CHENNAI: Imagine reading comics from the last page to the front and from right to left! Confused? This is how Manga comics from Japan — translated into English of course — are read. Recently, the book club, ‘We Read, Therefore We Are’, had a discussion on this comic art form at its monthly meet in Anna Nagar.
One of the comics read was One Piece. This Manga, about pirates’ adventures, is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records for having “the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author”. Around 32 crore copies of One Piece were printed and circulated from December 1997 to December 2014.
Founder of the group, Shivsankar said, “Initially, it was difficult to get into the habit of reading from right to left but the stories are so captivating that your curiosity takes over and you don’t mind the unusual reading pattern.” As the discussion unfolded, Manga enthusiast Ganesh Raj talked about how Manga is segregated according to gender and age. Manga for women — shojo manga — features themes like romance, superheroines and working women. For men, it’s subdivided into shonen manga and seinen manga. Shonen manga is for boys up to 18 years and includes subjects like science-fiction, technology, sports and so on. The other section deals with superheroes, farce humor and sometimes, explicit sexuality.
“Manga series are more serious than other comics. They not only focus on superheroes but also on daily life activities. It somehow reflects the culture,” said Ganesh, and pointed out that Manga is notably influenced by the US. The characters are inspired by Disney characters and the American culture can be seen in the themes picked by the mangaka (comic artist). One of the members pointed out that Japan’s propaganda during the Second World War was portrayed through these comics.