Are you a fan of comics but have never tried manga before? Are you an avid manga reader but have only read recent releases? Take a look at some of these groundbreaking classic manga series and influenced the landscape of pop culture in both the Eastern and Western worlds, although we have many more availabe in our physical collection and Hoopla I've picked ten of my favorite creators/titles! But first...
What is Manga?
Manga are comics from Japan, though in Japan manga can refer to both comics and cartooning. Typically printed in black-and-white due to a number of reasons (such as printing costs, time constraints and artistic preference) and are serialized in large manga magazines like Shonen Jump or Shojo Beat. The manga we are familiar with in the states are collected storyarc volumes referred to as tankōbon volumes. These traditionally read right to left as most books are in Japan, the opposite of how English language comics are read, early translations of manga would sometimes mirror the panels and publish them reading left to right which lead to complaints from purists of the artform.
Lost in Translation
Sometimes things are lost in the translation process through cultural tweaks, copyright reasons, mistranslations and a number of other reasons. A famous example of this is a popular scene from Dragon Ball Z that became a culture meme, of a character Vegeta aghast upon using a scouter device to read that Goku's power level was "Over 9000" instead of the original text which stated only 8000, this change originally appeared in the anime (Japanese cartoon) dubs of the scene because the mouth movements of the character looked more natural saying that line in English and the change stuck. Another notorious example are various character's names from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure which are named after bands, songs, albums and artists from Western pop culture that had to have localized names to avoid copyright issues, an example being a character named Bad Company was changed to Worse Company. As I mentioned earlier, some original manga translations by Dark Horse were mirrored, which angered fans of the samurai series Lone Wolf and Cub because it made the swordsmen appear to hold their weapons in the wrong hands for their given stances and fighting styles.
Katshuhiro Otomo is a manga artist, screenwriter and animator best known for his creation Akira. Akira is a cyberpunk manga that takes place in Neo-Tokyo and follows two teens from a motorcycle gang, Kaneda and Tetsuo as they stumble into the government project experimenting with humans and ESP, which lead to Akira causing a massive explosion years earlier. Originally written starting in the 1980's it was set in the far off future of 2020.
Have you got the Guts? Kentaro Miura's Berserk has outraged, horrified, and delighted manga and anime fanatics since 1989, creating an international legion of hardcore devotees and inspiring a plethora of TV series, feature films, and video games.
This eight volume series follows the life of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka is considered to be the godfather of manga and completely changed the landscape of comics and pop culture and is perhaps most well known in America as the creator of Astro Boy. Buddha was one of his final works, beginning in 1972 and ran until 1983. For more groundbreaking work of Tezuka's check out these additional titles available:
Inspired by Tezuka, Shotaro Ishinomori became a manga artist and is referred to as the king of manga. He is also closely linked with tokusatsu (special filming) productions, which utilize live-action with special effects that built upon methods used in kabuki theaters and puppetry, and is credited as creating the second "Monster Boom" (the first of which began with Godzilla in the 1950's and lead to an obsession with kajiu films) referred to as the Henshin (transformation) Boom. Himitsu Sentai Gorenger followed a group of teenagers in color coded costumes and fought an evil secret society with a combination of tech and martial arts, Ishinomori created a manga series that ran concurrently with the television show. The show, Super Sentai, is the inspiration of what would later become the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the U.S. in the 1990's which utilized redubbed scenes from the original Japanese show spliced in with new original footage of the American actors.
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a sprawling multigenerational epic that was created by Hirohiko Araki and incorporates his love of Western rock music, fashion, and other pop culture influences. The series begins with the Phantom Blood series, which takes place in 1880's England and follows the beginning of the fued between the Joestar clan and Dio, as he is turned into a vampire forcing step brother Jonathan to learn the ways of Hamon to stop him. Each Jojo series follows a different member of the Joestar family, always nicknamed Jojo as they get into increasely bizarre adventures and though the first two series focus on the martial arts Hamon, subsequent volumes feature Stands, a type of super-powered genies that 'stand' next to their users to aid them in battle.
Shigeru Mizuki is seen as an master of the yokai (traditional Japanese demons, goblins, and ghosts) manga as well as a noted historian. Kitaro, or Kirato of the Graveyard, is a yokai series from the 1960's that was adapted in part from kamishibai, or Japanese street theater, and showcased various folktales and legends from Japan. It is a much beloved kooky spooky series, not unlike The Addams Family in the United States.
Kazuhiko Katō created several manga under the pen name Monkey Punch, the most famous of which being the Lupin the Third which became a huge media franchise. Lupin III is the grandson of the legendary gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, who was also a fictitious character created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905 and carries on the family business with his small crew of recurring characters stealing valuables around the globe with Interpol hot on his heels.
Gundam was created in 1979 by Yoshiyuki Tomino as an anime with character designs by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko and ushered in "real robot" mecha craze in manga in anime as opposed to the earlier "super robot" genre with characters like Astro Boy. The story revolved around giant mecha suits, or Gundams, that were piloted by regular soldiers and used as weapons instead of the typical hero with a super heroic robot. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is an adaption of the origin anime from 1979 illustrated by the original character designer for the series.