Japanese Manga

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Japanese Manga

Postby MithLuin » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:08 pm

While searching through the past 12 pages of this forum, I realized we didn't have much discussion of this. So, I thought I'd see if anyone else was interested. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, manga is the graphic novel version of anime. If that still doesn't help...Japanese comics?

I am only interested in one series myself - Fullmetal Alchemist. But this thread is open to discussion of all manga.

I started reading FMA last fall, and find the series really interesting. There is plenty of action, but the plot doesn't depend too heavily on it. It is as much about accepting death and the bonds of brotherhood as anything else. All of the characters are seeking redemption in some way, so even the good guys are as likely as not guilty of serious war crimes (like genocide or human experimentation). I've never read a manga series before, so I can't compare it to others, but I must say that I was impressed with how well emotion and action are conveyed in so few lines.

Image

It is sad that a new chapter comes out every month...that's often enough to keep me interested, but still very slow. There are currently 79 chapters in the series; the first 61 have been translated into English and published in the US (in 15 volumes).
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Postby truehobbit » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:17 pm

I sometimes look at mangas at the bookshop, trying to figure out why people are so fascinated with them, and I do see they are trying to be emotionally intense, but they are so in a facile way that just puts me off.
They are to books what TV-series tend to be to feature films, IMO.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily the same for all stories. I've never even followed a story from beginning to end, just seen single scenes.

Most of the time, the trouble to catch the order of events is too big for my taste and I lose interest almost immediately (but I realise that this is also the problem grown-ups had with comics when they first came out, so I might just be too old for mangas).

I also wonder why the fact that so many of them are in black-and-white doesn't put people off?

So, in general, I'd be curious to hear what it is that catches people's attention and interest. :)
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Re: Japanese Manga

Postby pat457 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:10 pm

MithLuin wrote:While searching through the past 12 pages of this forum, I realized we didn't have much discussion of this. So, I thought I'd see if anyone else was interested. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, manga is the graphic novel version of anime.


You've got it upside down. Many (but not all) anime usually started out as manga (though recently, many anime with non-manga origins started popping up). Then, if that title was popular, animation studios usually start picking these titles up and turn them into an animated form.

Heck, manga seems to be more on the mainstream and is more known here in Japan than anime.
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Postby Master Samwise » Wed Feb 06, 2008 10:42 pm

Until I looked it up just now, I thought that the manga for FMA came AFTER the anime in this one instance. I was wrong. I honestly prefer the anime over the manga. It's more of a contained story.

But, that being said, FMA is definitely not one of the top mangas I've read.

My recommendations are: One Piece (it's long, but so far one of the best stories I've read), Naruto (stereotypical, but can be simply awesome at times), and Bleach (the most schizophrenic of the mangas listed because there are boring crappy parts, and then there are simply awesome chapters).

If you're going to read just one other than FMA, go with Bleach. It's probably the most accessible, as it is the least far along, and has some awesome characters in it (Zaraki Kenpachi is pure badass, for instance).



My major gripe with each of the series

One Piece: Luffy going gear 2nd, gear 3rd, etc. Feels like DBZ characters going super saiyan.

Naruto: the lack of plot movement at times

Bleach: same as Naruto, but moreso because when the plot moves, it's so much better than when Naruto's plot moves. It's like a bigger difference between going and stopping.



The thing that keeps me coming back to each:

One Piece: the connection between the crew-mates and utter dedication to each other. Plus, it's an engaging storyline with multiple plots going on at once.

Naruto: the main character is endearing, and ninjas are simply cool. plus, the author has made a point of actually killing off some main characters, so you never know who's safe.

Bleach: once in it, it's like quicksand. the more you struggle to get out, the more you're enveloped with the story and characters. plus, some of the powers of the characters are pretty interesting and visually appealing (take, for instance, Captain Kurotsuchi's power for the "interesting" side, and Captain Kuchiki for "visually appealing")
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Postby lithorose » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:22 pm

I'm busy collecting FMA and Bleach mangas. I've also got a few for Trigun, but my Japanese isn't quite up to snuff and I haven't bought them in English yet.

Mith- have you seen the FMA anime? I have to admit to getting a little confused between the two, because they start going such different directions. But I love Arakawa's sense of humor. She's so wacky!

Bleach I've read totally out of order, and much as with Fullmetal, I love the humor in it. I also think Kubo Tite's a stellar artist, and it's been interesting to see the style evolve over the issues.

The black and white doesn't bother me. I'm more concerned about the artist's style and the story being told. If I don't like the style (pay attention, ALL western comics makers!), I won't read it, in spite of how good people say it is. And before anyone accuses me of being shallow (who, me?), I'll add that graphics are a big part of the story, otherwise, why illustrate it at all?

Other than that, I'm not well read in manga. It's rather, hm, expensive? $10 a pop for a book that lasts an hour. Fortunately I can get a fair number of them used, but some titles are so hot that you can only find them new.
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Postby MithLuin » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:43 pm

Oh, sorry pat - I didn't mean to imply that. I know mangas come first, just as usually the book comes first, then the movie. I'm not sure if Æon Flux would count as anime, but if so...there is no manga for it. I realize that manga is mainstream in Japan, but in the US it's definitely a subculture/subgenre (albeit a popular one).

