"Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It"

Since I’m interested in manga through running the boards.jp / Manga to Anime site, I found out about a talk when I was in Tokyo last week entitled “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It”.

It was held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Japan, and featured Roland Kelts (photo), author of “Japanamerica“, and Masakazu Kubo (drawing Pikachu here), an executive of Shogakukan and producer of the Pokémon movie series. The talk covered “the nuts and bolts of the craft of manga and […] the nature of its appeal beyond Japan”, and was followed by a Q&A session.

The speeches were pretty interesting. Kelts started off by giving an overview of the history of manga, ranging from the 40s and 50s art of Osamu Tezuka to its current penetration of American bookstores. He then turned over to Kubo-san for some industry perspective, including details of how a week’s worth of manga used to correspond to just 15 minutes on screen, and the fact that anime has permeated other countries in some part because it is easier (and hence cheaper) to dub in comparison to other animation (it has less precise movements of the mouth).

I asked the speakers if something like Brewster Kahle’s book archiving / book mobile project (which I blogged about last week; see video here) would have relevance to the world of manga, since Kubo-san mentioned that a lot of manga is now being digitised. Kubo said that since there are various upload / download legalities with respect to currently-licensed manga, this would be difficult, but that anything that fell outside the (previously) 50-year copyright span could potentially be provided in such a manner.

I enjoyed the session, and even found a picture of the back of my head and boards.jp t-shirt on the Japanamerica blog! My own photos are here.

One thought on “"Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It"”

  1. John,

    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog and for your clear-eyed assessment of the talk itself. I had no idea you were merely passing through Tokyo; I assumed everyone in the room was a resident. I’m very glad to read that you enjoyed the evening.


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