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rec.arts.manga: Welcome to rec.arts.manga


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Archive-name: manga/welcome

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                         Welcome to rec.arts.manga
                                October 1998

             Maintained by Steve Pearl (starbuck@cybercomm.net)
           updated (v2.0) by Iain Sinclair (axolotl@socs.uts.edu.au)
          Based on the original rec.arts.manga document by Steve Pearl

This FAQ, as well as the other anime/manga newsgroup FAQs and info
articles written by Steve Pearl, are available from the Official
Anime/Manga FAQ page at
 http://www.cybercomm.net/~starbuck/FAQ.html
The FAQs on that page are always the most recent version (The monthly
posts are posted directly from that directory!)

This document provides answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions on
the Usenet newsgroup, rec.arts.manga.  It is regularly posted to news.answers
and rec.arts.manga.  This FAQ is also intended as a general introduction to
manga and related subjects, such as Japanese language, art and pop culture.
Readers of rec.arts.manga should not post articles until they have read this
FAQ in its entirety.  Additions and corrections are welcome, and should be
e-mailed to the editors.  Sale of this FAQ and its sub-FAQs, or their use
in commercial publication, is strictly forbidden without written consent
of the editors.

  Disclaimer: the editors of this FAQ are not in any way affiliated
  with any of the organizations mentioned in this FAQ.  The opinions
  expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the opinions of
  the editors or their affiliated organizations.  While the information
  in this FAQ is accurate as far as can be determined, no guarantees 
  as to its reliability are offered.

NB: Japanese animation or animation of any kind is discussed
    on rec.arts.anime, not rec.arts.manga.  Crossposting between 
    rec.arts.manga and any other newsgroup causes noise, and is
    strongly discouraged.
    

Introduction:
- What's it all about?
- What's the charter of rec.arts.manga?
- How do I use rec.arts.manga?
- Conventions used in this FAQ
- What is HTML/WWW/FTP/URL/...?
- What is JIS?
- What does this word/term/abbreviation mean?
- I have a question about this manga artist...
  I have a question about this manga...
- Where can I get mangas?
  Where are some good ftp/www sites?
  What is the address of...?
- Can you recommend some good mangas?
  What mangas and manga magazines are popular right now?
  Should I learn Japanese if I enjoy reading manga?
- When I go to a Japanese bookstore, where do I start?
- How do I draw in the "manga style"?
- How do I go about learning Japanese?  Is it difficult?

The Japanese manga industry:
- What happened to Kadokawa Haruki and Comp/Gao?
- Was Video Girl Ai censored?
- How can I get my manga published in Japan?
- Can I mail Japanese manga-kas on NiftyServe?

English-language Manga:
- When is the commercial English comic version of (some manga) coming out?
  Did/will (some comics publisher) translate (some manga)?
  Did/will (some comics publisher) cut bits out of (some manga)?
  Why is (some manga translated by some comics publisher) delayed?
- Was Ghost in the Shell censored?
- What happened to the Akira manga?
- Are doujinshi illegal in the West?
- Are fan translations illegal?
- Where can I get manga translations and synopses?

Recurring Misconceptions:
- What does the word "manga" mean?
- Has anyone seen this "manga film/video"??
  Does manga means "irresponsible pictures"??
- Why don't they show pubic hair?  Is it some weird Japanese thing?
- Why isn't rec.arts.manga in the rec.arts.comics hierarchy?
- How should I store manga?
- Is (some comic) a manga?
- Is (some manga) a shoujo manga?

                                   -===-

Introduction
------------
- What's it all about?

   Manga is a contemporary Japanese tradition of printed graphic storytelling.
   The word "manga" can be roughly translated as "cartoon" or "caricature".
   In Japan, hundreds of millions of pages of manga are printed each
   week.  Over a third of all printed matter is manga, and its cultural
   role is at least as significant as TV or movies.  Manga is serialized in
   cheap, widely available, disposable magazines, and later reprinted in book
   form.  Target audiences include boys, girls (around 15%), and adults
   (around 35%).  Manga as a mass-media product is largely a late 20th
   century phenomenon, though its origins are diverse and can be traced
   back many centuries.  In recent years, manga has become increasingly
   popular in other Asian countries, but also in the US and Europe.

   On the net, manga discussion first took place in newsgroups such as
   rec.arts.anime and soc.culture.japan.  A dedicated Japanese-language
   manga newsgroup, fj.rec.comics, was created around 1988, but it
   was not widely distributed outside Japan for some time.

