lifestyle

Manga and anime declared good study tools for kids

28 Comments
By Rachel Tackett

Children’s books and television shows these days are nothing compared to the ones that many of us had growing up. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. I think back fondly on those days of watching Rugrats and Scooby Doo marathons and scoff at the thought of modern-age children rotting their brains with Spongebob and Annoying Orange. But the fact of the matter is that letting kids subject themselves to those books and animations is important to the development of reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, though the shows now seem like garbage to our fully-developed minds.

In Japan, the same sort of issue arises with kids becoming obsessed with manga and anime. Parents may try to insist that their children put away the comics and pick up a real book. Some may even go so far as to throw out their child’s comic magazines as they begin to pile up. However, according to one of the professors at Tama University, Yuichi Higuchi, in his short essay “Are you a Bad Parent?” keeping kids away from their anime and comics is a terrible thing to do!

Let’s start with the manga. According to Professor Higuchi, reading and rereading the same manga many times over is the best way for children to naturally develop their language skills. This refers to more than just basic comprehension of the plot, which can generally be achieved after one quick read-through. For a child to pick up on the deeper meaning behind the words — the foreshadowing and the nuanced humor, hidden between precise turns of phrase and balanced visual depictions — it takes at least two or three reads for the full breadth of the story to unfold.

Every time a child rereads their manga of choice, there is something new that they discover. The words and speech patterns make a little more sense and the meaning behind them becomes that much more clear. Every time a child reads that story their ability to comprehend it expands just a little. They are learning in a way that they love, so why not show some encouragement when they toss aside their textbooks for a well-worn comic?

But what about anime? At least with manga, Japanese kids are getting in a bit of kanji practice, yeah? Anime uses pictures to convey its story, rather than writing. And yet, Professor Higuchi insists that anime also has ways of raising a child’s reading comprehension. The secret is providing discussion which leads to critical thinking.

If your kids love anime, then they’ll love to share the experience with you and to talk about it. Engaging them in something that they love can be both fun and eye-opening. All it takes are some simple questions like, “What was the most interesting part?” to get their brains cooking up some comparisons and judgments. Now, you don’t want to kill their joy by firing of standardized test questions in the middle of the show, but even saying things to yourself like, “ I wonder why the character did that…” can inspire critical thinking in children.

In addition, anime can drastically broaden a child’s vocabulary. Not everything that comes up is as inappropriate as Naruto’s “Harem Technique” or as nonsensical as Ichigo’s “Heaven Chain Slaying Moon” sword.

What it really comes down to is that there’s no good reason to separate kids from the things that they’re interested in. With manga and anime in particular, there’s great potential for learning language skills.

Personally, I’m just happy for the implication that the next time I prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, I can read manga rather than textbooks. The thought of studying has finally been made fun!

Source: Niconico News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The Top 10 Manga for Those University Bound -- Miscommunication at Cake Shop Leads to One Ugly Birthday Cake -- Ice-Cream, Ramen and 30,000 Comics at Tachikawa’s Amazing New Manga Park

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28 Comments
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I think older generations just think back too fondly on the "good old days" and think that everything back then was better, when most of it was a lot worse. I mean, how many high school kids were taking calculus back in 1960 versus today? My mother was valedictorian of her graduating class back in 1960, and she took trigonometry as a senior. I took trig as a sophomore. How many more are going to college? Not even that, how much higher is our high school graduation rate? Yeah, they have no right to tell us our entertainment choices are "rotting our brains."

I also firmly believe video games face the same stigmas as this article addressed. People (usually old people) often automatically dismiss video games as mindless rubbish, without realizing the incredible opportunity for the development of critical thinking skills.

I think back fondly on those days of watching Rugrats and Scooby Doo marathons and scoff at the thought of modern-age children rotting their brains with Spongebob

Dude. Spongebob is hilarious. Well, at least the episodes made before the movie.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It TOTALLY depends upon the material being used with either manga or anime. I highly doubt the lolita or highly charged sexually related material would be appropriate, much of which would only propagate sexism, violence, and degradation, particularly towards women.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It TOTALLY depends upon the material being used with either manga or anime.

I think the authoress meant family-friendly Anime and Manga.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think the authoress meant family-friendly Anime and Manga.

