No.159 (3/12/10)

Manga -- Japanese Comic Books

By Chiho Tsukiashi
Staff Writer

Visitors from overseas used to feel it was weird to see Japanese businessmen reading comic books on commuter trains. But that's all in the past. Japanese comic books or manga are now universally regarded as popular subculture for all ages. The word gmangah is becoming internationally recognized as well. Many manga have been translated into English and other foreign languages to respond to the global demand.

Comic books are deeply rooted in Japanese culture. A cartoonist has always been a popular profession that children want to become in the future. Boys, girls, and some adults look forward to reading their favorite manga magazines published weekly or monthly. Jump, Korokoro, Chiao, Ribbon, and Morning are just a few of them. They contain around twenty serial stories by different cartoonists. Each title is eventually published as an independent book. There are nine manga which have been sold over 100 million books: One Piece, Dragon Ball, Kochi-kame, Slam Dunk, Case Closed, Oishinbo, Draemon, Golgo 13, and Patariro. Such bestsellers are animated and/or dramatized for television or movies.

The subjects of manga are broad and there seems to be no limitation: Romance, action, sports, historical drama, comedy, horror, you name it. There are even some educational manga that parents like to buy for their children. When I was 7 years old, my father bought me a manga titled, gThe Wonder of Birds,h which taught me great deal about birds, such as the archaeopteryx, an extinct bird, and how they fly. A new genre, gessay manga,h has been popular among women lately. It depicts a cartoonistfs personal experiences of raising children, marriage, travel, etc. According to G.L.A. Kaigai Marketing (, comedy and fantasy manga are popular in the U.S. The following manga are the top five: 1. Naruto, 2. Berserk, 3. Pokemon, 4. Fruit Basket, 5. Vampire Knight.

Have you ever wondered about that big gSuper Freaksh sign on Route 45 in Hachinohe? It is a manga and internet cafe. They charge 294 yen for first 30 minutes and 105 yen for additional 15 minutes. Customers can read comic books, surf the Internet, play darts, watch videos, sing karaoke, and eat and drink. (Karaoke and food are additionally charged. No English service.)

In October, Tokyo International Manga Library was partially opened, as Meiji University's facility. Manga, animation, and game related items are exhibited. Bilingual staff is always stationed. The whole library will be completed in 2014.

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