Bal Sahitya Mahotsav is all about literature, and luckily, the festival didn’t leave the otaku community out. The otaku workshop “Manga 101”, hosted by Otaku Next, a company specializing in Japanese cartoon culture, dives deep into the increasing popularity of manga, anime and other otaku related stuff.
“Manga is a sequential fusion of illustrated panels and written dialogues,” says Lobhsang from Otaku Next. “Manga magazines like Shounen Jump, are way different from western comic companies like DC Comics and Marvel Studios. Rather than just focusing on one particular superhero, off to save the world, Manga has a variety of different genres”. Shounen, for example, is targeted towards young adults and teens. It usually has a heroic main character, preaches values like friendship and almost always has really cool battle scenes. Manga or anime like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z are examples of shounen manga, shows almost everyone has watched or heard of. Shoujo Manga and Anime is targeted towards teenage girls and usually has a lot of romance or slice of life aspects involved. There’s Manga for little kids (Kodomo in Japanese) like “Doremon” and “Ninja Hattori” and there are some dark, more adult rated Manga and Anime, called “Seinen”, which deal with social issues like greed, corruption, domestic violence, racism, murder, drug abuse and various forms of debauchery.
Manga was originally seen as a form of art in Japan, and was called “ukioy-e”. Artists would create various pictures with paintings or woodcuts, which evolved over time and eventually became the manga we know and love. Manga was indigenous to Japan until the 1960s and 70s, when manga like Barefoot Gen and Line Wolf and Cub started the “Manga invasion” into countries abroad. But it wasn’t until the eighties that the “Manga Explosion” occurred, the time when the likes of Dragon Ball and Pokémon, started popping up on TV stations and bookstores all over the world. After that, thanks to One Piece, Naruto and loads of other series, manga is getting more and more popular, with no sign of stopping.
Making a good manga is no piece of cake. Mangaka’s (manga authors) need to come up with character designs, a back story, a world setting, a plot, story boarding, create a draft, create a name(manuscript), edit their story and, finally, produce the final draft. And if the final draft is great, it’ll get published in a magazine; otherwise, rinse and repeat. And if you somehow manage to get your manga serialized (a very slim chance),you need to do the same thing, every month, fortnight or even week, for the next chapter. And then, you MIGHT, be able to make a living off of it. It may seem like a ton of work, but those who are passionate and talented enough can pull through and piece together a work of art. We have some Mangaka of our very own here in Nepal, like Anish Raj Joshi who made the first manga in Nepal, Daemon Ignition.
For some reason, being an otaku (someone who loves manga and anime) is looked down upon by society, something to do with young adults watching “animated, cartoon-ish shows” in another language and what not. This largely has to do with the misconception that all anime are like cartoon shows, for kids, babyish and certainly not for someone in high school But manga and anime are certainly not cartoon shows. After all, what cartoon would show a model, A-grade student descend into madness, turn into a serial killer, and murder anyone standing in his way? Not your average Mickey Mouse. And that’s not all. Not all manga are created for the sole purpose of recreation but are also created as a form of art, a form of Japanese literature, like the series Buddha by Dr. Osamu Tezuka, Japan’s equivalent of Walt Disney.
The manga explosion in Nepal keeps getting stronger and stronger, with cosplay competitions, anime quizzes and other otaku related events to keep the flame burning bright. Compared to other countries, our otaku community isn’t strong at all, but the otakus of our country have a dream to create more Nepali anime and manga and a stronger otaku community. So: Will you take a chance and embrace the otaku world, entering a new world, a different culture, and a grand adventure?
Biratal Wagle is an RBS student who has interned with Otaku Next.