Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why I Hate Manga- with apologies to my 17-year-old niece. a rant

To be fair, I don't really hate manga, per se. Manga are, after all, just comics from Japan. There is just as much diversity in Japanese comics (if not more) as there is in American comics. What I really dislike are some of the more common styles associated with manga and American "manga-style" comics. I also find that I often dislike people who are really into manga and anime (Emma, honey, this doesn't apply to you).

I actually am a big fan of Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuao Koikoe and Goseki Kojima. The story is gripping and the artwork is positively breathtaking at times.



I am cognizant of the fact that Japanese artists have added volumes to the visual language of the comics medium and has a beautiful, visual rhythm all its own. I am quite aware that manga often includes widely varied pacing through use of devices like series of establishing shots and motion lines.

But I just don't like the way it looks. At least the trash the Japanese go out of their way to send us.

I hate those cutesy little faces with the big eyes and the little mouths.


I hate those jagged, gravity-defying hairdos.


I hate the weird androgyny of the characters. More than anything, I hate the use of lazy, visual shorthands like thought balloons with teardrops in them, or those weird, oval shaped mouths with gritted, perfectly squared teeth like a row of plus signs.

And, while I can tolerate the notion of the occasional manga-style version of a classic American superhero,

I really think a whole "mangaverse" is a lame idea.

I don't like Anime much, either. For the same aesthetic concerns. It's just personal preference. I DO like the design of the heroes on Ninja Force Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets, G-Force, Whatever), but it's probably only because they remind me of the Blue Falcon.





I know I'm probably stepping on more toes than Gigantor at a podiatry' convention, but it's just how I feel.

34 comments:

  1. Aaron: I could not agree with you more. My 19 year old son is visiting from colllege, the uppity little sprat. I have such a hard time explaining to him why that stuff sucks - or rather, understanding what he sees in it. It is just poorly drawn, simple as that. As you say, the generic little pinched faces - the weird static poses. And the animation? Don't get me started. He made me watch some stuff - SteamBoy being the best, but it still sucks. Walt would have fired all the animators without two weeks notice. -- Mykal

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  2. Mykal: Thanks, I wrote this post several months ago and have been reluctant to post it. I don't know why my opinion would matter one darn bit to anyone, but after the "Pieface Incident" I feared controversy. Also, I have re-written this about six times to avoid hurting my niece's and brother-in-law's feelings, since the both really dig the manga and anime.

    Honestly, i just don't get it.

    Make your kid watch some Herculoids and try and enjoy him while he's home :)

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  3. Aaron, I appreciate your post on this topic mainly because you say what's on your mind and don't pussyfoot around. And, for the most part I see what you're saying and I heartily agree with you. I find the fetish-ism of much anime and manga very disturbing (what's with the voyeuristic fascination of girls panties???) And the faces, hair styles, and crude movements (the style of the hero flying in the air towards the viewer with the background just streaks?)
    However, I love Miyazaki (Spirted Away, I find stunning) and Metropolis (based on Tezuka's manga series). And after reading Shonen King's neat blog BLACK SUN, I'm being exposed to some of the best of Japan. So, while agreeing with you :) I'm going to fall back to "Sturgeon's Law" (90% of everything is crap) and just keep digging for the good stuff.
    Great post Aaron. Your pal
    r/e

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  4. R/E: I watched part of Metropolis, and it was interesting. I have yet to see Spirited Away. I was bored to death by Princess Mononoke.

    As to the rest- Yeah, Japan seems a little School-girl fetish obsessed.

    As to "Sturgeon's Law", an acquaintence of mine pointed out "They don't export the GOOD stuff, you know."

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  5. bottom line Aaron: the name of your blog says it all for me. I'm 55 years old, and the best memories (well, some of the best) I have as a kid are the Silver Age comics (American, not Japanese) that me and my "gang" used to read- - and then "play." We played Army, Cowboys and Indians (natch) but we also played Super Heroes! The whole "raison d'etre" of your blog is my FIRST LOVE... so, In the words of Gilligan: "I agree with you Skipper!"
    your pal,
    r/e

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  6. if loving pokemon is wrong,
    i don't want to be right.

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  7. PJ: Seriously? I mean, Voltron, sure, but POKEMON?

    Dr. H: Eew!

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  8. People always assume that because I am of the female variety that I like Manga. Those people disappoint me with that stereotype.

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  9. Jacque: Not me. I'm old enough that I would assume you like The Sandman. Chicks dig Morpheus.

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  10. I used to be into Sandman when I was in high school, but sort of grew out of it... I still like it in a way for nostalgia's sake.

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  11. The Sandman is, IMHO one of the coolest things ever written. And it was the one comic Amy, the love of my life, was already reading when we met. It served as a "gateway drug" to dorkier and dorkier comics. I still enjoy it, but I find, as I have matured, I'm not able to read it the same way.

