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MANGA: Parents Just Don’t Understand!

Chances are, if you’re reading this, your kids are crazy about Japanese comic books and animation. They’re probably begging you to buy them the next book or DVD that you’ve never heard of. “What’s going on here?!” you might ask yourself. “We’re Americans! Why do my kids love this Japanese stuff?”

Hopefully, I can help make a little sense of the appeal of Japanese comics. I am a comic book artist and Manga fan that lived in Japan for 2 years. My wife is Japanese and after several years of studying I can say that I’m pretty good at speaking the language. Whether you’re a parent or just someone interested in what all the fuss is about, I will do my best to explain.

First of all, the word Manga means comic book in Japanese. Most Manga are a lot smaller in size than American comic books but each issue’s length will be about 200 pages per compared to our 24-32. In Japan, these long comic books are put out every month! You usually have one main artist who gets top credit for the penciled and inked art (usually the writing of the story too) but don’t be fooled. It would be impossible for one person to do all of the work on a 200 page comic book each month. Trust me, as a comic artist myself, I know. The majority of Manga-ka (comic book artists) in Japan have several assistants working with them. They usually take care of drawing backgrounds and inking panels on all of the pages.

Before living in Japan, I thought that Japanese comic artists never slept! I had no idea that they usually have between 3-5 assistants at one time. Yes, they still have to work hard to keep on schedule but they are not the robots I once thought they were! Why are their comic books so long? Manga is meant to be read quickly as an escape from everyday life. I was amazed to see so many Japanese businessmen on trains reading เว็บคอมมิค on the way from work. Students reading Manga during class (I know that’s hard to believe for some of you!). The stories usually focus on dynamic action, drama or off beat humor.

I felt very strange living in a society where everything runs smoothly and people are serious about following rules and respecting others. In a place where what’s good for the group is better than what’s good for an individual, reading Manga seemed to be one thing people could do to just please themselves. People of all ages from 7-87 read comic books in Japan. The comic book stories are much more creative than what is done in America. There are few rules in what kind of story or how crazy an idea should be in Manga.

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