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Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics Paperback – August 3, 2004
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“Eye-opening…this is the book for anyone who wants to understand the manga phenomenon.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
About the Author
Paul Gravett is a freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, and broadcaster who has worked in comics publishing and promotion for over twenty years. He has curated several exhibitions of comic art, from the history of British comics for France's National Comics Centre in Angoulême to the annual Comica Festival at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts. He has written about comics for various periodicals, including The Guardian, The Comics Journal, Comics International and Blueprint.
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Gravett's writing is easy to follow, and he seems to be extremely thorough in his research. He includes chapters on underground manga, erotic and pornographic manga, as well as the more well-known boys' (shonen) and girls' (shojo) manga that Americans are so familiar with. Since the book is large in size, the pages and pages of manga excerpts are easy to read and provide excellent examples of pretty much every genre of manga that exist.
I recommend this book to anyone who is just beginning to venture into manga, or anyone interested in the modern Japanese psyche. Gravett's history of manga is also a study of modern Japanese people and the way they look at the world around them.
* the work and life of Tezuka
* gekiga, dramatic manga aimed at an older audience
* the sports, mecha, humor, fantasy, and oddities of boys’ manga
* girls’ manga, including the rise of female creators and the shonen ai (boys’ love) genre (the word yaoi is never used)
* the violence and sexuality of seinen (young men’s) manga
* redikomi, sexy ladies’ comics (although the samples included in this chapter also cover businessmen’s manga)
* underground art and dojinshi (fanzines)
* world manga, cross-country collaborations and inspirations
In a way, this book can be seen as covering many of the same areas as Manga! Manga! but presented for a much more visual, fast-paced generation who are already familiar with the concept. It’s an attractive buffet, great for sampling. (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
In the United States, the prevalent judgement by parents and many people outside of comic and manga fandom communities is that comics of all kinds are predominantly targeted to young children. In Japan, however, manga is targeted for a diverse audience, from young children, to adults, with genres driven towards female readers of diverse age ranges, which is relatively rare in the US. There are categories of manga directed towards sophisticated adult readers, as well as categories delivering explicitly pornographic or challenging sexual content, or stories written for gay and lesbian interests. Though Japan is somewhat more socially liberal on allowing some access by younger kids to sexual content, these categories are distinctly targeted to different age groups, genders and interests.
Of course, to ignore any single aspect of manga is to sacrifice the broad scope that the art form has manifested itself. Gravett casts a wide observation over as many different categories and examples of manga as he could deliver in a reasonably sized format. Examining the book shows that it is clearly targeted for at least a late-teenage readership if not higher, as Gravett presents historical and business information as a backdrop to the artistic content of the Japanese manga industry. Even despite the sexual content, this is far from a children's oriented book in text content and reading level alone.
As far as the sexual content goes, there are less than twenty pages with sexually explicit content on them, which is only about eight percent of the overall 176 page book. Some readers would naturally find the content objectionable, but the amount and contexts are hardly excessive--and in some cases, such as the work of Maruo Suehiro, the work is of very fine quality of value to students of Japanese comic art. The work may not be to everyone's taste, but it is far from artistically irrelevant.
(Besides which--having seen some wide examples of even harsher sexual material--Gravett's selections are far from the worst ones available).
As a result of the sexual content in this book, it was removed from the libraries of San Bernadino (California) County's Public Library system. Both sides make compelling and passionate arguments, but this has given the book an unfortunate notoriety apart from the excellent academic content. Many of the press remarks (which are available on the author's website) seem to refer to the book as excessively pornographic or x-rated, when much of it is compartmentalized in the two or three chapters dealing with adult-oriented manga in the latter half of the book. Obviously, interested readers would be encouraged to examine the book for themselves before drawing their own conclusions as to whether the book exceeds their own personal tastes or not, but they should also be aware that much of the press coverage seems to have overemphasized the book's sexual content.
It is important to know that for readers interested in an objective, comprehensive source on Japanese manga done with high academic standards, this book is a must. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be many books targeted towards a young readership that are a general reference on Japanese manga, but much of the published content in manga is oriented towards a pre-teen readership, including most of the "how to draw" manga books, Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat and Newtype magazines, and much of the publishing lines of Viz, Tokyopop, ADV and others. There is a wealth of manga content available for kids outside of material which parents would find sexually objectionable.
In short, this book is in no way targeted for children, though of course as a comprehensive examination of manga it includes some content which, on its own, is accessible to a children's audience. With any luck, this book will continue to recieve attention for the quality academic work it offers instead of controversy.
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Un libro da tavolino sui piú famosi manga Giapponesi.