Hi, welcome to my Interview Series, a new feature I’m trying on the blog. I highly recommend reading this before proceeding. Today’s topic and the first topic in this series is manga! In this very first interview, I will be interviewing myself.
Self-identify as: Japanese
- What is/are your favorite manga?
Me: My current favorites are よつばと! and 風光る. But I’m a relatively new manga reader, so my answers may change in the future!
- How or why did you start reading manga?
Me: I started reading manga for two reasons. One, after moving out of my parents’ house, I realized my Japanese skills were starting to get rusty because I no longer used it on a daily basis. Manga seemed like the perfect way to engage my brain while also entertaining me. Two, in the course of writing Japanese stories, I realized I needed to know more about how Japanese in Japan represent Japanese culture in its various iterations. Since manga is so widespread in Japan, I figured it would be a great introduction to reinterpretations of Japanese culture via writing and art. As a side note, I’ve since realized manga is also a way to connect with fellow Japanese because it’s an experience many of us share. Good incentive to keep reading!
- What is most compelling to you when reading manga? In other words, what aspects of the manga encourage you to read beyond volume 1?
Me: Both the story and the art need to engage me. They don’t need to be equally compelling, but if I don’t like at least one aspect of each, it’s very difficult for me to keep reading. For example, in 田中くんはいつもけだるげ, I really enjoy how Uda Nozomi draws Tanaka-kun and his classmates. The story is a bit slow at times (I believe this is intentional, considering Tanaka-kun’s character) and occasionally I put the book down to do something else, but the artwork keeps me committed to the series. By contrast, I recently purchased volume 1 of Naruto. I haven’t read it yet, but a cursory flip-through suggests neither the story nor the art are really to my taste. I still plan to read it, but nothing about the manga has really grabbed me yet.
- How do you choose what manga to read next?
Me: Usually I find my new reads by browsing at Kinokuniya. Sometimes I ask my relatives or friends for recommendations, but these can be hit-or-miss. Funnily enough, I think “judging by the cover” actually applies to choosing manga, especially if the volume is shrink-wrapped and the store will not open it. If I don’t like what I see on the cover, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to endure a 100+ pages of the same art style. Of course, there are always exceptions…
- If you were recommending manga to someone who has never read it before, what would you recommend and why?
Me: Ooh, I think this depends on who the person is. I know my own current favorites, よつばと! and 風光る, have received very high ratings in Japan, so I think it’s safe to say there’s a strong general appeal there. (Then again, my cousin said he thinks the plot of 風光る moves too slowly, so it isn’t universal.) I’ve heard of some other manga that are also very popular, but since I haven’t read them yet, I’ll reserve judgment for now!*
*See the Favorites page for a full list of manga I’ve read AND chosen to recommend.