A History of Japanese Manga...and Japanese Tendencies

Ah. The Japanese Manga, or Japanese comic. They are dissimilar in style from their Western counterparts: comic books. Comic books that are not short on colorful pages of super heroes, heroines, villains, and an extra dose of testosterone -- all taking place in action packed and enthralling scenarios. However, one major difference between the two styles of comics is that Japanese Manga is read from the right to the left. And when people think of Manga, they often associate it with Cos-play. As the Information Age swung into full swing, scanlation groups begin to walk a slippery slope -- however, they were not put on ice just yet. The problem stemmed from some of the more obscure Manga not seeing a postmortem release in the states after being published in Japan. My personal history with Manga dates back to being a child and falling in love with the characters and artwork. I wanted to imitate these characters in my own artwork.

There was quality work going into each character and chapter. And as I read them, with each impulse leading me to flip to the next page as I tried to keep up with jonses, so to say. Well, I said I tried. Its actually rather bleak, as I could easily get possessed by a series -- morbidly obsessed by it. A long time ago, I picked up my first Manga after being hooked on anime shows for years. Shows such as Dragon Ball Z. Yu Yu Hakasho, Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, Blue Gender, Cowboy Bebop, Fooly Cooly and many more shows would keep me interested in the industry. Another Anime show for kids: Pokemon saw high ratings and rose to prominence here in the states in the nineties, with its abundance and range of merchandise. It was cool to watch these shows and relate to the characters...sorta. The beautiful black and white colors seap at the seams in an engrossing world with relatible characters. Manga originated in Japan back in the 1950's, but was popularized by Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, which was published in 1952. Read more.

Manga would soon gain even more traction over the years, well into the 70's and 80's. And with its roots settled in the late 18th century, manga was termed whimsical  drawings. The industry itself is worth over five billion dollars. With genres ranging from science fiction romance, action adventure -- and Shonen manga -- manga aimed towards the male demographic, typically ages 10 and up.  The Shonen line of Manga include such titles as Naruto, Bleach, Hunter X Hunter, Soul Eater, Yu-Gi-Oh, Air Gear, Full Metal Alchemist and so on. In my younger years, some of the manga that had an impact on me growing up included predominately Shonen manga such as Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakasho, Inuyasha -- BOO-HOO (I never did get to finish the series;) Deathnote, Bleach and Naruto as well. So what's this mean in the grand scheme of things to a curious mind like yours, whom has never heard of Japanese Manga?

Well put on your reading glasses, sir..ma'am and I'll be happy to illustrate to you some of the more finer..edger points of the culture with a short history in Japanese Tendencies. PANTY SHOTS: there's a tendency in Japanese culture, as young school girls parade around with the panty shot. BIG BREASTS: big breasts has been synonymous with power in Japanese Manga, as evident by, and they are even more plump and animated on-screen. SPKIEY HAIR: the spikey hair doo of Japanese Manga must be inherit in the music culture in Japan, as well as older movies. Mangaka such as Akira Toriyama -- the creator of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z has stated that he mirrored his characters after western images with blonde hair, and blue or green eyes to appeal to Americans. UNDERAGE KIDS SAVING THE WORLD: a classic cliche. The kids are our future after all. There are many more tendencies that you can associate with Manga. But, let's illustrate further; and here's a draft of my very own Sci Fi Epic entitled: "The Darkest Days."

Its not a final piece of work by any stretch of the imagination, however it is a more according to the times Sci-Fi inspired manga.

" It was dark as night,then pitch black. I could still feel the white hot flashing light pressing up against my face, as I begin to fade in and out of consciousness. I woke up confused and disoriented. Just Two Hours before then: " I had to get away that day, I said to my. "The preceding explosion that night would alter my life for the worst." As we made our through the lime lights of the distance street lights, I thought to myself the city looked beautiful at night and that I wanted to bring my family here one day. Earlier that day, me and my squad had training with the our instructor: Blake. Blake was a good guy, and he did let us out earlier that same day. After all, it was the gracious day that was heart felt to me and my comrades: our Inauguration Day. We then made our way to Carla's Den. Carla was known for her den, if not  anything else.

We got to the point of no return as me and my comrades were sworn into the city's Delta Force: a group of elite, as we reminisced  back to our days as enlistees. We had to drop our beer...and hats, as we headed home. "Joe had a great time I see! Wait till I tell his wife about this, she's going to be so jealous, I said to the fellas." "Bwahaha" -- BOOM! In an instance, me and the fellas were tugged to the ground clinging as the city rattled. An EXPLOSION! Joe grumbled under the drunken order of his breath. I quickly helped the guys move to safety. The city was in a state of emergency, and as the impeding traffic and crowds of people trampled over each other towards our position, our squad was quickly separated. I possessed a key to a weapons locker with stashed guns and ammunition, but I would meet with much resistance on the way to it. I headed to it. My eyes darted all over the place as I eyeballed the destruction of the city, and I could not believe I was witness to this. My palms begin to tremble; I begin to sweat profusely; and all I wanted to do was curl up in my bed. 

