What is something that you are very passionate about in life? Something that you are so enamored with that you could spend hours doing it and feel like ten minutes have just gone by? Well for me, that would be manga (printed media) and anime (animation). For any who are unaware of what that is, it is basically the equivalent of American comic books and comics coming to life in animation form. In these stories, any type of world that you can imagine can be brought to life. You might be thinking, “Well any book can do that,” and you would be right, but they do not come with stunning visuals that paint the picture of every character and their surroundings. For me, this brings much more of a life-like quality to the story, and even creates a sense of bonding between me and the characters as they play out their respective roles.
I first started watching anime when I was about 10 to 11 years old, but to be honest, I had no idea that these were Japanese-based television shows. It probably was not until I was about 16 years old that I realized where these particular animated shows came from and understood what set them apart from American animated shows: animation style, along with in-depth character and story line development. Once I discovered this, my thirst to consume more of this type of animation spiked tremendously. I was ordering VHS tapes in the beginning, and then shifted over to DVD’s when that became the new platform on which television series were being released. This then evolved into streaming shows from websites, which was such a blessing because it exposed me to a greater variety and quantity of anime.
It was about at this time that I learned that most all of these shows I was watching were actually based off of manga books. This new revelation created a whole new avenue for me to satiate my growing appetite for visual adventures. Not only was I thrilled about reading manga, but I enjoyed it a bit more than watching anime. The written stories were always further ahead than the anime counterpart and also eliminated any filler that would slow down the story. I don’t want to give the wrong idea though; I never cease to indulge in anime. In fact I have carried on to this very day consuming both manga and anime.
Going back approximately a decade ago, which was shortly after I graduated high school, the few close friends that I had ended up leaving state to join the military. I was never very great at being extroverted so going out and just making new friends was quite a bit of a struggle for me. Well I ended up falling on some very hard times and I did have God and my family to turn to, but for me back then I still missed the friend aspect of my life. Well this was when some characters from a particular manga called One Piece in some weird way became the closest thing to be my friends. I don’t mean to give the wrong impression that I saw them as imaginary friends or necessarily had made up conversations with them, it was more the sense of just companionship that they were there with me. This belief helped me through some rough times, but since then I have shifted to focusing on God, family and having some real life friends.
I am not the only person though that manga and anime have helped get through very difficult times in their life. I have a friend named Doan who I actually met at my place of work, and the first thing we bonded over was anime. We spent hours talking about anime night after night, and our friendship grew into what has become one of my greatest friendships to this day. Through the friendship that blossomed from our mutual love of anime and manga, I got to understand how this media form became an important part of his life, and helped him through troubling times. Doan grew up in a Vietnamese society where some who live in the U.S may see their family dynamics to be stricter than our way of life. As a part of this culture, as a child Doan was told to always come home right after school and to work on his studies and not to go out and play, which hindered him from making close friends outside of school. And at an early age of just 11, he was forced to get a job after school working in a couple places that probably should not have had kids working in them due to labor laws. Due to the lack of being able to have a typical childhood that involved playing with friends or having even a close bond with his father, he turned to anime and manga. He told me, “I was pretty depressed through life all the way up through high school. Watching anime would make me feel a lot better about myself and would put me in a brighter mood. It was my only outlet for many years.”
He was not my only friend that I have whose life was impacted by anime. Another friend, Erik, and I actually met through a mutual friend and first bonded over working out together. It took me a few months of knowing him to actually find out that he really liked anime a lot. So naturally our bond grew even more over our shared love for anime. It was not until a few years later that I learned that he had a bit of a rough life growing up. He told me, “I was an overweight kid and got made fun of a lot because of that. Also I wasn’t a smart kid so I always felt dumber than everyone else around me.” He told me that there were two anime characters that taught him some very important life lessons. One taught him that it is perfectly okay to not be very smart in life because you can still accomplish great feats through hard work. The other taught him that you may have a lonely life, but it can get better and you can achieve your goals through determination. He loved these two characters so much that he has plans to get them tattooed on to his arm in the near future .
Not only is anime impacting people that I personally know, but an anime based website called Crunchyroll has launched a documentary series called “Fan Chronicles.” It follows the lives of three different anime fans and how the medium has helped inspire their own personal journey. The three part series shows a women with a rare disease, a music producer in Atlanta who is trying to find an audience through anime-inspired tracks, and a photographer trying to deliver a message of female empowerment. These three part series help show the misconception that surround the anime community and illuminates the positive benefits that anime can bring to each person’s life.
