Ned Beauman at the Guardian's Book Blog gives us a refresher course in Japanese Manga and polls his readers in his most recent post. The perplexing and often misunderstood Japanese narrative art form has come under criticism from readers in the west for its sporadic pacing, sometimes unusual themes, and what many see as its dark sexual undertones. Additionally, Manga also has to contend with resistance from both a readership in the west that's only just beginning to see graphic narratives as part of the mainstream and a more pervasive unwillingness to read any kind of literature in translation. As a result, though awareness of Manga cartoon shows and comics among children in the US is fairly high, you'd be hard pressed to come up with many serious readers who were followers of Manga. Part of the problem, Beauman suggests, might be in the nature of the Manga that most commonly finds its way into English translation--teen-focussed fiction that might not be representative of the fuller capabilities of the form. Given the frenetic and intensely imaginative nature of the work that's emerged so far, it seems only likely that there's stuff out there that combines these attributes with a more sophisticated voice for the discerning graphic narrative aficionado. Take a look at the comments at the end of Beauman's post for readers' suggestions.
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