In the strictest sense, manga is the term used to describe comic in Japan. However, as evidenced in the research contained in this publication, this definition is very short and only superficially represents the true dimension of the reality to which it refers.
Manga is the most important cultural manifestation in Japan. This importance can only be understood as a logical consequence of its omnipresence in all facets of daily life and work, both due to the enormous volume of business it represents, and because of its ability to permeate other media: cinema, television, literature, advertising, education, design or fashion. Extremely disparate manifestations and of different cultural backgrounds join manga in unequal symbiosis to reach people. One of the great potentials and values of manga lies in this transfer: its ability to influence select manifestations because it is a popular and hugely diverse medium.
However, that same popularity has begun to extend beyond Japan’s borders, in the commercial arena –generating new consumers every day– and increasing the permeability referred to earlier in other cultural media. Recent years have seen manga influencing European and American comic book artists and, as was the case in Japan in previous decades, it is also influencing western cinema and animation, as well as advertising and fashion. In the last decade, the West has begun to discover that Japan, is not only a top technological and industrial potential, but also a major exporter of culture, where manga is one of its main assets. The growing enthusiasm and passion of Western fans for this radically Japanese medium illustrates the evolution of the comic market globally. In this sense, manga is presented as the Trojan horse of a third wave of Japanese culture that follows the success of Ukiyo-e prints during the avant-garde years and Zen philosophy in the 1960s.
Why is manga so successful? Perhaps part of the success lies in its Japanese specificity, in its ability to combine, without losing identity, something genuinely Japanese with an increasingly stateless feeling. Manga is a medium that not only looks inward –deep into the historical and cultural tradition of Japan– but also outward. At the artistic level, Japan has always been recognised for its traditional Ukiyo-e paintings and woodblock prints, haiku poetry, martial arts, ceramics or Zen philosophy. In the last 50 years, the banner of Japanese artistic manifestations has fallen on the shoulders of its architecture, a reflection of the symbiosis that exists between the old and new, in design, fashion or gardens, often seen in national art publications. Literature and films have also, perhaps to a lesser extent, been recognised inside and outside Japan since both expression media are quite popular. However, during these very same decades, manga, which is undoubtedly its number one manifestation, and perhaps nowadays considered as “the Japanese medium par excellence”, has always been ignored in this unique cultural ranking.
Thus we need to ask ourselves whether manga can be considered as a new cultural and artistic reference in the 21st century, and investigate the reasons behind such recognition. The aesthetic revolution driven by the Japanese manga stems from its innate ability to influence very disparate creative environments, many of them foreign, as was once the case with Ukiyo-e, haiku or Akira Kurosawa’s cinema. The conditions underlying the notorious success of manga in Japan and in the West, despite the evident differences in language and cultural references, and the reasons why it should be considered as a genuine and independent medium per se are the subject of this study. Throughout the book, an attempt is made to perform an in-depth analysis of the evolution and influence of manga, with a complete journey through the diversity of genres that characterise it, its morphology, as well as the multiplicity of discourses (and their intertwining with other means), highlighting its place in Japanese culture, society and market, as well as in the rest of the world.
“Manga. From the floating picture to the Japanese comic” is an extensive monograph on Japanese manga, with special focus on the sociological context. Throughout its 600 pages, it covers not only the morphology, syntax and categorisation of manga, but also its historical journey, its capacity to influence and impact Japanese society and its intertwining in other cultural manifestations, as well as its important market value around the world. This book is the result of profound research and will satisfy both the most experienced researcher and the enthusiastic neophyte.
Author: José Andrés Santiago
Date of 1st Edition: 06/2010
ISBN 13: 978-84-15097-79-2
Publishing House: dx5 research group – University of Vigo
Dimensions: 17 x 23 x 3,5 cm.
Print: Four-colour process.