A History of Manga in the Context of Japanese Culture and Society
K INKO ITO
M ANGA, OR JAPANESE COMIC ART, IS A HUGE AND LUCRATIVE BUSINESS that is truly popular in Japan. Nowadays, it is also exported to many countries, influencing their popular cultures, chil-
dren, youth, and the ways of the people. In this article, I briefly explore a history of Japanese manga, how it reflected events in Japanese society during various historical periods, and how it came to be what it is today.
Manga has humor, satire, exaggeration, and wit. The comic art includes caricature, cartoon, editorial cartoon, syndicated panel, daily humor strip, story-manga, and animation. Like any other form of visual art, literature, or entertainment, manga does not exist in a vacuum. It is immersed in a particular social environment that includes history, language, culture, politics, economy, family, religion, sex and gender, education, deviance and crime, and demography. Manga thus reflects the reality of Japanese society, along with the myths, beliefs, rituals, tradition, fantasies, and Japanese way of life. Manga also depicts other social phenomena, such as social order and hierarchy, sexism, racism, ageism, classism, and so on.
The Japanese Character
Contrary to popular Western belief, the Japanese are a very comical people who love jokes and funny stories. The stereotypical images of the Japanese worldwide are based on the assumption that they are serious, reserved, diligent, determined, successful, and rigid. Many
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people may also perceive them as economic animals, domineering, cold, calculating, oversexed, cunning, and unfriendly. Both positive and negative Japanese images abound, but generally the Japanese are a humorous, witty, and funny people once they bring down the formal façade that they project to others, especially foreigners.
The Japanese Language, Communication, and Manga
The Japanese culture belongs to what American anthropologist Edward Hall calls ‘‘the high context culture,’’ in which people prefer to use more implicit, unclear, and ambiguous messages whose meanings are found in the context, rather than explicit, clear, and straightforward messages. According to Japanese anthropologist Masao Kunihiro, ‘‘English is intended strictly for communication. Japanese is primarily interested in feeling out the other person’s mood’’ (‘‘The Devil’s Tongue’’). Japan is a small island nation with a long history, and the people are homogeneous. In contrast, the United States, according to Hall, belongs to ‘‘the low context culture,’’ in which messages them- selves are important and everything must be spelled out.
Japanese communication, being in the high context culture, relies more on contextual cues such as facial expressions, gestures, eye glanc- es, length and timing of silence, tone of voice, and grunts, all of which can be expressed in manga very eloquently. The high context commu- nication depends more on visual and auditory cues. The Japanese lan- guage offers ample opportunities for word play, such as puns and double entendres, thanks to the abundance of homonyms and ono- matopoeia. Both classical and contemporary Japanese literature, wheth- er a novel, a haiku poem, or a play, attest to this point.
Japanese onomatopoeia is usually written with katakana, a form of Japanese characters. Japanese onomatopoeia is ‘‘much more integrated in the picture than western typography is capable of . . . Japanese characters are just as much a product of artistic activity as the sur- rounding drawing. It is calligraphy’’ (Pollman 12–13). As part of the picture in manga, the onomatopoeia is capable of ‘‘building up atmos- phere and dynamics’’ (18). It also represents the psychological and emotional state of the characters. Japanese onomatopoeia is ‘‘often used to make precise the feelings one wants to convey on specific occasions or actions’’ (Marechal 149).
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Manga in Ancient Times
Manga and humor have a very long history in Japan. For example, Horyuji Temple was built in 607 CE in the ancient capital of Nara. Buddhism was officially introduced to Japan in 552 CE from Paekche, a southwestern Korean kingdom. Horyuji Temple burned in 670 CE, and was gradually rebuilt by the beginning of the eighth century. Horyuji is the oldest wooden structure in Japan, and probably the oldest in the world. Caricatures of people, animals, and ‘‘grossly ex- aggerated phalli’’ (Schodt, Manga! 28) were found on the backs of planks in the ceiling of the temple during repairs in 1935. These caricatures are among the oldest surviving Japanese comic art.
Manga in the Middle Ages
Bishop Toba (1053–1140) is said to have painted with brush and ink ‘‘the Animal Scrolls’’—humorous pictures of birds and animals—in the middle of the twelfth century. The monochromatic narrative picture scrolls consist of four volumes, and the first volume is considered the best. The scrolls depict caricatured beings such as frogs, hares, monkeys, and foxes engaging in everyday human activities, parodying the decadent lifestyle of the Japanese upper class of the period.