   In late 1991, an English-language manga mailing list was formed.
   It had enough people to support a newsgroup, prompting David Mou to
   create alt.manga in December 1991.  alt.manga was a modest success,
   but many people felt more readers could be attracted by a move to
   the Usenet mainstream.  Patrick Yip subsequently led the campaign to
   create rec.arts.manga, and the vote was conducted by Tsai Sheng-Te.
   rec.arts.manga was created soon after, in July 1992.

   (Rec.arts.manga now supersedes alt.manga.  Do not post to alt.manga
   for any reason.  If alt.manga exists at your site, it should be removed.)

   Steve Pearl compiled the original rec.arts.manga FAQs, and Chih-Ping Kuo
   (kuo@seattleu.edu) compiled the original Usenet manga guide.
   Both these were expanded and rewritten by Iain Sinclair, who added
   the Usenet manga glossary in 1995.  Ryo Shiroma (RSHIROMA@drew.edu)
   compiled the original Usenet manga magazine supplement.


- What's the charter of rec.arts.manga?

   From the original Call for Votes, posted to news.groups:

         "This newsgroup will provide a forum for discussion
         related to manga, the Japanese storytelling art form,
         plus comics and other art with strong manga influences.

         "The topics that are to appear in this newsgroup may include:
          - information on how and where to get manga material
          - reviews of manga
          - discussion about the art style, stories, and history of
            manga
          - fan translation of manga stories
          - discussion of manga-related products
          - reporting and discussion of any news about manga.
          - discussion about how to do manga
          - social/philosophical implications and impact of manga
          - manga art in society : commercial packaging, advertisements, etc
          - the influence of manga on other art forms."


- How do I use rec.arts.manga?

   Before posting articles, newcomers to rec.arts.manga should
   be familiar with basics of Usenet netiquette, which are
   briefly summarized here:

      - read the netiquette FAQs posted to news.announce.newusers.
         They contain essential information on how to communicate
         effectively over the 'net, and how to use important net
         resources.

      - when reading any new group for the first time, follow it
	 for at least a week or two before posting.

      - check all the "official" rec.arts.manga FAQs.  They are the
         distilled wisdom of hundreds of articles and many knowledgeable
         people.  They are specifically designed to be useful references and
         to answer just about any question.  For everyone's sake, don't
         post questions (or answers) listed in the FAQs.

         The "official" rec.arts.manga FAQ set comprises:
           Welcome to rec.arts.manga
           Usenet Manga Resources FAQ
           Usenet Manga Guide (in two parts)
           Usenet Manga Magazines List (=Manga Guide pt.3)
           Usenet Manga Glossary (=Frequently Asked Questions)
           English-translated Manga FAQ

      - email the author of articles that interest you.  People
         usually enjoy the opportunity to discuss whatever they
         posted.

   When you have a feel for how rec.arts.manga works, bear in mind
   the following before you post:

      - offer to summarize any email replies you get, if you ask for
         detailed information.

      - if you are answering a question that is not of interest to
         manga readers, use email instead.

      - don't instantly post followups, since about a dozen others might
         be doing the same.  Wait a while before following up.

      - don't worry if nobody follows up your article.  The readership
         of the net is in a constant state of flux, and regulars cannot
         (and should not) respond to every article.  Try rephrasing your
         article and and reposting it later.

      - flamewars (abusive arguments) are a complete waste of everybody's
        time.  Unfortunately, they are an increasingly common feature of
        unmoderated Usenet discussion.  There is a way to avoid flamewars
        - don't start them.  Don't post information which is half-truth
        or speculation, unless it is clearly labelled as such;  don't post
        controversial views without sound reasoning or sources;  sarcasm,
        personal attacks, and topics not covered by the group's charter
        are likely to be misinterpreted (at best) and should be avoided.
    

- Conventions used in this FAQ

  Japanese names are written surname first, given name last -
  eg. "Takahashi Rumiko".  (The surname is not emphasised with
  caps or comma separation, though others sometimes add these for
  clarity.)  This surname-first order is used in Japanese.
  Although Japanese people sometimes reverse the order of their
  names for use in English contexts, this can be confusing when
  juxtaposed alongside the original kanji or kana.
    The Japanese long "o" sound is usually written as "ou", unless
  there is a pre-existing romanization.

- What is HTML/WWW/FTP/URL/...?

  These concepts need a brief mention, since they appear throughout
  these FAQs, but there is not enough space to discuss them in
  detail.  Your system administrator can provide you with much
  more information, especially about your local setup.  In brief:

  HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is used to create hypertext documents,
  that is, ones which can include images, sound, video and links 
  to other documents.  (Popular image formats are GIF, JPG, and TIFF.)
  HTML documents are linked together over the Internet in the WWW
  (World Wide Web).  They can be viewed by Web browsers such as netscape,
  mosaic, and lynx.

