The Manga Bug

Okay, I’m supposed to be reading Grace Lin’s The Year of the Dog and I was, honestly! But when my summer Children’s Literature class ended, I was distracted by an itch to read manga.

Yes, you read that right. I’m an educator and I absolutely love to read manga and firmly believe it should be available in classrooms, media centers and libraries (more on this in another post at a later date).

I’ve also been meaning to write reviews about some great manga titles on my shelves, so I’m going to take this as an opportunity to do exactly that. Before I get started, I should explain what manga is to my readers. To those of you who know what manga is all about, please feel free to skip the rest of this post and expect the first review shortly. To those of you scratching your heads, read on!

Manga” is a Japanese word meaning “whimsical pictures”, or “amusing drawings”. It is a Japanese style of drawing comics, which are found in magazines and graphic-novel format. In the United States, the term manga is used to refer to comic book style stories originally published in Japan. However, manga-influenced comics are also being published in the U.S. and many parts of the world.

Some of it looks like this (click for a larger image):

Full Metal Alchemist

Full Metal Alchemist

If images of Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or Digimon are now dancing in your head,
giving you this reaction—–>Edward_Evil idea
don’t jump to conclusions, yet! And don’t confuse manga with anime. When a manga gets famous enough, it is turned into anime, which means it becomes a television cartoon.

That’s where you have probably become acquainted with Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and the rest of them (if you’ve seen the dubbed versions, I feel for you. It’s absolute torture. Go watch them again, but Japanese with English subtitles this time! You’ll see what I mean). But there is more to manga than these famous children’s titles.

There are several types of manga that are drawn for specific audiences.

For example:

  • Kodomo (for children; Pokemon is one example.)
  • Shōjo (for girls)
  • Shōnen (for boys)
  • Seinen (for young/adult men)
  • Josei (for young/adult women)

The popularity of this style of comics is increasing in the U.S. This is likely due to adults now beginning to read manga, as more diverse titles become available. The plots are rich and include positive values such as: courage, confidence, responsibility, family, etc. Genres include: science fiction, fantasy, comedy, mystery, horror, sports, realistic fiction, historical fiction, etc.

Another aspect of manga that appeals to many is that publishers are staying faithful to the way they are published in Japan, meaning they read from right to left, like this:

Manga_reading_directionYou’d think that a lot of reluctant readers would shy away from this format, but it’s actually part of the charm and has attracted many readers, young and old.

That’s manga in a nutshell! Hopefully you will become better acquainted with them as you read my reviews and views of using manga in the classroom. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, suggestions, or titles that you would like me to review, don’t hesitate to contact me!

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2 Responses to The Manga Bug

  1. Prisca says:

    Wow, that’s dedication!

  2. You think you got it bad? I used to buy manga titles that were in the original Japanese language, even though I couldn’t read them! I spend hours flipping the pages, making up my own stories, wondering what they were really saying. It’s a relief to be able to purchase some of those titles in English now.

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