As part of USU’s PopFest, the Library is exhibiting a selection of iconic manga from our collection titled: From slapdash drawings to an art form: Japanese manga from the East Asian Collection.
Deemed by some as rooted in the twelfth-century scrolls of illustrated stories, manga (漫画) – literally meaning dispersed, uncontrolled, careless, free-form, excessive drawings and translated as comics or graphic novels – became a successful cultural export of Japan during the twentieth century. Since its entry into the domain of popular culture first in Japan and then around the world, it has established itself as a unique art and literary form diverging greatly on styles as well as subject matters. This exhibition showcases some of the iconic works of manga from the Library’s East Asian Collection. Want to see more? Go explore our extensive manga collection on level 9, Fisher Library.
少女漫画 Girls’ manga or純情漫画 “Pure love” manga
少女漫画 [shōjo manga] is manga intended primarily for young female readership, as opposed to 少年漫画 [shōnen manga], manga for teen boys. Often considered as not so much a genre but a category by target audience, and sometimes disregarded and passed as inferior as are many things created and appreciated by women, shōjo manga is in fact a distinct and distinguished genre in itself that made space for women creators and readership in the manga world, opening possibilities for alternative characters, narratives, and sensibilities beyond the battles and adventures of robots, pirates, and samurai. From this genre many auteurs and masterpieces emerged, some that may today seem conventional and others subversive, yet all worth consideration
ベルサイユのばら = La rose de Versailles
La rose de Versailles, affectionately nicknamed ベルバラ [berubara], is a classic of the classics in the genre of 少女漫画 [shōjo manga]. Also known as Lady Oscar, Berubara tells a story of two main characters: Oscar and Marie Antoinette. Both are caught in the political and romantic whirlwind against the backdrop of pre- and post-revolutionary France. Oscar is especially conflicted between their duty as the commander of the Royal Guard and their sympathy with the revolution.
It first appeared in May 1972 in the Margaret (マーガレット[Māgaretto]) magazine, which ran weekly then. After the final episode was published in the magazine in 1973, a forty-episode anime television series of Berubara was released in 1979. The series gained a huge national following during its first run until 1980, achieving cult status in Japan and overseas thereafter. Consequently, it was rerun numerous times until very recently. Berubara has also been made into Takarazuka (宝塚), Japanese all-female musical theatre, since 1974.
- Lady Oscar [videorecording] = ベルサイユのばら memorial box / Dezaki Osamu, Nagahama Tadao, and Ikeda Riyoko
ガラスの仮面 = The Glass mask
The Glass mask is a manga written and illustrated by Miuchi Suzue that first appeared in shōjo manga magazine Hana to yume (花と夢, “Flowers and dreams”) in 1976. It is a story of two ambitious and talented young women, the protagonist Maya and her rival Ayumi, striving to reach the highest level of the art of acting as well as to achieve their career goals.
One of the bestselling shōjo manga (over 50 million copies by 2006), Garasu no kamen is still running, the most recent volume being volume 49 published in 2012. Known to be a perfectionist, Miuchi does not release new episode easily or often. She is now 68 years old and her readership, of all genders and ages, is wishing her all the best and looking desperately forward to the next volumes. One fan aged over 80 said in an interview that her last wish would be to be able read the finale of Garasu no kamen in her lifetime. A Musical based on Garasu no kamen is scheduled to premiere in 2020, for which Miuchi is writing the scenario.
ナナ = Nana
Fast forward to 1999, when Nana was created by Yazawa Ai. Nana first appeared in josei-and-shōjo (女性・少女, “women and girls”) manga magazine Cookie (クッキー), and started as a series in 2000, running until June 2009. It soon became one of the bestselling shōjo manga, selling over 34.5 million copies by 2006. In 2009 Yazawa fell ill and stopped creating Nana, leaving the story unfinished with forty-seven episodes so far. Meanwhile, monograph series was published by Shūeisha (集英社) in twenty-one volumes.