In one of the pictures, a frog is wearing priest’s vestments and has prayer beads and sutras, and some ‘‘priests’’ are losing at gambling or playing strip poker. The narrative and originally painted picture scrolls are national treasures of Japan, along with other scrolls such as Gaki Zoshi (‘‘hungry ghost scrolls’’) drawn in the middle of the twelfth century, and Jigoku Zoshi (‘‘hell scrolls’’) painted at the end of the twelfth century. The viewing of these scrolls was limited to a handful of people, including ‘‘the clergy, the aristocracy, and the powerful warrior families’’ (Schodt, Manga! 32).
Manga in the Tokugawa Period (1603–1867)
The town of Otsu near Kyoto sold Otsue, or ‘‘Otsu pictures,’’ to people who were traveling on the main road from Kyoto to the north in the mid-seventeenth century. Otsue began as simple Buddhist pictures for prayer and as a form of souvenir talisman, but later included secular,
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uninhibited, comical, and satirical themes. They were printed using a primitive form of printing and were available to ordinary people (Shinmura).
The publication of Tobae pictures, a style of witty and comical car- icature of Japanese everyday life, began in Kyoto during the Hoei period (1704–1711). The name Tobae stems from Bishop Toba. The publication of Tobae books in Osaka marked the start of the commer- cialization of manga at the beginning of the eighteenth century. They were printed using woodblock and spread from Osaka to Kyoto, Nagoya, and then to Edo (today’s Tokyo) during the Tokugawa period (1603–1867). Osaka was then a city center where publishing busi- nesses were flourishing with a rapidly increasing urban population.
From the Genroku period (1688–1704) to the Kyoho period (1716–1736), so-called Akahon became very popular. Akahon literally means ‘‘a red book’’ with a red front cover. In its inception, Akahon was a picture book based on fairy and folk tales such as ‘‘The Peach Boy,’’ ‘‘The Battles of the Monkey and the Crabs,’’ ‘‘The Sparrow’s Tongue,’’ ‘‘Click-Clack Mountain,’’ and ‘‘How the Old Man Lost His Wen.’’ Later, Akahon became a picture book for adults even though the main portion of the book consisted of pictures, not text. Tobae books also became popular because they were like the variations of Akahon.Manga became a commodity to be sold to the public, whether it was hand- drawn or woodblock printed.
Frederik Schodt (Sex and Violence) considered that manga is the direct descendant of kibyoshi and ukiyoe. Kibyoshi, or ‘‘yellow-jacket books’’— like Akahon (a red book), Kurohon (a black book), and Aohon (a blue book) that preceded them—grew out of picture books for children. The yellow-jacket books later referred to popular reading materials with pictures that were published during the An’ei period (1772–1781). Kibyoshi contained jokes, satire, and cartoons for adults.
Ukiyoe literally means ‘‘the pictures of the floating world,’’ and it is a genre of popular folk pictures. It was especially popular among the urban merchant caste, the leaders of the Tokugawa culture. The mer- chants’ art and leisure activities that revolved around the urban amusement quarters were characterized by hedonism. In the early stage of its development, there were original paintings of ukiyoe, but it was through the woodblock-printing version that ukiyoe as art blossomed and truly became popularized starting in the late seventeenth century. The most common subjects of ukiyoe included actors, famous beauties,
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and sumo wrestlers, as well as landscapes, birds, and historical themes. In 1765, Harunobu Suzuki began multicolor woodblock printing, and this was the beginning of the golden age of color prints (Reischauer).
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is a very famous ukiyoe artist whose masterpieces include woodblock pictures of flowers and birds. Among his works are ‘‘The 36 Sceneries of Mt. Fuji,’’ which are mul- ticolored ukiyoe woodblock prints, and illustrations for novels and other original paintings and drawings of Japanese beauties and samurai. Hokusai published his fifteen-volume Hokusai Manga at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when he was fifty-four years old. Hokusai used the so-called Tobae style, which depicted humans with long, skinny limbs, in his ‘‘Furyu Odoke Hyakku,’’ but he did not use the style in his Hokusai Manga. Hokusai started caricature that criticized the establishment after the Tempo period (1830–1844). The period was characterized by famine, a rise in prices, and peasants’ riots. In Hokusai Manga volume twelve, published in 1834, Hokusai caricatured the aristocratic and samurai class.
Hokusai was the first to coin the term manga, and his book became a best-seller. Manga began permeating people’s everyday lives, along with ‘‘Giga Ukiyoe’’ (funny picture ukiyoe) and newspapers with illus- trations. In 1867, the last year of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Jap- anese government displayed Hokusai Manga and other picture books at the World Exposition in Paris (Schodt, Manga!; Schodt, Sex and Vi- olence; Shimizu; Shinmura; Yasuda).
