Special lit-crit edition

Some guy from the Washington Post reads Naruto, decides manga is stupid: John Jakala calls out Bob Thompson for judging manga based on a small sample size. Actually, Thompson’s article, the tale of a self-confessed “prose guy” investigating graphic novels, is worth a read, if only because he seeks out and talks to a lot of interesting people. But I would hate to think that he rushed to judgement on an entire category based on a glance at one or two volumes. (Or even that many—I know shoujo manga is all about popularity, but I can’t think of one in which shopping is a big focus.) Yes, manga can be stupid—so can prose novels, by the way—but it can also be pretty good. Someone should send this guy a copy of Real or Me and the Devil Blues so he can experience the full power of manga. (Photo originally from the WaPo article, but I let John Jakala do the cropping for me.)

Japanator posts this week’s new manga and anime releases.

In his latest Flipped column, David Welsh works through his obsession with Dororo.

School starts next week, if it hasn’t started already, and Danielle Leigh takes her mind off it by asking readers to suggest school-oriented manga. And once your brain is revved up again, check out Akemi’s notes on The Yaoi Hero, applying Joseph Campbell’s structure of the hero’s journey to the yaoi manga Wild Rock, at Myth and Manga.

More drama: Tiamat’s Disciple considers Lori Henderson’s sugggestion that anime companies produce audio manga dramas, but he thinks the missing ingredient is good voice actors.

ANN reports that the Japanese publishers Shogakukan and Shueisha are planning to start publishing manga in Spain, France, the UK, and other countries in Europe starting next fall.

News from Japan: ANN learns that Mushishi and Neo Angelique are winding up their runs in Japan. Sankaku Complex has heard that the Japanese government is considering setting up special “cyber-districts” where copyright laws are loosened up a bit. (Via Giapet.) Speaking of Gia, she has news of a Strike Witches doujinshi by members of the Strike Witches staff.

Reviews: Dave Ferraro enjoys Shirley but wishes creator Kaoru Mori would stretch her wings a bit more, at Comics-and-More. Lori Henderson’s daughter Jenny gives Warriors: The Rise of Scourge five stars at Manga Xanadu. Michelle is on a roll, with reviews of vols. 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of Boys Over Flowers at Soliloquy in Blue. Johanna Draper Carlson reviews vols. 1 and 2 of Monkey High!, vol. 2 of B.O.D.Y., and vol. 9 of Nana at Comics Worth Reading. Lori Henderson checks out vol. 7 of Godchild at Comics Village. Emily takes a look at Kienai, Omoi at Emilys Random Shoujo Manga Page. Catching up with Tiamat’s Disciple, he recently posted reviews of issue 2 of Yen+, the manhwa and art anthology apple, vols. 1-8 of Marmalade Boy, and vol. 1 of King of Thorn. Julie reads Immoral Darkness at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Lissa Pattillo reviews vol. 18 of Tsubasa at Kuriousity. At Active Anime, Holly Ellingwood reads Wild Butterfly and vol. 3 of Sand Chronicles and Sandra Scholes checks out vol. 3 of Roureville. Gar Gar Stegosaurus posts a glowing review of After School Nightmare. (Via When Fangirls Attack.)

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  1. I liked the Bob Thompson article overall, but I was a bit baffled that he mentioned reading volume 19 of Naruto. Why would you start there? That’s just dumb. You don’t start reading Great Expectations at chapter 25… And given his overall tastes, it seems odd that he’d go for Naruto at all, when something like Goodbye or Red Colored Elegy would probably have suited him better. Oh well…

  2. This Thompson guy is awfully condescending— how nice of him to acknowledge that comics can be “ambitious”! How about the fact that some of them can be GOOD?

    That said, he’s investigating “graphic novels,” which isn’t even a genre so much as a medium; it’s hard to blame him for not going too in-depth on manga specifically…though it’d be better for him to acknowledge that.

  3. I wonder how many of Thompson’s picks came from his own browsing and how many of them were sent by the companies he interviewed. The Naruto Vol. 19 example is so random, though, that I’m guessing he either grabbed it from the bookstore shelves himself or someone he knew gave it to him. I agree it would have been nice if he’s sampled a manga series more in line with his tastes in prose.

    And, Brigid, the panel I excerpted does make it sounds like he’s dismissing shoujo manga, but in the article the “teen girls as universally obsessed with consumerism and popularity” line is actually directed at Scholastic’s “Fashion High” graphic novel series.

  4. You know, I thought Bob Thompson’s piece was going to be a great deal worse than it actually was. It seems like some Kurt Hassler explication goes a long way. That said, I’m curious why, if he immersed himself in D&Q stuff, he didn’t follow that thread into their manga department. The Push Man sounds like it would jive with his sensibilities infinitely more than some grab bag Naruto volume…

  5. I emailed Bob Thompson and he responded that he actually did read Push Man but that he didn’t have room to fit it into his piece.

  6. sometimes also it’s a generation difference. after all manga published in US concentrates more on properties appeal to teens and young adults. and even in japan that’s the majority of manga. or the most popular ones.. he seems, i’m sorry to say, an older guy so he prob. won’t enjoy the giant monsters as much as , let’s say, a kid or a teen, for whom giant monsters are actually interesting..

    same thing can be said about shojo as well.. i’m actually an older gal and i’ve stopped reading alot of shojo b/c they no longer appeal to me. so i’m reading more josei and senen now. but for a teen girl who’s reading shojo for the first time . a simple school romance, that no longer appeal to me. might be the most interesting story of all..

    i’m suprised the bob thompson guy doesnt evaluate it with the awareness of his own age bias..

    i think it comes from the fact he forgets, wheras american graphic novels target mostly teens or adults. manga esp shonen and shojo is read by grade schoolers all the way too teens in japan..

    it’s just weird to compare like, Maus , with naruto. Maus has a literary adult audience in mind but naruto was created for kids, supposedly..(though alot of adults read it/watch the anime, i’m one.lol)

    i often get this when ppl who’re not familiar with manga try to compare manga with american graphic novel..

    i just say.. you can’t compare naruto with maus.. if you like maus, you should read senein. like 20th century boys or something..

    but of course they woudn’t know about 20th century boys until i point it out to them…

    b/c they’ve only heard of naruto, like from their kids..


  1. […] Brigid Alverson linked to an article by Bob Thompson at the Washington Post, in which he discussed the recent […]