Making Sense of Manga and Anime

pokemon_episode_1_screenshotUnless you’ve been isolated from society for the the last year, you’ve probably seen many articles about the recent Pokémon GO phenomenon. I will sheepishly admit that I not only have Pokémon GO on my iPhone, but I’ve caught several in a very active Pokémon location across the street from my home. I’m hooked.

(Psst… As I am writing this, there is an Eevee and various other pokémon hanging outside of the Bowman Library right now. Hold that thought, I’m going to catch a few…)

 pokemon1 pokemon2 pokemon3

Got them!

My oldest daughters, who are avid manga and anime fans, cut their first anime teeth on Pokémon back in the late 90s, followed later by a brief flirt with Sailor Moon and Speed Racer. Back then I had only a slight understanding that this was animation that originated from Japan. It wasn’t until much later I learned more about its role in Japanese society as a major form of media for all ages. In fact, anime takes up a large portion of prime time viewing on major stations in Japan, and manga is published as a popular form of written media for adults as well as youth.

First things first. If you are not familiar with the terms, “manga” is the printed form, with “manga” being translated as “whimsical drawing” or even simply, “comic”. Anime is short for animation. Often an anime is created based on a popular manga series, similar to how Hollywood often will turn popular books into movies here in the US. However, just as frequently you have anime that does not originally have a manga origin, such as “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki. In this case, the manga was created later with screen shots from the anime.

Because animation is largely considered an art form aimed at children here in the US, we are most familiar with the Kodomo manga, such as Pokémon or Dragonball Z. (Kodomo, meaning “child” in Japanese.) However, in Japan there are several genre of manga for all ages, including Shonen, manga aimed largely at boys; Shojo, which is considered girls’ anime; Josei, for adult women; with Seinen for men – the latter two containing far more mature themes.

In the United States, anime for children will usually have English dubbing, with more mature audiences often watching with subtitles. Though more popular series are taking the time to produce English dubs, many still prefer to experience the animation in its original form, choosing the subtitles over the dubs. The choice is often made depending on the quality of the dubbing and the preferences of the individual.

souleaterShonen is fast becoming the most popular form of manga among teens and young adults in the US. This includes popular series such as Naruto, BleachSoul Eater, Full Metal Alchemist and Attack on Titan. It has become so popular that libraries, including the one here at Bowman, are including manga drawing nights, expanded manga library selections, and adding anime viewing nights for teens. In fact, manga and anime are currently a main conduit through which the Bowman Library interacts with our middle and high school patrons.

468px-manga_reading_direction-svgThese manga savvy youth learn quickly how to read manga, which is produced here in the US to be read in the same direction you would read it in Japan, from right to left. Some publishers flip them to the usual left to right format westerners are used to, but many argue it disrupts the natural flow.

If you are a teen or a parent of a teen who would like to learn more about the art of manga, the first and third Mondays of each month the Bowman Library hosts a Manga Art night at 5:30. Teens can color designs or bring a sketch book and create manga art themselves. Materials are provided. While you are here, head over to view our manga collection or try one of the popular anime DVDs on display.

pocky-sticksThe 4th Monday of the month the library hosts an Anime and Pocky night, with a selected popular anime title for teens and snacks, including pocky, a favorite snack from Japan. This season the Teen Advisory Board has selected the following anime to view:

January 23: Attack on Titan
February 27: Yuri!!! On Ice
March 27: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
April 24th: Your Lie in April

We’d love to hear from you on additional manga or anime series you believe the library should carry. Head over to any of the libraries in the Handley Regional Library System and let us know, visit our web site to see what we have available, or suggest a title online.

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