Arts and Sciences 138.09: Freshman Seminar
Analyzing the Appeal of Manga
Call number: 3344
Day: Wednesday 3:30-4:18
Associate Professor; Japanese Studies Librarian donovan.1@osu
In recent years artifacts of Japanese popular culture have spread worldwide, creating a global youth culture that is attracting research interest. This seminar focuses on manga that have been translated into English.
The objective of this course is to introduce students to manga as research resources that can be analyzed from many perspectives. Manga selected for the course are by some of the most famous Japanese cartoonists and represent a range of genres and styles. Students will enhance their information literacy skills and develop presentation techniques while exploring the fascinating world of manga.
In Autumn 2010 this seminar will take up the special topic of TEZUKA Osamu’s manga, which have been heralded by many as influencing and enabling the development of Japan’s rich comics culture. We will read seven manga by Tezuka, who is often called “manga no kamisama” (god of comics). In addition we will read two manga by URASAWA Naoki, who has acknowledged the influence of Tezuka’s manga.
* This one-credit course will meet once a week for 48 minutes.
* Course readings are arranged in chronological order by the date of publication in Japan.
* Approximately two hours of work is expected to be completed in preparation for each class. Students read as much as possible of the assignments in two hours.
* Although some of these manga have been made into anime, students are expected to read the printed manga rather than watch the animated versions. All readings are in English.
* Assigned readings are available on Reserve both in the Cartoon Library & Museum and the Thompson Library. Books are also available for purchase at the University Bookstore.
* Students sign up to take turns leading class discussions on specific manga.
*In addition to the assigned manga, some recommended books are also on reserve and available for students who want to look into issues discussed in class in more depth.
Attendance is mandatory and will be taken during every class meeting. Participation in class discussion is required and will be noted during every class meeting. Students are expected to have read assigned manga carefully so as to be able to participate actively in class discussions.
Classroom Discussion Format
Classes are divided into two or sometimes three segments. Two of the segments are for students (who will sign up ahead of time) to make five to seven minute presentations on aspects of the assigned manga for the week, raising questions to stimulate discussion and showing examples, followed by class discussion. (See “Class Roles” document for more details – attached below.) The third segment will be for the instructor’s mini-lecture on a specific topic, introducing aspects of the history of manga, manga studies, and methods of analyzing manga, showing examples from the collections, etc.
Grading : Satisfactory/ Unsatisfactory (Satisfactory = 70%)
Class participation 50%
Discussion leadership 30%
Unit 1: Foundations of Tezuka’s manga
Sept. 22: Introductions; course overview; introduction to Tezuka
Students sign up to prepare and lead discussions of manga
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Metropolis
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 1
3) Natsu Onoda Power. God of Comics. Chapter 3
Setp. 29: Topic: Manga as sequential art
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Metropolis (1949)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Astro Boy v. 3
2) Helen McCarthy. The Art of Osamu Tezuka.
3) Frederik Schodt. The Astro Boy Essays. Chapter 3
Oct.6: Topic: Iconic Characters and Realistic Backgrounds in Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Astro Boy v. 3 (1964~65)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Dororo v. 1
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 2
Oct. 13: Topic: Closure (panel to panel transitions) in Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Dororo v. 1 (1967~1968)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Phoenix: Karma
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 3
Oct. 20: Topic: Time and Motion in Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Phoenix: Karma (1969~70)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Ode to Kirihito. p.1-400
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 4
Unit 2: Tezuka’s Manga of the ‘70s and ‘80s
Oct. 27: Topic: Genres and the Commodification of Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Ode to Kirihito. (1970~71)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Ode to Kirihito. p.401-822
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 5
Nov. 3: Topic: Fan Culture and Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Ode to Kirihito. (1970~71)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Black Jack v.1
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 6
Nov.10: Topic: Gender and Sexuality in Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Black Jack v.1 (1973)
Assignment: 1) Tezuka, Osamu. Adolf v. 1
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 7
Nov.17: Topic: Social Commentary in Manga
Discussion focus: Tezuka, Osamu. Adolf v.1 (1983)
Assignment: 1) Urasawa, Naoki. Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. v. 1
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 8
Unit 3: Tezuka’s Heritage: Urasawa Naoki
Nov.24: Topic: The Craft of Manga
Discussion focus: Urasawa, Naoki. Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. v. 1 (1995) Assignment: 1) Urasawa, Naoki. Pluto v.1
2) Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics. Chapter 9
Dec.1: Topic: Wrap up discussion on Tezuka’s influence on manga and anime
Discussion focus: Urasawa, Naoki. Pluto. V.1 (2004)
Texts (All Books are Available On Reserve in Thompson Library and at the Cartoon Library & Museum)
McCarthy, Helen. The Art of Osamu Tezuka.