A certain genre of ukiyoe was also popular during the Tokugawa period: shunga (spring drawings), whose woodblock print pictures show shamelessly uninhibited Japanese sexuality and erotic materials. Shunga also served as sex education manuals for new brides-to-be (Wilson). This tradition can be found in many contemporary adult manga for both men and women (Ito, ‘‘Images’’; Ito, ‘‘Sexism’’; Ito, ‘‘The World’’).
Charles Wirgman (1832?–1891) created and published The Japan Punch in Yokohama in 1862. Wirgman was a British correspondent for the Illustrated London News from 1861 to 1887. He was also a cartoonist and taught oil painting to Japanese students. Wirgman reported sev- eral important historical events of the day in his magazine: the Nama- mugi Incident, in which some British men were attacked and killed by the samurai from Satsuma in 1862; the Satsuma-British War in 1863
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(a consequence of the incident in the previous year); the bombing of Shimonoseki by the fleets of Britain, the United States, France, and Holland (1863–1864); and Harry Smith Parke’s (British ambassador to Japan) meeting with the last Tokugawa Shogun Yoshinobu in Os- aka. Much conflict existed among the Tokugawa Bakufu government, anti-Bakufu forces, and the Western nations at the end of Tokugawa Shogunate; the conflict was a very appropriate subject for Wirgman’s manga. This was also the time when Western ships made ominous visits to Japan, demanding that Japan open its ports. The Japanese govern- ment was obliged to sign unequal treaties with the West, and the power of the government began to decline.
The Japan Punch lasted twenty-five years and totaled 2,500 pages. It was very popular among the foreigners living in the settlements, as well as the Japanese residents. The Japan Punch is also a very important historical document and is indispensable for understanding the rapidly changing Japanese society at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, the history and development of the foreign settlement in Yokohama, and the diffusion of Western cul- ture into Japan (Reischauer; Schodt, Manga!; Shimizu).
The term ponchi (stemming from the English word ‘‘punch’’) began to refer to what we call manga today. Words such as Tobae, Otsue, and Kyoga (‘‘crazy pictures’’), all of which referred to caricature and witty pictures, were replaced by the term manga. Interestingly, Wirgman’s manga, which often employed word balloons for his cartoons, influ- enced many native Japanese artists, such as Kyosai Kawanabe.
A French-style humor magazine called Tobae was published in the foreign settlement in Yokohama in 1887 by George Bigot (1860– 1927), a French painter. He studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Paris and was influenced by japonisme (Japanism). Other Eu- ropean artists who were influenced by the Japanese prints from the mid- to late nineteenth century included Monet, Manet, Gauguin, and other impressionists, as well as Van Gogh. The diffusion resulted in the development of new painting techniques of realism. The Tobae mag- azine was published twice a month for three years and satirized Jap- anese government and society. It was only possible because the foreign settlements had extraterritorial jurisdiction rights. Bigot, whose narrative patterns were arranged in sequence, began influencing the development of modern Japanese comics along with Wirgman’s manga (Shimizu).
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Manga in Modern Japan
Manga and Politics
One of the most important functions of Japanese manga in its long history is satire, and the satire of authority was most dynamic during the civil rights and political reform movement known as the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement, which started at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868–1912).
Taisuke Itagaki, Shojiro Goto, and Shimpei Eto, the leaders of the new Meiji politics formed the first political party Aikoku Koto in 1874 after they submitted a proposal for the establishment of the National Assembly. These men were highly influenced by Jean Jacques Rousseau and the liberal British philosophers of the day. Around this time, ‘‘Manga journalism,’’ which satirized the period and Meiji politics, appeared in the Japanese newspapers and magazines. Manga began influencing Japanese politics, and in 1874, Eshimbun Nihonchi (‘‘picture newspaper Japan’’) was published. The magazine imitated The Japan Punch. In 1875, the Japanese government issued Zanboritsu and Shim- bunshi Jorei (‘‘slander law’’ and ‘‘the press laws’’), which censored and controlled speech and journalism (Reischauer; Shimizu; Shinmura; Yasuda).
The antigovernment Freedom and People’s Rights Movement and manga played important roles in developing freedom of speech. Things not allowed to be voiced aloud could be expressed in manga drawings. In 1877, Fumio Nomura, a samurai from Hiroshima, began publishing the Maru Maru Chimbun, a weekly satire magazine covering current events for the Dandansha Company. Chimbun, which means ‘‘novel gossip’’ or ‘‘novel story,’’ rhymes with shimbun, or newspaper. The ob- jects of Nomura’s satire were not limited to the government, and they often included the emperor and the royal family. The Japanese gov- ernment tried to oppress him, but the magazine increased its sales as the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement became more popular. According to Shimizu, Tobae magazine cost eighty sen, whereas Maru Maru Chimbun cost only five sen. Of course, the magazine targeted those who were interested in satire and who could afford it—Japanese intellectuals, journalists, and those involved with the French schools (Shimizu 95). Maru Maru Chimbun, on the other hand, was for the masses.