  Files can also be transferred between machines on the Internet
  using FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  A URL (Universal Resource Locator)
  gives information about where to access a newsgroup, WWW site, FTP site,
  email address, or any other Internet resource.  In this FAQ, angle
  brackets, "< >", denote a URL.  URLs for WWW sites or HTML documents
  usually begin with "http:".

  See also:
    o FTP FAQ: <ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/usenet/news.answers/ftp-list/>
    o WWW FAQ: <ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/usenet/news.answers/www/faq/>


- What is JIS?

   Kanji and kana are included in on-line plain text documents using JIS
   (Japanese Industrial Standard) encoding.  The start and end of a JIS
   sequence is marked by escape codes.  On terminals which do not support
   JIS, the JIS sequence looks like random garbled characters.  While JIS
   has its limitations, it is widely supported, and viewers exist for just 
   about every computing platform.  (The similar EUC standard is now preferred,
   but JIS is used in these FAQs for reasons of convenience.)
     NB:  Unfortunately, JIS and HTML (used to annotate some FAQs) are not
   entirely compatible.  Glitches may appear in JIS documents sourced from
   HTML.


- What does this other word/term/abbreviation mean?

   Check the Usenet Manga Glossary.
   <http://ftoomsh.progsoc.uts.edu.au/~axolotl/Manga/gloss.html>


- I have a question about this manga artist...
- I have a question about this manga...

   Check the Usenet Manga Guide.
   <http://ftoomsh.progsoc.uts.edu.au/~axolotl/Manga/mg.html>


- Where can I get mangas?
- Where are some good ftp/www sites?
- What is the address of...?

   Check the Usenet Manga Resources FAQ or the English-translated
   Manga FAQ.
   <http://ftoomsh.progsoc.uts.edu.au/~axolotl/Manga/umg.html>


- Can you recommend some good mangas?
- What mangas and manga magazines are popular right now?
- Should I learn Japanese if I enjoy reading manga?

   Check the rec.arts.manga guide - it is the main archive of manga
   recommendations posted to the net.  It contains reviews and
   data on hundreds of mangas and manga artists.

   At the moment, the few mangas translated for Western consumption give
   a distorted, unrepresentative picture of what is on offer.
   In general, only mangas likely to appeal to teenage male comic
   fans are translated, and only if their rights can be cheaply acquired.
   Much less than one percent of all titles have been translated into
   English;  by volume, the proportion is close to nil.

   English-translated mangas lag years behind their Japanese counterparts,
   which have often long since finished and been forgotten.  Western
   publishers' insistence on forcing manga into the 30-page comic book
   format does nothing to reduce this lag, and leads to false expectations
   (eg. mangas use several pages where Western comics would use one).
   As a result, most commercial manga translations only cover a small
   fraction of the original, and overheads result in a price that is three
   to seven times higher.  In addition, translations are usually rewritten
   for a market of below-average literacy.  While many people translating
   manga commercially are not happy with these compromises, there are
   currently few opportunities for improvement.

   For those who want to avoid these problems and enjoy the enormous
   choice of the manga industry, the best solution is to go straight
   to the source and learn Japanese.  Learning basic Japanese is a task
   well within anyone's grasp.  Once you're started, tens of thousands
   of mangas become available, with their low prices, accessible formats, 
   and unedited pages.  (See section on "How to learn Japanese".)


- When I go to a Japanese bookstore, where do I start?

   Reading manga is now very much a matter of individual taste.
   These days, the manga industry markets towards fairly
   specialised, well-defined markets, so there are fewer mangas
   with relatively broad appeal.  In the past, as recently as four
   or five years ago, it was possible to find interesting mangas
   by reading manga tankoubons (books) straight off the shelves.
   Browsing this way was an ideal way to make sense of the dauntingly
   vast range of mangas.  Unfortunately, it was abused; most
   bookstores outside Japan now wrap all their books in plastic.
   However, there are still other good options.  Do as they do in
   Japan - buy manga magazines, ask friends, read reviews.

   In Japan, manga magazines can be bought cheaply.  They can be
   found lying on trains or bundled with leftover newspapers.
   Outside Japan, manga magazines have to be bought in Japanese
   bookstores (they can rarely be browsed straight off the shelf)
   at 2-4 times their normal price.  Even so, there are are several
   good reasons to buy them.

