Author Topic: HISTORY AND STUFF  (Read 6166 times)

Offline Sakana-san

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HISTORY AND STUFF
« on: March 25, 2012, 01 AM »
Cause we need a new topic. IT'S BEEN MONTHS SINCE THE LATEST POST ON THIS BOARD GAIZ. Talk amongst yourselves.

Oh, right, the topic. I was thrilled this week that my Japanese Popular Culture class had several lectures focusing solely on manga. Of course I shamelessly promoted this website. But it went beyond simple fangirling - we took an academic stance and looked at the way it is published and promoted in Japan. What we learned was quite intriguing. Manga accounts for an exponentially larger portion of publishing than do graphic novels and comic books in America (a third to a half of all Japanese publishing, if my professor can be quoted accurately), and is an acceptable form of reading material for all ages. It is also heavily associated with consumer goods and fan merchandise of all sorts.

The history of manga is debatable. Some claim that a twelfth century Buddhist priest can be credited with the predecessor to manga. He is believed to have been the artist behind a humorous series of ink drawings known as the Choju Jinbutsu Giga (an image of which can be seen here: http://kyoto.asanoxn.com/places/takao/toganoo/phkzj230.htm), poking fun at other Buddhist priests and ideas of the time. Something similar to a comic book appeared in the eighteenth century and these were called kiboyoshi, and consisted of pictures with text explaining the situation. (There's a pretty decent Wikipedia article on those if you're interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiby%C5%8Dshi) These weren't the only things that scholars suggest are similar to modern-day comics in Japanese culture, but you get the picture.

A widely accepted hypothesis, however, is that these forms of expression were independent of the evolution of manga, which came about only after the influence of foreign comic and cartoon publications. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, political cartoons drawn by Japanese artists but based on Western styles were published in tabloids, and the editor of a popular magazine called Asahi Graph came up with a storyline for a children's comic strip that was published and became very successful. The influence for this story, Sho-chan no Boken, was European and American, and came as a result of the editor's travels to both places.

In the period after World War II, there was a boom in cartoon media in Japan. Picture card shows, called kamishibai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamishibai), became popular street entertainment. Books of all kinds became popular when lending bookstores came into existence, since not everyone could afford to buy books, and these facilities allowed circulation of all sorts of books for a low price that made all sorts of literature available, thus speeding up the process of manga development. During this time also, the revolutionary mangaka Tezuka Osamu published a hugely successful manga book known as New Treasure Island (Shin Takarajima), after which followed the manga upon which the animated tv shows "Astro Boy" and "Kimba the White Lion" were based. Even today Tezuka is called "the kamisama of manga" because of the way his cinematic approach to comics singlehandedly changed the direction in which manga was going; he essentially made manga a respectable art form.

Also following the war were "war diary" manga based upon the soldier's experience, with some even twisting reality to become "war fantasy" manga, in which Japan won the war and life was significantly different. Social critique manga came about as well, so the society as a whole had begun to take manga very seriously. Following the bulk of the war manga were many subgenres of what we now know as shonen, including sports and boy-hero stories. With the later increase in female authors came the emergence of shoujo, and the difference between gendered genres of manga is an entirely separate lecture in its own right, though what it breaks down to is basically that manga targeted to men, in general, is very outwardly focused: action, adventure, sex. Manga targeted toward women (and, very importantly, toward adolescent and teen girls) is inwardly focused: feelings, thoughts, romance.

Shonen-ai was even brought up in class - the genre is generally treated as a voyeuristic look at males in intimate situations, essentially turning what is known as the "male gaze" (the tendency for males to look at females in ways which disempower and sexualize them) around on the males themselves. Bishonen are also an interesting concept: a character who is considered an attractive male in manga is often given feminine attributes. Is the ideal male, then, not actually masculine? My personal theory is that this is the reason behind Justin Bieber's popularity with teenage girls. :lolgiri:

Oh gosh. So much wordses. I do so hope this information is beneficial. It was probably the best few classes I've ever had.

NOW, TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES, TURTLES.