(Abrams Comic Arts, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-8109-8249-9)
McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art.
(Kitchen Sink Press, 1993; HarperCollins, 1994 ISBN: 978006097625)
Power, Natsu Onoda. God of Comics.
(Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-60473-221-4)
Schodt, Frederik L. The Astro Boy Essays.
(Stone Bridge Press, c2007 ISBN: 9781933330549 )
Tezuka, Osamu. Adolf : A Tale of the Twentieth Century. v.1 (translated by Yuji Oniki)
(Cadence Books, 1995 ISBN:1-56931-058-0)
Tezuka, Osamu. Astro Boy v. 3 (translated by Frederik L. Schodt)
(Dark Horse Comics, 2002 ISBN: 978-1-56971-678-6
Tezuka, Osamu. Black Jack. v. 1 (translated by Camellia Nieh)
(Vertical, 2008. ISBN: 978-193428727-9)
Tezuka, Osamu. Dororo v.1 (translated by Dawn T. Laabs)
(Vertical, 2008 ISBN: 978-193428716-3)
Tezuka, Osamu. Metropolis. (translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian)
(Dark Horse, 2003 ISBN: 1-56971-864-4)
Tezuka, Osamu. Ode to Kirihito. (translated by Camellia Nieh)
(Vertical, 2006 ISBN: 978-1-93-223464-0)
Tezuka, Osamu. Phoenix v.4: Karma (translated by Dadakai = Jared Cook, Shinji Sakamoto and Frederik L. Schodt) (Viz, 2004 ISBN: 1-59116-300-5)
Urasawa, Naoki. Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. v. 1 translated by Satch Watanabe
(Viz, 2006. ISBN: 1-59116-641-1)
Urasawa, Naoki. Pluto. V.1 (2004) (translated by Jared Cook and Frederik L. Schodt)
(Viz, 2004 ISBN: 978-1-4215-1918-0)
Arts and Sciences 138: Freshman Seminar
Analyzing the Appeal of Manga
1) Leading Discussion:
(30% of grade)
One of the goals of this class is to provide an opportunity for students to learn presentation techniques and how to participate successfully in a seminar. All students will take turns as discussion leaders.
As discussion leader, your role is to develop a 5 to 7 minute presentation exploring the assigned manga as a research resource. The overall focus is to analyze factors that relate to the appeal of manga (in general or in the case of a particular manga), but you do not need to be limited to this.
A good presentation will include:
a) Questions. While reading the manga explore preliminary research potential by developing questions to pursue in class discussion. (use handout on types of questions)
b) Analysis. Use the Manga Analysis handout to develop questions for class discussion related to one or more kinds of analysis (description, stylistics, content, characters, context)
c) Examples. While reading the manga make note of selected pages to show in class to stimulate discussion using the document camera and overhead projector.
d) IMPORTANT! Try to come up with some questions/ideas that will challenge your classmates to think about the manga in a different way and get a good discussion going
Manga as research resources (some ideas – don’t be limited by these!):
• Use ideas from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics or his other writings/talks and explore how a mangaka (cartoonist) has used them in the manga being discussed that week (and what effect this has on readers/fans) (Stylistic analysis)
• Analyze the content of the manga (images; themes; issues)
• Analyze characters (positive and negative characteristics + reasons; value judgments+ reasons)
• Discuss one of the suggested topics (from any week!) in the assigned manga
• Use ideas/theories learned in another course (Psychology? English? Engineering? Art? Entomology? Geography? History? Etc) to develop a hypothesis with which to analyze the appeal of the manga being discussed (Contextual, etc)
• Look for one or more “crystallizing” moments in the assigned manga and show how the cartoonist builds up to those moments with narrative and/or artistic techniques (Stylistics)
• Look for moments when the mangaka (cartoonist) steps into the manga to communicate directly with fans – discuss what effect this has on the manga (Stylistics)
• Think about the manga as an artifact of Japanese culture or of a global youth culture of the late 20th century – what does it reveal about the time and place of its composition? (Contextual)
• A particularly effective technique is to count occurrences of something and analyze the effect – such as the number of times a certain kind of closure (transitions between panels) is used, or the number of times a birds eye view is presented, or how many panels does it take for a character’s appearance to shift from normal to angry and back again, or how many times a particular sound effect is used and whether the meaning is always the same, etc, etc. (Stylistics)
2) Participating in class:
(50% of grade)
Class participation is another requirement of the class, through 1) active involvement in discussions and/or serving as 2) time keeper.