For a topic such as education one would think that being specific in what they meant is of the utmost importance. Anime and Manga cover too much ground that writing about it in generalities is not the way to go.

Also if you notice in the article there is nothing about "family-friendly" in this statement, and it's pretty clear what she meant here:

Every time a child rereads their manga of choice, there is something new that they discover. The words and speech patterns make a little more sense and the meaning behind them becomes that much more clear. Every time a child reads that story their ability to comprehend it expands just a little. They are learning in a way that they love, so why not show some encouragement when they toss aside their textbooks for a well-worn comic?

Have you ever looked at something as seemingly mild as Shonen Jump? There is some pretty risque stuff in there for kids. (Maybe not in comparison to what one can find on the internet today) But just saying here, "manga" of choice is pretty broad and does not begin to touch on anything "family-friendly"

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

There is nothing wrong with anime and/or manga as a kind of 'supplement' to natural language acquisition. However, and I've seen this in some schools, using manga in lieu of regular texts even in junior highschools is just plain wrong. Comics are fun. Comics are great. But they are not textbooks.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yeah I definitely agree with this, the best way by far to facilitate learning is get the student interested in their material. At the very least, comic books spur imagination and communication abilities.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The thing to do would be a collaboration between the manga writers and illustrators and the textbook writers to create textbooks that are more appeasing than they are now. Put the study material in manga form and I'll bet the kids would eat it up.

Problem is MEXT though, anything "fun" or "entertaining" in any class besides English (rolling eyes sarcasm there) would certainly get screwed up.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't know if you can say that Manga are not text books. What about "The Manga Guide to...." series. Everything from Electricity to Biochemistry. There is one for Physics, Calculus, Statistics, Linear Algebra, Molecular Biology, Databases, Relativity, and the Universe. Take a look inside one.... http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/178-5310921-0217405?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Manga%20guide%20to Then there is the Shakespeare series.... http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=manga+shakespeare&sprefix=Manga+shak%2Caps%2C390&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Amanga+shakespeare

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I must confess that I came by my ignorance the hard way, with no help from erudite manga illustrators.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"On a related note, catsup was declared a vegetable."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

ka_chan: "I don't know if you can say that Manga are not text books."

You most certainly can. Or you can argue they are textbooks, then wonder why Japanese students have fallen behind in many fields of study as they read abridged, manga versions of 'history' or Shakespeare or what have you and have to write about what they 'read'. Next they'll be suggesting kids can draw comics in lieu of resume or essay writing.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Manga are a good way to learn Japanese for foreigners too.

(No, I'm not talking about those ones)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Picture books.. have been used for centuries.. an illustration to induce mental cohesion, of an object, subject.. or thought. Illustrated Christian manuscripts.. Japanese mathematical wood carvings (sangaku)..

not to mention all those eh.. picture entertainment pamplets/books during the edo period..

I for one learnt history from Manga.. which in turn made me curious, making me read books at a very young age..

As the title says, its good for kids.. it stimulates the brain.. kinda. If one can spark that, ever illusive curiosity through such a medium.. then its a good thing..

But no one needs another Aso.. .. plz.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yeah, for kids! But, I have issues with adults using comics to learn anything.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Good for studying what?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Comics are fun. Comics are great. But they are not textbooks.

A very true statement! When I'm reading manga, I have a hard time putting it down and hitting the sack. When I crack open my 日本語教本, I'm blissfully asleep in minutes! Better than a roofie at knocking me out! ;-)

I once asked which manga would be the best for learners of the Japanese language to get used to everyday usage and almost universally the reply was "よつばと!" ("Yotsuba & !"). Apparently there's a bit of a Kansai dialect in the story, though. (e.g. Yotsuba says "sugei" in place of "sugoi") Anime can still help with reading while at the same time learning how others say things that may be different than what's used in your region. Simply turn on closed captioning and the written words are added to what's being spoken. Let's be honest, the canned phrases you learn in a textbook are not used that often in the real world. どこに新聞ありますか isn't going to be as handy a phrase as you might think.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Really? Is this what the kids will be doing in school on saturdays?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

