Monday, May 7, 2012

Manga Mondays (101): Old Friend Manga Series

New Manga Mondays Meme!

I've been doing Manga Mondays every week since I started my blog 2 years ago. It started out as a personal feature, but I've turned it into a meme in the past few months. There are quite a few people who do Manga Mondays. I don't claim that I own or created the idea of Manga Mondays - it's an obvious choice given the alliteration. I think a meme would be a good way for everyone to publicize their own Manga Mondays and get a little more publicity.

The linky will be below my review.

Old Friend Manga Series: Becoming Attached to New Series

I was planning on posting my review of Skip Beat volume 4 today. I finished it Sunday morning. When I finished Volume 4, I immediately wanted to start Volume 5. This was the first volume of the series where I felt so into the plot, that I was overcome with excitement to read the next volume.

This led me to think about the adjustment time to other manga series. Most series have taken three or four volumes for me to get into. There have been a few that I loved right away and some that I knew from the first volume that I didn't want to continue, but mostly I form slow attachments to manga series.

Getting into a good manga series feels like getting into a friendship. When you first meet a friend, you enjoy spending time with her, but it's often work developing a relationship. Sure, there are those with whom you form such strong, immediate attachments that you're dishing out life-long secrets within an hour. But mostly, a new friendship takes time. Going out to lunch with a new friend doesn't have the same, comfortable feeling as meeting up with an old buddy. At some point, your "new" friend becomes an "old" friend. There's no invisible barrier between you, neither of you feel the need to maintain a face. Your relationship is easy, happy, and fun.

Volume 4 of Skip Beat was when the series turned into an old friend. I feel comfortable with the characters, the plot, the artwork, and the writing style. It no longer feels like work reading the series. Starting Volume 5 feels like meeting up with a long-time pal to chat.

I have more trouble getting into manga series than I do books. Usually I can tell within the first 50 pages of a book whether I'll enjoy it. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 volumes of a manga series to decide whether I'll like it. Why the difference? There are several reasons, I think.

First is the cultural difference. I know more about Japanese customs and culture than many people, since I've been there and my husband lived there for several years. But the Japanese are, in many subtle and not so subtle ways, very different from Americans. The ways they interact can be jarring. As can references to things like popular TV shows, Buddhist sayings, traditional proverbs. Side references to these things make total sense to the Japanese, but are confusing to an American. I've also found that Japanese characters often start out more closed than American characters. It's like they're shy or mistrusting of a reader until they know the reader is going to stick around. Finally, each other has her own style of drawing and of writing. Some series are dialogue heavy and some rely more on the drawings to convey emotion and plot. Sometimes the characters and names look or sound very alike and it's easy to get confused. Just like with any new friend, once you get used to their way of talking or their sense of style, it becomes more pleasant to spend time with them.

Have any of you noticed a similarly slow adjustment to manga series? Do you agree with my developing friendship analogy? Do any other comparisons come to your mind?

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  1. The thing I find about manga is that I'm easily turned off by the drawing style. I know that by just flipping through the pages of a first volume and I've probably looked over some good stories because of that. You are right the culture is very different and I think once you've read it for a long time or watched a lot of dramas you kind of get used to it. I really like British comedies but my friends are like I don't even get this, how do you think these jokes are funny. Skip Beat is one of those that I didn't really like it the first couple of volumes and didn't think I would read anymore. Then it turned out I really liked it later on.

  2. I need to read at least three volumes of a manga in order to decide whether or not to continue the series. The first volume is generally introducing the characters/setting, as well as establishing the conflict. I have dropped a few series after the 3rd volume because things that bothered me didn't change at all or even got worse. Perhaps if we lived in Japan where episodes come on a weekly basis, we would be quick in making our decision.

  3. Now when I think about it, for me it's the opposite, it's easier to tell if I like a manga than it is for a book. It takes me about a volume or two to get into a new manga series. But you're right about the friendship concept, it really does feel like a road of friendship with both books and manga! :)

  4. I probably have the exact opposite experience. It takes me a while to get into a new novel, but new manga is usually much easier for me to flow into. I've been so immersed in the Japanese culture vicariously for so many years, it's not jarring or weird to me anymore. Good thing for the internet because that's the only way I've been able to be such an otaku, lol.

    When I was younger, it was easier to read American novels because I didn't know anything about Japanese culture, but since I've gotten so into it, it feels like part of my identity. Although, I still get annoyed at the excessive need for politeness and how women are expected to behave in their society.

    I like your analogy about friends and how a book/manga series is just like that. Perfect way to put it. All my favorite characters are like friends, new and old.

  5. Manga is a genre I've never gotten into but your reviews rock because then I can pass recommendations on to my students who love manga! I have a whole pile of boys (and one girl in this particular group) who I've impressed with my manga knowledge. :)

  6. It definitely takes me a few volumes. Even if I think something is cute after the first volume, I can never really get into the plot or characters until volume 3 or 4.

  7. I'm actaully able to get into a new manga series rather quickly it usually only takes me one or two chapters to decided I love a new series.


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