Rally Behind Terms, Fracture; Obvious Stuff

A lot of people say a lot of different things in terms of what defines anime or manga. I don’t know who is right, wrong, if even they are in conflict or if the varying definitions are incongruent. What I do know is that anime and manga are broad brushes that describes a lot of things. Once we throw games in the mix, it actually…gets no more crazy than it already was.

The gaming community is a good way to look at it. In reality there are a large number of different types of games. What’s more is that video games have long since reached the mainstream in the utmost sense, especially in the past few years when casual gaming tied up with the gadgets everyone wanted, on the social networking platform everyone was on. It’s gotten to the point where everyone knows what Angry Birds is, and really, why is this? I don’t know, besides that the game ties into a variety of devices.

All I’m trying to say is, say, someone like me, who doesn’t really play much in terms of marquee titles, is very different than my bros who play Halo and CoD and what not, which are all too different than a blogger on hiatus or one who’s not. Are we even gamers? By some stretch of the definition, sure. We might all watch anime at some point in our lives, too. Or read manga. But we are not similar in our inclinations at a fine grain resolution, to say the least.

I see this, painfully so, when it comes to manga in America. The general marketing concept behind it has not evolved beyond TokyoPop’s brand of “Woah this crap comes from Japan! It’s like, girls read this thing! We call it manga! UNCE UNCE UNCE!” Which is fine, if the calendar says 1989 or something like that. But in 2011 terms this is woefully insufficient, especially since Japan is thoroughly involved with this little localization scene. Especially now that the internet is a major player, and the path everyone is taking to get to the next level.

The sad thing is, even posh and classic manga publisher like Vertical can’t get stuff lifted off the ground in this way. It’s like selling mushrooms, to use an analogy: $500/lb truffle can be marketed in the same way as your $2/lb white buttons, simply because they share some biological similarities in their life cycles? I mean, yeah, you’re a mushroom dealer. And not even the illicit ones. So, again, just because you read/sell/buy/review/follow manga, what does it mean? What does Drops of God has anything to do with Bleach? Nothing, I propose.

I mean, compare this with, say, Marvel or DC’s catalogs–there’s this kind of fracture for attention that is just unimaginable and unseen with these American publishers. It’s not to say those DC or Marvel don’t have diverse offerings, but they really aren’t concerned with just the wide range of topics, forms, modes, and concepts that all of manga has to offer. Which, is to say, manga covers basically everything under the sun.

And naturally, this extends to the fanbase. Just because I may have an anime blog, it doesn’t mean it’s the same sort of blog as any particular breed of anime blog. Anime is a lot more niche than manga, relatively speaking, so I think the relative success of marketing based on that product identity in the west is much better as a result. Ultimately when I go to an anime con, most people overlap in their anime consumption experience, as far as what makes them fans. I cannot say the same thing for manga, at least, not as confidently. But to not just contradict myself, I probably cannot well-identify with majority of American con-goers either, just because I am well-above the average age. Maybe. Honestly, I don’t really know.

Which is why things like this happens, I suppose. Learn to offkai amirite? It’s more serious than that: Learn to realize your hobbies is actually (slightly) different than mine? Do we need to create/import vocabulary for this to happen? Is your illustrated pornography different than mine? How different is too different? Or are they really the same and some people (at the con) are just old and some other (characters) are too old? Do you belong better at a JumpMangaAdaptationCon than a LatestLateNightTVAnimeCon? Or maybe go straight to 4ChanCon? Do plot-driven drivel get you going farther than the House the Artfag built? Or do you require the services of both? Neither? All these things can strongly dictate what we enjoy, what we experience, and how we enjoy yourselves, together. I don’t know why we would want to confuse them. Let’s spell it out.

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6 responses to “Rally Behind Terms, Fracture; Obvious Stuff

  • ToastCrust

    It’s interesting, because the differences in the demographics have always existed. I mean honestly, Star Wars vs. Star Trek? That dichotomy is mythical. Or hell, sci-fi and fantasy cons being held as a singular convention? Madness.

    Yet the nascent conventions about comics and sci-fi or fantasy succeeded, and prospered long enough to ultimately become the framework from which anime conventions were built.

    Yet, this is a problem now, and I think the issue can mainly be sourced from living in a post-internet age. Large, broad categories of fandom were probably more relevant in the day where you could not just log on and find a comfy niche of 10, 20, 30, 50, 100, whatever people who have very similar interests as you, even within the larger “fandom” you are situated in.

    But it’s worth remembering that this convenience is a fairly recent one. And that there may have been a time where you’d have been happy/lucky to find someone in even a vaguely related hobby.

  • omo

    Internet probably has hightened some of it, sure. But unlike SF fandom, I think “manga” fandom is fundamentally fractured at the core. The “woah you read xyz manga” thing you mentioned is what is at play, now on the internet.

  • vendredi

    “The general marketing concept behind it has not evolved beyond TokyoPop’s brand of “Woah this crap comes from Japan!”

    I think the fact that Tokyopop has closed it’s doors really lends weight to how antiquated the concept is. Still, I think changing the model is problematic at best – because, like you mention, D.C. and Marvel’s influence; comics in the English speaking world aren’t exactly a diverse breed, and I feel that thinking sort of colours the entire market – both for the consumer and the licensor/distributor.

  • omo

    I don’t know if Tokyopop’s print-publishing demise can fully back up that notion, but it might just lend some weight. It feels that the Japanese are really not in a position of power when it comes to knowing what manga title will sell and what will not, and furthermore, how to foster the existing oversea market. It’s not something they ever had to do, in a way.

    But on the other hand, they just need to capture it, since it already exist. The question in the long run is how they would be able to do it in a way that isn’t reliant on fandom, but more a cultural transformation that gives manga some kind of name that isn’t just “comics from Japan.”

  • Hinano

    Thank you for that 2chan.us link. It made my night \( ^o^)/
    Sadly, many people still have yet to know about otome games…and maybe they will get a chance if NYAF (or what’s left of it) doesn’t reject my panel this year.

  • omo

    Glad to be able to share.

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