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Is reading manga really so bad?

37 Comments

“It's because he reads only manga.” That's what some tabloid media blame for the recent series of verbal gaffes by Prime Minister Taro Aso. Recently, renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki said he was embarrassed that Aso would publicly admit that reading manga was his hobby.

The prime minister has long declared he is a manga and anime fan and has visited Akihabara many times to show young anime enthusiasts that he is cool. So what's the big deal? Is manga really bad for adults?

“These days, manga are being used for PR pamphlets on the pension system and upcoming lay jury system. The medium is an effective tool to introduce social and economic systems to the public,” says Tomohide Kure, president of the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics.

Manga creators put a lot of research effort into their work. One former manga editor says, “In the case of sports manga, such as golf and baseball, for example, Japanese authors and editors often visit America's Augusta and major league baseball's Yankee Stadium to get the right feel. For medical and law manga, they hire professionals in each field to check their contents. We research story backgrounds in much more detail than TV dramas whose writers visit those professionals maybe only once for their program.”

Manga are in fact spreading worldwide as a useful means of disseminating information on Japan in addition to their conventional entertainment factor. Manga markets in North America and Europe now top 25 billion yen.

“In the U.S., very few people see manga as having a negative influence, something that 'dumbs down' readers," says Hidemi Fukuhara, president and CEO of VIZ Media which publishes translated Japanese manga in North America. "Rather, school PTAs and libraries encourage people to read manga as an opportunity to keep the reading habit alive in this digital multimedia era. Microsoft, for example, was highly praised for including manga in its manuals. Even physics textbooks currently include manga.”

Considering how widespread and popular manga are in society, it seems pointless to criticize Aso just because he reads manga. Eiji Ostuka, a manga author and critic, concludes: “In Aso's case, he uses manga as a means to connect with young people. It is obvious from his performance in Akihabara, the way he was speaking to people there. He was addressing them as 'my dear otaku guys.' We shouldn't confuse his election campaign strategy with the true value of manga.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Quite to the contrary, comics can be part of a wholesome, active lifestyle...

IF YOU'RE 9 YEARS OLD!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yes, if you are a grown man, and/or leader of a country.

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The manga mentality, immediate stimulus with the minimal of intellectual effort, pervades all aspects of modern Japanese media. From the early TV shows which tell you what the morning papers say before you've read them to the ham acting dramas in the evening, which lay before you all the emotions and reactions of the participants, with the smallest effort on the viewers' part.

Is manga bad for you? For an adult I say yes. For a child, I say depends.

The state of immaturity is a child's natural mental state. The path to adulthood includes a path to maturity. 'Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without direction from another' (Kant). Manga, among other things, including the Japanese education system, is one of the biggest hurdles to the attainment of this mental maturity. Before someone jumps in with an anti Japanese claim, yes a large part of any country's population never attain this mature mental state, but the political elites of a supposedly developed state????

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There is nothing wrong with reading manga. I have been reading comics, such as The Phantom, Disney's Uncle Scrooge/Donald Duck, etc, Mad magazine, and Peanuts for more than 40 years. Look how I turned out.

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Brainiac

We don't know you, so I can't tell how you turned out. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with an adult enjoying manga or watching cartoons on TV. The medium is timeless. I'm a big comic fan, also, though I don't particularly like Japanese manga.

I think that overuse of video games and cell phones do more to stunt an individual's emotional development than manga.

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Like TV or movies, is ok the longer that is not an adiction. But in my opinion is just another short path for avoid reading to many dificult kanjis.

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Interesting how everyone is ganging up on Aso-san now. HELLO JAPAN? You need to stop tearing down anyone who stands 1 cm above the herd, you know? What the hell do you get from destroying the current PM -- you know there's no one better waiting in the wings. Japan is such a funny place.

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This totally explains Aso and the way he does stuff, he thinks life should be run like a manga comic.

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YES...depending on your company,and friends circle,embarrassing,totally.

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Yes. If you include the rape-themed manga which seems to be the genre of choice of many a salaryman here in Japan, definitely yes.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Anyone, at any given time, has acces to the greatest thinkers of all times.....thanks to the internet, their work is made widely available.... But yeah go ahead and read a manga..... Lets keep on dumbing it down....

