Adventures in Reading pt 2: Manga- FAIL

Way back in July I did a post called Adventures in Reading pt 1  all about comic books.  The whole point was to dive into different types of writing I had never read before.   Before the project I hadn’t read a single comic book and yet I would see the movies and wasn’t that big a fan.  I thought maybe if I knew the art behind the movie I might appreciate them more and for the most part it worked.

There were some things I didn’t like such as the treatment of women but I’ve been reading more of them and they have gotten much better in recent years. Either way, it is fun to try new things and step out of your comfort zone.

However, not every step out of the comfort zone is successful.  My next adventure was to read ‘manga’ which are kind of like a Japanese comic book and graphic novel morphed together.


For the project I picked 7 different series- Fruits Basket, Chi’s Sweet Home, Astro Boy, Attack on Titan, Yotsuba, Dragonball, and the Black Butler.

I decided on these 7 by looking online at family friendly manga articles.  Each of these series would be fine content-wise for teens and children with the exception of Attack on Titan that is pretty violent.   Oddly enough it was actually my favorite but more for teens and adults than children.


The reason why it has taken me so long to write this post is I found myself struggling to get through them.  That may be strange thing to say about children’s books but let’s just say manga is not my favorite.

A lot of the pacing felt schizophrenic.  One minute a character would be talking and then the next an explosion.

From Fruits Basket.  Tone changes so fast
From Fruits Basket. Tone changes so fast

And from Dragonball (which was one of the better one’s).  But characters would go from normal talking to screaming at each other with no real reason.


It seems like a lot is lost in translation.  A lot of the writing felt like a drill commander giving orders or robots talking not people.  Like this scene from Yotsuba”


She’s getting ‘caughted by a bad person’.  and then ‘Leave it to me to take care of the bad person’. In all of them the dialogue felt choppy and disjointed, which made them unpleasant and difficult to read.  I have to believe the Japanese is more nuanced and fluid.

A lot of it felt like the old 60s Batman show with the expressions of “pow”, “bam”, “crash” thrown in instead of interesting setting, characters or plot.  In a way it is surprising to me because in the anime, which are based on many of these books. the backstory and legends are usually quite complicated and intricate.  I didn’t get any of that feel in reading the manga.

It’s funny these are so popular in Japan because almost all featured a blonde haired girl in the lead.  You’d think Japanese kids would want stories of kids they can relate to and look like them.  But regardless of looks I just couldn’t get immersed in the stories.  It felt too spastic and choppy.

There are some cute characters like the Chi books which are basically like board books for the very little child. It kind of reminded me of Hello KittychiI also liked the graphics in Astro Boy, which felt more like a US comic book:

astro boy2

I don’t know if it is just the lack of color but I prefer the artistry of comic books and the story actually.  Of the 7 series I read none of them enticed me to explore the franchises more.


I guess not everything in life is going to be my taste but I’m still glad I gave it a shot and tried something new. .  Now when people mention manga I will have a little more understanding of what they are like and how the stories are structured.

And you never know when you will hit upon something new that you really love unless you give it a shot.

So, manga is not for me but I’m glad I went on the adventure.

What do you think of manga?  Any I didn’t try which you think I should?

Now on to graphic novels.  Any suggestions?


13 thoughts on “Adventures in Reading pt 2: Manga- FAIL

  1. I guess reading a manga in English is like watching a dubbed version of a foreign film; it’s never as good as watching it in it original language. I can never read English manga, it just doesn’t feel right. I know translators and interpreters try their best to bring life to a foreign art, but it’s never able to capture the emotion, cultural context, and essence of the original piece. That is why I read manga in Japanese, and try to watch foreign films in its original language with subtitles.

        1. Cool. I’ve been to Japan and my sister is there now as an english teacher. It’s a wonderful country. I was actually expecting to like manga more since my sister and other friends love it but it didnt gel probably for the language reasons you talk about

        2. It is a interesting country. Very cultured in it’s own way. I used to not like manga either, but was introduced to it two years ago. Now, I own about 3000 copies. I guess I really admire the art; the ability to think of a story line, add visuals to it and releasing a volume every three months. I commend the discipline and hard work it must require. Plus, everyone is Japan reads comics, young and old.

  2. A couple graphic novel suggestions:
    Smile by Raina Telgemeier
    Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale
    Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
    The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan

    Stitches by David Small
    Maus by Art Spiegelman
    (both of these are pretty intense, so you’ve been warned 🙂

  3. Manga? Nah. Sorry. But this post did remind me of an experience I had with a book club. One month the selection was from A Really Famous Dead Author, one of those whom everybody likes to hold up as An Example Aspiring Writers Should Follow. The book wasn’t long, but it was so convoluted, that when I finished it, I thought, “Well, I’m glad I did finally read something by this guy. But I’m glad it’s over with, because now I don’t have to deal with him again.” What’s funny to me, is that the suggestion to read it had been mine.

    1. Ha. That’s funny! I’ve had moments like that at book club. That is why I have a rule now that someone has to have read the book in order for us to pick it. Just too much time wasted.

      Yeah you never know when that new thing will be awesome so always worth giving it a try. At least the manga are super easy reading so that help

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