Contrary to this, there are cases where already well-known manga artists give up creating manga and turn to writing. Tatsuhiko Yamagami had actually been a famous manga artist, but he turned to writing short stories or novels. However, he would have never attained as much fame as in his times as a manga artist (Schodt, 1996, p. 288) Moreover, there would be people who hold down two tasks at the same time. Shungicu Uchida, who wrote a semi-autobiographical novel with the provocative title “Father Fucker”, won the Prix Des Deux Magots10 literary award, not for a novel, but for a manga (Schodt, 1996, p. 289). To take more cases, there is Natsuo Sekigawa, and the historical novelist Naoki Inose, both award-winning authors of fiction and non-fiction books.Order now
Interestingly, there are novelists who actually were not manga artists, but passionate manga admirers. Yukio Mishima, who actively praised militarism and finally disembowelled himself in a samurai-style ritual, declared himself an admirer of Hiroshi Kirata, who mainly drew violent samurai stories (Schodt, 1996, p. 291). There is also the author Banana Yoshimoto, who had assessed that he “translated” or developed the world of charming romance manga into the world of pure literature. (Although, Banana Yoshimoto had been criticised that his romance comics had been influenced by the manga artist,Yumiko Oshima). Not in pure literature, but in the arena of sensational literature such phenomena more dramatically is disseminating, leading to Japan publishing many books which are in convergence between manga and literature today.
The phenomenon “fusion11” does not only occur in Asian-European food, but also in possibly quite heterogeneous genres like manga and regular books. Schodt closely analyses Japan’s comic industry. But it is never too difficult. In 1995 alone, 2076 manga titles and magazines had been published in Japan, from which 57 million copies of regular manga books and 486 million magazines had been sold (Schodt, 1996, p. 293).
Nowadays, manga in Japan operate as the largest fantasy manufacturing system and from among all media, it has the greatest influence . Certainly, the American comic industry does not fall far behind the Japanese manga industry in terms of scale. However, Toren Smith, a packager of Japanese comics in the United States criticises “Many American comic book publishers have become the equivalent of the Franklin mint” (Schodt, 1996, p. 23). As Frederik L. Schodt adds that “Collectors dominate American mainstream market, and they are more likely to poly-bag their purchases and place them in a drawer than read them” (Schodt, 1996, p. 23), American comic magazines perform as treasures for collectors, while Japanese manga function as a secure medium of consumption.
Starting from a “reasonable” premise that manga is not a general standard of comics, Schodt explains the differences between manga and American comic which are dominating the world’s comic market. In order to dig up the roots of manga he also looks at how traditional Japanese “sumi-e12” met with the American comic standard and created real Japanese “story manga” (Schodt, 1996, p. 309). In addition, the author does justice to the reason, that contrary to European art comics, manga is treated as substandard entertainment.
Beneath the success of manga is the problem of mass production, whereas America and Europe’s coloured comics sacrifice artistic value instead. However, sacrificing some quality make manga much more superior to American or European comics concerning story structure and character composition. Japanese manga artists develop ordinary stories further by including cinematic styles and making the character’s mentality more complex. Referring to this, Schodt quotes the American comic artist Brian Stelfreeze. “Comics in the United States have become such a caricature. You have to have incredible people doing incredible things, but in Japan it seems like the most popular comics are the comics of normal people doing normal things”(Schodt, 1996, p. 28).
Schodt also criticises the manga world. He regards both side of the argument in favour or opposed to the expression regarding the violence and sexual assault that can be often seen in manga. Concerning Osamu Tezuka’s racist expressions Schodt on the one hand shows understanding, but also has criticisms for him as well. Although, his range of understanding is a little more expanded, which is worth criticising since he tends to rely a bit too much on the personal relationship.
Instead of refusing either to deny or confirm the future of manga, he illustrates some negative aspects. He analyses the actual cause of why the manga market’s growth is rapidly slowing down. Japan’s over-commercialised comic industry would be losing the original creativity, getting industrialised and degenerating into products; and the fact that the game and video market is becoming increasingly immense would cause the manga market to lose a considerable number of readers. In addition, since writers who gained public favour run their works in many different types of media and mobilise fans to run sorts of manga factories, creativity of Japanese manga would deplete (Schodt, 1996, p. 335).
“Dreamland Japan – writings on modern manga” was particularly interesting for me, since it is a story about manga written by a Western manga enthusiast. However, Schodt does not pay his tribute of praise unilaterally in the sense “All Japanese manga are good”. Rather than that, his book is more likely an evaluation of manga in an objective way that overcame two traps, which are blind faith and abhorrence.
What I personally found envious (as a Korean) when reading this book is that the Japanese culture’s years of history are stacked layer by layer, giving foreign academic professionals and students the possibility to research their culture, even through manga. “As a form of popular culture, comics tend to be tightly woven with local culture and thought. In translation, manga – especially – can be both a medium of entertainment and a Rosetta stone for mutual understanding” (Schodt, 1996, p. 340). Another merit of this book is that it is based on the author’s thorough analysis, elaborate and voluminous statistical data, and his rich material gathered over a long period. After researching Japanese manga and magazines meticulously over ten years, he finally finished the book. Hence having a wide field of vision, this book gives the reader confidence and trust.
Frederik L. Schodt’s “Dreamland Japan – writings on modern manga” is by no means inferior for scrutinising Japanese manga to the core. You will not only renew your perspective to manga, which might have been quite fragmentary so far, but you will also be surprised again by the potential power a comic industry can have. Despite the growing influence of the gaming and video industries the market for comics is expanding, and therefore verifying the potential of the medium called “manga” through this book will be a very meaningful thing. Therefore for anyone, who wants to know more about the world of manga, I would recommend this book.