Manga: The Images Tell More Than The Text

2702 words - 11 pages

Osamu Tezuka, the creator of the manga started his career in 1946. At the beginning of his career he mainly wrote shonen manga, but from the 1950’s he also wrote for adult and like the theme of the word war and its aftermath. Later he also dealt with sexuality, economics, alcoholism, nationalism in his comic series. He died in 1989, but the work he began got followers in Japan. (Power, 24-34)
Manga is not only a comic book, but it has also the characteristics of a prose, a fiction and a non-fiction.(Poitras, 49) The manga stories can even derive from novels. It touches a number of themes and it has stories for different age groups. The great variety of genres attracted many people, especially teenage girls. By 2000, the manga market spread in the west as well and it found new publishers and translators. It even encouraged young people to draw and to create graphic novels themselves. (Brenner, 12-13)
Apart from reading from the right to the left, manga series differ from western comic books mostly in their pictorial representation. The characters have a different design and the feelings and happenings are mainly expressed visually with full of symbols and effects, rather than by textual references. It demands active reading from the reader in order to understand all the signs. The readers can have a feeling that they are learning something new concerning the representation, the theme and the reading style. (Brenner, 75)
Osamu Tezuka had many followers, like Shinobu Ohtaka, who started to write a new manga called Magi with the title of The Labyrinth of Magic in 2009. It appeared in the Weekly Shonen Sunday Magazine and the story is not finished yet, because there are new volumes appearing nowadays as well. This is an Asian story, where the hero is Aladdin. (Anime News Network) Magi is a shonen manga which means that it is written for teenage boys, but it has female characters as well. The chapter that I would like to examine is in volume 13 and titled “Mother”. I aim to show that manga in general and specifically this chapter has such effective formal elements and images that it can greatly demonstrate the theme of child abuse without having many texts.
At first I would like to deal with the formal elements of the story, but to do that firstly I need to look at the typical formal characteristics of the manga series. In manga stories the layout replaces the storyteller. It uses many patterns from films, like close-ups, pans and jump-cuts. It can be stated that Japanese artists use more panels that western artists and the storyline mainly has an aspect-to-aspect style next to the subject-to-subject shot, which is also typical in Japanese series. The panels are not always clearly defined. The speech bubbles do not have the same form, not like in westerns comics, where they look very similar. It shows that they are also for conveying a meaning to the reader. The characters’ thoughts are showed without any bubbles. When a character is upset, it is...

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