Hobby, they aren't for everyone, of course. If you don't like the look and style of storytelling, then...oh well?

Maybe some of them are just light-hearted entertainment. But they don't remind me of comic books at all. The only comics I really read were Calvin and Hobbes, and those (like most comics) are just 'shorts' - there may be a plot that continues for a few pages, but for the most part it's a bunch of stand-alone stories.

Manga are not like that - they have an overarching storyline, and each chapter contributes to it. Some chapters focus on backstory, or minor characters, but it all ties back into the original.

Why the appeal? For me...I like the story and the characters of FMA very much. The world is richly imagined, and slowly revealed. You gradually learn more and more about who people are and why they do what they do. I would not be interested in any story (regardless of format) if the characters and 'point' didn't engage me at all. I like the humor, I like the complexity, and I like the moral quandries that are raised. What other story would dare to have good guys who are guilty of genocide or terrorism?

The over-the-top emotions are fun. If someone is excited, there is a burst of roses in the background and their eyes get big and starry. When people shout, their teeth get jagged and their eyes turn black. But that doesn't happen all the time - there are plenty of panels where the characters appear normally and the dialogue is serious.


I've seen about half the anime of FMA, and I've read all the manga that is currently available. I prefer the sprawling storyline of the manga, to be honest. I think she has done a good job with introducing details towards a final end, and everything has been unique and interesting. lithorose - I get it from my library...much more affordable ;).

With Color :P
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Postby GwenElf » Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:51 am

Our old library had a small manga collection, but our new one, to my knowledge, doesn't have any, so my stock is rather small. Like lithorose said, they're really expensive. I usually wait until I have a book store coupon and then buy them one at a time. Given that some series only release a new volume every few months, it at least gives the impression of not spending as much money.. ;)

I've not read the FMA manga but I've seen the entire anime and it's amazing. Ed is my hero. Well, maybe not, but he's still awesome. :D

My first manga was Rurouni Kenshin; a friend showed me the RK movie and got me interested enough to go off and buy the first manga; it's a 28-volume series, finished, and I have all of them. The plot line is fairly linear, but the characters and their interaction are great, and Kenshin's constant internal struggle between his past as an assassin and his new vow never to kill again really carries the series well. And come on, who doesn't like cute, short, red-haired swordsmen who say "Oro?" when they're confused? :)

Right now I'm reading D.Gray-man, a story about exorcists trying to recollect a substance called "innocence" in order to battle the Clan of Noah (yes, that Noah). It starts out a bit slowly and cliche (clichely? is that an adverb?), but it's gotten a lot better, and the bad guys have personalities and motives, which, for me, is infinitely better than Unnamed Unseen Bad Guy Trying to Take Over the World.

I'm also reading W Juliet, which involves some of the very popular cross-dressing in order to pass as a member of the opposite sex. I'm on book 4 and am not sure whether or not I'll keep reading... so far, a lot of the same stuff has happened over and over in different settings.

My dad is firmly in the anti-manga/anime camp because he just doesn't get "cartoons." In his view, at least as I understand him :P, if it's got pictures or is animated, it just can't be serious or have any value. I haven't found this to be the case at all for manga. They (often) have deeply-developed characters, plots, and themes that make you think more than just "hey, cool martial arts move!"

And like Mith said, yay for over-the-top emotions! Ed is short! =:)

Master Samwise-- Is Naruto really endearing in the manga? I've seen some of the anime, and he drives me nuts. Kakashi kept me interested, though. :D

lithorose--I completely agree with your style comment. There are some styles that I just can't get into, and when that becomes an impediment to reading, it's pretty much defeated its purpose.

And last... has anyone read Black Cat? A friend gave me the first three--didn't want them--and I can honestly say that this is the first story where the sudden incorporation of 'magic' turned me off to the story. (Perhaps it was because the same thing happens in Kenshin.) Any thoughts on it?
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Postby MithLuin » Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:39 am

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SHORT YOU'D NEED A MICROSCOPE TO SEE HIM?"

"Brother, she didn't say that...."

Yes, I recommend reading FMA ;).


There are always the online scanlations....fans translate the mangas from Japanese to English and scan them. Sometimes the translations are clunky, or overly literal (I guess - I don't know Japanese!), but they get the point across. It would probably be a good way to check out a series to see if you're interested in it before investing.

I'm not sure about the legalities, though :whistle: I mean, they are taking someone's work without permission, but they're not attempting to sell it. Probably still highly questionable.

MangaFox
OneManga

There's also eBay. I've seen mangas up there for considerably less than $10, but it is true that you're not likely to get the newer ones for those discounted prices. And shipping generally kills the deal. $4 book + $5 shipping isn't any better than buying it in the store! But, for instance, here's the 28 volumes of the Rurouni Kenshin series going for $68.

