Give anime and manga a chance before you shun it away

Jordan Boyer, Editor-in-Chief

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With the recent releases of American live action film adaptations of Japanese anime and manga series, such as Paramount Pictures’s “Ghost in the Shell” and Netflix’s “Death Note”, there is an obvious attempt from American film makers to bring anime and manga in to the Western mainstream.

I have been a fan of anime and manga for quite some time now. I started watching anime how most other kids in the early 2000’s watched anime, which was on the network Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s adult-oriented night time block of programing. The only network, to my knowledge, that aired anime television series regularly on their network, during that era.

When I was a child, I certainly enjoyed the shows aired on the network like “Dragon Ball Z” and “Naruto”. I also remember my parents hating the idea of me watching these TV shows because they were so violent, compared to American animation.

Once I grew older, I sort of forgot about anime, and started enjoying other types of content. It was not until my senior year of high school, that I started to look back into anime. It was more of a nostalgia thing at first, reminiscing about my childhood, but then I started to actually enjoy the content again.

By this point in time, it was way easier to access this type of content with the massive boom of the Internet and streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix, compared to it only being aired on one network when I was a child.

I came to find that this type of medium, while some of it is for children viewers, there is an abundance of content that is made for adults.

There is wide selection of genres to choose from as well, to fit your tastes, there is drama, romance, tragedy, action, fantasy, a slice of life, horror, sports, comedy and the list goes on.

With my new found love for this medium, I became a manga reader. For those who do not know, manga is an Eastern style of graphic novels/comics, and the chapters usually come out either weekly or monthly, depending on the series. The new chapters are published in large manga magazines, or online in the West. Eventually, when around 8-12 chapters of an individual series are published, they are then published in book volumes for sale online or at book stores.

A majority of anime is based originally off of a current or past manga. Series like “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball” were originally manga not anime. However, there is still a vast amount of anime that do not derive from any original source material.

Manga is not drawn in the same art style as American comics though. Manga is drawn in a Eastern style of art, and are mostly drawn in black-and-white. It is weird once you realize it, because a lot of anime is very colorful, but manga is mostly drawn in black-and-white. I enjoy the art style of manga far more than the anime art style, because of the detail and color scheme.

Most people are not to ready to pick up a massive book series right off the bat, so try a couple anime and see how you like it. Just remember there is a majority of anime and manga that is for teens and young adults, not children. You can get over the nerdy aspect about it because honestly this medium is becoming more mainstream in the West everyday.

One anime I would recommend for a first time anime viewer is a series called “Death Note”. The Netflix live action movie adaptation of this series does not stay true to the original story, and the film was received poorly from critics and fans of the series. The original anime adaptation of “Death Note” can be viewed on Netflix though, it is 37 episodes and you can binge it fairly quickly.

The story follows a kid genius named Light Yagami, (I say “kid”, but he is 17 at at the beginning of the story, and unlike most American animated shows, he ages over the course of the story) who has slight cynical, narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies. One day he finds a mysterious note book with the words “Death Note” (the namesake for the series) written on it. With this mysterious notebook, he can kill anyone in the world by just writing their name in it.

Using the Death Note, he soon becomes a vigilante and decides to get rid off all of the crime in the world by killing anyone who commits violent crime (mostly murderers, rapists and terrorists). Being in possession of the Death Note, he develops a god-complex and starts to go under the alias “Kira”, and becomes his own personal embodiment of justice.

Soon the police notice these mass killings of criminals, and start to investigate “Kira” (Yagami) for their crimes of mass murder. A mysterious detective who goes by the alias “L” takes charge of the case, and starts the investigation into finding out who “Kira” is, and try to punish them for their crimes.

The story is a compelling psychological cop drama with a slight supernatural aspect, there is a prevalent battle of wits between Yagami and “L”, both who could be considered geniuses. The story goes into deep philosophical debates, mainly the idea of “justice”. While many characters give their own individual views on justice, like Yagami becoming justice himself, there is never a clear answer shown on what justice is, it up to interpretation from the viewer.

Another interesting aspect of the story, depending on how you view the story itself, the protagonist Light Yagami, could be seen as the villain in the story.

I understand that it is a hard medium to get into, but try to watch the anime “Death Note”. Even if you do not watch any other anime after it, watch “Death Note” because it is a well written compelling story, that I am sure most people will enjoy. There is nothing wrong with starting something new right? So go ahead and give this medium a try, and see how you enjoy it!

Jordan Boyer is a senior history major, he can be reached 581-2812, or [email protected]