Nana is a story that evolves around the lives of two seemingly opposite women, both of whose names are Nana: one Komatsu Nana (小松奈々), the other Ōsaki Nana (大崎ナナ). Komatsu comes from a care-free home with her naïve outlook and dependent personality. Ōsaki on the other hand was a teenage runaway who is now a depressed and anxious punk rock singer. At the age of twenty-one, both end up heading to the big city, Tokyo, for a new chapter in their lives. The pair meets for the first time on their train to Tokyo and then get to live together in their new city, where one is looking for musical success and fame while the other seeks love and stability.
With the pages turning, the reader follows their journey in friendship and solidarity, while clumsily and painfully navigating their new surroundings, relationships, work, and passion. One can surely call Nana a type of twenty-first century coming-of-age tale of two young women, that cannot be told without female friendship taking centre stage.
子供向け漫画 [kodomo muke manga], or simply 子供漫画 [kodomo manga], is manga for children. Usually of a shorter length and telling simpler stories, children’s manga often features children themselves as main characters and contains educational content. Many children grow up reading manga, alone in their rooms and socially amongst friends. They read manga during their bus or subway trip to and back from school, during class breaks, and hanging out with friends after school. They borrow manga books from libraries, save up their pocket money to purchase new releases, and circulate volumes amongst friends. Manga is part of their daily lives and a common reference and forms their childhood memory as they grow up. Researchers have shown that manga helps develop literacy in children by exposing them to complex visual narrative sequences. Through repeated practice in visual language, children’s ability to comprehend and create narratives is increased. More researchers are finding that children who read manga also read more of other materials compared to those who do not, and grow up to be avid readers in general.
ドラえもん = Doraemon
Doraemon is an iconic and much beloved children’s manga series created by 藤子・F・不二雄 [Fujiko F. Fujio], nom de plume of the manga artist duo 藤本弘 [Fujimoto Hiroshi] and 安孫子素雄 [Abiko Motoo]. Doraemon first appeared in 1969 in an educational magazine for school children and in 月刊コロコロコミック (“Monthly Korokoro Comics”), both published by 小学館 [Shōgakukan], a publishing house specialising in primary education books. ロコロコ is a mimetic word describing a small, round object rolling. In January 1970, Doraemon became a regular appearance and the original series concluded with 1,345 short stories in total in 1996. Selected stories from the series were also published in monograph forms in 45 volumes from 1974 and 1996, which became one of the bestselling manga in the world, selling more than 100 million copies by 2015.
Doraemon is a story of a twenty-two-century robotic cat named Doraemon with special time-traveling powers who takes a boy, 野比のび太 [Nobi Nobita], on adventures anywhere and anytime: overseas, in the past, and into the future, while trying to help him with his troubles. Doraemon is in fact sent by a descendant of Nobita, and is equipped with all kind of futuristic gadgets. While each short story covers one problem to solve and has an ending, all stories have something in common: Doraemon uses his secret tools that magically appear from his pocket to help Nobita, but something somehow always goes wrong.
Doraemon was and still is extremely popular, and naturally grew to a huge franchise including anime series, e-book series, anime film, feature films, and video games, adored all around the world. Licensed merchandise is also very popular, generating billions of dollars globally. Doraemon collected many an award, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan appointed the character Doraemon as the nation’s first anime ambassador in 2008.
Displayed are the manga Doraemon itself and the images of entries for the Doraemon exhibition subtitled ‘please make your own Doraemon’, held in Japan between 2002 and 2004.