I'm just really lucky - our public library has a whole section for manga ;).
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Postby truehobbit » Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:54 pm

MithLuin wrote:Maybe some of them are just light-hearted entertainment. But they don't remind me of comic books at all. The only comics I really read were Calvin and Hobbes, and those (like most comics) are just 'shorts' - there may be a plot that continues for a few pages, but for the most part it's a bunch of stand-alone stories.

Manga are not like that - they have an overarching storyline, and each chapter contributes to it. Some chapters focus on backstory, or minor characters, but it all ties back into the original.


Oh, I see - maybe that makes a difference. For me, comics ARE full stories with engaging (well, for a kid ;) ) characters. We used to get those short, one-liner comics you guys get in newspapers very rarely - like a single one in the weekly TVguide. I've never thought of them as comics, even, just visual jokes.

The comics I used to read as a kid were mostly adventure stories; sure, silly ones from today's point-of-view, although generally also containing worthwhile morals (not to mention pretty good language at times :) ), and fairly realistically drawn.

For example:
pic1

pic2

So another feature of Mangas I can't get used to is the almost abstract manner of drawing people.

Although I did have the Japanese style in my comic reading - I think in the animated series (which often had comic books to go with them) of the 80s you can already see the first signs of Manga style, with its enormous eyes and virtually inexistent noses coming up.

pic3

Thanks for the insightful explanation of the appeal! I see what you mean by the gradual development of the story and the ambiguous characters. (Even though personally I have my doubts about someone with a history of genocide being a good person. ;) )
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Postby MithLuin » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:04 pm

Yes, I agree - "Crimes against Humanity" loom pretty large and would tarnish anyone's character.

But what if you joined the military, thinking that you would be able to do something to protect people and help your country, and then were ordered to fight in a conflict that turned into a bloodbath? If you aren't the one giving the orders or declaring war, how much of the carnage is your fault? What if you (for instance) only kill enemy soldiers, but the military you serve also targets women and children? What if you are told many people will die if you don't follow orders? And even if you are fairly guilty...does that mean you can't do anything to atone for it? If you kill people, is there any chance for redemption? Is it better to become a deserter if you are given lousy orders? Or should you 'eliminate' your superiors? Or should you try to change the system from within? [She creates characters who try all 3.]

I think that is a question worth asking.

And I like the way it is asked. You meet the characters, and see what their goals are now...without knowing any of the backstory. So, by the time you find out what their involvement in the war was, you already know their current reaction to such things...and what they plan to do to change the world. There are a couple of minor characters who are broken old doctors. At first, their gruffness seems like a show, but then you find out how much pain it covers...and it's easier to understand their attitudes towards being doctors.

There is only one soldier who enjoys his work in time of war, and he's quite clearly certifiably crazy. But at the same time - he's hard to argue with. His point is that, whatever your job is, you should do it well. And if you have a problem with killing lots of people...you should never have joined the military, knowing that that was part of the job description.


Ah, I see. We do have comic books like that, too - series like X-Men have sprawling stories. But they're....well, they're mostly just adventure stories, and they go on forever without any resolution. Of course, I haven't really read them, so I'm not sure I can speak too authoritatively on the topic ;). But for some reason, I don't consider manga to be quite as juvenile. I don't know why that is - it's clearly designed for teens. And plenty of the stories feature characters with superpowers or the like. (Alchemy is half-magic and half-science, but essentially it means some of the characters can clap their hands or snap their fingers and make things happen.)

I think the big eyes and no noses result because the parts of the face that reveal emotion are the shape of the mouth and the eyes. Noses are very unnecessary ;).

Image Image

(The second one is from a cover, so that's why it's color ;))
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Postby GwenElf » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:07 pm

Edit: Ninja'd by Mith!

truehobbit wrote:Thanks for the insightful explanation of the appeal! I see what you mean by the gradual development of the story and the ambiguous characters. (Even though personally I have my doubts about someone with a history of genocide being a good person. ;) )


That's part of what makes the characters interesting--you've got these military people who've done terrible things for their country in the past and are now trying to deal with those emotions because they're seeing war and genocide emerging again in the present.

Although I did have the Japanese style in my comic reading - I think in the animated series (which often had comic books to go with them) of the 80s you can already see the first signs of Manga style, with its enormous eyes and virtually inexistent noses coming up.

pic3


It'd be interesting to see how the manga style has developed since then.. I'm sure someone's taken a look at it somewhere. :P We've got...

Takahahi's InuYasha, Yagi's Claymore, Watsuki's Kenshin, Yumeji's adaptation of Le Chevalier d'Eon (I much prefer the anime's style), and Oda's One Piece.

Etc. Lots of different art styles. Contrast with Moore/Lloyd's V for Vendetta or the Marvel style (with colour! :D)
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Postby truehobbit » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:30 pm

I agree that Manga is a very grown-up genre of comic. There are stories for younger readers, too, but much of it is very violent, and what Manga is most famous for (at least over here) is hard-core sex.

Hmmh, it's interesting to see the different aspects here. The way Mith explains the moral questions, it does sound interesting, but having looked up FMA on Wikipedia, it becomes clear how eclectic all the ideas in there are.

