Manga - Japanese Comic Book Era
Manga is a Japanese word which when translated to English
becomes "comic book." When referring to
manga, anyone not from Japan is
talking of a Japanese comic book. These are cartoons drawn and published on
paper. Like in the U.S. with Superman and Spiderman,
manga in Japan has its
Osamu Tezuka is referred to as the god of manga. He created Astro Boy, following from the inspiration of Walt Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Bambi. You can see the inspiration in his characters' large eyes that allows the artist to show much expressive emotions within the story line.
Tezuka created the genre known as Mecha, which is fictional machinery and robots in humanoid form. The animated forms of manga have become very popular in the anime arena, but they began as comic books.
Any manga-ka (manga writer) enjoys portraying the fantasy world, and the popular comics show regular people doing ordinary things but enter other attributes that make the character special. Ordinary teens will come home from school, do their homework, run errands, etc, but at the same time, you will discover they have some special power, friends that are unusual or who are not from this world or other fantasy traits that make the story come alive. Manga are like novels, which have characters that stay consistent for the most part, but change like any person who moves through life and has different experiences. They grow in knowledge and expand on their philosophy and change from episode to episode due to this growth and learning.
Manga started as early as 1914 in Japan with cartoon drawings becoming popular and increasing in popularity in 1918. In 1951 it really took off with the Astro Boy creation, and exploded into anime a few years later.
One popular manga is Dragon Head that consists of three books. In this series, three high-school students are the only survivors after the train they are on wrecks and kills hundreds of their classmates. They are buried in the train within a collapsed tunnel and have little hope of rescue. With true visual storytelling, the creator of the series, Minetaro Mochizuki, achieves excitement and dread as the reader progresses.
Perhaps a manga already a best seller is one entitled Phoenix Volume One: Dawn. Osamu Tezuka created Phoenix and this famous illustrator and storyteller stretches the story from the dawn of Japanese history through into the far future. In a wonderful blend of myth, fantasy and historical accuracies, he has made a story that is profound, and as it goes forward, the reader will find deep meanings within.
There is also Naruto, a manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. There is an anime adaptation as well. The main character is an unpredictable and hyperactive teenage ninja who is always searching for approval. He strives to become the leader of all the ninja in his village. This manga was published first in 1999, but is still at the top of the manga list, with about 46,000 people looking for the term monthly in the most popular search engines.
Is manga popular? The answer is a most definite YES. Around 131,000 manga lovers search for the term each month on the Internet, and this is growing in leaps and bounds. Of a certain polled group, it was found that a little over 33% had over 15 gigs of manga on the hard drive of their computer. Yes, it is certainly popular and no signs of it slowing down.
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