     - value: most magazines carry at least a dozen different titles,
         adding up to hundreds of pages.  They typically sell for
         as low as US$2-3 each.

     - diversity: there's bound to be something of interest, even in the
         most mediocre magazines.  In the best magazines, almost
         everything is worth reading.  People tend to settle with the
         particular combination of titles that suits them best.

     - popularity: the top manga magazines are read by millions of
         people, making them more popular than many TV programs.

     - timeliness: magazines are the only way to read the latest instalments
         of popular titles.  These instalments are not republished in book
         form until at least 2-3 months later, at the very earliest.  Colour
         pages published in magazines tend to be republished as B&W in
         book form.

     - professionalism: manga magazines do not carry long-winded,
         self-indulgent ramblings of artists and editors.  Advertising is
         kept to a bare minimum, usually at the beginning and end of the
         magazine.  Some of the advertising is related to the mangas
         or manga artists themselves, providing useful pointers.

     - punctuality: all manga magazines are published with clockwork
         regularity. 

     - disposability: when you're done, you can throw them away;
         manga magazines have no significant resale value.  Most
         are printed on recycled paper.

   Magazines such as Newtype, Puff and Fanroad publish manga reviews and/or
   best-seller lists, collated from various large bookstores.  They are a
   reasonable guide to what mangas people are buying.  However, they
   give a somewhat distorted picture, since their primary sources are
   large specialist bookstores, which tend to be patronised by hard-core
   manga addicts.  Weeklies published by Touhan, inc. (not available to
   the general public) are the most reliable source.  In any event,
   what sells well is not necessarily an indication of quality, nor is
   it a guarantee that it will appeal to everyone.

   The Usenet Manga Magazines FAQ lists magazine circulation data,
   providing a guide to which manga magazines are popular.  (As a
   very rough rule of thumb, popular or new titles appear towards
   the front of the magazines.)  Usually, a magazine sells on the
   basis of only two or three popular titles.


- How do I draw in the "manga style"?

   There is no monolithic "manga style", in the superficial sense.
   Although it may not be apparent from the very narrow subset of mangas
   which appear in the West, manga artists have NO uniform style of drawing
   characters or creating page layouts.  There are some conventions
   followed in the character designs of some anime, which are practical
   necessities for the medium, but this has little to do with manga.
   For any given manga artist, the set of influential factors (which mainly
   consists of other manga, but can include anything from films to novels
   to games) is quite individual and diverse.

   While the best way to learn how to draw manga is to become someone's
   assistant, or to take a course at a Japanese college, these are not
   options for most people.  Lessons on how to draw manga are occasionally
   serialized in some manga magazines, but these are mostly of limited use.
   However, it is not necessary to read vast piles of manga to become
   proficient;  many great manga artists started with only their
   imaginations.

   But nor is it necessary to re-invent the wheel, especially when
   there are many examples of manga artists who have reached high
   levels of achievement.  If you intend drawing professional manga,
   look at examples of the genres which interest you.  However, it is
   NOT a good idea to slavishly copy someone's character drawing style,
   except perhaps as an experiment to see what suits you best.  (Doujinshis
   are obviously an exception.)  If one only copies without understanding,
   flaws will be rudely exposed when the time comes to draw something
   that hasn't been tackled before - which, in a professional schedule,
   will happen often.  Besides, imitators are easily spotted by editors
   and the general manga-reading public. 
  
   The real success stories of the manga industry have mastered the
   basic skills (which are not difficult to grasp) and applied their
   own insight and vision.  No manual which can tell how to obtain
   (or even recognise) these latter qualities, but as for the former,
   try some of the references listed in the Manga Resources FAQ.
   An appreciation of some general principles - anatomy, caricature,
   narrative traditions in drama, cinema, literature - will always
   be useful.

   Bear in mind that the essence of manga is its story - characterisations,
   events, situations.  If you cannot write a competent story, it would
   be unwise to think about trying to draw manga.  In Japan, technically
   accomplished artists who cannot write stories become illustrators,
   not manga artists.  Those few manga artists who draw others' stories
   usually combine exceptional storytelling skill with an extraordinary
   ability to meet deadlines.  It should be stressed that the story dictates
   every other aspect of the manga.  The details of drawing and drafting are
   trivial by comparison.  Mangas in which the art takes priority over the
   story are fairly unusual, and are generally only sell to hard-core fans.


- How do I go about learning Japanese?  Is it difficult?