Thanks for the picture collection, Gwen. Another interesting aspect of Mangas/Animes is how wordy they can be. Lots of grandiloquence to be found there. Again, this is something that surprises me, as it's not normally a feature of Anglophone storytelling - why doesn't it bore people?
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Postby GwenElf » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:31 pm

truehobbit wrote:I agree that Manga is a very grown-up genre of comic. There are stories for younger readers, too, but much of it is very violent, and what Manga is most famous for (at least over here) is hard-core sex.


That's exactly the type I avoid. Gag me. :woah: I'd have to say that over here, "manga" generally calls to mind martial arts and Japanese school girls in short skirts. :P

Another interesting aspect of Mangas/Animes is how wordy they can be. Lots of grandiloquence to be found there. Again, this is something that surprises me, as it's not normally a feature of Anglophone storytelling - why doesn't it bore people?


I can't say I've ever noticed a manga being terribly wordy, but I guess if you think about it, they have to be. The primary means of storytelling in a manga is through dialogue or thought bubbles (as well as facial expressions/gestures). The author doesn't need to describe the scenery or the characters actions--s/he draws it. So what we have left is the dialogue between characters to drive the story forward. I've never been bored by it, especially if the mangake is good at creating effective character interaction.

When I read V for Vendetta, I was definitely struck by the amount of dialogue, but that may have just been because the frames were smaller.

I'm curious--when you say Anglophone storytelling, what exactly do you mean?
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Postby Neka » Sun Feb 10, 2008 8:53 pm

I agree that Manga is a very grown-up genre of comic. There are stories for younger readers, too, but much of it is very violent, and what Manga is most famous for (at least over here) is hard-core sex.


That's such a common misconception and its sad because it stops people from reading them and gives them a bad reputation. Manga is very popular in Japan. I read somewhere that 40% of books sold there are mangas. Thats a number that american comic books can only dream of. I wonder why the Japanese are more accepting of comics than people are over here?

Anyway I love Fullmetal Alchemist too. I have read all the ones published in North America and have bought the first four volumes in hopes of buying them all some day, I love them that much. The anime was good too but the manga is going in much more interesting directions IMO.

I have also read Naruto and it is probably my favourite anime/manga. I have to agree with Master Samwise, Naruto is extremely endearing. Unlike most mangas, where the heroes are amazingly good at whatever, in the beginning Naruto is not particularly good at being a ninja, actually he is really bad at it. So as he grows and becomes stronger and stronger (through hard work) you can't help but cheer for him.

I don't really find mangas that wordy. I think they are rather easy and quick to read through but at the same time have incredible character development and story. So they are a really enjoyable read.
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Postby Master Samwise » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:18 am

and honestly, one of the best things is to get into a manga that's already WAAAAY into the storyline. you can just sit down for hours on end, and read the story.


i'm surprised that nobody has mentioned speed grapher yet. i hear it's a good one, but i have not checked it out yet.


and if you have a little girl (or someone who has NO TASTE WHATSOEVER in manga), have them read chobits...
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Postby truehobbit » Fri Feb 15, 2008 11:26 am

I'd have to say that over here, "manga" generally calls to mind martial arts and Japanese school girls in short skirts.


Yes, same here. :P

And I suppose that this isn't strange. Martial Arts are a big feature in Japanese culture, and, if a TV documentary I've seen a while ago was correct, a very liberal attitude to this kind of sexuality is typical for Japan, too.

When I read V for Vendetta, I was definitely struck by the amount of dialogue,


I got that impression, too, from the links you posted, so that would be a point against me, as that's an anglophone comic.

What I meant by Anglophone storytelling is the stories we mostly come into contact with in this part of the world, and I think that in these stories neither actions nor emotions are normally of that sheer size they are in manga - wordy or grandiloquent doesn't really describe it, not sure how to put it - I think 'exaggerated' might fit best.
When I wrote the previous post I was thinking of a scene I'd seen once I switched on the telly (IIRC) - someone had just been run through the body with a sword from behind his back by an enemy and now they were conversing in epic tones on something (hence my calling it 'grandiloquent'), I forget what, but it was very amusing in the situation.
I didn't find anything comparable to link to here - I read around on that 'mangafox' page a bit you linked to, Gwen - very nice, you can look into all kinds of manga there (really badly translated, some of the stuff :rofl: ) - but I think my point still stands, in that lots of things I saw there were just overdone so much in intensity I couldn't help laughing - and I wonder why people don't find it exaggerated? Or maybe you wouldn't agree on the more toned-down nature of average 'Western' stories?


Manga is very popular in Japan. I read somewhere that 40% of books sold there are mangas.


Though whether that's a good thing is a different question, isn't it?
From what I can tell, Japanese lifestyle is notoriously short on time, so quick reads might well sell best.

Master Samwise wrote: have them read chobits...


Would that be a Russian variety of 'hobbits'? :P
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Postby GwenElf » Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:25 pm

truehobbit wrote:When I wrote the previous post I was thinking of a scene I'd seen once I switched on the telly (IIRC) - someone had just been run through the body with a sword from behind his back by an enemy and now they were conversing in epic tones on something (hence my calling it 'grandiloquent'), I forget what, but it was very amusing in the situation.