Being involved in discussions (everyone!):
• Be considerate and respectful of others’ opinions, even when you disagree.
• Share your knowledge and insights during the class discussions.
• Be aware that our class time is limited and everyone should participate – keep comments as short as possible
Time Keeping: A Time Keeper will remind discussion leaders when time is up and ensure that the class work progresses in a timely fashion. The class is 48 minutes.
• We should start on time with just a minute or two for announcements at the beginning of class.
• After that the two discussion leaders make their 5 to 7 minute presentations.
• Then the discussion period opens – for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the length of the announcements/presentations).
• In the third segment of the class (about 15-16 minutes) the instructor will make a presentation (and, perhaps, show some materials from the manga collection)
• We should finish on time
(20% of grade)
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
— Woody Allen
Manga Analysis – Some Ideas*–
1. Descriptive analysis – Write a description of the manga from memory after reading it — without looking back. What you remember will help you to pull out what was most important about it to you, including style, content, characters, etc. Summarizing and describing is a type of analysis.
2. Stylistic analysis — some concepts overlap with analysis of literature/film/anime/art, while others are specific to manga:
Relating to the art:
• Exaggeration, contortion, etc (deforume)
• Cross-hatching; inking; etc
• Bleeds (panels running off the edge of the page)
Relating to the story:
• Birdseye views (setting the stage)
• Time – memories, pace of action, simultaneous actions, etc
• Space –
• Iconic forms (characters)
• Backgrounds (sometimes stylized — to create a mood; sometimes showing movement or expressing emotions)
• Environments (Realistic – pulling reader in; created through sensory experiences—smell, touch, hear, etc)
• Subjective motion (pulling reader into the story)
Relating to the manga as sequential art –
• Panels: a) individual panels:
Composition within each panel
Depth of composition (foreground, middle ground, background)
Depth of field (deep focus, shallow focus)
Angle (anguru) – Straight on/Perpendicular/90º
High/Low (Birds’eye/ Worm’s eye)
Acute (below 45º off plane of action/attention
Oblique (above 45º off plane of action/attention
b) organization of panels (komawari)
Sequence — how to read?
Size of panels
• Words, sounds:
Speech balloons (shapes, other characteristics)
Onomatopoeia (giongo — expressing voice or sounds; gitaigo – expressing actions, emotions, moods)
Sounds: voice, rings/bells/etc, movement, atmosphere
Diegetic ( sounds that are part of the manga story) / non-diegetic (narrator’s comments, sounds for dramatic effect, etc)
• Closure (See S McCloud, UC, 70-72): Panel-to-panel transitions (in films it is called an “edit”—transition from one shot to another):
1. Moment to moment
2. Action to action
3. Subject to subject
4. Scene to scene
5. Aspect to aspect
3. Content analysis –
Genres (see list of genres used in OSU’s cataloging of manga)
Images (recurring items, pictures, events, sounds, phrases, people, etc)
Themes (topics; what the manga is about)
Issues (questions the manga raises; conflicts that may or may not be resolved; dialectical oppositions)
4. Character analysis —
a) Character types: heroes, antiheroes, villains, mad scientists, femme fatale, etc
b) Clothes, costumes, hair, props, etc
c) Names of characters
d) Ages of the characters –how depicted, changes
e) Positive character traits + evidence – and – negative character traits + evidence. These can be noted in a table format:
Character Positive traits (list) Evidence for positive judgment of trait Negative traits
(list) Evidence for negative judgment of trait
5. Contextual analysis — What is the context for this manga? What was happening at the time it was written – in Japan? — in the world? — in the mangaka’s life? — in the manga/anime world? – in the art/literary/film/culture worlds? – in any other contexts? How does the context relate to this specific manga? What’s the evidence? To whom is the message of the manga addressed? How is this manga being received outside Japan?
6. Creative/critical analysis: If you were the writer of this particular manga, what would you do differently? What story arcs have potential? Into what directions?
* Note: The idea to make this sheet came from seeing Professor Ron Green’s handout “Film Analysis – Some Basic Methods” (Department of History of Art). (Some of the specifics included here were borrowed directly from Professor Green’s handout, others come from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics or from Japanese books about manga.) If you like this kind of analysis, please consider taking one or more of Professor Green’s courses!