…and Mango

I previously referenced how I don’t read too much manga. Now, I will try to explain my opinions about that medium, in more detail.

In principle, I like what that medium is trying to do. A very rough, draft-like presentation format of comic books, that allows for a quick, rushing storytelling while adding only the bare minimum of production values, that is making costs low enough to support a huge, wide flow of content.

That’s also a pretty good description of what most otaku media does, and what I like about them. Anime, light novels, visual novels, are all based on the paradigm of minimalizing production values. That’s in part necessity, because the otaku subculture has few members and they can only pay that much money, so everything aimed at them must be profitable from a few thousand sales. And in part, it also seems to be a japanese cultural thing, with more interest in throwing around several stories, than  focusing on a few blockbusters and big franchises.

My problem with manga, is that they seem to be cutting corners at the wrong places. For example, the habit of not drawing any backgrounds during whole scenes, can feel really disorientating, I can barely imagine the full location in my head. And the black and white inking combined with generic anime faces, sometimes makes it hard to separate characters. The way they are scribbling text all over the place, and every artist uses different types of speech balloons (squares, circles, clouds, blobs), makes it difficult to separate speech, inner monologue, sound effects, author notes, from each other. Often I have to turn back several pages, just to remind myself which character is talking, and if it is actual talking or just thinking.

When I finished watching the first season of Kimi ni Todoke, I turned to the manga, like I sometimes do with ongoing series.  I literally couldn’t understand what was going on. And Kimi ni Todoke isn’t exactly an intellectually overwhelming story, it’s a pure high school romance, but I had to spend so much attention to connecting the speech bubbles scattered all around the pages, identifying characters, and remembering where a scene is supposed to take place, that eventually I just stopped, and waited for the second season of the anime to explain me how these scenes really happened.

Some other manga are slightly more comprehensible than that, but even those only work for me as a replacement for a “proper” anime version that probably won’t be made.

I guess these are just subjective opinions, after all, I know of people who either prefer manga over anime, or judge them on a case-by-case basis, depending on how accurate the adaptation is. I guess their brains are hardwired in a different way from mine, that they can more comfortably understand that  format, or that they care less about the things that it misses. Just like there are other people who find the typical production values of Anime, or Visual Novels unwatchably low, yet here am I, loving the shit out of them.

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3 responses to “…and Mango

  1. Sounds like you’re just not used to it yet. You should avoid the shounen manga–the only time I’m confused with manga is in an action scene; I can follow what the talking heads are saying otherwise. I don’t care about the backgrounds most of the time, though I appreciate it when an author takes the time to draw them (especially common in the old and popular manga, when authors took the time to draw whole backdrops.)

  2. I too find it at times very confusing to point out characters and most times I have no idea what gender they are. I am pretty new to manga and don’t read as much as I watch anime but I’ve gotten used to them. I actually tend to read them whenever I want to find out more about an anime…Bleach for example – has a great story to follow in the manga and I just couldn’t wait for the anime to catch up. 😄

  3. Pingback: Summer season preview and thoughts « Anime September

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