I admit it–I thought manga was for kids. This was perhaps because my only exposures to the cross-cultural phenomenon were 1) pictures of disproportionate and childish looking characters on my friends’ walls, and 2) the description of manga as “Japanese comics”. However, I soon learned that this portrayal of characters is called “chibi” and that manga is far more than mere comic books. I was hooked by my first experience of manga, the opening chapter of FullMetal Alchemist, Vol. 1.
I flinched at the term “comics”, because it brought to mind for me the old American superhero graphic novels with pages and pages of idealistically drawn and one-dimensional supermen flying to rescue those in need. Save-the-weak was a nice sentiment, but the books lacked the complexity to engage many non-preadolescent males. Manga, to my surprise, targeted all age groups and interests. I was intoxicated by the action-packed yet surprisingly intricate and mature Black Cat and FullMetal Alchemist, but I found my true calling when I flipped open DeathNote. I found within page after page of gorgeous intellectual intrigue with an equally stunning illustrations that perfectly traced the line between realistic and idealistic. I devoured the volumes as if they were the next series of Dan Brown thrillers.
Whether you favor mystery, romance, action, horror, or underwater basket weaving, I guarantee that there will be a manga series to suit your tastes. Each offers a stimulating blend of illustration and narration, facilitating your departure from reality. Soon you will be lost in another world, whether it be between the pages of Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yugi, or, like myself, DeathNote. Just remember to read from the right to the left!