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Manga and Technology
Various factors contributed to the emergence of mass production of manga satire in a very short time, among which is the advent of zinc relief printing, copperplate printing, lithography, metal type, and photo engraving technology (Shimizu). The development of infra- structures such as transportation and mail service, and the heightening of the civil rights movement also contributed to the process. Manga truly became a medium of the masses.
Manga and the American Influence
Rakuten Kitazawa (1876–1955) and Ippei Okamoto (1886–1948) helped popularize American cartoons and comic strips. Kitazawa drew manga for The Box of Curios, an English-language weekly published in the foreign settlements in Japan, and he started working for the Jiji Shimpo Company in 1899 after Yukichi Fukuzawa, one of the found- ing fathers of modern Japanese society, discovered his talent. Kitazawa created Tokyo Pakku (‘‘Tokyo Puck’’), a monthly color cartoon maga- zine, in 1905. Kitazawa’s style was sophisticated, refined, and real, and it led to his wealth and fame. His success motivated many youths to draw manga as an occupation. Okamoto joined the Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Company in 1912, and started drawing manga.
It was in the 1920s and 1930s when modern Japanese manga began to blossom. Many manga artists, including Kitazawa and Okamoto, traveled to the United States and other countries. The United States had become a leader in comics in the early twentieth century. The New World, established by Joseph Pulitzer, started ‘‘Yellow Kid’’ comic strips in 1896, and serial comic strips became a definite part of Amer- ican newspapers. Kitazawa started a Japanese version of ‘‘Yellow Kid’’ in the Jiji Shimpo newspaper’s Sunday edition. He wanted to make that edition something that all members of a family could enjoy. The manga for children was considered an important factor in increasing sub- scriptions to newspapers. Kitazawa’s characters were printed on playing cards and made into dolls. The year 1923 saw the emergence of na- tional manga heroes in Sho-channo Boken (‘‘The Adventures of Little Sho’’) and Nonkina Tosan (‘‘Easy-going Daddy’’). In the 1930s, fat monthly children’s magazines started including serialized comics whose episodes ran to a few dozen pages (Schodt, Manga!; Shimizu).
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Manga and Oppression
The Taisho period (1912–1926) saw the rapid rise of parliamentary power and the leadership of party cabinets. This period was also char- acterized by urbanization; the emergence of a new class of well-edu- cated white-collar workers and a new Westernized lifestyle; the spread of democracy; new humanistic, aesthetic, and proletarian literatures; an increase in higher education; and the development of a strong, self- confident business community (Reischauer).
However, during the 1920s and 1930s, the government also started to have more control over speech and thoughts. It established the Peace Preservation Law in 1925. After 1931, the law was enforced with the ‘‘thought control’’ police. Those artists and editors who harbored sub- versive and ‘‘dangerous’’ ideas were intimidated, and many were im- prisoned. After the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai on May 15, 1932, freedom of speech, thought, and scholarship were taken away from the Japanese people, and communist, socialist, and liberal thoughts were oppressed. Some manga artists and the editors were among those who were forced to recant their ‘‘dangerous thoughts,’’ along with other intellectuals, leftist political and labor leaders, and students. According to John Lent, ‘‘Cartoonists who attack the state or the established order have always faced problems—risking death, in- jury, and other forms of harassment and torture’’ (7).
Manga and the War
After the so-called Manchurian incident, an outbreak of war with China in 1937, Japanese totalitarian militarism escalated. This resulted in international outcry against Japan. In December 1938, the Japanese government issued a book with cartoons depicting the Manchurian incident. The book appeared in newspapers in the United States, France, Britain, Argentina, and Canada. The cartoons were unfavorable to Japan, and the book had ‘‘Private’’ printed on its cover. It was distributed only among a limited segment of the government officials who needed to know how the other nations viewed Japan at the time (Hirschmeier and Yui; Reischauer; Schodt, Manga!; Shimizu; Yasuda).
Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and went to war with the United States.Manga went to war, too. As the war and the US embargo progressed, materials such as paper became scarcer, and space
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was no longer allocated for manga in the newspapers. Many cartoonists were drafted and had to leave Japan for war zones such as China, Java, Burma, the Philippines, and Borneo. According to Schodt, they ‘‘cre- ated reports for the public back home, propaganda leaflets for the local populace, and leaflets to be dropped over enemy lines’’ (Manga! 57). Many also engaged in creating erotic leaflets to be dropped to the Western troops in order to decrease the morale and fighting efficiency of soldiers who were worried about the faithfulness of their women back home (Schodt, Manga!; Shimizu).
