Comic Books Across Cultures 英会話・英語 アミック
These days, it seems most of the children around me are enamored with Kimetsu No Yaiba. I can often hear elementary aged students singing the theme song or imitating the parodies that have cropped up all over Youtube. I have always found Japan’s fascination with comic books or manga, very interesting.
In America, traditionally comic books were for children, even though only a small number of children read them nowadays. The majority of comic book characters revolve around super heroes. Recently, DC and Marvel super hero movies have become popular all around the world. A few adults like comic books as well. Some comic books are collectibles and end up being investments, which is part of the reason why a few adults like them. The very first Super Man comic from Action Comics costed $0.10, but now in great condition is worth $3,200,000. Another reason of course is the art and the story. I semi-seriously collected comic books in my high school days, but I didn’t have any valuable ones. Some of the independent comic book companies had really good artists and story writers, so even though I wasn’t a little child, I still really enjoyed reading those comics.
You can generally only find comic books in a comic book store, hobby shop, book store or a discount department store- like Aeon in Japan. You can only usually find independent comics at a comic book or hobby shop. American comic books are generally very thin and in color. They are about B5 in size. The price can vary, but they usually run about $4.00. Collectors also tend to buy hard plastic sleeves to keep their comic books in “mint” (perfect) condition. In high school I had about 300 comic books, so I was surprised when I saw my first Japanese comic book.
My first Japanese comic book was given to me by my family friend’s nephews. My family friend is Japanese and her nephews were visiting Hawaii. We hung out for the afternoon and they showed me a “Gameboy” for the first time…they hadn’t started selling them in America yet. They also gave me a comic book. It was very thick and all in black and white. It was “太陽の牙ダグラム”. Of course I couldn’t read it, because it was in Japanese. But the art and basic style difference was really interesting. I would see my next Japanese comic book when I moved to Japan.
Comic books in Japan seem to be for all ages covering all types of stories. In some book stores a very large section of the store is dedicated to comic books. It is also interesting that the comics aren’t collectables in general. Walking into Bookoff was an eye opener, as well. All of the used and older comic books on sale and all of the people standing and reading showed me how ingrained the comic book culture is in Japan. Most Japanese people I know, even if they don’t openly admit it, read comic books from time to time. Which comic books do you read? Just based on the variety of stories and target ages, I’ve ended up equating movies in the US with comic books in Japan.
Another thing that I found fascinating in Japan is that video rental shops, not only offer a DVD and CD rental service, but also comic books as well. There are also Manga Cafés where you can read comic books by the hour. America and other English speaking countries may never have Manga Cafés, but manga which have been translated into English are becoming popular in the English speaking world. Jump Comics, Doraemon, Conan and other comic books are available in English. This is following the trend of Japanime, which especially took off in the English speaking world after the Pokemon boom in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It’s a little funny when my cousin who lives in the rural south is posting quotes from Naruto on his Facebook. Cosplay has even become popular in the US, which is also a surprise. Pop culture is a great way to share and bridge different countries and cultures. Japanese comic books seem to be doing that now. Hopefully the world in general can continue to connect through different ways and develop more tolerance, unity and appreciation.
BTW, one of my favorites….