Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To Manga or Not To Manga

What is Manga?

From Wikipedia: "The Japanese word manga, literally translated, means 'whimsical pictures'."
"'Manga' as a term used outside Japan refers specifically to comics originally published in Japan."

Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

From Dictionary.com: man-ga [mahn-guh]: noun: a Japanese graphic novel, typically intended for adults, characterized by highly stylized art

Tsubasa by Clamp

I first started reading manga about a year after Joseph introduced me to Naruto as an anime airing on the Cartoon Network. It didn't take long for me, a lover of action movies, to fall in love with the 13 year old boy known as Naruto who was fighting with all of his heart to save his friendship with his teammate, Sasuke (said Sahs-kay). Once I learned that Naruto, the anime was based on the manga, I went to my library and borrowed as many as I could find that were in numerical order. Soon, however, I had surpassed my library's content and had become disatisfied with waiting for Cartoon Network to air the next episode instead of replaying what they had already shown. This is when Joseph told me that I could watch Naruto online. The only catch to watching it online - the episodes were in Japanese with English subtitles. Bring it on! I've been watching the subtitled episodes ever since and haven't looked back once. Now when I see Naruto on TV it honestly annoys me to hear an American voice because all of the characters are Japanese to me.

Through the years Naruto has grown up and now he's the lead character in Naruto Shippuuden the next "series" in Naruto's life. Once Shippuuden started being released in the manga volumes that are published in the U.S., Joseph and I made the decision to purchase the volumes. I know those of you who visit my blog on Mondays have seen my dedication to the manga this year. What you may not know is that Volume 47 is the last volume published in the U.S. so far. Volume 48 isn't due out until June 2010. Thankfully, there are fansites for crazies like me where other fans post the Japanese editions of the manga online and translate them for non-japanese speaking people. yay!

Anyway, since the next volume of Naruto won't be available until June, I needed to find a different manga for my "fix". That's where Tsubasa came in.

is the story of princess who has lost her memory. Her best friend and two others take her on a journey through time and space searching for her lost memories. Each world they stop in brings a new adventure.

Now, you may be saying, "That's all well and good, Hannah, but why should I read manga? Isn't it just a comic book?"

Yes...kinda. I don't read typical comic books. They aren't interesting to me. But manga has managed what comics never could. Manga SHOWS me the action. It illustrates the movement, the sound, and the descriptions that authors take pages to convey in general fiction. When you read manga you have to observe. The actual words in the manga are usually only dialogue. If you don't observe all of the pictures you might miss a very integral part of the story. I suppose it's the same way with regular comic books, but manga tells a continuing story where all the comics that I've read tend to be short, separate, stories. Anyway, back to observation. When you read manga you have to be prepared to experience a story in a way that a normal printed book could never express. In manga you SEE what the author sees when they write the book. You become immersed in the culture of the book more easily because you don't have to imagine the intricacies of the clothes, the buildings, the landscapes, or the characters themselves.
Granted, imagination is something every person should never give up forever, but manga is a wonderful way to stretch your imagination in ways it may not be used to while also giving it (your imagination) a little bit of a vacation.

It is my goal to expand my manga horizons this year. Before this week I had never read any manga other than Naruto and now that I've found Tsubasa I'm beginning to realize how much I've missed out on the past few years.

One last point before you go. Manga is written for almost every genre. Just because I read action/fantasy doesn't mean that's all there is. There are manga romance, action/adventure, fantasy, paranormal, sports and games, historical drama, horror, mystery, science-fiction...you name it. Now, for titles of manga that you can try out...go here then follow the title links to short summaries of the manga. When you've chosen the manga you want to begin your adventure with, would you mind taking the time to come back here to let me know what it is? I'm gonna need a new series to read soon. I've only got 5 more books left of Tsubasa from the library before I have to track down the next volume in the bookstore or online.


Alicia said...

Ethan is addicted to his Zelda manga, but, sadly, the library doesn't have them, so he's having to save up his money for each one.

Rachel Lynn said...

Thanks for defining "manga." I was a little clueless. =)

Becky said...

Reading your post was intriguing, thanks for spelling it out for us in such an interesting way

dArLyN said...

that's a good effort and a brilliant idea hannah!

Gwen said...

I knew that I should have scrolled down before I asked you what I did in that last comment!

Going through that about.com page and seeing what my library has...

Gwen said...

Okay girl, I went to the library and got my first manga. There were so many to choose from, but I wanted to find one that had the first volume.

I ended up with Sorcerers & Secretaries. Don't laugh, it wasn't as girly as some of the titles! I will let you know how it goes:)