:rofl: Sounds like Shakespeare to me. Someone gets stabbed and then delivers a 200-line speech before finally dying. :P

I didn't find anything comparable to link to here - I read around on that 'mangafox' page a bit you linked to, Gwen - very nice, you can look into all kinds of manga there (really badly translated, some of the stuff :rofl: ) - but I think my point still stands, in that lots of things I saw there were just overdone so much in intensity I couldn't help laughing - and I wonder why people don't find it exaggerated? Or maybe you wouldn't agree on the more toned-down nature of average 'Western' stories?


Re: emotion, I think you're right that a lot of it is overdone. For example, in the FMA anime (and I can only assume the manga is the same), the main character is very sensitive about his height. Whenever someone comments on his stature, he goes wild, blowing out of proportion whatever the person said. Sometimes he just beats people up for it. It's extremely exaggerated, but that's the point, and it's meant to be funny. The problem, I think, arises when stuff like that starts to define the character. That's not a problem with Ed--he's got plenty of personality and complexity--but sometimes minor characters are just a quirky trait embodied in a person.

As much as I've noticed this, I think that manga can be and are serious when the situation calls for it. If a character is really going through something troubling, the overblown emotion generally stops--if it's exaggerated, it's done so in a way that emphasizes the sobriety of the situation, not mocks it.

MS-- Never heard of Speed Grapher. What's it about?
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Postby Crucifer » Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:41 pm

Ah manga. I loves it.

I've read all the published English Bleach and FMA. I'm reading Fruits Basket at the mo. It's better than the other two, imho, because it's a mix of different types of manga. Primarily Shoten (aimed at teenage girls) , but there are Elements of Shonen (aimed at teenage boys) and some of the more adult types as well.

I don't particularly care about the black and white. In fact, I believe that monochrome is an art in itself. It looks good on paper, IMHO, and makes the actual manga cheaper and therefore more accessible.
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Postby GwenElf » Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:54 pm

My sisters and I are reading Fruits Basket, too. A lot darker than the anime, and obviously there's more of it. I just hope Shigure doesn't end up being a slime-ball. I :heart: him.

Akito, on the other hand... :shock:

Anyone read webcomics? I've got a rather long list of them going.. my favourite is Sarah Ellerton's Phoenix Requiem, her second webcomic. (Her Inverloch is finished and being published. That, and Alex and Joe's [url=http://www.noneedforbushido.com[/url]No Need for Bushido[/url]. Sword-jokes abound! :D The art on the latter has improved immensely since the comic began, and it's been really cool watching it develop.
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Postby truehobbit » Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:01 pm

GwenElf wrote:
truehobbit wrote:When I wrote the previous post I was thinking of a scene I'd seen once I switched on the telly (IIRC) - someone had just been run through the body with a sword from behind his back by an enemy and now they were conversing in epic tones on something (hence my calling it 'grandiloquent'), I forget what, but it was very amusing in the situation.


:rofl: Sounds like Shakespeare to me. Someone gets stabbed and then delivers a 200-line speech before finally dying. :P


Yes, good point. Actually, the moment I wrote the above, I was reminded of opera, which I love. :D There you may also get someone being run through by a sword only to embark on half an hour's impassioned singing.
And if you like opera you just accept it and don't find it over-the-top at all - you enjoy the music and the skill of everyone involved, from author to performer, let your own emotion be carried away by the music, and never ask whether what you see is in any way realistically possible.

But, then, I know that lots of people find that too silly and it's one of the reasons it stops them from getting into enjoying opera.
So, maybe I just find the manga-style passion too silly to enjoy in that way, and just don't understand what there is to enjoy that recompenses you for what would seem to be quite a feat of 'suspension of disbelief'

As much as I've noticed this, I think that manga can be and are serious when the situation calls for it. If a character is really going through something troubling, the overblown emotion generally stops--if it's exaggerated, it's done so in a way that emphasizes the sobriety of the situation, not mocks it.


Haven't seen that yet - but it would also depend on what is adequate and what is overdone for each person's taste, I think.
(I read half a chapter of a story called "Ghost" in which a misfit student type of character was mourning the apparent death of his only friend - something that would seem to be material for a delicate story, and which did seem to be meant seriously, but which was sufficiently over-the-top for my taste to make it silly.)
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Postby Master Samwise » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:22 pm

No, Chobits is not the russian form of hobbits. there's no describing it unless you check it out yourself. do eeet! i'll just say it has to do with a person-like robot (persocon) named chi, and her owner Hideki. but don't say i didn't warn you that it's aimed at pre-teen girls and people who have less than 4 braincells...


and as far as speed grapher, here's the link for an article covering the storyline and character stuff...
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Postby pat457 » Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:43 pm

Master Samwise wrote:No, Chobits is not the russian form of hobbits. there's no describing it unless you check it out yourself. do eeet! i'll just say it has to do with a person-like robot (persocon) named chi, and her owner Hideki. but don't say i didn't warn you that it's aimed at pre-teen girls and people who have less than 4 braincells...