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  12. I totally get what you're saying. Manga is always the same crappy school-girl, big-huge eyes stuff. And MUST they always add little cat or fox ears and call them "nekos" or whatever. I used to be a really huge Naruto fan, so much that it nearly ruined my life. I stopped respecting my parents and just shut out the outside world. Me and my brother were doomed, all because of that devil-posessed crap. But then I realized, "Hey, we don't have to do this anymore, we're free!" Well, at least I am. I just recently became a Christian, and the power of God has set me free! My brother's still trapped in the world of fantasy and unhappiness, but we'll get him out!

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  13. Anonymous: -I only said I didn't like Manga. That doesn't mean I think it's evil. I heartily encourage you to be respectful of your parents, and everyone else. You should never let any kind of entertainment become more important to you than everything else, not manga, not comic books, not music...but these things are not evil in and of themselves. It is how we choose to behave and how we treat others which is important.

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  14. No argument. There's plenty of manga out there that would appeal to every comic fan in the US, from people who only like Batman to people who only like Persepolis, but none of that stuff is translated into English. (As I'm sure you know, the market for manga in Japan is basically equivalent to the market for books in the US--literary fiction, romance, sf/f, mystery novels, 19thC literature, political humor, self help, how to... The market for manga in the US is a young, geeky, unpicky market that just wants more Naruto or more Nana.)

    One of the titles that first got me into manga was Crying Freeman. It still has a touch of the big-eyed style, but the art is much more realistic, and no one's especially androgynous. I don't know how hard it is to find these days, but it was certainly published in English translation. Akihiro Yamada is another good person to check out if you're curious about manga that doesn't look like the Sailor Moon-y stuff. You'd have to find scanlations though; I don't believe he's been published in English. I have some individual pictures from one of his one-volume ones here: http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v21/Franzeska/Hyakka/

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  15. Franzeska: Thanks, those are some good looking comics. I'm amazed that I got a comment on this post three months after the fact!

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  16. I did a google blog search on "I hate manga". :D

    (I'm working on a post of my own with examples of manga that don't "all look the same" and so on. Manga fans tend to argue against posts like yours, but I find that most such arguments either use example series that *do* all look the same or don't provide pictures--not exactly convincing! As part of that, I'm having a look through people's discussions of what they don't like about manga.)

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  17. All those reasons you just listed about why you hate manga and anime is why i love it, i love how cheesy it can be and how cute it can be, I love it :D. I m young and will live young XD

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  18. Mykal- Okay I don't think you should tell your 19 old son how manga is stupid he is old enough as I would asume that your opinion dosn't matter much and that he is allowed to like what he likes. Aside from that I agree with the rant very much you've hit the nail on the head.

    I love Japanese culture and love Hayao Miyazaki and his movies i think he is a genuis. But as for the blinky eyed, small nosed,and tiny bodied characters that alot of teens draw I do not like it at all. I think it gets old and I don't find it creative because i think it alll looks the same.

    I hope this whole manga fad goes away someday. But honestly people are obliged to like what they want this is just my opinion.

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  19. I hate anything anime or manga, but I do understand why it's so popular, and why so many people think it's visually appealing. I just plain hate it, for my very own personal reasons.

    But one who knows nothing about Japanese culture has no credibility in saying manga or anime is "bad".
    What is the definition of "bad" anyway? Your BAD might be another culture's GOOD. I could go on and on about this, but I need more tea. I like to pretend I'm British when I drink tea.

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  20. I agree.
    I find the animations annoying (OVERLY cute and mindless; and being an artist the badly done drawings are VERY visually frustrating) and the stories aren't interesting (always the same cute fantasy crap). I watched (or endured) about 100 episodes of Naruto, and the philosophy in it was what I used to think about and things I realized about the world when I was about 12. Worst part is that I have recognised that way of thinking in some of the people I know and who watch anime. You know how some manga heroes and heroines are all mysterious and solitary-like, and try to look interesting because of their dark past and stuff? Well the people I know who are into anime&manga sometimes behave like that too. But then they get depressed because no normal human can be solitary for a long time. (haha).
    If you're a young boy, liking Manga is understandable because of all the fighting in it and the half-naked girls... But to a 19 year old girl like myself I just don't see what's so great about it.. and I just don't get why girls my age could like that stuff.. they say that they like the "sexy guys" (NOT SEXY - THEY LOOK LIKE GIRLS AND ARE SO CUTE I WANT TO SQUISH THEM LIKE CHEWED UP PINK GUM) and they like the fantasy stuff in it (which I find vomitous; the pinnacle of clichés and kitsch-ness... What could be more cliché and kitsch than a semi-clothed warrior girl who lookes like a 12 year old with a boob job, wealding some super-long (*phallic*) weapon?... pff...). And people I know kind of dress like the caracters sometimes. Really over-the-top kitsch stuff; accessories, the hair, the clothes, the bows, the lace... even worse than fake-tanned peroxide blondes in pink dresses with little dogs.
    Manga has no feeling in it I find; it's just there to be pretty. Kind of like when an artist paints a flower; it's a pretty painting but it has NO sentimental or philosophical value whatsoever. Anyone know Victoria Frances? Her art is a perfect example of that fake-pretty-emptiness that I'm trying to describe; what she paints is JUST pretty (and plays on male sex fantasies and female ideals), and I find it so frustrating and empty... And it's just... fake, and superficial, and I don't understand how someone could bring themselves to create something so pointless and void of all meaning and so devastatingly impersonal... Impersonal, to me, just means it's not art!!! It's only there so that everyone can like it, and it's EMPTY. Like a frikken' CARPET. I dunno if anyone understands what I'm trying to say haha.. anyway.. Mangas give me that feeling.
    By far the most frustrating part is how manga-fandom is spreading like a highly contagious disease...
    People who are all like "Kawaiii!" and say stuff in japanese in that really cute anime way... Just makes me SICK!!! PWAH.
    AND ITS INVADING. On kid's tv channels there used to be practically no manga-stuff, then pokemon came along, now its ALL just anime-style!! GAH!!! where did the good ole' cartoons go?! Everything is just going to be so CONTAMINATED! Nothing will be original anymore! NOOOO!
    Anywho.. I hope Manga and Anime gets to the same point as modern pop music; very famous but no one really likes it or knows why it's famous at all...

