Manga and Japanese Anime – An Education That Is 25 Years Overdue

Manga and Anime

Manga and Japanese Anime – An Education That Is 25 Years Overdue

I know first hand that trying to dive into Japanese Anime or Manga can be difficult for a newcomer. When I think of superheroes and villains, my mind immediately races to the costumed variety. You know? Superman, Thanos, Batman, Darkseid, Wolverine, and all the others. Manga, however, is different. I couldn’t tell you a single one. I grew up learning the world of Anime and Manga from shows such as Pokémon, Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, and if not on television, then on the Playstation’s Final Fantasy 7.

As good as this is (a clean slate), I find myself taken back by the sheer volume of books, characters, and storylines. And once I get past this, which on occasion I can’t, the next hurdle is where to begin. Name any Marvel character and I’ll tell you where you should begin reading them. Manga? Anime? Not a chance. I utilize the usually ever-so-friendly counter staff at my local comic shop to point me in the right direction. I will admit that this often leaves me with more questions and confusions than when I began. However, at least at this point, I’m on a track that will hopefully address these as I read. 

Diversity

I’ll admit it. I missed the boat years ago when Manga and Japanese Anime began to take off in Canada. Instead of embracing a new trend, I balked and looked down at it. I suppose I did this out of sheer ignorance but hey, that’s what and who I was. The stuff is beautiful.

The stuff is beautiful. 

The art is unlike anything in comics, the storylines are complex and deep, and the dialogue often leaves nothing to be desired. And the most amazing part is that through all of these, they genre doesn’t seem to lose any of the homegrown characteristics that have made it what it is. I can’t say the same from Marvel or DC. It seems that more and more, these two North America juggernauts spend more time watering down their work than feeding it.

I look at the bevy of creators (artists, inkers, and writers) doing the work and I can’t help but wonder why more of them aren’t doing their own stuff. It’s no wonder why my brother, Joel has begun to shy away from mainstream popularity and jumped into the Indie scene more.  Like Manga and Anime, the flair is there. 

Appeal

The simple answer?

The character development when they take a character and you see the transformation. Not from one or two comics they extend the in-depth to what makes the character so important.

It’s unbelievable, yet believable all at the same time. The character development when they take a character and you see the transformation. Not from one or two comics they extend the in-depth to what makes the character so important.

These story’s don’t seem to be driven by the overkilled hero vs villain theme that we find in North America. Real stories with real issues are presented. And the best part is that I can predict with certainty that I can’t predict what will happen. It’s not like each time Wolverine and Sabretooth battle and Wolverine wins. It’s so much different.

Above that, the characters development seems to be top notch. Like a well fleshed-out movie, after reading a few books, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. The resonated with me on a level so much deeper than I have had in a long time. And it’s this very characteristic that keeps me coming back for more.

Emotion

The books have an uncanny way of conveying emotion. 

When the “hero” sets out on a mission or begins to explain their philosophies on life, they have a way to make the reader either empathize or sympathize with them in a way that traditional North America mainstream comics often fail to do. Now, before you become upset, remember, I am not referring to Indie or creator-owned comics. They do an amazing job of this. I am more so referring to the “Big 2” publishers.

And it’s not that there is anything wrong with what they do. It’s more that sometimes it’s nice to be able to connect on a deeper level with what I’m reading. It’s nice to know that what they are feeling is occasionally the same thing that I’m feeling. 

I remember ( and don’t persecute my experience) the day I watched Aries die in Final Fantasy 7. I was moved more on this day that I have ever been. I suddenly understood what power simple characters, creators, and storylines could have over me. That video game changed my life. 

…And then they created a movie about it. 

Second chance

This is where I find myself today. If this is what people view as a strong case to give Manga or Japanese Anime a chance. Then I have turned a blind eye for so long and this time open them to see such a possibility that this world is if not better. Everyone is always given a chance so it’s my turn to dive into such a unique and eclectic group of wonderful stories.

I have opened my heart up to giving Manga and Japanese Anime the chance that each should have gotten 25 years ago. Thus far, my journey has been not only memorable but rewarding as well. I look forward to my continuing education and if you have any recommendations or must-reads for me, please tell me below.

Cheers,

Jeff

  • The world needs more heroes and I intend to give it to them. Now, I'm not talking about comic book superheroes, although that would be amazing. No, I'm talking about people like you and I who need to take control of their life and make a difference in the lives of others. This is my mission in life.