In a hole in the ground there lived a Chobit... :lol:

Manga can be about, well, anything. Heck, I even have one manga about the New Testament (the drawing style quite echoes Superbook and The Flying House, if you know them).
There also this manga about Jesus (entitled 'Jesus') as seen through the eyes of one of the two thieves by Yoshikazu Yasuhiro which IMHO, would be quite controversial should it ever get into other countries since the last scene depict the Resurrection to be a sham perpetrated by the thief so as not to disappoint Jesus' followers (He was also a believer in Jesus and was actually devastated when he saw that Jesus never actually rose).
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Postby §ol » Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:34 pm

Some thoughts on all the ones that have been mentioned in here:

FMA - continues to be quite good, and is one of the better reads. Waiting for each chapter to come out can be a chore, though. And Samwise, it's "more of a contained story" because it's done - the anime was coming out on a weekly basis, the manga comes out monthly, they were forced to deviate rather early on, and just made up stuff as they went. It largely worked well, but they introduced some really weird internal inconsistencies which caused logic to go right out the window in the movie. The story continues to be good in the manga, it just takes too long to develop. Going back after it's done, I have no doubts it'll be great.

Bleach - was good, has really jumped off the deep end in terms of consistency, quality, and motivation. Bleh.

One Piece - cannot recommend highly enough, although it seems bipolar in terms of quality for individual arcs. From Water 7 on, though, has been utterly fantastic. The whole gear 2nd/gear 3rd/etc doesn't particularly bother me, because it still "makes sense" so to speak - it's not a "power up" as in "I just got a new ability" so much as "I'm using my existing ability in a new and awesome way!"

Naruto - Another bipolar series which spends a bit more time at the low end of the swing. It's been rather good of late, at the least. Gwen - he's not obsessed with saying "dattebayo" and isn't the complete moron that they overemphasize in the anime (particularly the filler. Oh lord, the filler).

Mith - For those that have licensed distributors in the states, it is indeed illegal and copyright infringement. For those which do not have distributors in your country, it is technically not illegal, but only because no one owns the rights in your country with which to sue. :P But yeah, there's some nice collections online *whistles innocently*

truehobbit - it's not that it's "most known for" - it simply exists. It's a form of mass media in Japan instead of a niche market like it is in America, so there's all sorts of genres within the single medium, including (yes) porn, just as there's porn movies, cheap romance novels, etc in the forms of mass media in the states. But yeah, there's some fantastic comics in America. I highly recommend Watchmen. On Time's top 100 novels for the 1900s, and it lives up to that.

Chobits - Ugh. No. Nonononononono. If this is remotely like the anime series which I couldn't stomach after a single episode (after having had it highly recommended) where the button to turn on the female robot is there (yes, there) (olol "push her buttons"). Yeah. Forget that.

Some other recommendations to consider - on the finished front, Death Note is quite good, particularly the first half. The first half is utterly fantastic, the second half is slightly above average, so it ends up being a decent ride overall. However, the manga that's probably been my favorite read (and is taking forever and a day to finish), is worlds beyond everything else in terms of art and story direction (although the art takes a little bit to develop) is Berserk. Warning - I do NOT recommend this one to the faint of heart, nor those under 18. It's very, very, very, very violent, and brutal when it comes to sexuality (yes, there is nudity in this, but no, it's not one of those, although it does have the only tastefully done one of those scenes I've ever seen), but it has a VERY epic story throughout. Think A Song of Ice and Fire on both points, although not anything remotely like it in terms of story. Twisted in both violence and sex, and not holding anything back in medieval lifestyle in either, but with a very solid story backing it up. It's also quite long - 32 volumes, each with 9 chapters or so, and each chapter is 40-100 something pages. LOOOONG. Still going. Has been since 1988.

But yeah. Solid.
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Postby Master Samwise » Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:10 am

chobits was purely a sarcastic answer.. hehe
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Postby Crucifer » Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:27 am

I've heard good things about the manga of Chobits...
Never read it though...

I've only read a volume of Naruto so far, but I found Naruto himself to be quite endearing, even if he is a bit of a moron a lot of the time. Sasuke is a pretentious a-hole, so I don't like him one bit...

Berserk sounds like my cuppa, §ol, but I haven't seen it on the shelves any of the purveyors of Manga where I live. I've seen it on the net somewhere. Is it worth the buy?
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Postby truehobbit » Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:32 am

LOL, I'll have a look at Chobits, if it's on mangafox.

I spent another hour there yesterday evening - I guess there's something addictive about it, which mostly has to do with the unsatisfactory nature of the storytelling. Once you've leafed through twenty or thirty pages, you've seen enough to expect something - so you keep going, hoping to have your expectations fulfilled - but they never are, so you keep thinking, ok, just one more page, or just two or three, and surely then something will come up...and still, you never get what you're waiting for.

it's not that it's "most known for" - it simply exists. It's a form of mass media in Japan instead of a niche market like it is in America, so there's all sorts of genres within the single medium, including (yes) porn, just as there's porn movies, cheap romance novels, etc in the forms of mass media in the states.