Many other manga artists sought refuge in the Japanese countryside in order to avoid metropolitan bombing attacks, and still other manga artists died in air raids and from war-related wounds and diseases. The war ended on August 15, 1945, with Japan’s uncondi- tional surrender.
Zosan Manga (‘‘increasing production comics’’), a new genre of manga, emerged during World War II. As the name suggests, the manga was used to promote the workers’ willingness to maintain and increase industrial output, which was one of the government’s primary concerns. In June 1944, Etsuro Kato edited and published Kinroseinenga Egaita Zosan Mangashu (‘‘Collection of Zosan [increase production] Manga Drawn by Working Youth’’). Kato published an instructional book for drawing manga in 1942, and he was also engaged in pro- moting groups of working youth who were interested in drawing manga. Interestingly, Kato used to draw the so-called proletariat manga, or left-wing manga, before the war, but he switched his position and went along with the Japanese government during WWII. There was simply too much control of thoughts and speech at the time. To keep drawing manga, the Japanese artists had to conform to the re- quirements set by the government. In 1948, three years after the un- conditional surrender, Kato joined the Japanese Communist Party. As Karl Marx cleverly observed, the ruling ideas of the society are the ideas of the ruling class, which was the Japanese military at the time of the war.
Manga after WWII
The kind of manga that emerged after WWII reflected what was going on in Japanese society—politics, culture, economy, and race and ethnic relations—at the time of publication.
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In the years following the end of war, there was a rush to found new manga magazines, including Manga Kurabu (‘‘Manga Club’’), VAN, The Kodomo Manga Shimbun (‘‘Children’s Manga Newspaper’’), The Kuman- bati (‘‘The Hornet’’), Manga Shonen (‘‘Manga Boys’’), Tokyo Pakku (‘‘To- kyo Puck’’), and Kodomo Manga Kurabu (‘‘Children’s Manga Club’’). This manga boom lasted about three years. The majority of Japanese people were hungry and poor right after the war; they were not satisfied with the government politics, and had fears and uncertainty about the future. The country was devastated, and the people were starving for entertainment and humor. Manga was easily affordable, and the newly emerging civil society after the unconditional surrender and the seven- year US occupation provided an abundance of topics for satire.
The headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur’s allied occupation censored manga, so there is almost no manga that satirized the general. Nevertheless, the Allied Powers gave Japanese political artists more free- dom than ever before. Emperor Hirohito, along with other royal family members, were caricatured in many Japanese manga magazines such as ‘‘Shinso’’ (‘‘The Truth’’) and the leftist ‘‘Kumanbati’’ (‘‘The Hornet’’)—not to mention in many editorial cartoons of other European nations and the United States from between the time of the Russo-Japanese War (1904– 1905) to World War II. It was only during this time, and during the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement in the nineteenth century, that the emperor and the royal family were openly satirized.
Children’s manga started to become more popular starting in the early 1950s. Many masterpieces of manga targeting children were pro- duced at this time by Osamu Tezuka, Eiichi Fukui, and Shigeru Sugiura. Tezuka’s Shin Takarajima (‘‘New Treasure Island’’) was pub- lished in 1947. With 200 pages, it dazzled young readers and sold more than 400,000 copies. Tezuka is considered the founder of modern Japanese manga, and his comics that used cinematic techniques had a tremendous amount of influence on postwar manga artists (Schodt, Manga!; Shimizu).
Story manga became very popular after World War II. American cartoons such as Blondie, Crazy Cat, Popeye, Mickey Mouse and Don- ald Duck, and Superman were translated into Japanese and introduced to Japan. The people longed for the rich American lifestyle that was blessed with material goods and electronic appliances. Manga Dokuhon (‘‘Readers’’) started at the end of 1954, and it caused the second manga boom after World War II.
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A new genre and technique of manga called gekiga (or ‘‘drama pic- tures’’) emerged in 1957. Manga artists such as Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Takao Saito referred to their art as gekiga rather than manga because their manga read much like novels, with very realistic and graphic pictures. Gekiga emphasizes the seriousness of the drama, and the comical aspect rarely appears. Gekiga appealed to junior and senior high school students and, later, to university students as the young readers aged.
Sanpei Shirato’s Ninja Bugeicho (‘‘Secret Martial Arts of the Ninja’’) was serialized between 1959 and 1962. It dealt with various social issues in a feudalistic setting and attracted many university students and adults. Seventeen volumes of Ninja Bugeicho—about 6,000 copies each—were published. Shirato’s manga was read very widely by those readers who frequented manga book rental stores. These pay libraries were just like today’s video rental stores, and they numbered 30,000 nationally. The manga rental market died in the 1960s. Fast-paced, wacky gag comics full of parodies started to be very popular at this time. Fujio Akatsuka became ‘‘the king of gag comics.’’ Both the violence in gekiga and unproductiveness of the gag comics were at- tacked as a bad influence on children’s morale and behavior (Ito, ‘‘The Manga’’; Schodt, Manga!).
