I think I’m starting to get the hang of posting stuff. I’ve been at my computer for a few hours trying to figure out how to post (even after reading Andrew’s excellent instructions) but I think I got it (I think my computer just hates me). Anyway, I just wanted to go over some of the things we talked over in class on Wednesday about the readings and manga/anime overall.
From discussion, it seemed that a lot of people in class felt Dreamland Japan by Schodt tended to overgeneralize many of the arguments he was making and that, at times, he seemed to make random claims. For example, he made an argument that Japanese people were better able to distinguish between reality and fantasy because they understood that mangas were meant to be fictional pieces. In making this claim, he seemed to imply that Americans or other non-Japanese were not able to make this distinction as easily when reading mangas or other media. Of course, this implication and statement is very problematic and once again generalizes the audience and their abilities. Someone (and I didn’t write down who, sorry) said that Schodt was using this generalization to search for the Japanese psyche through manga. Japanese manga are a small facet of Japanese society and are fiction so that attempting to find the psyche of the Japanese people through this media is dangerous. It would be the same as using American comics to analyze and understand the American public. The other major point of contention with Schodt was his description of manga as “trash.” It was stated that by using the word “trash” Schodt seems to be making some sort of value judgement on the actual manga and by extension on Japanese society. There were also some disagreements with Adult Manga by Kinsella because her search was very narrow and only a “superficial survey” was conducted of the topic she researched.
The question of how much influence the manga actually has on swaying popular thought or as political statements was brought up. There may be messages within the manga that can not be said explicitly but that may show up in a more subtle form and may influence the reader. However, it is unclear just how much of an influence the manga actually have and exactly how they are viewed in Japan. Does the Japanese audience view them exclusively as form of entertainment or do they believe that it may actually contain some sort of political messages or idea in the manga? Professor Tomomi mentioned that some manga are actually very right wing and that it may have an influence on how much people are willing to buy into the revisionist history of Japan.