   Learning basic Japanese only requires a little time and effort.  For a
   native English speaker, the Japanese language is not unbearably difficult,
   compared to (say) Arabic, or Chinese, or Ancient Greek.  Japanese grammar
   and pronunciation is straightforward, spelling is totally phonetic, and
   many words are borrowed from English.  The use of Chinese characters
   (kanji), which intimidates many beginners, is gradually declining,
   in some ways.

   Bear in mind that beginner-level Japanese will get you a long way
   through many mangas.  It won't be enough for the details, but in
   some cases, you might not need them.  Furthermore, this level of
   Japanese can be acquired in only short period of study.  Once you
   have laid these basic foundations, learning becomes less intimidating
   and more rewarding.

   There is no uniform or optimum way of learning Japanese.  Every individual
   has their own needs, and different aspects of the language will take
   priority for different people.  People learn in different ways and
   at different rates.  Therefore, how you learn Japanese is a matter
   of personal preference.  But to get started, the following suggestions
   have been offered:

     - take a course at a university or language institute.  The quality
       of Japanese courses sometimes varies, so endeavour to find out more
       before you commit your time and money.  Most courses will ensure a
       minimum level of fluency, with a good theoretical background for
       further study.

     - find a local Japanese person to give you private lessons.  There
       are Japanese just about everywhere in the world who will do this,
       so you shouldn't have to look further than your local newspaper.
       For would-be manga readers, this method has all kinds of advantages.
       Penpals are a good idea, too (try a service, don't ask rec.arts.manga).

     - if you're serious about learning Japanese quickly, go and live
       in Japan for a while.  Most people will tell you that being thrown
       in at the deep end yields real results, fast.  It is still
       possible to earn a living "teaching" English - see the
       soc.culture.japan FAQs for details.

     - learn on your own.  This is quite possible, and a lot of people
       have done it.  But since Japanese is a fairly dynamic language,
       quick to reflect cultural trends and always in a state of flux,
       it's unlikely that even the best books will tell you everything
       you need to know.  Particularly, the kind of street talk and slang
       found in many mangas is very hard to decipher from books alone.
       So it's a good idea to have a friend who knows at least some Japanese.
       Relying on the net for help is not a good idea;  people tend not to
       answer beginner-level Japanese questions, and rec.arts.manga is
       not a Japanese learning group (neither is sci.lang.japan, though
       advanced questions are appropriate there).

     - the Usenet Manga Resources list has several good references
       for books on learning Japanese.

     - before anything else, learn hiragana and katakana (cursive and italic
       Japanese syllabaries).  It is important to learn these first, since they
       are used to look up dictionaries.  Most English-Japanese dictionaries
       will have a table of kana and how to pronounce them.  You can buy wall
       charts, or flashcards, though these tend to be expensive.  If you make
       your own (refer to a dictionary), you might learn quicker anyway.

     - learning kanji (Chinese characters) happens by rote in Japan, but
       unless you have daily exposure to written Japanese, this won't
       work very well.  Reading and writing kanji is a skill quickly
       lost unless it is practiced often.  So making the effort to understand
       a kanji's structure and pronounciation is probably a better
       approach, and will pay off in the long run, since most kanjis have
       many ideographic and phonetic components in common.  In any event,
       it isn't necessary to learn anything like the whole 2000 "essential"
       kanjis.  Only 30 kanjis account for 50% of all printed kanjis (by
       frequency of occurrence).

     - you can pick up pronounciation hints from watching Japanese movies or 
       anime.  Japanese voice actors are among the best in the world, and
       can be a good model.  (^_^)

     - don't start with newspapers or mangas aimed at post-teenage age
       groups, unless you feel especially brave.  Working up to them from
       childrens' books and mangas is more practical, and enables you to
       recognise informal Japanese later.  

     - the magazine "Mangajin" is highly recommended to any English speaker
       learning Japanese through manga.  It is suitable for all ranges of
       Japanese ability (from nil to fluent).  Its approach to informal
       Japanese and pop culture is thorough and informative.


The Japanese manga industry
---------------------------
- What happened to Kadokawa Haruki and Comp/Gao?

   Kadokawa Shoten was an important manga publisher by the late '80s.
   Several major manga and anime interests were under its control.
   In August 1993 the head of Kadokawa Shoten, Kadokawa Haruki, was
   arrested on suspicion of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into Japan.

   Comic Comp, one of Kadokawa's manga magazines, ceased publication;
   most of its titles returned on Gao magazine (published by Media Works,
   who had left Kadokawa before Haruki was arrested).  Haruki's brother
   took over Kadokawa Shoten, and Comp was briefly revived before finally
   dying off at the end of 1994.