In March 1959, Kodansha, one of the largest publishing companies in Japan, began publishing Shonen Magajin, the first weekly comic magazine designed for boys and young adults. Shonen literally means ‘‘boy/boys,’’ and Magajin is ‘‘magazine.’’ The magazine had a few hun- dred pages of manga. Shonen Magajin was primarily targeted at young males, but girls also enjoyed reading it.
Shogakukan started publishing its weekly manga magazine Shonen Sande (‘‘Boys’ Sunday’’) in April 1959, only one month after Shonen Magajin. These two weekly magazines were not so radically different from the existent monthly manga magazines for boys, and the sales were not very good until the emergence of Kyojin no Hoshi (‘‘Star of the Giants’’—a baseball player’s story) and Ashita no Jo (‘‘Jo of Tomor- row’’—a boxer’s story) in Shonen Magajin in 1966 and Shonen Sande in 1968, respectively. The stories in these two sports-guts comics series were written by the same individual under two different pen names, Ikki Kajiwara (‘‘Star of the Giants’’) and Asao Takamori (‘‘Jo of To- morrow’’). The pictures were drawn by Noboru Kawasaki (‘‘Star’’) and Tetsuya Chiba (‘‘Jo’’).
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‘‘Star of the Giants’’ was the story of Hyuma Hoshi, a boy who grew up to be a famous and successful baseball player for the Tokyo Giants. The story also featured Ittetsu Hoshi, his Spartan father, who had played for the Giants years before. Hyuma had to go through many tough training sessions with his father. In ‘‘Jo of Tomorrow,’’ Danpei Tange, an ex-boxer, finds boxing talents in Jo Yabuki, a young boy sent to a juvenile detention center. Tange sends Jo postcards with boxing techniques, and Jo learns them and tries them out. Jo realizes that he is capable of winning in boxing matches and gains confidence.
Both Hyuma and Jo had guts to overcome difficulties to achieve their dreams. They always worked hard even though their efforts did not always end successfully. Sweat, blood, and tears often symbolized their great efforts in the manga, and the Japanese could easily identify with their efforts to succeed. ‘‘You always do your utmost best in any situation’’—this was the message that ‘‘Star of the Giants’’ and ‘‘Jo of Tomorrow’’ sent to the readers and the nation as a whole. The stories were about human growth, growing pains that accompany it, hard work, dogged efforts, and perseverance. Both of these manga were made into TV animation and became instant hits (Otsuka & Sasakibara; Schodt, Manga!).
The Japanese government declared in the Economic White Paper of 1956 that the country was no longer in a postwar period. Japanese economic and industrial growth began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the people were very optimistic. It was the time when Japan finally started to catch up with the West. Toward the end of 1960, the government published a policy paper titled ‘‘National In- come Doubling Plan,’’ which was attained within seven years. The 1960s saw an astonishing growth in the gross national product, whose annual rate was over 10% over a period of 10 years. In 1964, the Olympic Games were held in Tokyo, and the International World Exposition was held in Osaka in 1970 (Hirschmeier and Yui; Re- ischauer; Umesao). The popularity of both manga is related to the mentality of the Japanese at the time, and what was happening in Japanese society in terms of economy and industry.
The 1960s also marked the period when certain manga began being produced by two people: the manga writer, who was like a scenario writer, and a manga artist, who drew the pictures for the story. Many artists also hired several assistants, and manga was produced like a company in the so-called production system. This system enabled the
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comic magazines to be published weekly. At the end of 1966, sales of Shonen Magajin topped one million, and in three years it surpassed 1.5 million copies. In 1968, Shonen Jampu (‘‘Jump’’) began. It featured many rookies, such as Go Nagai and Hiroshi Motomiya, and became an instant hit. Go’s Harenchi Gakuen (‘‘Infamous School’’) was criticized as vulgar because it introduced overt eroticism to children. Go depicted both male students and teachers preoccupied with catching glimpses of girls’ panties or naked bodies. Many parents, women’s associations, and PTAs protested (Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun, May 10, 1991; Schodt, Manga!). Despite this incident, Shonen Jampu remained very popular. It sold over four million copies in one week in December 1984. The De- cember 20, 1994 issue of Shonen Jampu sold 6,530,000 copies. The average sales of the weekly magazine today is 3,400,000 copies. The first English volume of Shonen Jump was published in the United States in January 2003 (Mainichi Shimbun, November 28, 2002).