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JT, why not have a couple of social commentary cartoons on your site? surely there is someone floating around Japan who can draw up some political and social satire. It would be good to have a laugh on current events in japan.

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Altria, there are Manga for adults and i do not mean the smutty kind. There is enough good mature storylines in some manga's Lot's of manga fall in the pulp category, but if those are bad then one should also stop watching 80% of the brainless TV.

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80% of the brainless TV.

Very generous of you....Even documentaries are boring here....i d say 98.9 ....reading a manga is like only going to restaurants with pictures on the menu....Id rather have my kids giving up reading altogether.... -Can i read this Dad? No Son this stuff will make your brain soft and it will lower YOUR standards...... -But Dad everybody at school reads them...... Why do you thing im worried?

Fastfood for the brain..... Never mind the New world order....it wont be forced upon you....You re gonna love it and you ll ask for more....

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"It's that evil rock & roll music!"

Sound familiar?

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thing...cross that for think

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“In the U.S., very few people see manga as having a negative influence, something that ‘dumbs down’ readers,”

Is that a joke? Plenty of people see it as child's material and I can promise that an admitted managa reader wouldn't become prez.

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Depends on the material and how well it is written, I guess. But in general it seems as though it is just as was said above. It just dumbs down reading for the masses. (Of course there are some good ones). Kind of a shame really. I have always thought of reading as a way to challenge yourself and learn new words.

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I like to read, all my life I've read different books, magazines, newspapers, comics, manga and technical books, if you find a way to get young generations that prefer TV and videogames and don't read anything, interested in reading something, even though it's only manga, we would see better vocabularies. It is thanks to my liking of reading that I was able to learn English (though I know that still I have a long way to go...) and although the very few mangas that I've read are translated into English cannot tell me if they are well written, it is worth a try to connect people. Good to Aso!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't see what the big deal is. So he likes manga. Wake-up call-- a lot of people do. Even in some hotels they have rows of comics for business men to read (which they do) and no one is complaining about that. Until Aso runs around in cosplay, yelling anime/manga catch phrases, I'm pretty sure Japan will be just fine with their new PM.

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tmarie

Is that a joke? Plenty of people see it as child's material and I can promise that an admitted managa reader wouldn't become prez.

What country are you talking about? Can't be the U.S...

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tmarie

Is that a joke? Plenty of people see it as child's material and I can promise that an admitted managa reader wouldn't become prez.

Um...http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/3401168/Barack-Obama-The-50-facts-you-might-not-know.html Top of the list. "Barack Obama collects Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian comics."

I don't think there's anything wrong with reading manga. I think it's about as "bad" as reading only fiction. They're both an escape from reality. As long as it's not the only thing you read (and for probably 99.9 percent of people it's not) there's nothing to worry about.

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I don't think reading manga is bad. Most things are good IN MODERATION. However I think reading -only- manga (remember, manga and comics are similar but separate genres, like let's say, sea water and river water) isn't conducive to intellectual growth. SOME manga artists may worry about making their material look documented, but it's that only: the look, not the content. It's all about the artistic effect, not about teaching science, literature or math. Manga is for entertainment; manga is to distract and entertain, to look at the pictures.

Remember that old gag about morons not reading books if the books don't have pictures? Manga is well, a book of pictures. Manga format requires minimum intellectual effort. Stories are interesting yes, but the pictures direct you through it; there is no space for imagination, analysis or abstraction.

Manga itself isn't bad (I am not going to get into the topics of manga; there's REALLY depraved material, but also there's light-hearted and emotional materials as well) but ONLY manga gives a limited version of the world that does not fit reality, nor teaches proper social interaction. Manga is like junk food. It's nice on occasion, but there's a larger need for nutritive food to keep oneself in good health.

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This is equivalent to saying "are magazines really so bad?", "are movies really so bad?" etc... The number of manga titles coming out each year is huge and only a tiny percentage of that is perverted stuff. Unfortunately many westerners still have a negative image of manga.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Save the planet. Great material for toilet paper.

