Monday, September 18, 2006

Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society by Sharon Kinsella

This is just me re-archiving some old work. In 1999, I made a local anime fanzine called P.Otaku Bytes. I stopped it some time in 2000, at the height of the anime boom here in the Philippines. One year later, I tried to make another fanzine, Fanime, but it only lasted one issue. I had all but given up but some people in 2002 were doing papers on anime so I decided to give it one more shot. I set up a blog that would hopefully feature articles on anime and manga in the country, but it lacked submissions. Here's a book review on what I think is an important book on manga, aside from the Fred Patten and Frederik Schodt canon publications. This was originally posted in June 9, 2002.

Publisher: University of Hawaii Press

ISBN: 0824823184

Publication Date: July 2000

Whereas comics are usually associated as "just for kids", the manga industry in Japan does not possess that label. The book Adult Manga narrates at this phenomenon and how it evolved.

Unlike the title, the book is not centered solely on manga that contains adult content. It discusses a wide array of topics like how the manga industry got its start to the existence of dojinshis (fan-made comics) to the current state of Japan's manga industry. What the book terms as "adult" is not necessarily limited to that which is too violent or containing many sexual taboos. Instead, "mature" would better suit that definition as it tackles subjects addressing people in general rather than specifically kids like relationships, businesses, and the like.

Kinsella's book serves as a good resource to anyone interested in manga and anime in general. It has charts and statistics of manga's popularity, gives a view of how manga comprises almost half of Japan's printed publications, and how it is a medium rather than just a genre. There are several interesting facts you'll find in the book like how Hong Kong used to pirate manga in the early 1980s but legalized it at the decade's end since it was quite profitable. Or about censorship in Japan and how the genitalia of men and women are portrayed in manga. It's a treasure though if you want to know manga's roots as it has a brief history on its evolution from woodblock prints to newsprint to bound books.

People interested in finding a resource on anime and manga will find this quite useful, especially with its comprehensive bibliography. The book is essentially a thesis printed for the masses. At $20, it's quite pricey for a paperback but most books related to anime and manga have prices in that range. The book also has some pictures for reference but none too flashy. There are also some typing errors in the book but they are few and not quite noticeable.

Overall, the book is well worth it although those who are not used to formal language might find it a difficult read. The book was once available at Powerbooks and some outlets might still have a copy. You can just order it from them or at Amazon.

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