Bal Sahitya Mahotsav Blog
Visit the BSM blog for information about festival activities!
by Biratal Wagle
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.
By Priya Pradhan
In Nepal, blindness and visual impairment are not only health problems but also major social and economic problems. Many perceive the disability as a inferiority and often times impaired individuals are treated as a burden and not given the care and support they require, especially in the educational field. According to the 2011 National Population Census, the population of the blind in Nepal is 96,000. Most of these individuals lack higher education and consequently, they cannot find proper means of employment. Even in the capital city, blind individuals have a very limited choice of accessible literature and study material.
Blind students enrolled into the public school system are enrolled in the same schools as their sighted peers. Although most of them to do not study in specialized schools, they are taught in braille and the government has also supported their education through the publication of braille coursebooks. The major disadvantage for the blind students is that though there is availability of coursebooks, there is a scarcity of literature books, novels, story books, etc. required for leisure reading. Even if children wish to buy such braille books from the market, they are likely to be unable to find them. Moreover, the price for such books is very high and they are not financially feasible for most.
This year, Rato Bangala Kitab and the Bal Sahitya Mahotsav have teamed up to publish two unique children’s books in braille. In the past, RBK has printed braille books and after seeing the dire need for more braille books it has re-launched two of its titles Kehi Paye Kehi Gumaye and Bafre Habre, which have been previously published in both Nepali and English. Two copies of each of these books are set to be distributed to 75 schools across the country, where visually impaired students are enrolled. Monita Gurung, who has overseen the complete publication and launch process, says the reason behind launching the braille books was a desire “to share the best of quality reading and develop a culture of reading."
Out of the two books that were launched, Kehi Paye Kehi Gumaye, by Shanta Dixit, revolves around a story of a young girl in a post-earthquake situation, teaching readers about its consequences and how to cope with the natural disaster. Bafre Habre, by Milan Dixit, is a fact-based book aimed to raise awareness about wildlife conservatism and promotes environment-based career options through an engaging and well-written story. During the launch, which took place as a part of the BSM inaugural ceremony, two students from LAB and AdarshaSoul read out loud their favourite parts of the books. With their fingers gently scanning the pages and a few hesitant pauses, the students read to us through touch, showing everyone that reading and learning cannot be bound by disabilities.
The audience was then addressed by Komal Thapa, President of the Nepal Association of the Welfare of the Blind (NAWB), who stated that "People, even in Kathmandu, are not aware that blind individuals are capable of reading. With such a situation, it is extremely difficult to find books in braille." He spoke about the about the importance of reading and books, especially to children and expressed his appreciation towards RBK for showing interest and taking the initiative to launch these braille books. With the help of NAWB, the braille books will reach the hands of underprivileged children and imbue in them a passion for reading and thirst for education.
NOTE: Though these books will not be available in the market, interested individuals can contact RBK to purchase any remaining copies.
Priya Pradhan is an A1 student at Rato Bangala School. She runs The Circle, RBS's student magazine.
Beth Norford, Kripa Joshi, and Ganga Poudel will be guests at Bal Sahitya Mahotsav 2017. We're excited to share in their workshops and readings!
Check out the new profile of Marcus Pfister, our keynote speaker, at the Nepali Times!
Smriti Basnet writes, "When The Rainbow Fish was first published in 1992, Swiss author Marcus Pfister’s multi-colored fish with hologram foils was a sensation in the world of children’s book publishing. The book combined his two strengths: art and story-telling. Pfister’s selfish fish not only taught children a valuable lesson in sharing, but also showed how children’s stories could be made to come alive with creative design."
Click here to read the whole article.
We are very happy to announce that the Bal Sahitya Mahotsav schedule has been finalized!
Please take a look here to see the amazing shows, readings, workshops and more we will be hosting in just nine days: http://www.bsmnp.org/schedule.html
If you have any questions, please message us on Facebook (facebook.com/balsahityamahotsav) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otaku Next, Nepal's first manga publisher and manga-based store, promotes otaku culture. They will be teaching a workshop, Manga 101, at BSM this year. We are so excited to learn more about this amazing form of Japanese comic!
Famous comedy duo MaHa Jodi will be at Bal Sahitya Mahotsav 2017! MaHa Jodi is made up of Hari Bamsha Acharya and Madan Krishna Shrestha, who have been making people laugh for many decades now through television, radio, and writing. You can check out their work at mahajodi.com.np.
Swiss author and illustrator Marcus Pfister has published over four dozen children’s books, including the popular Rainbow Fish series. He will be sharing his work as a speaker at Bal Sahitya Mahotsav 2017 on February 18 at Rato Bangala School in Patan. Please join us for Mr. Pfister’s talk!
Namaste readers! BSM 2017 is coming soon: February 18, 2017, from 10 am until 5 pm. Check in with our blog for regular updates!