“There are still so many misconceptions around anime, both as an industry and as a fandom. With ‘Fan Chronicles,’ we are shining a light on what makes the anime community beautifully diverse,” said Jennifer Corbett, head of audience development, Crunchyroll. “We’re glad to be working with Portal A to bring the stories we hear every day to life through this docu-series. It’s been a privilege to work with the Crunchyroll team and tell real, human stories from inside their amazing community,” said Nate Houghteling, Executive Producer at Portal A. “As a team of anime fans ourselves, this one came from a place of passion,and we hope that comes across in the series” (Piedra).The Outer Haven
The videos about the three folks that wee featured in the can be watched at this link:Crunch Roll
Why do adults in Japan read Manga?
An in article I was reading in the Japantimes it talked about people who were growing up in the 80’s and 90’s who continued to keep reading manga as they grew older. But before that time, manga was generally only read by children in Japan, which pretty much goes for other countries as well. So publishers had to raise the targeted age range because long-time readers would not stop buying and reading their favorite stories.
One Example was from a manga publishing company called Shonen Jump who published the world renowned “Dragon Ball” series that ran for 10 years and ended in 1995. As the loyal readers of the manga aged, Shonen Jump had to introduce more manga with adult themed content to keep their aging readers buying the magazine.
Of course it is not only adults who are buying the manga but kids today are still purchasing them. Many of the Japanese kids who go to cram schools would receive dinner money from their parents, and would use that to go purchase manga at the local convenience story. You can imagine that the cycle of children hooked on manga, and wanting to continue reading it, will continue reading manga well into their adult years.
The link to this article can be found at: Japan Times
How well does manga sell?
Anime and manga are big hits in Japan. In fact their manga sales in particular dwarfed American book sales last year by a wide margin. To give an example, here are Japan’s top 10 manga sales compared to America’s top ten book sales from last year.
This information was supplied by animenewsnetwork.com, the top ten best-selling manga in Japan from November 2017 to November 2018 are listed as such (in number of copies sold):
- One Piece – 8,113,317
- My Hero Academia – 6,718,185
- Attack on Titan – 5,235,963
- Slam Dunk – 5,214,085
- Haikyu!! – 5,030,624
- Kingdom – 4,970,171
- The Seven Deadly Sins – 4,867,680
- The Promised Neverland – 4,246,955
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime – 3,460,066
- Tokyo Ghoul:re – 3,267,843
Source: Anime News Network
And here is the list of America’s top 10 selling books of 2018.
- Becoming – 3.4 million
- Magnolia Table – 1.3 million
- Girl, Wash Your Face – 1.2 million
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid #13: Meltdown – 1.1 million
- Fire and Fury – 1 million
- The Wonky Donkey – 973,000
- Fear – 972,000
- Dog Man and Cat Kid – 716,000
- You Are a Badass – 712,000
- The President Is Missing – 703,000
As you can see, in terms of sales, manga in Japan is a much bigger hit than books are here in America. And if you are thinking “Well that is because Japan has a higher population than the U.S,” not so fast. In fact a quick search shows that Japan’s population for the year 2018 is 127,185,332 people compared to the United States 326,766,748. The U.S has literally over double the population of Japan. Hopefully this gives some insight into how popular manga is over in Japan. (This information was provided by: World o Meters)
Age of People Watching Anime and Reading Manga
When I was researching for scientific information on ages, genders, and what type of anime people watch, I was not able to find any scientific estimations. But I did come across a survey of 3474 people that had all this information and even more. Instead of just copying and pasting someone else’s work, I’ll just post a link at the bottom that will let you look at the numbers yourself, and highlight just a few of the topics and the highest polled numbers.
The first category was how old are you currently and the top three age ranges in order were: 17-18 with 905 people, 19-20 with 875 people, and 21-22 with 583 people.
The second category was how old were you when you first started watching anime? The first age group had a huge number with 1842 people who were the age of 14 or younger. In second was 844 people ages 15-16, and third was 489 ages 17-18.
Even though there were more categories on this list, the last one I wanted to highlight was males versus females that watched anime. Males dominated in this area with a whopping 3171 males while females only had 274. Going solely based off this information, I would make the assumption that anime and manga are much more popular with males then they with females.
Link to this survey can be found at: Survey on Anime
Alverson, Brigid. “Why We Still Love One Piece After 20 Years.” The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, Barnes & Noble Reads, 19 July 2017, www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/still-love-one-piece-20-years/.
Piedra, Josh. “Crunchyroll Launches Fan Chronicles Documentary Series.” The Outerhaven, 26 Feb. 2019, http://www.theouterhaven.net/2019/02/crunchyroll-launches-fan-chronicles/.