So a while back we participated in something called the Manga Olympics for Bloggers. What it amounted to was Sam and I writing up a storm of manga-specific posts about whatever struck our fancy in a give week. Turns out we did pretty swimmingly:
If you want to see who all participated (some very solid blogs were in the competition), check here.
If you started reading this blog because of the MOB and are feeling the lack of Manga-related material of late, well, mea culpa. But we do have a couple of things in the pipeline over the next several weeks.*
I had been a fan of the Nodame Cantabile manga for a good 2 years when, in 2010, the manga unceremoniously ended for health reasons of the author. When this happened, I raged. I had had so many hopes for where the manga was going, what it could do with all the characters and the relationships still underdeveloped, to say nothing of the fact that the main couple had yet to perform together on an international stage together. All this potential greatness was being wasted. And I stewed on that for a while, and I realized that it didn’t matter.*
So I’ve been reading Adachi Mitsuru’s Touch in the past couple of weeks. My opinions on it are more or less publicrecord. The original reason I got started on it was to do a serious rundown of all the baseball series I knew of (since talking about baseball manga without mentioning Touch would be like talking about great basketball players and not mentioning Bill Russell). However, an interesting theme constantly showed up in that manga that I’ve seen in another series, Space Brothers.* Namely, both series focus on a relationship between two talented brothers who take their talents in different directions. And both do a fascinating job of exploring what caused those brothers to walk their separate paths.
I’ve mentioned before how I often I see misconceptions about shojo manga in my group of anime-fan friends. The most common misconception that pops up is that shojo is a one-note genre (rather than a demographic, which it is by definition), but a close second is the assumption that female fans are a small minority among those that follow anime. While that’s somewhat true in Japan, it couldn’t be further from the truth in America. Indeed, female fans may make up the majority of manga buyers in the United States. So why so few shojo anime? I’ve got a take on that.
I’ve been writing about shonen for the past 2 weeks of this competition, and Keima only knows if I’ll make it out of the first round, so I might as well use the freedom I’ve got to coin a term that’s been percolating in my head for a while and talk about seinen (and some shonen, as well) while people are listening. I’ve taken to calling some manga Mid-Major because they’re great in a way that screams “improbable” and “unsustainable”, but because of that are even more fun to watch than consistently great ones. Clearly not top-tier, but clearly blessed with enough potential to make a little legend, like Dunk City FGCU demolishing Georgetown in this year’s NCAA Tourney.* There’s an appeal to watching the little engine that could suddenly transform into a giant robot and dropkick a galaxy, and nowhere (other than sports) does this phenomenon happen more often than in the world of monthly manga.
Manga in Japan can be hard to break into, and most manga take time to become big sellers. That is why it is always amazing when the first volumes of certain series do so well so quickly. In the past year, there have been many big starts, with one of them being:
All the girls want him. All the guys want to be him. In fact, literally everybody at school does. He’s Sakamoto. Whether it’s cooking, writing, studying, or anything else, he is the best at it. From writing with two hands at the same time to being able to sit on a chair even when it has been pulled out from underneath him, he is seemingly able to do *anything. No wonder he’s one of the most talked about people in school! But what happens when people interact with Sakamoto? And what does Sakamoto do to them?
I’m a tremendous fan of battle series that play with creative power systems. So I was ecstatic when, some 5 years ago now, a new fantasy adventure manga about a couple who needed to hold hands constantly or perish called Double Arts arrived on the scene. I was equally devastated when, half a year later, Weekly Shonen Jump’s ruthless management killed the series dead immediately after some of the best introductory chapters of manga I’d ever read. I was younger then and didn’t realize that there were thousands of amazing manga I’d never even be able to read in my lifetime, so I was all kinds of devastated.
This whole affair was my introduction to one Komi Naoshi, a multiclass genius of a manga author who handily survived Double Arts’ cancellation and is currently set to break the anime barrier with an adaptation of two-years-young Weekly Shonen Jump (hereafter WSJ) manga Nisekoi. He’s also one of the few personalities in manga or anime who gets exponentially cooler the more I read about him. If you don’t currently have the afternoon’s worth of time to check out his entire mangaography (something I wholly endorse), then you might as well read this column.
Last week for the shonen/seinen bracket, I wrote about how shonen manga cleverly taught kids a variety of fairly useful life lessons. I originally wanted to start the shojo/josei series the same way, but the “shonen/seinen/shojo/josei is not a genre” frustration stuck me at the right time and before I knew it I had an article. But there’s plenty of juice left in this battery, and 2 weeks left in the first round of competition. Let’s get to it.
There’s one theme I’ve noticed which shows up a lot in shojo manga (and still quite often in josei manga). Call it peer adversity, bullying, social stress, or whatever, but it’s fairly common for the lead character in manga targeted towards women to be on the receiving end of nasty treatment by her peers. They way different characters respond is a study in variety, and while my experience with shojo manga is by no means exhaustive, what I see shows me a medium with a mission of teaching women young and old how to cope and fight back.