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Reading ONLY manga is bad. This is a dumb article.

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it seems pointless to criticize Aso just because he reads manga

Two phrases for you; 'The leader of the country' and 'Peter Pan syndrome'

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yes

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After reading some of these comments,maybe it's not BAD,but c'mon,it IS embarrassing depending on your company,you can't get around it.

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Manga is totally cultural stuff. Japan invented manga hence it is evolving into one of their main cultural backbone.

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depends what you read, the 5,000 I have I would say have been most productive and all classics. Learnt Japanese via managa and anime so I would be an idiot to say anything bad against them. Moderation? ummm not really, who's to decide how much music, art, food, movies, games, anime, managa, model making, pc, etc is in moderation. If you do all the above like me in a far more proportion than the average person who might spend 3 hours every day in the bar or a total accumulation of 2 hours of smoking then who's to say how much is enough for that person.

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Mangas and Anime are real ways of expression and only japan offers the possibility for every artist to express him self and earn at least some Yen for that. That's why you have billion Yen succes Mangas, underground mangas, hardcore managas, leading design managas, bad drawn mangas ex . .. . . it doesn't surprise me that many peeps on here find it embarassing to read mangas, as avoiding daily embarassement seems to be the main focus to keep your fake status , you have constructed yourself alive.(never heared the words acceptance and tolerance?) There is far more junk in any countries written book literature(as it is far more easy to just learn a language and write some trash , then actually have real imagination and make a drawing), far more junk on the internet and far more junk in the world movie industry , then inside Mangas . . . . as same then Comics, the Mangakas at least have to learn how to draw, how to imagine a drawing in order to materialize it . . . reading a book doesn't really fuel imagination, as you can only imagine (visualize inside your brain), what you actually know. Read 1000 books about fictive stories of the Roman empire and still you can't imagine anything clear(if you haven't seen masses of visual representations of those times,(in Movies, Reports, art, Mangas, anime, visited real sites ex . . .) , read 1000Mangas or Comics about the same topic and your imaginiative potential with mix with the stuff you have visualized and enable you to actually evolve in your restreint imagination. Just need to look at deviantart.com, there are the new western artists who emerged from the Manga-Anime influence and take the lead by now.

Real Manga freaks , also read tons of books, play tons of video games, see tons of movies ,look stons of TV, read many magazines and have many other hobbies that can go from traveling aboard, to your very own personal thing . . . as they are freaks , they can overcome the boringness of the day and do something real productive for their creativity. Most robots out there (japanese and western) can't do.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You are what you read - Aso is a good case in point. How scary that this man is the political leader of Japan. Theres a good chance he sees the world through "manga" eyes - really scary for Japan and the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Manga is the comic book equivalent of the Western civilization for Japan. Everyone read comic books at some points. Everyone read about Batman, Asterix, or whatever rock your world. How could you judge someone because of that ?

Of course, if he still reads a lot of X-Men when being president... then something is wrong.

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What I find fascinating is the affect on artistry. Ask a child to draw a human and it may well have big, childlike eyes, manga style. Cultural influence changing perception

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We are free to chose reading material that best suits our individual lifestyle. It does not suit my lifestyle so I chose not read it or to purchase it. I work in a public library and it seems to be popular with some people. More teenagers than adults, more boys than girls. The adults (usually men) who read manga in the public reading area are not your "typical" adults. I have never witnessed a business man, lawyer, etc. reading or checking out manga but that does not mean they do not read it. I do not want anyone to try to force it on me and neither would I force my preferred reading material on anyone.

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So none of you read comic strips in the newspaper? None of you have any comics at home? Is it dangerous to play with your child? There is nothing wrong with reading manga. There are plenty of manga for adults that your children most certainly should NOT read. Even if you chose those childish manga its just a small amount of childish joy in your busy everyday life, most like playing with your child, and there is nothing wrong with that, it can actually strengthen your psyche. Also most manga artists do a lot of research on the topics they write about, often a lot more than TV shows and movies and many book authors, so no its not dumping it down.

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