グルメ漫画 Gourmet manga
グルメ漫画 [gurume manga], gourmet manga, is manga on food that has established itself as a topical genre over time, starting with 包丁人味平 (Hōchōnin Ajihei, Ajihei the cook, 1973-1977). Deemed to be the very first work in the genre, Hōchōnin Ajihei was a series written by 牛次郎[Gyū Jirō] and illustrated by ビッグ錠 [Bikku Jō], published in Weekly shōnen jump. In this seminal work, Ajihei, son of a renowned and respected chef of traditional Japanese cuisine, decides to go on his own journey against his father’s wishes. To his father’s dismay, he decides to become best at making inexpensive yet delicious food for the people. Hōchōnin Ajihei tells a story of Ajihei’s development as a chef, including the obstacles and challenges he meets. It is filled with information on ingredients, dishes, and cooking techniques, and punctuated with many a cooking battle. Although this particular work is not held by the East Asian Collection, the building blocks of Gourmet manga established and developed in Hōchōnin Ajihei are evident in the succeeding titles held in the collection. The bubble economy during the 1980s and 1990s in Japan brought about a boom in gastronomy, and the gourmet manga also proliferated.
将太の寿司=Shōta no sushi
Shōta no sushi, “Shōta’s sushi”, is a typical example of the subgenre of Gourmet manga, バトル物, “the battle type”, where the protagonist chef’s personal and professional growth is achieved through various cooking battles and competitions. Created by 寺沢大介 [Daisuke Terasawa] in 1992, the original series was published in Weekly shōnen magazine between 1992 and 1997, followed by a sequel series 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編 [Shōta no sushi : zenkoku taikai hen] from 1997 to 2000.
Shōta’s Sushi follows a teenage male apprentice sushi cook, Shōta, through his journey to becoming a specialist sushi chef. The story centres around Shōta solving problems and overcoming obstacles while competing in sushi tournament competitions, from regional preliminaries to nationals.
Unlike Shōta’s sushi, Oishinbo, “The Gourmet”, belongs to another subgenre of Gourmet manga called 情報物, “the information type”, although the boundaries are unclear. In this type of gourmet manga, information on ingredients, recipes, origins, traditions, and food-related social practices are central to the story. In line with such characteristics, Oishinbo often provides lengthy and detailed description of the dishes featured, accompanied by realistic and meticulous pictorial representation.
It follows two newspaper journalists Shirō and Yūko who are put in charge of the paper’s special centenary project titled <the perfect menu>. Written by 雁屋哲[Kariya Tetsu] and illustrated by 花咲アキラ[Hanasaki Akira], Oishinbo series was first published in 1983 and ran until suspension in 2014 on the pages of Big Comic Spirits. The monograph series was published in 111 volumes, and soon became one of the bestselling manga in the world, with the approximate sales over 130 million copies by 2008. Anime television series, television films, and live-action films were also released.
Exhibited are the manga Oishinbo itself, along with two related materials: <美味しんぼ> をもっと美味しくする特别講義 (“Special lecture to make Oishinbo more delicious”), and; 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. 15(身も心も温まる!鍋料理) (“Oishinbo à la carte 15: nabe dishes to warm your body and mind”).
- 美味しんぼ / 雁屋哲作 ; 花咲アキラ画 = Oishinbo / Hanasaki Akira and Kariya Tetsu, 1985.
- 美味しんぼ塾 : [美味しんぼ]をもっと美味しくする特别講義 / 雁屋哲 = Oishinbojuku / Kariya Tetsu, 2001.
- 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. 15(身も心も温まる!鍋料理) / 雁屋哲作 ; 花咲アキラ画 = Oishinbo arakaruto / Hanasaki Akira, 2006.
Browse more manga in our East Asian Collection
- Most manga books featured in this exhibition are the gift of Mr Neil Burns, a member of the Friends of the University of Sydney Library
- The Doraemon exhibition art catalogue in this exhibition is a gift of the National Art Centre, Tokyo and is part of our Japan Art Catalogue (JAC) collection.
From slapdash drawings to an art form: Japanese manga from the East Asian Collection will be exhibiting in SciTech Library, from 9th September.
Celebrate USU’s PopFest from 11-13th September. Visit the USU website to see the line up of events including Photoshop for Insta! workshop and Beat Saber Challenge at ThinkSpace and Sphero Bowling and VR Escape Room at the International Student Lounge.