MANGA IN GERMANY – FROM TRANSLATION TO SIMULACRUM
Heike Jüngst, University of Leipzig
This article does not focus on translation per se but on cultural exchange and intercultural
inuences as precipitated and mediated by translation. Manga is a prime example for this kind
of exchange. With the translation of manga into German and the ensuing popularity, Germanartists started producing manga of their own. Some of these manga were (and some still are)
an amalgam of elements of European comics and Japanese manga and tried to nd new ways of
expression within the format. Others, however, have all the characteristics of a simulacrum: Theylook like manga translated from Japanese into German. However, as with every simulacrum, thereis no original. In the case of these manga, there is no original Japanese version.
Pseudo-translation; manga; comic genres.
Translation, Canonization and Imitation
It is easy to demonstrate that translation is everywhere included in the sacred partsof canons, but that due to our views on language and society and due to societies’eclectic collective memory and to systematic strategies of insiders and outsiders, alarge proportion of the translational data are or have become invisible. All known
cultures have made prestigious external texts part of their canon, most oen intranslation. (Lambert 1995: 161)
Translators are generally more aware of this fact than are other members ofsociety. Publications that have a historical perspective on literary translationand the canon are available (Mueller-Vollmer & Irmscher (eds.); Poltermann
(ed.) 1995). However, these publications tend to focus on texts with a highstatus in their culture of origin and on the inuence they have had, again, on
the high culture in the target community. In an essay in the Mueller-Vollmer
volume, Cyrus Hamlin speaks of “Transplanting German Idealism to AmericanCulture” (Hamlin 1998). The idea of transplanting appeals: The organ that is
transplanted will never lose its foreign origin, but it will, in the best case, becomea vital part of the organism into which it is transplanted. However, transplantsare normally replacements for vital organs that have lost their function. Withcultural transplants, we are rather faced with an additional organ that may ormay not take over from the original organ.
It is oen le to specialists outside translation studies to deal with texts (nomaer in what medium) that are part of popular culture. These texts may be bothpopular and high culture, but very oen they will be considered low culture, as
for example detective stories, mainstream cinema and TV shows.Manga falls into both categories. There are artistic manga of breathtakingquality, but as with all kinds of cultural expression, these have a small
fan following only. Their inuence on the target culture is an inuence on
a subculture. Mainstream manga, however, have become a mainstreamphenomenon in Germany, too. Some of them are simply mass-produced eye
candy, but such texts can, and do, build canons and inuence the target culture’s
0907-676X/06/04/248-12 $20.00Perspectives: Studies in Translatology© 2006 Heike JüngstVol. 14, No. 4, 2006