Well, true. But, basically, if you ask someone what comes to mind if they think of the word "novel" or even "best-seller fiction", for most people I doubt the answer will be pulp fiction or porn.
If you ask someone what comes to mind if they hear the word "manga", the answer is much more likely to be "martial arts", "schoolgirl smut" (with the proviso that it's 'smut' only in our culture, for another it might be normal sexuality) or even "hardcore porn".

LOLOL, I was looking at a manga yesterday, that started out with a bit of schoolgirl smut, but I was just thinking ok, let's not think of it as smutty because it might appeal to teenage girls over here, whose brains more often than not are all in their knickers - when I turned the page and was in the middle of a totally violent rape-scene.
Ok, maybe I'm just a pampered old Jane-Austen reader and not used to that sort of thing, so it shocks me more than others (although I do doubt the sense of people getting used to that sort of thing - I've read one novel that contained gross sexual violence once years ago, and I'm not keen on repeating the experience), and the readers present would have considered it quite tame.
Certainly, when I closed all my windows, the little sex ads my provider always has on his starting page ('meet today's cute single' etc) which tend to annoy me for being smutty, suddenly looked rather innocuous and even a bit naive.

Just curious, is there ever sexual violence in which the men are victimised? (I guess if things were a bit even in that respect I'd not find it quite so sick.)
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Postby §ol » Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:48 pm

Crucifer wrote:Berserk sounds like my cuppa, §ol , but I haven't seen it on the shelves any of the purveyors of Manga where I live. I've seen it on the net somewhere. Is it worth the buy?


I recommend it. just be aware that it is quite brutal, particularly early on before he gets into the story. Also that it's probably not going to be finished anytime soon despite being going for 20 years. There's "locations" that carry it on the net.

truehobbit wrote:
it's not that it's "most known for" - it simply exists. It's a form of mass media in Japan instead of a niche market like it is in America, so there's all sorts of genres within the single medium, including (yes) porn, just as there's porn movies, cheap romance novels, etc in the forms of mass media in the states.


Well, true. But, basically, if you ask someone what comes to mind if they think of the word "novel" or even "best-seller fiction", for most people I doubt the answer will be pulp fiction or porn.
If you ask someone what comes to mind if they hear the word "manga", the answer is much more likely to be "martial arts", "schoolgirl smut" (with the proviso that it's 'smut' only in our culture, for another it might be normal sexuality) or even "hardcore porn".


I think that says more about the culture niche that manga/anime has made inroads into in our culture more than it says about Japanese culture. Rest assured, they have manga on every topic known to mankind over there. From wiki:

In Japan, manga are widely read by people of all ages,[2] so that a broad range of subjects and topics occur in manga, including action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, horror, sexuality, and business and commerce, among others.[2] Since the 1950s, manga have steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry,[4][8] representing a 481 billion yen market in Japan in 2006[9] (approximately $4.4 billion dollars).[10]

Kind of like how 2chan is actually a form of mass media over there and all the English chans are peddling places for porn and dickery on our side of the pond.

LOLOL, I was looking at a manga yesterday, that started out with a bit of schoolgirl smut, but I was just thinking ok, let's not think of it as smutty because it might appeal to teenage girls over here, whose brains more often than not are all in their knickers - when I turned the page and was in the middle of a totally violent rape-scene.
Ok, maybe I'm just a pampered old Jane-Austen reader and not used to that sort of thing, so it shocks me more than others (although I do doubt the sense of people getting used to that sort of thing - I've read one novel that contained gross sexual violence once years ago, and I'm not keen on repeating the experience), and the readers present would have considered it quite tame.
Certainly, when I closed all my windows, the little sex ads my provider always has on his starting page ('meet today's cute single' etc) which tend to annoy me for being smutty, suddenly looked rather innocuous and even a bit naive.


I'm rather surprised that any such manga doesn't have a sleeve on it ala how you see American magazines....

Just curious, is there ever sexual violence in which the men are victimised? (I guess if things were a bit even in that respect I'd not find it quite so sick.)


I have no doubts there are such things. But once more, I think that speaks more to the audience in question and what they want to read in terms of proportions as much as anything.
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Postby MithLuin » Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:35 pm

Hobby - I agree with you. I don't want to read about people being raped in gruesome detail, especially not if it is written as 'okay' or acceptable or even tantalizing in some way. Major, major squickiness there! I had to read The Fountainhead for school, and while I understood why that scene was in there, it was just another reason to hate the book, for me.

I do not mind if a story contains rape, since, well, that would have a profound impact on the character and could matter a lot to the story. It certainly happens, and stories don't need to be sanitized. But it depends a lot on how it is handled. Illustrations pretty much have to make it worse.

I love how the FMA manga handles sex. There is nothing explicit about it. She has one character who is a notorious player, which means he is often meeting women for 'dates.' But that's all they are (as far as the reader knows). The only date we actually see is another character buying flowers for a woman and meeting her in a cafe. He makes it quite clear afterwards that he never saw her with her shirt off ;). I can't think of an instance where any characters (not even married couples) are portrayed as kissing. The one childbirth scene takes place in the other room, so you see nothing. This does not stop the characters from talking about how sexy they think someone is, so it's not totally innocent, and only a total innocent would mistake the brothel for what it is. But nothing is even implied - you have to read into it what you want to see, if you want to see anything sexual. This does make some sense, since the main characters are a 15 year old boy and his 14 year old brother. They're a bit...innocent, and get all flustered if someone suggests they have a girlfriend. They completely disapprove of the Colonel's antics. If the story took place 3 or even 6 years later...it would probably have to handle this terribly differently. The anime has a little more emphasis on sexuality than the manga, but still keeps it pretty tame - on screen.

