Used that Mangekyou One Too Many Times

I recently had a conversation with OGT where he mentioned his participation at the University of Kentucky’s annual Asia Art Festival. There, he participated in a panel on anime and all that good stuff. But after the panel, an interesting conversation occurred. I’ll let OGT speak for himself.

…I chatted a bit more with the panelists (one a soon-to-graduate senior, the other a freshman) and the topic somehow swerved to the manga industry, its travails, and its push to make a market for more esoteric, alternative manga (which for all intents and purposes mostly means “not BESM-standard”).

After hearing this, the freshman subsequently asked “So, like, are they trying to make it cool to read print manga?”

What?

It turns out that in the guy’s high school, reading manga in book form meant you were at a disadvantage, not only in terms of keeping up with the story but also socially. One possible explanation for this is the fact that scanlations are of course quicker and, high school being what it is, no one wants to discuss something which has already passed its expiration date for trendiness, be it Bleach or the Super Bowl.

But regardless of the why, I must reiterate my (and OGT’s) feelings on the matter: What?

The more I think about that person’s statement though, the more I feel it to be a revelation!  It’s like through all of the discussions and debates out there on how to get people to buy manga, as well as all of the talk directed towards making people aware of piracy, we all forgot the fact that teenagers are teenagers, and the choice to read an online version of their favorite comic can be as simple as whether or not it would be acceptable by their friends and fellow manga fans. Knowing this, I can’t help but think, “How blind we all are!”

As someone who was once ages 13 through 18, I know that not every decision a person that age makes is the product of group pressure, and that a teenager can even defy that pressure, but I know that it is still a very powerful, perhaps even overwhelming force. And despite what they themselves might think, keeping up with what’s “cool” can affect nerds, especially when it’s due to the judgment values of their fellow dorks. Sure, this feeling can definitely be exploited for marketing purposes—there are industries built entirely around doing so—but all of the logic and strategy in the world can’t always account for the fickle, volatile psyche of the teenager.

So in conclusion, I feel old. You should too.

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10 thoughts on “Used that Mangekyou One Too Many Times

  1. Don’t worry I feel old too, even though I read manga on my PC as well (mostly out of necessity than anything else. Nobody really sells manga here and the ones they do sell…well I don’t like em.)

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  2. I shouldn’t, because when I was in high school, all the manga fans I knew were reading online. And now I’m in college, and all the manga fans I know read online. Partly to keep up, and partly because they’re all broke.

    And all the physical copies of manga I’ve seen people besides myself carry in hs or college? Library books. Every. Single. Time.

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    • It’s not the act or even populairty of reading manga online that makes me feel old, but rather the fact that a lack of print manga could be due to simple peer pressure and the fickleness of the rebellious teenager. To have forgotten that aspect of those years, even for a moment, is kind of sobering.

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  3. Well, naturally. Why would I want to discuss the chapter 110 of Bakuman some time next year, when it’s already out this week and everyone who cares has read it already? Who would there even be left wanting to discuss it with then?

    Not that I don’t read print manga, far from it, but I completely understand the sentiment. That’s also why the rest of the world pirates American TV shows like Lost or 24 – why wait till next year when everyone in the workplace is talking about them now?

    Manga aren’t graphic novels, even though some people have been fooled to think otherwise. They’re series, meant to be consumed (and discussed) one chapter at a time. The illegal scanlations have just enabled the Western readers to have the same experience the Japanese have always had. It’s a social urge.

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  4. I still can’t read manga online. I’ve tried, but I’m such a “purist,” I need the book in front of me.

    That said, I hate having to wait for new chapters. Especially if I am really into the story. The lure is great, and there are times it has broken my dislike of online manga, but thats few and far in between.

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  5. Interesting revelation. Though, from my own memories of high school years, reading much of anything in print form, openly, when it wasn’t an assignment, wasn’t really considered cool by the mainstream crowd. Then again, perhaps that was my perception at the time. I actually read a lot more books then than I have post high school. I’m 29 now and have read maybe a dozen books in the last year, compared to how I used to read 2-3 a week.

    I also think the “now” factor is a big player in the print vs. online manga debate. Like Tsubasa said above, who wants to talk about a chapter of a series that in Japan/online happened a year ago as new news? Unless of course those you’re talking to are new to it as well, but for sake of argument we’ll assume they aren’t, they read it a year ago when it was current. Bleach is one of the few ongoing series I keep current with, and I know if someone came up to me talking about chapter 87 I’d first have no idea what happened then without them giving me a refresher, and even then it would be hazy in my mind. I know Bleach isn’t a great example as it actually comes out relatively quickly state side, but you get my point.

    Something I do miss is how Viz and Dark Horse (and maybe others, but those are the only ones that stick out in my mind) used to actually release individual chapters of manga. Blade of the Immortal and Evangelion were series I was glued to and would purchase the individual chapters as well as the TPB when it came out.

    I liked the fact that you had a choice, you could opt to purchase those individual chapters that came out every few weeks (paying about $4 an issue), or wait a few months for the TPB that would compile 5+ chapters (for $15-20). I liked being able to read a new chapter every few weeks, or at least once a month, rather than waiting sometimes 3+ months (or years in the case of Evangelion, not Viz’s fault, but just that it was released that slowly in Japan as well) for the TPB to come out. I also liked getting all those nice covers and color panels in the single chapters, which you often lose out on in the TPBs.

    You know what makes me feel old? I dug out my first issue of Blade of the Immortal and looked for the publication date. 1996. I was a freshman in high school then.

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    • I was thinking about that first part, about the coolness of “reading” in and of itself in the high school environment, and it really is a complicated issue. I know I’ve heard David Brothers over at 4thletter talk about how when he was younger, comics weren’t a “nerd” thing, so maybe manga benefits in a similar fashion.

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  6. Pingback: Manga is back at Media Blasters « MangaBlog

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  8. One could also say that today’s Manga readers prefer reading their comics on the computer. I’ve found that it’s easier for me to read American comics when the image is zoomed in on one panel at a time, since the other panels tend to distract from the others, and hinder my reading experience. American pages tend to be extremely focused on making every image AWESOME! without considering the overall page design, which usually results in pages being more visually “unreadable” compared to European and Japanese counterparts when viewed from a distance.

    In other news, when I saw that there was going to be an anti-piracy Manga…
    http://e.nikkei.com/e/fr/tnks/Nni20101120D20JFF04.htm

    …my first thoughts was that it would be ironic if it was pirated elsewhere, even though it would be available online.

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