Thursday, August 22, 2013

Manga Realness: Introduction

The reason I read manga... why of course her.
Manga.  Who does not love them?  Well, let’s be honest – many do not.  It gets its share of criticism, that‘s for sure.  Some may consider it senseless reading, much in the vein of criticism that Western comics sometimes receive.  Though I would wager much less brutally delivered when you consider how the label “graphic novel” provides an opportunity to garner a little more respect.  In any regard, manga is sometimes brushed off as immature reading material; cartoony and childish.  However, like any other form of creative entertainment, that may be true in some small part, but certainly not as a whole.  Then there is that stigma that those who read manga are automatically classified as a "weeaboo", or those obsessed with Japanese/Asian culture, particularly through the lens of an anime and manga obsession.  That is a whole different kettle of fish, though.  One that I don’t care to tread on, really.   

Nonetheless, many of the negative attitudes manga  inspires are culturally based in my opinion.  In the East it is not unusual or strange for an individual--other than a child--to become engagedin reading manga.  Besides, certain manga series span over ten years, maintaining the loyalty of its readers as they grow with the material.  Furthermore, authors/artists and publishers are aware of the demographics that read manga, allowing them to hit their receptive targets.  With that said, manga is various and vastly produced to support all types of readerships in whichever flavor he or she enjoys.  I would even say that reading manga in the East is a lifestyle.  Entire cafes in Japan (and I believe a few in America) are dedicated to supplying coffee alongside a library of free manga titles for public reading.  Sounds good for those days when a person wants to wind down after school or work.     I love manga, and have most certainly been reading them for years.  

However, I don’t consider myself super knowledgeable about the variety of titles, or the industry itself.  I've slacked somewhere between high school and now, missing all those friends who I used to share my excitement about them for.  Speaking of which, back then you had to order manga through Viz and The Right Stuf catalogs.  

But in terms of the enthusiast scale, I'm probably a solid 6.  And I'll share why.     

One: I read them moderately or in bursts; some years my spending is slow, and some are fast.  Depends on how behind I am after discovering a series, or what new release I'm waiting on.      

Two: I am extremely particular about what I want to read.  I need certain ingredients.  Usually involving a female lead who kicks some kind of ass.      

Three: The industry is so rapid-growing and expansive that I can’talways keep up with releases and development news.  And I no longer have a tight circle of like-minded friends to keep me aware.  I go to Barnes & Nobles and walk out empty-handed because there is too much to choose from.      

Four: I sometimes hate spending money on them and speeding right through the book in one afternoon; must control my reading pace.     

Five: I’m not one to dilly-dally between which is superior between the English and Japanese.  Of course the Japanese is superior, but because I can’tread Japanese fluently, I don’t want to go to forums (for discussion purposes) and be discouraged by readers downplaying a particular manga’s English counterpart.  Translation discrepancies will always apply.  The same goes for anime.  With the exception of Linda Ballantye (Sailor Moon’s English voice actress from episodes 83-159) and Emilie-Claire Barlow (Sailor Mars and Venus’ second English voice actress), will I ever argue English voice actors.  Aside from those two, I hardly muse over English anime voice actors' performances.  But yes, they were that terrible to me!    

Moving back to the subject of manga    

Neither of my “shortcomings“ to reading manga changes my love of the artwork, cultural portholes they provide, and entertaining drama found in each serialized volume.  Oh, and the comedy and magic.  So here--in a series of posts--I want to take the time to reveal my favorite mangas that I’ve read in the past twelve years.  Separated into four parts, I want to discuss the finished series, unfinished series, one-shots and what I am currently invested in reading.    

First I should make everyone aware of the genres I read in and why.    

Shoujo is the manga genre targeted toward girls, but of course I don’t care.  I read this genre because I want it all in my manga experience.  I want the romance, the school crushes, and the torrent melodrama--to a degree.  I tagged this genre next to the Magical Girl subgenre.  Should her magic and transformation costume be super fierce, I am down for whatever consists of a plot.    

Then there is the Slice of Life genre.  I didn’t know this genre had a name until I tried to explain to an ex-coworker what I liked to read as I searched for new titles.  Slice of Life usually contains exactly what it sounds--a slice of life.  This genre of manga features stories surrounding a character’s everyday life in Japan.  Her woes and triumphs.  Her achievements and failures.  Nothing supernatural or paranormal.  Just… life…    

Lastly, I do like Yaoi.  However, I like the tasteful YaoiYaoi is another name for “Boys Love” manga.  Perhaps a peek into some gratuitous Yaoi is okay, but I usually only complete manga in this genre if there is a strong love story involve.  It is such a strong requirement.  So in essence, I skip the strictly Romance genre to get my romantic fix in this genre.  Necessary to explain why?   

Like anyone else, I also like to mix and match genres.  Therefore, I like a little horror, paranormal, supernatural, and mystery.  I would probably stay away from sci-fi and mecha, though.  They both give me headaches.   Finally, I must get this out of the way…
With that said,be on the lookout for post one of my favorite finished manga series.  All recommendations from here on out are so welcomed so that I can get back up to speed

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