Offline Rebmastu

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Re: HISTORY AND STUFF
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 08 AM »
Interesting. I'm going to latch on to the last paragraph even though the rest was so lovely to read (ilu fishiko <3), and say that I'd never thought of the "male gaze" and the justification of BL like that until now, which, at this point, seems strange because the explanation is so logical. It takes the pressures off the female reader to think, "I'll never get a guy because I'm not as beautiful/charming as Lady So-and-so!" and gives an opportunity to enjoy the shoujo aspects without feeling the social pressure that's placed on themselves in regards to relationships.

Then again, there's the question of social acceptance of homosexual relationships/material, so that's a different topic for a different time, I think.

So I guess I understand the genre a bit more... even if I still don't like it.

/EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO MUTSUKI AND TENJOH, HAW HAW HAW
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Offline Melfra

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Re: HISTORY AND STUFF
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2012, 09 AM »


I've been wondering about this bishonen paradox for a while now. The classic bishonen tends to be of a slight build with very feminine characteristics... Generally this is really unattractive IRL. So with the prevalence of manga in Japan, especially with younger girls, isn't this raising expectations that are far more unrealistic than usual?

Here's a marginally related hypothetical question:
"beautiful" women in manga usually have very large eyes (obv. a foreign trait in Japan), while the most "handsome" male characters have small eyes (not meant to be racist but come on).
So is this perpetuating a "Japanese men are fine, but you should totally shoot for the foreigners" mentality?

Offline Sakana-san

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Re: HISTORY AND STUFF
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 01 PM »
Reb: The "male gaze" is further separated into three components: gender, power, and sexuality. As far as gender goes, it separates what is male from what is female by the "positioning" of the gaze: males look, females are looked at (ignore the fact that that is indeed a preposition at the end of a sentence). This positioning - basically, the direction of the gaze - enacts differences in power, with males having that power over females as well as being able to sexualize them. The way this theory was described to me made a lot more sense than my notes do... but it definitely helped me understand why BL turns things around and is such a guilty pleasure for me. Social acceptance of homosexual stuff rarely seems to be realistically addressed, though, which honestly gets to me once I get over my compulsive internal squealing and remember how important LGBTQI activism is irl to a lot of people I really care about. And then my mind goes "BUT MUTSUKI AND TENJOH AND THE HAWTNESS D8" and starts giggling again

Melly: That gif made my morning btdubs. But yes, paradox is definitely the right word! It's unrealistic to a certain extent, but a small component of the feminine traits in men can be found in the androgynous look that has become popular with male movie stars and idols. It seems to suggest that Japan's aesthetic of attractiveness is a bit askew from our Western ideals... But then again, the ideal manga characteristics are reflective of foreign traits. WUT. (My Chinese friend has repeatedly told me that I would be very much lusted after in China with my blonde hair and blue eyes. This kind of seems to be the case in Japan, only there's another paradox with the way foreigners are treated as outsiders.)

Offline BurntPie

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Re: HISTORY AND STUFF
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2012, 01 AM »
I don't think its just japanese perspective on feminine men, heck where i'm from them crazy k-pop fangirls have been AGGRESSIVELY FALLING for those really feminine looking korean pop stars with their make up and all..

As for ur chinese friend portion i guess most asian guys think that having a caucasian  girlfriend is like an achievement? cuz its really quite rare for an asian guy to have one i guess as compared to the other way around.. thats from my perspective anyway? but the general consensus is still most asian guys (here at least) find the caucasian facial structure more attractive i guess.. might also be due to much western influences from TV and media..
 (yes i'm asian and chinese but i'm like waaaaay way off from my heritage hurhur.)

Offline Sakana-san

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Re: HISTORY AND STUFF
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2012, 01 AM »
Makes sense. I think androgyny has a complex role in sexuality that I can't really explain, but the main idea that I get is that it's pretty attractive to a lot of people. Oh, and it's socially acceptable. Not a lot of people seem to call these girls on it, directly to them, y'know?

The way I understand the thing with race is that white girls on billboards sell products, since somehow they're appealing in at least a distant sense, if not a personal sense (like, whether or not an Asian person would want to actually be friends with a caucasian person). Though this still kinda confuses me cause I hear mixed stuff about the concept from different cultures.  :razz:

Offline Stranger

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Re: HISTORY AND STUFF
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 01 PM »
what is this really about?

 


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