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Cultural cartoons

August 05, 2008|By SALLY NEWLIN / Pulse Correspondent

Manga are Japanese comics, but can also be American or Korean as well.

Manga started in the 1950s with the most legendary anime/manga of all, "Astro Boy." It's a story of a robotic boy made by a scientist. The robot boy helps save people and becomes a hero by defeating huge foes. After that, manga exploded and throughout the years it became international. Now everyone around the world can enjoy manga.

In Japan, manga is a form of art. In manga, characters tend to have bigger eyes and have more expressive emotions that are outrageous and vivid.

The panels also read from right to left. It seems backward to Americans, but Japanese read from right to left so that's how their books are printed. American publishing companies like to keep the originality so they kept it the way it was when it was translated. Korean manga is read left to right so it's printed that way in the United States.

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Manga is just like American comics with panels and speech bubbles. There are different kinds of manga such as fantasy, science fiction and romance, but there is one major difference. Though both manga and comics share the same quality, American comic book art tends to be more serious-looking while manga's style is kind of bubbly.

There is manga for all ages, but the most popular are Shojo and Shonen manga. Shojo, or girls' manga, is manga for, well, girls and it contains such things as drama, heartbreak, love stories and other things girls would really like. Shojo manga titles that I would recommend are "Nana" and "Full Moon O Sagashite."

"Nana" is the story of two sisters who are complete opposites and live apart. But when one of the Nanas needs a place to stay so she can go to the same college her friends are going, who else but her sister Nana can house her? This contains a drama every chapter so I really don't like it so much. But I do recommend it because the art is different and the storyline is unique and can grip you into wondering what will happen every chapter. And there are so many plot twists your head will spin - so it's a good read.

"Full Moon O Sagashite" is about a 12-year-old girl named Mitsuki Koyama who is locked up in her house by her grandmother because of a tumor growing in her throat. Removing it could cause her voice to be gone forever. But one day, a group of people called Shinigami, or more commonly called "Death Gods," come and give her the power to turn into an older woman of 16 who becomes the biggest pop star in Japan. But don't be fooled - this manga isn't just about pop star singing. The story turns into a struggle with the Shinigamis, and Mitsuki's feelings between her new shinigami friend, Takuto, and her dead first love, Eichi. This manga is very sweet and heartwarming and honestly, I cried over every book. It's short, but it's very good. I recommend anyone to read it.

Now onto my favorite kind of mangas, Shonen mangas. Shonen, or boys' comics, is made up mostly of action, blood and adventure. I read these most because they interest me more, keep my blood racing and I love all that action/bloody stuff. I recommend "D.Gray-Man."

"D.Gray-Man" is the story of Allen Walker, an exorcist who has the power of the Innocence. The Innocence have the power to destroy "akuma," or demons as they are portrayed. He has only one goal: to destroy the leader of all the demons, The Millennium Earl.

This manga is really good not only because of the exorcists, but it has many key features like comedy, action and sadness all in one. And there are tons of characters to love in the book so you might never know who your favorite character is. You can buy both Shojo, Shonen and other kinds of manga at your local bookstore.

Manga also ranges in ratings: young children, teen, older teen and mature. Not all manga is Shojo and Shonen though. There are topics such as Hentai, Yaoi, Yuri and others that might be bad for younger readers.

A lot of kids/fans my age - or any age - draw manga for either a living or just to have fun.

I draw myself. I might not be that good yet, but I do try very hard and draw every day somehow whether it be doodling or serious. Becoming a manga-ka, or manga artist, can be difficult to achieve if you're interested in it as a career, but it is ever growing.

And don't think you have to go to Japan for a career in manga either. You can learn how to draw anime and manga. A manga-ka's life is very hectic, though.

Some manga-kas get no sleep for a couple days, eat less, have no free time and have tons of deadlines. Sometimes they don't even leave the office. So it's a very demanding job. But I still want to be a manga-ka, despite the harsh lifestyle.

We do have American manga, but anime fans usually like the Japanese ones because they see it as more "authentic" and "real." I like both kinds of manga - Japanese or not.

Today, more than a million people all over the world love manga and go to anime conventions to enjoy it. Anime and manga fans are an ever-growing community.

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