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    1. Sheit your long commentary somehow-somewhat i don't know how made me fall in love.

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  21. I only chose the annon because im lazy and dont want to spend 2 weeks typing details. Anyway, Anime/Manga (these days) etc is simply mass production slop. Yes, kawaii ('cute' in Japanese, yes I hate that)thing is shallow as the way the Japanese culture (no disrespect to the Japanese) mimics images and memes. It makes as much sense as "Amercan Pizza" or "yankee hotdog"or any other nonsensical verbal catchphrase noise. Yes this type of thing makes sense to the sensibility of a weekly manga buying consumer in Japan but, these ideas lose meaning in the context of the way a western-based cartoon reader views characters and character. These days its all shallow (ad nauseum) marketing drivel with the vapidness of a 12 year old whos discovered trading cards.
    Im going to have a 'big happy hangover' tomorrow so 'happy icecream' itsu benri desu..
    but its not genuine.

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  23. okidokes, so this seems like quite the argument and i just feel i might as well put in my two cents.

    there are people who truly work very hard on their manga and it can turn out absolutely stunning. i understand that it can get old and big eyes, small mouths,ect. aren't really sophisticated but it's their choice. i dont think young people are idiots for liking anime, as others have said, studio ghibli films are amazing, well most of them.

    manga is just a style of drawing. nothing more. also, the animes you guys are watching must be horrible if you think all of them are like that. there are styles which have more realistic sized eyes and have some beautiful drawings, but that's just my opinion. personally i like anime because it's inspired numerous people to be artistic in an easier way than realistic drawing and has gotten other into sewing costumes that take my breath away.

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  25. "There is just as much diversity in Japanese comics (if not more) as there is in American comics" first the overly cute and desu parts of the anime are meant for young girls! of course you don't like it! and the overly jagged lines of the shonen are meant for young boys from 11 to 14! saying that genre wise in american and japanese comics are equal is untrue. so it makes sense that you only like one particular genre of manga, because it was aimed at people like you. there are manga for 4 year olds (kodomo) , 12 year olds boys (shonen) and for young girls (shoji) for generic teens there is seinen, and for older generations there are gekiga (like graphic novels). if you don't like pokemon its ok because it is literally based off of a kids game. that is like saying you think nick junior's shows suck because you don't like them, there are people who do like it. Plus not to mention the anime and manga that are the easiest to get a hold on are usually toned down, or to get money off of. for example forkids edited death, killing (season zero yugioh) and disney junior gave up on naruto because the amount of death so what it ends up being known as is down rated and stupid. This is similar to any release coming out of any original comic even western comics and movies made as an adaption. which is why many anime/manga fans turned away from western comics in the first place.

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  26. I agree with you that some of the art and animations are bad, but those are just some of them. There are plenty that in my opinion are great. The ones you mentioned are just those popular manga/anime that are targeting little kids or such. At least give other manga or anime a try before you judge all of them in general. Besides, even if you people hate them, I'll still read and watch them. I like what I want, and I won't change.

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    1. i totally agree with you!

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  27. try ergo proxy or d. gray man, or bleach/naruto, hellsing ultimate, ao no exorcist, shingeki no kyojin, akame ga kill, death note, full metal alchemist, hunter x hunter, soul eater, shaman king... lol there's a lot of good animes out there you just gotta look :)

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    1. tokyo ghoul, kekkaishi, inyuasha, psycho pass, kaze no stigma.

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  28. Hi, I mostly hate manga for easthetic reasons as well: I dislike those pointy faces little noses and Big eyes...i find it so repulsive, i have no desire to dig further throught it to find out maybe some interesting stories that surely exist. I'M living in France and people of m'y génération , in their 30's , seem to love manga with passion. Still don't understand why..

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