Violence, on the other hand...lots of blood. I guess I just have a higher tolerance for that.


As for an example of an 'outburst' occuring in the midst of something serious, check out this one, about 1 minute in:

FMA Ep. 39 part 2

It's in Japanese with Spanish subtitles, so it might be hard to figure out what is going on, but...that's the best I can do. YouTube doesn't have the episodes up in English or with English subtitles. "Nii-san" means brother, and at least the name "Scar" is in English anyway ;).

The gist is that Ed (the blond guy with golden eyes dressed all in black) and his brother Al (the suit of armor) have been off on their own for quite some time and haven't bothered to check in with their boss in the military. So, they've just been hauled in, and a battle is imminent. While Ed is prepared to over-react to short jokes, he also can switch back instantly to the serious conversation. The soldiers getting covered in sand and that outburst were the only relief of tension in a 24 minute episode that dealt mostly with a history of war and dubious human experimentation. It's over-the-top comic relief, but....it's meant to be seen that way.

In the manga, whenever Winry gets mad at Ed, she beats him to death with a wrench. So, for that frame, he's a bloody pulp, and giving up the ghost. In the next frame, he's fine, with maybe a bump on his head, so you know you aren't supposed to take the injury seriously.

Here's an example from the manga: on this page, they blow a room up in the midst of a battle, but the Colonel (the Flame Alchemist) decides to get sensitive to a 'useless when wet' comment. But on the very next page, he's discussing how you can tell there's a burnt body nearby. A few moments of humor don't hurt in a chapter that is mostly a battle-to-the-death.



I'm curious about One Piece; I might check that out. I have a feeling, though, that I won't like anything nearly as much as I like FMA ;).
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Postby §ol » Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:49 pm

MithLuin wrote:I love how the FMA manga handles sex. There is nothing explicit about it. She has one character who is a notorious player, which means he is often meeting women for 'dates.' But that's all they are (as far as the reader knows). The only date we actually see is another character buying flowers for a woman and meeting her in a cafe. He makes it quite clear afterwards that he never saw her with her shirt off ;).


I interpreted his "dates" as being methods of meeting with informants while under the eye of the Fuhrer. Hence the flower woman giving him info, the one with Armstrong, etc, etc. There's not really any sexual subtext to FMA whatsoever other than the girl crushes that Winry (and apparently Rose as well, now that she's back into it) have on Ed.
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Postby MithLuin » Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:34 pm

Well, yes. "Elizabeth" is code for Riza, so all the girls at the brothel seem to know that Roy is actually taken. And when Al explains how alchemists encode their notes (Ed's is a travelogue) it is mentioned that Mustang's is a 'little black book' - so it's all code and pretence, anyway.

And certainly now, when he says he's on 'business' and he's meeting a girl, I have to agree with you that it is about information, not dates. But earlier, when he complained about the terrorists on the train, or Scar being loose, meaning that he couldn't go on dates...those were just dates in East City ;).

But that doesn't mean that there is no subtext, just that any subtext there is must be read into it...nothing explicit or even strongly inferred. Roy Mustang cannot help but flirt with girls when he meets them - it is his knee-jerk reaction. This includes Winry (who is 15) and Grumman-disguised-as-an-old-woman (much to his chagrin!) He certainly likes to encourage this image of himself as a playboy. And quite possibly...it's not all an act. Maybe he really does have flings and there are little Mustangs all over East City ;). But at no point does the author suggest that. She merely portrays him as a smooth-talker who is all smiles when meeting girls.

And that's what I like about this series - for the most part, it's quite clean. Well, except for the blood/guts/death stuff ;) The anime is not quite as clean; there are several suggestions that cross that line, even though off screen only (like gang rape).

There's only one exception in the manga - Grumman. When the call comes through from Madame Christmas, he rattles off about 4 girls' names that he thinks might be interested in him. Somehow, I don't think that was all code. It may be political intrigue that's meant when he is getting back in the game...but....that's not entirely clear to me in that scene.

Winry's interest in Ed is clear, as is Mei Chang's interest in Al (though *that* may completely fall apart...she's like 10!) I don't think Rose had a crush on Ed...she's more just a foil to bring out Winry's possessiveness. But it's not just a 'crush' in Ed and Winry's case - they are childhood friends, and she's being used as his hostage. When she realizes it, she says (to herself) that she's been in love with him for a long time. The relationship that is certainly understated, but well beyond 'crush' is of course Roy and Riza. If the series doesn't end with him as President and her as First Lady I'll be really disappointed ;).

Though I have to admit, happy endings all around does *not* seem to be the direction this is heading in. There's always a price to pay, etc, etc.
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