Manga Styles’ influence in Western Culture

 

I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more discussion on the influence of manga in the comic book scene.  Manga and anime styles have infiltrated many different types of books that some may not have imagined touching.  One of the most well known ones is Teen Titans, with the kids’ show and comic book series, Teen Titans Go! The series incorporates many manga styles, especially the “chibi”, which exaggerates an extreme emotion when characters’ design suddenly transforms into the chibi state for a comedic effect.  Teen Titans Go! served to introduce an audience into the canon Teen Titans series, taking the manga hype that is present in many children’s shows over the past decade (Avatar the Last Air Bender, Martin Mystery, etc.) However, the influence of manga has also appeared in many published works that are used to educate kids.

For example, manga has been used to get readers, especially of a younger audience, into reading a wide arrangement of books, proving that publishers are aware of how popular the manga industry is in North America. Such works include the “Manga Shakespeare” comics, which uses the manga style to format Shakespeare into a more current and popular medium.  At the University of Calgary’s campus bookstore, one can also find a range of study books on science and math subjects, called “The Manga Guide to [Insert Science/Math Topic Here]”.  A wide arrangement of art books have appeared over the years to teach newcomers the manga style perspective, catering to both younger and older readers.  Clearly, the comic book industry is trying to keep on top of what is current, and have always done this even before western styled comics, especially superhero comics, were used a lot in the past to advertise brands or make public service announcements (PSAs), and used pop culture references whenever possible.  Example being how the 90’s star Vanilla Ice got his own biographical comic in Rock and Roll #33, and Avril Lavigne a fantasy manga story, “Avril Lavigne’s Make Five Wishes”.  The manga style is used more these days than the western style to grab at young readers, but this demonstrates that comics are still current, even if they are the underdog of literature.

For many manga comics’ readers, the western comics that utilize the manga style only to grab a reader audience, feels as forced as it obviously is. A prime example is the comics that are based on cartoon shows employing the manga style.  These comics are more like summaries of the show, and not a retelling or even a recreation of the plot, because they use still frames from the show, pop them into panels and add some word balloons.  This is seen in the Avatar the Last Airbender comics that are usually categorized in the children’s manga, and can be found listed as manga in online stores, but was created by a Western company using the manga style, and for the reasons previously stated, isn’t really an actual comic, but fodder for the cash cow.  As a manga fan, it’s a little strange seeing how the style has been employed over the years, successfully creating popular series and shows.  As much as it’s great the style is being used around the world and explored, and comics have been used in the past to snag a ride with popular culture icons, what will become of manga readership in the face of these changes and fodder transformations, is something only time will show.

Manga Shakespeare Comics:

http://www.mangashakespeare.com/

Cracked.com’s 6 Most Baffling PSAs:

http://www.cracked.com/article_19983_the-6-most-baffling-psas-starring-famous-superheroes.html

– J.Neary

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One Response to Manga Styles’ influence in Western Culture

  1. kpattemore says:

    I just wanted to say that this brought a blast from the past with just the mentions of teen titans, martin mystery and avatar! I loved those shows when i was younger! Also i feel the same way as i myself am a manga fan, i do find it strange that western culture adopted it, but i like how they are open minded to bringing over different cultures:)

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