As many of you know from my Sunday Posts, my 14-year-old son Jaden has been enchanted with all things Japanese lately. He went to a Japanese immersion camp, he’s taking a college-level Japanese class at our local community college, and he soaks in whatever Japanese culture he can: at first that was mostly in the form of watching Japanese music videos on YouTube, but now he’s expanded that to manga and anime.
It started because he decided that his dream job is to be a video game level designer for Nintendo. Not sure that this is the most realistic goal, but if it makes him excited about learning a language and exploring another culture, I’m all for it. I’ve been eager to encourage his newfound passion, and I decided that the best way to connect with him is to get involved myself as much as I can. I’m not a huge fan of video games, but manga and anime I can relate to!
So, we read our very first manga series: Death Note by by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. I actually found this series because Cait over at Paper Fury was reading it and I saw her reviews on Goodreads. After a little research into the series, I decided it would be a great place to start!
I’m not going to do an actual review here because that’s not what this post is, but I will say that I really enjoyed reading the series, and it was a great experience for my son and I to read it together. The series explores a lot of moral issues—the idea behind it is that a teenager named Light finds a notebook that allows the bearer to kill anyone whose name is written in it. At first Light uses it to kill dangerous criminals, but as time goes on he starts killing others: people with much less egregious crimes and even the police who are investigating him! This made for a lot of lively discussion between my son and me. We especially loved the earlier volumes of the series—as it went on it got a lot more convoluted and a little crazy and unbelievable at times (not that the storyline itself was terribly believable, but you know what I mean).
Reading manga was a little different, but fun. The actual reading experience is interesting because you read from back to front and from right to left on the page. I thought this might be difficult, but it amazed me how simple it was to get used to the process. We’ll definitely be reading more, so let me know if you have any suggestions for another manga series to pick up!
We also jumped into anime. I found some recommendations over at Mara Was Here and decided to look into them. Our first anime was Blue Spring Ride, which we really loved, but we’re a little disappointed that there’s only one season and we’re not sure if they’re going to make the rest of the series—the manga are only available in Japanese right now, so that doesn’t help us. Which brings me to a question for any manga readers out there …
There are lots of sites out there where you can read Japanese manga in English, but I assume that these are pirated copies of the manga? For obvious reasons, I don’t want to read anything that’s been pirated. Does anyone know if there are legitimate manga translation sites where the author has been compensated for their work (or, at the very least, given permission for the translation)? I’m happy to pay a fee to use a site if money goes back where it’s supposed to, but I can’t tell what’s legitimate or not.
Anyway, back to anime. When our Spanish exchange student was here, she introduced us to a bunch of anime. We ended up watching the whole Special A Series (which we loved! My daughter was especially sad when we finished that one) and started watching Maid Sama!, but none of us are as crazy about that one—it’s a little TOO over the top for us sometimes, and I’m not fond of some of the sexual references and how much the girls are objectified. I know, I know, anime is filled with those in general, but these seemed more irritating to me somehow. We might still finish the series, but we’ve been giving it a rest lately. We also tried out Sailor Moon, but again none of us were huge fans (it might be a little young for my kids? Though we liked the movie My Neighbor Totoro, which is definitely geared toward the younger set).
Anime is really fun and energetic – there’s lots of crazy antics (why do all the teens in anime seem to have superpowers?) and elevated emotion (lots of the crazy facial expressions and emotional explosions made us laugh) and stylistic elements that are very distinctly anime.
Again, if anyone has any anime you love, suggestions would be welcome.
So far, this has just been a brief foray into the world of anime and manga, but I’m guessing we’ll be jumping in more and more!
Are you a fan of anime or manga? Have any recommendations?
Have you ever stepped far out of your comfort zone and tried something brand new? I want to know!