The cars were engulfed in flame and the heat beared upon my face. I had to get my head straight and remember my duty and service to the citizens. I quickly shaked off any fears, but had more doubts as I walked through the once beautiful metropolis booming with a very healthy robotics industry, beautiful architectures, and lots of small businesses. I insisted to my family that this was the right career move for me, although there were high volumes of violent and petty crimes. This is the line of work that my father took before he was murdered by unknown assailants and I had to uncover the truth of his death. "I just wanted to see my family one last time." I made my way to a Zip-A-Line -- a rocket propelled public transportation vehicle that runs on a line all throughout the city. Just when I thought I had reached some safe haven, I shrieked as glass bottles of Future Cola were thrown at me (I still had to get to the weapons locker, I thought to myself.) It shattered on my face.

I was bleeding. Just my dumb luck, I mumbled to myself. In my haste to get to some form of transportation, I happened to run straight into the largest gang in the city: B.A.M. B.A.M was well known for violence acts of terrorism, and they got away with it because they corrupted the police force around the city. Rumor has it that certain top Delta Force officials had been corrupted as well. I was just minutes away from the weapons locker and all I could think was: " how was I going to pull this off!?" I didn't have time to think on my feet or contemplate the size and scope of the situation before I decided to bolt it. I was however stopped mid-step in my tracks by a very husky voice. I turned around to come face to face with a tall, muscular and middle aged man. His hair and goatee were dark brown, and he had oval shaped eyes that shimmered as they gleamed emerald green. There was no doubt about it! He was their charismatic leader: Jeter. He cracked the most devilish grin at me and simply said: "I know who you are." He knows who I am? I thought to myself. "Yes, I know who you are, soldier Jamison."

I replied: "I am with the city's Delta Force! Do Not Move any Closer!" He continued to press towards me brandishing a firearm -- I couldn't hear his footsteps at first, but as he loomed closer, the reality of my situation was felt. Three things swirled around in my head: I didn't have any weapons on me, I was surrounded by B.A.M, and I had no escape. What Will Happen to our Hero?! To Be Continued..Anime and Manga would soon fall prey to bootlegging and piracy as the industries grew more popular in other countries such as the United States. Anime which was not dubbed often saw it subtitled a couple of days after its Japanese broadcast. Scanlation groups translate the "Raw" Japanese Manga -- an original, unaltered copy of the Manga and disseminate through through their own community websites. I remember reading the official English translated volumes at my local Barnes and Noble as a teenager in downtown Brooklyn on Court Street.

I bought a few volumes for myself and reveled in finally being able to sit down and read the English translations, and compare the quality. What's funny is that back then the comics read from right to left and from top to bottom just like the originals. I suppose as a tribute to the source material. I read volumes of Astro Boy, Yu Yu Hakasho and Inuyasha. Manga is generally thought to be printed in black and white ink, however publishing companies such as Viz Media, which is well known in the states erects full colored pages in volumes after a story arc was completed. Funimation is best known for dubbing hit anime shows in the states. Although, some of the studio's dubbing quality and voice acting has been criticized. Bandai-Namco, the video game publisher is best known for publishing video games based on top Anime such as the recently released Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 video game. It was released for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.

Scanlation groups usually work amongst a community they serve. They scan the raw copies and send them to a translator. The translator translates the manga without any other omissions -- omissions or errors that may be present in western translations. In all the humdrum, it could also be argued that scanlation popularize more obscure manga. Well it does expedite the process of selecting which Manga to bring to the states, a leading publisher states. However, some other publishers and Mangaka -- Japanese comic writers argue otherwise; and believe that scanlation groups are hurting the industry. As scanlation groups faced allegations of piracy and criticisms in full view of the Information Age, they treaded the grey areas of legality by actually owning the original copy of the Japanese Manga they translated.

The Subculture that would also be influenced by Manga included Cos-Players. Cos-players are a collective bunch of admirers and fans of the Anime that they portray. Cos-play as a subculture has seen success dating back to the 90's. And the popularity of the subculture has popularized other areas of the industry. Cos-play utilize creativity and a lot of tape, as well as wigs, contact lenses and other accessories. And if you're even morbidly obsessed with Anime or Manga, then you've probably heard the term Otaku thrown around, and there are over Two Million Otakus living in Japan right now. Otaku as a subculture refers to anyone even morbidly obsessed with Anime and Manga. Is it okay to be a geek yet? Don't bet on it, but that might be an irrelevant question, as information on the internet becomes just information to be assimilated, and not information to be stratified. The Manga industry and its popularity continues well into the new decade.

Scanlation groups have made Manga more readily available to to international fans, but they also threaten to diminish the value of the Manga's, as well as international business. And as the subcultures become more linked to the industry, we have more ways to experience the things we cherish mostly: A cozy setting and a good Japanese Manga.   

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