Tokyo based Meiji University has announced plans to open the world’s first manga library, in order to help promote serious study of the style. Upon its inception (“hopefully” by early 2015) the proposed institution will house over two million comic books, animation drawings, and other related industry items. For those that aren’t familiar with the word, manga is simply the Japanese word for comics. In the US and elsewhere it is often used as a catch-all term to refer to any comic created or originally published in Japan, though it is also considered to be a distinct artistic style and format and therefore other works may be referred to as manga despite not originating in Japan (such as “Amerimanga” or “Manwha“). Whereas in the US, comic books are more typically associated with costumed superheroes, manga is published in every genre, from horror to romance to science fiction to sports, just to name a few. Despite its broad range, manga can generally be divided into two categories based on target demographic, with shonen manga designed to appeal to boys and shojo manga aimed at girls. Due to its Japanese origins, most manga is printed front to back, so that the book is read from right to left (some manga series published for the US market are printed in the traditional manner, however, such as Astro Boy). Another distinguishing feature of manga are the artistic quirks; characters are often drawn with large eyes and small mouths and noses, and internal emotional states are displayed by using iconography such as beads of sweat on the forehead to indicate embarrassment or bulging, pulsing veins in the same area to express anger. For more extensive information, recommendations, and more eloquent explanations about the different types of manga, take a look at these posts by a former DCPL blogger on the subject (Manga Mania part 1, part 2, and part 3) To conclude, here are a few of my favorite manga. Some of the titles have been adapted into anime series that the DCPL catalog stocks on DVD, and I have linked them in parentheses. Enjoy!
One Piece: If pirate adventures are more your style, this is the series for you. And last but certainly not least, Ranma 1/2: An excellent example of the eclectic and varied nature of manga, Ranma 1/2 tells the tale of martial artists who fall into cursed springs and as a result upon contact with cold water take the form of whoever, or whatever, died in the spring they fell into (they revert back to normal when exposed to warm water). The martial arts action is tempered with a healthy dose of romantic comedy which makes for rousing entertainment for teenagers and adults alike.