Japan hoping Manga comics will end recession

Expect more Manga in the coming years. The UK’s Guardian is reporting that one of the strategies for economic correction in Japan is to export more Manga. Part of the 15 trillion Yen stimulus measure unveiled last week contains language to boost Manga comic exports from 2% to 18 over the next decade resulting in 500,000 new jobs. The prime minister, Taro Aso believes the market could grow to 20-30 trillion yen. Critics of the manga-loving PM say the talk is only a political ploy to boost his popularity among Manga fans. The current manga market is just over 400 billion yen this year, down from 580 billion yen a decade ago.

15 thoughts on “Japan hoping Manga comics will end recession

  1. As soon as Manga gets taken seriously enough to get a new presentation model in the States it could very well help Japan’s economy. As it stands now the Manga section at any retailer is an ominous wall of mystery that only serves to intimidate curious new comers.

    This could be a good place to start a good conversation. Who has an idea for better marketing for Manga State-side? I personally dont, I can only say that browsing Manga sections makes me dizzy rather than intrigued.

  2. Manga is making in-roads fast with kids. My 13-year-old daughter knows more about manga than I do. She loves the backwards layout (Japanese printing – the books read from right to left, back to front) and understands the iconic expressions that are lost on me.

    Did you know that sometimes the scribbly things on manga character’s faces are actually WORDS? When somebody is embarrassed in a manga it can literally be written right on their face.

    As to manga saving the Japanese economy, there might be precedent. How much of California’s economy comes from exporting entertainment?

  3. I’m not a fan of the drawing style in Manga.
    And if I see a book that I like and I have to read it backwards, I don’t buy it. I hate reading backwards.

    One of my favorite books is Tokyopop’s “My Dead Girlfriend” by Eric Wight. Beautifully drawn, something different.
    Unfortunately, Volume 2 hasn’t come out yet, in over 2 years.

  4. One of the reasons I think manga isn’t taken seriously in the states by many is that it is very easy to do poorly and many people do.

  5. I absolutely love Manga. Howard brings up one of my favorite points about the form, the visual language and conventions used in Manga is so different from any western work that to me it truly is quite fascinating to read. Usually the stories are much more cerebral as well.

  6. The best thing about manga is that there seems to be a wider range of stories, due to a lot of Japan reading manga on the train ride to work. Trouble is, the only manga that comes to America is the watered-down kids manga, which even then seems to be “too offensive” for parents. Luckily, since manga has had a huge boom in America, those “older audience” manga are coming over more and more. Pick up a book by Erika Sakurazawa and you’ll see what I mean by “older audiences”. Sadly, throwing that term on a comic book sometimes means that the person buying it is viewed at the same level as the guy in the back room of the video store, even if there’s nothing truly explicit in the book.

    Matthew: Of course it has the potential to be drawn badly. So do cartoons, comic books in America, and even fine art. We forgive bad art a lot more in those forms though. The reason it’s seen “drawn poorly” a lot is that children and teenagers are getting into manga for the stories, and want to draw because of it. It’s funny that graphic novels from another country did what Marvel and DC should have been doing for years: Getting more kids into comics. I always read comics, but anime and manga got me wanting to make them. If you say Naruto in a crowd of kids, you’ll get 10 pieces of art (good and bad) of characters from the show. I think that’s wonderful.

  7. Trevor, agreed about Manga quality. That statement applies across the arts board in that everything has potential to be done poorly. The Manga market is no more saturated with crap than any other media.

    No one agrees with my presentation theory? Am I the only one intimidated by my book store’s wall of Manga?

  8. Noah: I’m intimidated by it too, but kids who love Manga or who are good friends with kids who love Manga will cheerfully explore that wall for hours.

    We’re not the target market. The marketing may not be great (great marketing could draw us in, after all) but it’s working.

  9. >>”Of course it has the potential to be drawn badly.”

    Sorry, I meant drawn and written.

    >>”The Manga market is no more saturated with crap than any other media.”

    I would tend to disagree, but that may be my own personal dislike of the genre coming through. I also feel that the popular manga is also some of the worst, and at a higher level than other media such as print/web comics. Naruto, Inuyash, et al are pretty awful, at least in terms of writing (I’m not an artist so I can’t speak for the artwork. Although I will say that the artwork in manga seems very samey and unoriginal/uncreative/uninspired).

  10. Matthew: I’ll definitely agree that Naruto and some of the other more popular manga titles aren’t the best. To make the same point though, I think that it’s just as noticeable with Marvel and DC. The art tends to be similar, the writing tends to be weak, and that’s why many kids, including myself at the time, moved to manga. Just like people have to look for the indie titles for something different in America, you’ve got to look for smaller titles in manga. Case and Point: The studio CLAMP, very famous for “Chobits” and “Cardcaptor Sakura”, also made a smaller title called Shirahime-Syo, which I consider to be a beautiful piece of art. Work such as “Lone Wolf and Cub”, “Berserk”, and “Nausicaa” are different both in art and writing.

    Noah: I think the separation is what hurts either side. Saying “Manga section” opens up an excuse for someone to say “Well, I don’t like manga.” But those who like manga will run to that section and ignore the others. I would say just to have all trades organized by theme. So if someone walks in looking for a Sci-fi comic, they can see both the latest “Gundam” book and “Y: The Last Man” in the same section. I just think that comics should just be called “comics”. It’s the same with “webcomics”, “neocomics”, “western” vs “manga”, etc. They’re all comics, but it’s the names that make some people decide if they will check it out or not.

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