- Can I mail Japanese manga-kas on NiftyServe?

   In some rare instances, manga-kas will give their mail addresses on
   NiftyServe, the Japanese equivalent of CompuServe (another large on-line
   network).  NiftyServe addresses can now be mailed via the Internet:

      [nifty-ID]@niftyserve.or.jp

   Mail should be composed in Japanese, preferably EUC, JIS, or similar
   encoding, though romaji might be sufficient.  



- Was Video Girl Ai censored?

   There have sometimes been periods where parental groups have
   reacted against the extremes of manga pornography.  1991 was
   just such a time, with bookstores banning many erotic mangas
   from their shelves, and publishers being taken to task for
   material deemed inappropriate for a young audience.

   In this climate, Shuueisha voluntarily withdrew volumes 3 and 5
   of Video Girl Ai from sale, pending "alterations".  Katsura
   Masakazu made about 50 very minor changes, mostly adding
   underwear to naked bodies.  The retouched versions were published
   on 12th December 1992 and 15th March 1993 respectively.

   Many other titles and authors were blacklisted during
   this time, though most have since returned to the shelves.


- How can I get my manga published in Japan?

   In Japan, budding manga-kas usually submit their work to competitions
   held by manga magazines.  It seems few Westerners are willing or
   able to try this.  However, Kodansha is now offering some opportunities
   for those outside Japan.  Kodansha are after undiscovered comic artists
   and writers (not established names).  In the last couple of years,
   a couple of American and European artists and writers have appeared
   in Kodansha's Morning and Afternoon magazines, though their work
   has not been a success.

   Kodansha's talent spotters in the US are Dyna Search, Inc.
   Their job is to look for potential American manga artists - send them
   a brief summary of your story, illustrated sample pages from the story,
   and a short personal biography.  (NB:  Apparently, Kodansha is not
   looking for artists who can imitate Japanese styles.)

           Dyna-Search, Inc.
           Atten: 93CB
           11835 West Olympic Boulevard,
           Suite 825, East Tower,
           Los Angeles, CA 90064
           USA


English-language manga
----------------------
- When is the English comic version of (some manga) coming out?
- Did/will (some comics publisher) translate (some manga)?
- Did/will (some comics publisher) cut bits out of (some manga)?
- Why is (some manga translated by some comics publisher) delayed?

   Check the English-translated Manga FAQ.

   English translations of manga are announced in the Western comics
   journal, "Advance Comics".  It lists titles and release dates
   of forthcoming commercial manga translations.  "Advance Comics"
   can be obtained from comic stores.  Antarctic Press also has a FAQ
   covering the status of all their titles - please email them
   (ANTARCTIC@news.delphi.com) for a copy before posting to rec.arts.manga.

   Comprehensive answers to these questions are well beyond the scope of
   this FAQ.  While such questions are frequently asked, they are rarely
   answered.  Comic publishers' schedules and agendas are often subject
   to variation, and they are the only ones who might know whether a title
   will be translated, or delayed, or rewritten, or censored.  If you have
   queries, ask the publishers directly.  It is their responsibility, not
   the net's, to provide reader service.  (Some email addresses are listed
   in the Usenet Manga Resources guide.)  The goings-on of the Western comics
   scene is NOT part of rec.arts.manga's charter.  Such traffic belongs in
   rec.arts.comics.misc.


(the following FAQs are answered here, as well as in the Usenet Manga
Guide, because they recur with great persistence:)

- Was Ghost in the Shell censored?

   Chapter 3 of the original Ghost in the Shell begins with an
   explicit 4-page lesbian "virtual sex" scene.  This scene received
   attention far out of proportion to its significance in
   the story.  What was originally meant as an amusing aside became
   the central talking point of GiS, which understandably would have
   annoyed Shirow - GiS is an intriguing, complex story which has
   nothing to do with "virtual sex".  Shirow obviously felt that GiS
   would be better appreciated without such distractions.  Because of
   this, and also because of the need to suppress risque material for
   Western audiences, a page of the scene was redrawn for issue 2 of the
   English translation.  However, this focused even more attention on it.
   (The scene has not been removed from the original Japanese version,
   and it also appears in Shirow's bilingual Intron Depot.)


- What happened to the Akira manga?

   The serialized version of Akira concluded in July, 1990, but 
   Otomo Katsuhiro expressed some dissatisfaction with its ending.
   So the publication of the final volume was suspended while Otomo dithered
   about, making minor adjustments and drawing extra pages.  In March 1993,
   volume 6 was finally released, containing the adjustments and a 40-page
   epilogue, where Kaneda confronts US soldiers landing in the Neo-Tokyo
   ruins.  In the opinion of many readers on the net, the new ending was
   not a significant improvement.

