defeating Evil (as wonderfully spoofed in American comic “The Tick”), Japanese characters usually have other goals in life that play large themes within their lives. I heard recently the characterization that manga and anime are “character oriented.” The more I think about, the more I think this is the right description. Characters aren’t forced into plots, like a foot into a too-tight shoe; instead, stories grow out of the characters. The heart of manga and anime is in the hearts of the characters.
That brings us to three other aspects of manga and anime that I really like: the reality of the world, the spirituality, and the fact that things end.
With comics, the merging of art and words creates a unique medium. The art pulls in the mind, and the words make the reality. A picture may be worth a thousand words, while words may convey what art cannot, but the two types together are truly powerful. As for Anime, animation can do inexpensively what special effects crews couldn’t even touch until the recent rise of computer graphics. Art is a limited form of virtual reality. Art, however, requires plot to make a story come to life.
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Diabolik is a fictional character, an anti-hero featured in Italian comics. He was created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962. His stories appear in monthly black and white digest-sized booklets. The character was inspired by several previous characters from Italian and French pulp fiction.
On January 1, 2000, an animated series, produced by Saban International, premiered on Fox Kids, and lasted for 40 episodes, before ending on January 1, 2001. The series featured Diabolik and his companion Eva, as they fought and gradually exposed the Brotherhood and Dane, while evading detective Ginko. It was directed by Jean Luc Ayach with Paul Diamond and Larry Brody as head writers.
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Explorers on the Moon (On a Marché sur la Lune)
Explorers on the Moon, published in 1954, is the seventeenth of The Adventures of Tintin, a series of classic comic-strip albums, written and illustrated by Belgian writer and illustrator Hergé, featuring young reporter Tintin as a hero. Its original French title is On a marché sur la Lune (“We walked on the Moon”). It is the second of a two-part adventure begun in Destination Moon.