Two manga magazines for adult manga maniacs were created in the 1960s. They not only had manga but also commentaries and criticism on manga, as well as a readers’ corner for readers to submit their personal manga. In 1964, GARO, which included many gekiga-type pictures, was published, follwed by COM in 1967. COM was charac- terized by a touch of urban sophistication, but it went out of business in 1972. GARO was sold to a new owner in 1997.
From the end of 1967 to the beginning of 1968, many manga magazines for adult men were founded one after another; among them are Manga Panchi (‘‘Manga Punch’’), Manga Goraku (‘‘Manga Enter- tainment’’), Manga Akushon (‘‘Manga Action’’), Biggu Komikku (‘‘Big Comic’’), Yangu Komikku (‘‘Young Comic’’), and Purei Komikku (‘‘Play Comic’’). Those readers who grew up reading manga for boys were becoming adults, and they needed a different type of manga entertain- ment. They could not live without reading manga. Millions of manga magazines have been sold, along with the popularity of their animation versions on TV and related merchandise, since the 1960s. Some popular manga existed symbiotically with their animation and character goods and toys (Ishinomori; Mizuno; Otsuka and Sasakibara; Schodt, Manga!; Shimizu).
Shojo manga, or ‘‘Girls’ Comics,’’ emerged in the 1960s. Shojo Furendo (‘‘Girls’ Friend’’) and Maagaretto (‘‘Margaret’’) began in 1963, and Shojo Komikku (‘‘Girls’ Comics’’) in 1968. These magazines and Nakayoshi (‘‘Good Friends’’) came with supplements such as cards,
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stickers, and paper dolls, and they became very popular among the girls who started to recognize that they were not just children, but ‘‘girls.’’ It was the time when the girls ‘‘started hating ugly stuff, boys, and dirty, violent things,’’ and collected ‘‘cute color pens, erasers, writing boards, folders, pencil cases, notebooks, etc.’’ (Evers 6).
Shojo manga, when it first emerged as a new genre, had many stories that dealt with girls’ dreams and fantasies. Interestingly, shojo manga also attracted adult male readers. Around 1972, female shojo manga artists who had been born around 1949 started to have great careers. Shojo manga, formerly drawn only by male artists, was now drawn by many female artists. They began dominating the genre, and included such stars of the industry as Keiko Takemiya, Ryoko Yamagishi, Moto Hagio, and Yumiko Oshima. According to Schodt (Manga!), they were described as: ‘‘wealthy; their female fans are fanatically devoted; they are respected in society-at-large; and they are given almost total cre- ative control over their work’’ (97). The genre of shojo manga was expanded by female artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It in- cluded stories that dealt with sportswomen, epic stories, and stories based on history (Schodt, Manga!).
The Japanese volleyball team won the gold medal in the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 1964, and some shojo manga included sports- manship as the major theme in their stories. The TV drama series Sainwa V (‘‘The Sign Is V’’) and the TV animation series Attaku Nambaa Wan (‘‘Attack Number One’’) began in the late 1960s. Both were based on the manga of the same titles that appeared in shojo manga, and dealt with the volleyball teams. Their themes centered on sports- manship, friendship, injuries, fights, falling in love with the coach, competition, jealousy, superhuman efforts, and other emotions in- volved in winning the games. They were in a sense comparable with ‘‘Star of the Giants’’ and ‘‘Jo of Tomorrow’’ that appeared in boys’ comics, and were also made into TV animation series. This was the time when many manga and animation had the theme of sports such as judo, tennis, soccer, baseball, and boxing. The lessons that these manga taught influenced youth growing up in Japan. Young people learned how to persevere in any situation and to always work hard to accom- plish goals. These manga stories were teachers and agents of social- ization (Ito, ‘‘Japanese Ladies’’’).
Starting in the 1970s, the theme of sexuality, especially male homosexuality, was incorporated into the stories of shojo manga.
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According to Fusami Ogi, ‘‘Instead of showing a shoujo dreaming of romance with a boy, they showed boys and focused on boys’ love’’ (151). This is in sharp contrast to the other type, which focuses more on the psychology and emotion of female characters, their development as human beings, and their life stories. Aesthetically drawn young boys are very popular among the Japanese girls and women. In Japan, there has been a long tradition of male homosexuality, and it has been much more tolerated by the people as compared with other societies. Popular openly gay actors, singers, writers, and commentators abound in the Japanese mass media today.
The world of Japanese manga has always revolved around men— male artists, editors, and publishers—and they reacted to the topic of male homosexuality as repulsive, which caused a sensation. The mass media criticized that this kind of shojo manga was decadent and de- generating; it was ‘‘raping’’ the manga. However, this issue of homo- sexuality gave the manga industry much stimulus (Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun, July 5, 1991).