   Epic comics' English version of Akira was stalled at issue #34
   for some years.  Epic, who frequent rec.arts.comics.misc,
   know the reasons why - not rec.arts.manga.  In any event,
   the ending was published in the Japanese volume 6, which has
   been readily available from the usual sources since 1993.

   Note: It is sometimes believed that Akira's "big bang" ending
   was an afterthought, or just poor writing.  This belief is a 
   distortion of Otomo's statement that he didn't know exactly
   how the manga would end.  But there is no doubt that Otomo
   planned the "big bang" aspect from the very outset.  For example,
   apparitions of Kei and Kaneda, caught in the time-warping effects
   of the final "big bang" in volume 6, appear in volume 1.


- Are fan translations illegal?
- Are doujinshi illegal in the West?

   Strictly speaking - yes, probably.   There has never been a test case,
   and nobody has obtained reliable legal advice; but there has never been
   a need, since manga translations have been posted on the net for years
   without incident.  If you are thinking of posting a translation,
   consider the following:

     - Always credit the publisher and artist, and include their copyright
        notice.

     - Instead, consider writing a synopsis, which is 100% legal,
        and can be enjoyed by people without the original manga.

     - If possible, try to obtain permission from the creator directly
        (write or fax in Japanese) before posting.  (Publishers will never
        give permission.)  Supply your phone number, fax number and email
        address.  Explain that you are only posting English text, not images,
        to a primarily English-speaking network.  (Most manga-kas are
        flattered by translation of their work.) If permission is withheld,
        request promotional material that you can distribute on the net.

     - Do not translate mangas whose English translation rights have
        already been acquired.  Ask on rec.arts.manga if you are not sure.

     - It is worth remembering that translations are works in their own right,
        and that net translations probably fall into the "fair use" and
        "review purposes" categories.

     - If in doubt, post anonymously, or make it available by email only.

     - Only a lawyer familiar with Usenet and international copyright
        law can give you a reliable opinion.  Anything short of that
        is speculation.  (The advice in this FAQ is informed speculation.)

   In Japan, doujinshis are tolerated because they swell the ranks
   of fandom, and thus, publishers' pockets.  (Doujinshi authors are
   well aware that they are violating copyrights and often half-seriously
   beg forgiveness in their introductions.)  However, those with
   English-language manga rights tend not to agree; selling doujinshi
   might be feasible in Japan, but not necessarily elsewhere.
   Again, use caution and common sense.


- Where can I get manga translations and synopses?

   Check the Usenet Manga Resources FAQ list for general pointers.
   There is currently no exhaustive archive of manga translations
   and synopses.  However, new translations and synopses are posted
   to rec.arts.manga all the time.

   A list of translations and ftp sites used to be maintained by
   Kenneth Arromdee (arromdee@cs.jhu.edu), but is believed to be out of
   date.  The site ftp.tcp.com has a fairly large collection of manga
   translations, and is a good place to start looking.


Recurring Misconceptions
------------------------
- What does the word "manga" mean?
   
   From the Usenet Manga Glossary:
     "Manga" is loosely translatable as "cartoon" or "caricature", or
     literally, "involuntary pictures". The term was coined in the early
     1800s by the famous artist Katsushika Hokusai, and conveys the idea of
     free-flowing composition and quirky style. In Chinese and Korean, it
     is pronounced "manhwa", but is written with the same characters.
     First applied to scrolls and illustrations, the word "manga" does not
     mean "comic" or "comic books" any more than "karate" (lit. "empty hand")
     means "boxing".  And it does not mean "sequential art" (for which there
     are many other words, such as "renga"), or "graphic novel" (a great deal
     of manga is neither fictional nor in novel format).
   

- Has anyone seen this "manga film/video"??
- Does manga means "irresponsible pictures"??

   Manga does not mean "irresponsible pictures" at all, or anything
   like it.  Japanese animation is not called "manga", either - it is
   called "anime".  ("Manga eiga" technically includes "anime", but this
   is not current usage.  See the Usenet Manga Glossary for an authoritative
   etymology of the word "manga".)  These myths about "manga" originate in
   very poorly researched publicity material, and are apparently still
   being propagated.


- Why don't they show pubic hair?  Is it some weird Japanese thing?

