Kids Who Can't Read Manga
Livedoor News has an article commenting on a recent phenomenon in Japan, and perhaps a true testament to the era of information overload we live in: kids who don't know how to read manga.
It would still be understandable if you were trying to read complex literature, and told me "I don't really get it." But what do you mean, "manga is too difficult to understand"!?
Apparently, we are seeing kids nowadays who do not understand the basic concepts for reading manga, like "speech bubbles" and "panels." Not understanding how panel works, OK I guess you can't help it if you're a young child who's never touched manga before, but speech bubbles...? That's the absolute essence of manga! Just why are we seeing this sort of phenomenon?
"I think the primary reason is that there has been an increase in the amount of visual information on non-paper media, such as the internet, cellular phones and video games. Reading manga is not something you're taught; if there are fewer opportunities for people to be exposed to manga, that means that there are fewer opportunities to familiarize themselves with the structure of manga. Therefore, it would only be natural for people to experience confusion when trying to read them." says Assistant Professor Kazuma Yoshimura of Kyoto Seika University's Faculty of Manga.
And it's certainly true that in past decades, things like the internet and cellular phones were not as ubiquitous as they are now, and visual entertainment was essentially limited to manga, anime and video games. Many children probably considered manga an extremely popular form of entertainment; hence, they naturally picked up the rules for reading manga while they enjoyed reading them.
The fact that there are kids who don't understand how to read manga itself is worrying enough, but does this mean that Japan's glorious manga culture is on the decline? Are we going to be OK?
"Just because there are some kids who can't read manga, doesn't mean that the manga-loving population is declining. It's true that anthology magazine sales are going down, but sales of graphic novels are doing well. This means that we are seeing more and more people who only read certain favorite titles." explains Yoshimura.
If many people only read certain titles, then the market itself will inevitably get smaller, but for now we can breathe a sigh of relief. When it comes to manga and anime, we don't want to place second to any country in the world! (Mai Endo/verb)
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Translated by Neuroretardant