Manga: Not Just Comic Books
Isn't it Just a Comic?
No, not really. Manga is (generally) linear and multi volume, with storylines that consist of multiple arcs tied into an overall plotline, and complex characters that change and evolve over time. Not only existing as action-manga "power ups," you can look at Fruits Basket, where the protagonists age and mature through high school. Manga can range from one-shots to epically long series such as the famous Akira Toriyama's Dragonball (42 volumes) and Case Closed (76 volumes!).
If you think of a subject, there's probably a manga about it. Cooking manga, fighting manga, romance, school, magic, comedy, mystery, sci-fi, baking , football (yes, American football), tennis, basketball, the mafia... you get the picture. There are manga series for boys (shonen) and girls (shojo), but, of course, readers aren't limited to one genre or the other!
Manga has become so popular that they have been made into animated television shows (anime) as well as live action movies and shows. Live action, as the name hints, contains real live actors portraying the roles of the manga characters. Sometimes I feel the actors are even better than their paper-selves, which is pretty amazing if you think about it.
Manga to Anime to Live Action, Oh My!
There are too many manga to anime shows to list, but here are a few series that have been turned into Live Action for you to try!
Boys Over Flowers:
Boys Over Flowers is a romantic series in which the hardworking Tsukushi Makino deals with the F4 (Flower Four), a group of elite and rich boys who run the school. It’s so popular that it not only spawned an animated show but also FOUR different live action series. Fans argue over which series has the best depiction of their favorite characters, but it’s plain to see that with so many versions, it has to be popular! While the F4’s antics got on my nerves, it was still an entertaining series to follow.
- live action Japanese finale
- live action Korean
- live action Taiwanese (Mandarin language, subtitles only
Death Note revolves around high school student Light Yagami and his discovery of a Death Note, the book used by Shinigami (death reapers). Light uses the Death Note to kill evil-doers and cleanse the world, and soon becomes embroiled in a battle of wits with the police and the brilliant and odd Detective L. There were so many twists and turns in this series I had to read it twice. The dramatics of the anime made me laugh, but unfortunately I haven’t watched the Live Action yet!
The timeless tale of the monkey king, Son Goku from Journey of the West, was adapted by Akira Toriyama into a zany, futuristic action series full of aliens, explosive fights, and memorable characters. The anime, in particular, is famous for long drawn out fights in which the characters “power up” their energy for minutes at a time. Dragonball Evolution is a modernized version, where Son Goku learns how to fight not only to defend the world against invading aliens, but to deal with bullies at school.
Honey & Clover (live action)
Is a lighthearted slice of life series that follows five art students as they learn about life, love, and art. Sentimental, humorous, and engaging, I loved this series and its entertaining characters. While at first I felt the actors didn’t fit my image of their characters, by the end I couldn’t see them as anybody else.
Lastly, here are just a few more shows for you to investigate!
- 20th Century Boys, and the live action movie
- City Hunter live action movie (starring Jackie Chan!) and Korean live action series
- Gantz, and live action movie
- Kamikaze Girls
- Lone Wolf and Cub and Lone Wolf 2100; live action series
- Love*Com, and live action movie
- Train Man (Densha Otoko)
Jenna V. is an aide for the Foster City library as well as an avid reader of fantasy books and manga. Most of her blog posts will revolve around the latter subject, but she may discuss fantasy as well (or writing, once November rolls by). For those who are also manga-lovers, some of her favorite all-time series are: Full Metal Alchemist, Love*Com, Rurouni Kenshin (A.K.A. Samurai X), Vagabond, Wandering Son and Yotsuba&!. She can read a manga series over and over...and over once more if it's really good.