SmithinJapan Manga can be a textbook. The "guide to" series have most the elements needed to study a subject. I personally don't like abridged versions but anything that will encourage readers of difficult language as Shakespeare's plays is a good thing. Probably anime is a better medium for Shakespeare since they are plays and meant to be acted out. As for Japanese students falling behind.... who? American's? Brits? Aussies? Yeah, right! Japan was 9th in math, 5th in sciences, and 8th in reading. Japan most likely lost ground to Korea and China since they dropped the 1/2 days on Saturday. Most manga can serve to help learn kanji but probably not spoken Japanese since most manga and anime are too casual and not enough keigo in the dialogue. But it's sad to say that most anime will beat Japanese dramas just in presentation. I just find most Japanese dramas not interesting and this is probably why Korean dramas are popular in Japan. Manga and Anime are mediums that can service as tools for learning in the hands of the right instructor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Which kind of manga does he refer to? There are some strange (and disturbing) ones out there.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well, I can't say whether or not I think Manga and Anime can help a child learn, but if I had never discovered Anime in January of this year, I may never have started learning Japanese, and would not be fluent in writing Hiragana and Katakana. On that basis I can see that Anime and Manga have the capacity to teach, and not just children, though it did so in a roundabout fashion for me. Personally I don't see anything against it, as long as you allow them access to suitable material. If I ever have children, I would recommend Angel Beats!, Spice & Wolf and several others to them for them to learn from. Then when they get older and more mature, I can introduce them to the more explicit Anime and hope that I raised them well enough to see the value in those shows, and not just the nudity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great, Mangas in all classrooms! Oh, they already have. No wonder people cant even change a car tyre!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Comics are brain candy. Kids should be encouraged to get more solid intellectual nutrition from well-written books, too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ka_Chan beat me to it. I ran across a Manga guide to Calculus in the local Barnes & Noble here in Utah. Too bad they didn't have them back during my college days. When I was in Vietnam, the Stars & Stripes were part of the "news management" except for one thing they overlooked, the comics strips that carried some messages that weren't covered in the text.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

that is how I started to learn, then got formal education at the university. Found out it did not compare at all to how fun it was learning from anime and manga.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

not that it' completely on topic but i learned my first french watching dubbed versions of hokuto no ken and saint seyia on wednesday afternoons after school , named 'ken le survivant' and 'chevaliers du zodiac' just as now i'm still picking up japanese words from watching subtitled anime. I think dubbing is not the way to go in any language since you often don't get the finer puns and jokes into translation very well and you somewhat lose part of the atmosphere or flow like that, you definitely lose the 'poetic rythm' of the speech if it was originally well written to collide with certain visual scenes BUT on topic : pardon my french but teachers need to get their heads out of aaahbackside of the sixties. What does it matter what tool is used as long as the message is conveyed and the lesson is understood who cares if its a classic dusty book, a comic or a movie. What matters is what kids pick up. You forget your place sometimes, sensei, you're teaching, not telling people how to teach. Now ... go practice :p

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can learn some things about culture too. If you watch different language (country) interpretations of some Japanese Anime, you can learn things about their cultures. I did find the US DVD version of Evangelion interesting since it had 3 dubs ( English, French, Spanish). At the time I wanted to hear the German spoken by one of the charcters since the Japanese German was not understandable. The French and Spanish dub German was very understandable.

As for culture, the interpretation of characters as Michiru and Haruka from Sailor Moon can be interesting. It is mentioned under censorship in wiki.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Several years after Japan lost WW II, Sazaye-san was popular in Japan, Then Ijiwarubasan to satisfy women's frustration, During war, there was Norakuro. In USA. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Disneyland cartoons. Mangas are entertaining/ Cartoon Network in USA have so many hero cartoons. Who watch csrtoon channels? There are a variety of jobs in Manga production companies, too. Sony Entertainment Productiom promote them. I read a binch of Japanese na]mes on tile screens. American old actors are playing voice actors. People just watxh, not addicted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is nothing wrong with anime and/or manga as a kind of 'supplement' to natural language acquisition. However, and I've seen this in some schools, using manga in lieu of regular texts even in junior highschools is just plain wrong. Comics are fun. Comics are great. But they are not textbooks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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