Nihon Chosen Kenkyusho (Japan Institute of Korean Studies) pro- tested against a manga story, ‘‘Otoko Michi’’ (‘‘The Way of Men’’), which was serialized in Shonen Sande in August 1970. In this manga, Koreans and Chinese, ethnic minorities in Japan, were depicted neg- atively. They were drawn as intimidating the Japanese merchants at a black market, or trying to rape Japanese women at the end of World War II, when Japanese society was in confusion. The publishers explained that they had no intention of discriminatory treatment, but were forced to apologize (Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun, May 24, 1991).
During the 1970s, general magazines mostly read by Japanese businessmen started to include kyoyo manga (‘‘academic or educational manga’’). This was a new category of manga referred to as ‘‘information manga,’’ ‘‘expository manga,’’ or ‘‘textbook manga.’’ According to Go Tchiei, they did not have a narrative structure, and the protagonists in this genre of manga were ‘‘applying themselves to the study of the origins of and various anecdotes about food, liquor, and annual festivals.’’
There are also many educational manga stories that provide readers with special knowledge and information about an occupation, histor- ical figure, or event. They include such topics and occupations as a professional killer, a surgeon, a gynecologist, a mah-jongg player, a
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horse racer, a cameraman, a detective, a CEO, a schoolteacher, a cook, a fisherman, Adolf Hitler, a singing group, and a sushi chef.
Manga in general truly gained popularity and legitimacy as enter- tainment in the 1980s. Another manga boom emerged, and the sales of weekly and monthly magazines skyrocketed. Many new comic mag- azines for adults were issued, and manga automatically meant high profits. The 1980s was also the time of Japanese economic expansion, when the so-called ‘‘bubble economy’’ allowed more than 85% of the population to classify themselves as middle class.
Redikomi, or Japanese ladies’ comics, was established as a genre of manga for adult women in the early 1980s. It is the most recent addition to the manga scene. The readers range in age from 15 to 44 (which, interestingly enough, coincides with the childbearing age).
Before the emergence of ladies’ comics, the manga artists for girls’ comics retired in their late 20s and 30s. The popularity of the newly created genre allowed artists to continue drawing for adult females. The publication of VAL and FEEL began in 1986, and sexual and erotic scenes were drawn for adult women. This freedom of sexual ex- pression characterized the ladies’ comics of the early years. The genre of Redikomi tended to be associated with female pornography when they first appeared, and for some time, increasingly erotic, gross, and sen- suous scenes were drawn; this tendency escalated until the early 1990s.
Redikomi magazines published by more established major publishing houses have almost no sexual scenes. Magazines such as YOU (Shueisha), Jour (Futabasha), and BE LOVE (Kodansha) focus more on the reality of everyday life experienced by modern housewives, office workers, and college students. By the end of the 1990s, many stories from redikomi were made into popular movies and TV series. Today’s manga is definitely a very popular and successful multimedia enter- tainment (Erino; Ito, ‘‘The World’’).
In October 2002, the first independent Japanese manga corner was exhibited at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, one of the oldest and biggest international book fairs in the world that deals with novels, children’s books, and translated books. Japanese manga was already very popular in France, Italy, and Spain, and two translated Japanese manga magazines are now published in Germany (Mainichi Shimbun, Novem- ber 28, 2002).
Manga forms a significant part of Japanese popular culture today. A total of 278 comic magazines were published in 1998, for example, and
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the estimated number of copies published was 1,472,780,000 (Ito, ‘‘The World’’). Manga is read by all people in Japan, ubiquitous in a society that boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Many manga cafés—which are stocked with tens of thousands of comics books of various genres, comic magazines, newspapers, and provide Internet service—emerged in the late 1990s. Manga cafés are now more popular than ‘‘Karaoke Box,’’ where one can order food and drinks and sing along with friends to karaoke music. The new millennium saw the emergence of manga café chains that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week (Ito, ‘‘Growing Up’’).
Manga affects behavior and social trends by creating booms in sports and hobbies in Japan. The most popular game today is the Japanese game of ‘‘go,’’ and the most popular sport is tennis. Some criminals testified in court that they got their ideas from manga (Ito, ‘‘The Manga Culture’’). In 2002, the Association of Manga Artists and the five major manga publishers agreed to have November 3 officially designated ‘‘The Manga Day.’’ Manga is one of the most popular forms of mass enter- tainment and an agent of socialization in Japan, and will continue to be so in the years to come.
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Kinko Ito received her BA from Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. She received her MA and PhD in sociology from The Ohio State University. She is a full professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gerontology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
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