Canonising The Japanese Manga
I wonder how many of you have considered this: to canonise the Japanese manga and in so doing, ensure its survival as a piece of art.
My own favourite works are Love Hina and Negima by Akamatsu Ken. Reading them has been an enjoyable experience and I am sure will continue to be so even years later. And that’s why I want to ensure they survive even after their anime shows run their last episodes; after the shops sell the last piece of merchandise and a new fad arrives. Future generations should be able to share this glimpse into the beautiful world of manga.
It may seem like a childish fantasy to want to canonize comics filled with fantastical stories of magic and such stuff that fits so neatly into the daydreams of a child. But let us not forget Enid Blyton, the world famous author of Children Literature whose works survive till this day. Fairies, dragons and children who wander into magical forests are the norm in the world she created.
Works of literary greatness do not get passed down simply because they are interesting. Plots and characters can lose their appeal over time. I remember a whole generation of Singaporean teenagers all hyped up about the final battle in Dragon Ball Z. Now 15 years after that final battle, nobody talks about that super duper mother of all fights anymore. You can only analyze the plot for so long before new plots developing elsewhere grab your attention. Only values and ideals can survive the ravages of time and a fickle-minded generation.
That said, I have started this thread to contribute to the survival of manga as works of arts.
I look forward to comments about the use of literary or artistic devices (such as the representation and use of Space done by Akamatsu-sensei in the design of Mahora Academy), philosophical debate inspired by any manga series (one example would be the discourse on happiness by Eva the little vampire) and ideals or values represented in the manga of your choice.
So what do you think? Can the Japanese manga be canonised? That is to say, can it be taken as seriously as American comics? DC and Marvel have carried their comics from one incarnation to the next since the post-war era, and it isn’t uncommon to see vintage comic books from the Golden or Silver era going for big money at high end auctions. While many otaku will probably agree that the quality of the manga (those by Akamatsu Ken in particular) are good enough (if not superior to American comics), we cannot deny that new works need all the support they can get. Who knows? Top-ranking universities may include the study of manga as a sub-module due to our efforts. That would be the day… 🙂
Teck Y. Loh