   Article 175 of the Japanese constitution forbad the explicit
   depiction of pubic hair and adult genitalia.  It was not "some
   weird Japanese thing", but a misinterpretation of American instructions
   issued in the post-WWII occupation.  The instructions were along
   the lines of, "if you can see pubic hair or adult genitalia, it's
   forbidden".  The intention was clearly to ban explicit depictions
   or pornography of any kind.  However, in a typical cross-cultural
   bungle, these instructions were literally interpreted along the
   lines of "pubic hair or adult genitalia should not be visible [in
   explicit depictions] [although everything else is OK]". 
  
   Publishers were increasingly ignoring Article 175, and mostly
   getting away with it, despite the 1995 arrest of the president
   of Take Shobou.

   The law has since been repealed but it may take some time  (if ever)
   before pubic hair is widely shown.

- Why do manga characters have big eyes?  Is it some weird Japanese thing?

   For the same reason that large eyes appear on Felix the Cat, or
   Betty Boop, or Bart Simpson, or Ren or Stimpy - because they're
   an artistic device, they're meant to convey a certain quality
   or feeling - which they usually do much better than poorly-executed
   "realistic" styles. 

   In any event, "large" eyes are not very widespread in mainstream manga,
   being more associated with childrens' manga, anime and some types of
   teens' manga.  (The latter two categories are most familiar to
   Western fans.)  They are certainly no more widespread than "large
   noses" in Western comics.

   This style started appearing in manga in the 1920s, and became 
   more popular in the 1950s, when Disney's cartoons were one of
   many influences on some important manga artists.  Eyes are one
   of the most expressive parts of the human body;  exaggeration is a
   basic principle of caricature used by good artists everywhere.
   In manga, where it is critical to depict characters succinctly
   and rapidly, large eyes are often employed to good effect.

   Another factor is the partial 20th century adoption of a "Western"
   aesthetic, which esteems Caucasian physical features.  The previous
   emphasis of Japanese popular art had a largely Chinese or
   "Asian" aesthetic.  This shift reflects subtle, gradual changes in
   Japanese culture, and is by no means a simple issue that can be
   adequately reduced to a few lines.


- What impact has Western comics had on manga?  Surely quite a bit?

   Practically nil.  Period.  At best, there are no more than a handful
   of manga artists, out of thousands, who exposed themselves to comics
   from Europe and the US.  Most notable instances are listed in the
   Usenet Manga Guide.  See also "amecomi" and "manga" in the
   Usenet Manga Glossary.


- Why isn't rec.arts.manga in the rec.arts.comics hierarchy?

   Most of alt.manga's readers felt that the name "rec.arts.comics.manga"
   would be misleading, since the word "comics" does not accurately describe
   manga in its entirety.  "rec.arts.comics.manga" also falsely implies that
   manga is strongly related to Western comics, or somehow subordinate to them.
   In addition, manga discussion was practically unknown on rec.arts.comics,
   but took place on other newsgroups instead.  However, most of these points
   were lost on a few self-styled net."personalities", who loudly opposed
   rec.arts.manga.  They were thoroughly defeated (513 YES, 226 NO) in the
   subsequent vote.


- How should I store manga?

   Manga isn't meant to be locked away in plastic bags, it's meant
   to be read - just put it on your bookshelf like any other book or
   pulp novel.  Manga is only worth a few dollars to begin with, and
   putting it in a plastic bag won't increase its value.    Even the
   "rarest" mangas have print runs in the tens of thousands.  Just read
   it and enjoy it, and if it gets too yellow or dog-eared buy another one.
   The idea of collecting manga and/or preserving it in plastic is part
   of Western comic culture, not manga culture, and is totally unknown
   to ordinary Japanese manga readers.


- Is (some comic) a manga?

   "Manga" is a Japanese word which refers to a specific tradition of
   graphic storytelling.  If it's published in a Japanese manga magazine,
   or listed in manga catalogs, it is manga.  However, anything
   published outside this tradition is not manga, in the strict
   sense.  It is something else, such as manga-inspired art.
   (The word "Amerimanga" has recently appeared on the net.)
   Individual graphic elements or styles do not in themselves
   make something a manga.

   NB: there are several non-Japanese artists who have had their
   manga published in Japanese manga magazines.


- Is (some manga) a shoujo manga?

   If it appeared on a shoujo-manga magazine (as designated by its
   publisher), yes.  Otherwise, no.  Video Girl Ai, Kimagure Orange
   Road, Maison Ikkoku, etc. are not shoujo-manga, since they were
   published in shounen- or seinen-manga magazines.  Romantic stories are
   not the sole preserve of shoujo-manga.  See the rec.arts.manga glossary
   for more information.


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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM