Comic Books Aren’t Just for Kids

May 31, 2007 at 3:48 pm 1 comment

Visit any Japanese home and you’re likely to find an entire bookshelf dedicated to comic books. In America, they’re the exclusive gems of geeks and prepubescent boys, but in Japan’s case comics are widely accepted reading material by everyone, young and old, male and female alike.


That’s because it’s not just about monsters and robots. My own shelf includes a series that revolves around a very homely woman who spites her tormentors by turning into a hot babe with the help of a little plastic surgery. Think of it as fantasy follow-up to the reality show “The Swan,” where haughty coworkers are dropping their jaws when the supposed “new girl” walks into the office. And then there’s graphic novels detailing the history of feudal Japan that my dad keeps whenever he’s in the mood for tales of swashbuckling Samurai.

Comic books are in fact so cherished by the Japanese that even a prominent politician has publicly declared his love. Just recently he announced he was establishing an international manga award for foreign authors. That’s right, if you’re a Japanese-style comic book artist born outside of Japan then you qualify.

Aso hopes the award will become a Nobel Prize of sorts, further pushing Japanese pop culture into American society. Though unlike the Swedish award, there isn’t a cash prize. Instead, winners will get a shiny trophy and free trip to Japan.

It’d be really cool to see what comes out of American manga artists. Tales of interracial love? Evangelical crusaders? Model minorities gone wild? The possibilities are truly endless in such a multi-faceted country as the U.S. Maybe soon enough I’ll be clearing out a shelf just for them. (^_<)/


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Entry filed under: Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment.

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May 2007