Manga! Manga!

What are manga and why are they so popular? ASNYCNOW’s Arts/Literature Editor Ruth Paget answers some of these questions in her review of Frederik L. Schodt’s Manga! Manga! and invites readers to peruse the book for more fun details.

U.S. bookstores did not always have sprawling manga sections and crowds of teens and adults reading manga from right-to-left. The fact that we do now is in part responsible to Frederik L. Schodt’s classic book from 1983 entitled Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics (Kodansha International, 1983).

In the book’s Foreward, manga and anime superstar Osamu Tezuka laments that in the 1980s “information about Japan’s vast comics culture is hardly available in the West” (p.10) due to language, Japanese subject matter, and the reversed reading patterns. Tezuka credits Japanese animation with paving the way for manga by creating interest in comic books about favorite characters such as Tezuka’s own Kimba, the White Lion andAstroboy.

Schodt, who translated several manga including Tezuka’s The Phoenix, opens Manga! Manga! with photos of manga books that are thicker than the San Francisco telephone book. Manga began as a children’s art form, but as children matured and became adults they still wanted to read stories in the comic book format with adult subject matter. Schodt affirms that in the 1980s, manga had “as much to say about life as novels or films.” (p.14)

READ MORE: Manga! Manga! review