MANGA: AN EX­PLAINER

With Babymetal re­leas­ing their first graphic novel, we asked manga ex­pert He­len McCarthy to help us un­der­stand the tra­di­tion of comics in Ja­pan

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Babymetal -

What is manga?

“It’s just the Ja­panese word for comics. In Ja­pan, mar­vel comics are called manga, and so are news­pa­per strip car­toons. In the West, the term is used to dis­tin­guish Ja­panese comics from oth­ers, and also for comics made ‘in the manga style’ by nonJa­panese who want to mar­ket their work us­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of manga. there is no sin­gle ‘manga style’ and Ja­panese comics are very di­verse, but many Western artists use shonen or shojo styles, im­i­tat­ing Ja­pan’s mass-mar­ket comics for boys and girls.”

Why do some idol groups pro­duce manga?

“there’s a long tra­di­tion in Ja­pan of things suc­cess­ful in one medium colonis­ing oth­ers to max­imise in­come. amer­i­can scholar marc Steinberg has some in­ter­est­ing things to say about ‘me­dia mix’ in re­la­tion to Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion and the fran­chis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that de­vel­oped around tV se­ries Astro Boy in the 60s through to Poké­mon to­day. I don’t think manga about idol groups is dif­fer­ent from other manga, ex­cept that it has to re­flect the style and taste of the group and its fans. mu­sic-based or themed manga have the chal­lenge of evok­ing sound through vis­ual style. that’s not easy!”

Where can peo­ple start with manga?

“It can be over­whelm­ing be­cause there are so many web­sites, huge his­tory books and so­cial me­dia feeds. the break­through texts for Bri­tish fans were Akira and Ghost In The

Shell, but if you want some­thing retro style but con­tem­po­rary in thought, you can’t do bet­ter than osamu tezuka’s great plea for equal­ity and kind­ness, Astro Boy.”

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