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Seven Things I Hate About Manga

Seven of my pet hates when it comes to reading Manga!

Date: 23-2-2010
Subject: Anime
Article By: Bradley Beeck

While reading the first two volumes of the Yozakura Quartet manga the other day a lot of things rubbed me the wrong way. Iím not simply picking on this title for the sake of it because I actually like the series as a whole even though it has more problems than the ones on this list. It was only the unfortunate straw that broke the camelís back, as these issues come up in manga across the board.

Binding Ė the pages of a manga are glued together to make a nice little paper back novel. Hence manga is often referred to by bookstores as Graphic Novels. The trouble is each page of the manga covers the entire page, resulting in parts of the comic disappearing into the center of the book. Just take a look at the image below; I have to horribly distort the volume to even read what that speech bubble says. Can you imagine reading any other type of novel and having multiple words vanish into the spine of the book?

Gibberish Translations Ė Anyone whoís watched fansubs or read scanlations (manga equivalent of fan translations) will be familiar with this. However published manga is a professionally translated commercial product and mistakes still happen. It makes you wonder if anyone proof reads their work. This passage in Volume 2 of Yozakura was so awkwardly written I thought it made no sense the first time I read it.

Confusing Panels Ė this oneís universal to all comics. Where thereís so much going on in a panel or itís so poorly drawn you canít immediately tell whatís going on. This is most common among new artists/authors.

Confusing Direction/Flow Ė this happens when several panels donít connect properly so events become hard to follow. It can be caused by badly/wrongly drawn individual panels or panels that donít clearly show time gaps or changes in the situation (flashbacks). The scene below has one such example of a poorly depicted flashback/hallucination/imagination.

Explanation of References Ė maybe this is nitpicking but manga is from a foreign culture so itís bound have things a westerner isnít going to understand. So publishers put explanations at the back of the book, when they leave them in. Meaning that every time I come across such a reference (this manga had a fair few) I have to stop reading, flip to the back page and read its explanation. Now scanlations largely avoid this problem by explaining the term/reference on the same page as it appears. What really ticked me off in the case of Del Reyís Yozakura Quartet is that it dedicates two entire pages at the start of the book to honorifics. Honorifics are nearly completely irrelevant to understanding manga/anime, theyíre only used to subtlety convey relative position/respect in society.

Price Ė manga is expensive. It cost $19AUD for each Yozakura volume and apart from the front cover itís not even in colour - not a single chapter cover/page. Still the price isnít that bad when compared to the likes of other manga such Berserk, which sells for $25-30AUD a volume. Bersek is a series that has 33 volumes and counting. So it costs $825AUD for the whole series at $25AUD a pop. In the words of Bart Simpson: Aye Caramba!

Release Date/Cancellations Ė Iíve been collecting Air Gear for a couple of years now. On average thereís been a three month gap between volumes. Itís galling when you reach the end of an interesting chapter to find youíll have to wait 12 weeks to discover what happens. And by then youíll barely remember what was going on. Itís doubly galling when you can go online and find youíre 150 chapters behind what the freeloaders are reading. And as for cancellations/dropping series, why bother releasing it in the first place if youíre going to do that? You screw over your customers with an incomplete product, and may well have caused any fan translations to stop by licensing it. Thus youíve ensured that nobody gets what they want Ė a complete story.