This past weekend I was marathoning through a few of my favourite manga and I realized that I love manga. Now, this realization is nothing new, in fact, most of my manga marathoning results in this realization. The black and white pages, the written sound effects, the exaggerated expressions, the sparkly eyes, I love it all!
Don’t get me wrong, I love anime. I started my foray into Japanese media with anime and for the most part, nowadays I spend more time watching anime than I do reading manga. To me, for the most part, the two are quite interchangeable. I can jump in between anime and manga with relative ease (relative being a keyword here), but I honestly do think that mangas do a few things better than their animated counterparts.
In anime, we are presented with characters that are already well defined. They have colour, skin and voices. We see them just the way the creators want us to see them. I mean, yeah, if you take anime seriously, you can try and figure out their motives, their personalities or their other quirks, but all you are doing is choosing the clothes you want them to (or think they should) wear.
Manga on the other hand gives you characters that are almost skeletal in nature. Yeah, their basic traits are defined, but they lack a bit of flesh and it’s up to you to give it to them. You can give sounds to their movements, to their voices and even to their inner monologues if you wish. Heck, if you are like me, actions that would otherwise have no sound can now have sound. The exact nature of a characters movements are not that well defined either and as such, they can be substituted for using your brain.
I don’t think my analogies and explanations are very clear, so here is an example:
I recently caught up with Skip Beat. I love Ren Tsuruga. Ren is badass and as a badass character, he gets some special mental treatment from yours truly. If Ren does anything that is even remotely cool, I automatically hear a deep sound. This sound is a weird cross between the manliest of grunts and the revviest of car engines. There is also a bit of a ‘HHHNGGGG’ thrown in there because Ren is freaking hot.
Is it perhaps ironic that I assign such a manly sound to an otherwise effeminate bishie? Maybe, but it does not matter. The assigning of said sound and various other things makes Ren, my Ren. He is eerily similar to your Ren, but ever so slightly different. When I watched the anime, the Ren presented on screen was still cool, but he was not my Ren; he was the producer/director or writers Ren. On top of that, anime actually moves by itself so, you don’t really have the time to stop and form mental images/sounds (unless you pause constantly, which I do do on occasion).
Of course, there is a limit to how far your imagination will take you and you are still constrained by the character design and the setting they fall into (unless you want to write your own fan fiction), but as a whole, manga lets you give your imagination a bit of a stretch, and I love manga for that.
In short, a good anime shows you a story, teaches you a lesson or two, makes you laugh;cry;rage and in general fulfils your need for entertainment. For some, a good manga fulfils the exact same role and that is fine. For me though, a good manga does all that, but it also gives me a sugar rush and a deep desire to meet the characters I helped form. There are few things in life that can bring me greater joy.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. I am sorry. From a technical perspective, this post is horrible, but I could not come up with better phrases to describe my fanboyism for manga. I do hope that as muddled as the ideas in this post were, the central concept of manga being awesome was not too clouded.