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Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic-book literacies
Adam Schwartz, Eliane Rubinstein-Ávila
The sharp rise in manga’s popularity in the United States warrants directing educators’ attention toward these comics.
It’s regrettable, but teachers and parents often undermine the ability to make meaning from the myriad of popular culture texts to which young people are exposed. Comics, television, Rubinstein-Ávila teaches at the same university. So far, we find that discussions and video games are often perceived as regarding manga are dominated by contributing to students’ short attenscholars in the field of cultural studies (Grigsby, tion spans, passivity, and lack of creativity and as 1998; Ito, 2002; Kinsella, 1999, 2000; Martinez, providing distractions from educational practices 1998; Ogi, 2003; Schodt, 1996). Although several (Gee, 2004). Therefore, the hype around the popuscholars in education have explored the role of larity of Japanese-style comics, or manga popular culture in youths’ literacy and meaning (Japanese for “amusing drawings”), among youths making (e.g.,Alvermann, 2004; Alvermann & in the United States is viewed with bewilderment Heron, 2001; Alvermann & Xu, 2003; Gee, 2004; and amazement (Wolk, 2001). While some teachMuspratt, Luke, & Freebody, 1997), the manga ers are banning manga from their classrooms, hype among young adults, which has swept the some public librarians are rejoicing because they United States for the past few years, has not been are unable to keep manga on the shelves (e.g., addressed by educators and literacy researchers. Carey, Reid, & Kawasaki, 2005). We intend to raise educators’ awareness about In the meantime, literacy researchers not manga, explore manga’s semiotic features, and only validate but also expand upon the ways underscore the multimodal demands of these youths engage with and use popular culture as a popular culture texts on readers. tool for literacy development and critical inquiry (Alvermann & Xu, 2003; Gee, 2004). A growing number of scholars even argue that engagement with sophisticated computer games is associated For the benefit of educators and researchers, it is with distinct cognitive development, increase in important to differentiate between manga and rapid decision making, and enhancement of
hand–eye coordination (Carrington, 2004). Those of us who have not been socialized from a young age into the postindustrial, saturated consumer culture of computer games, film, interactive toys, e-mail, and Schwartz is a doctoral student and teaches at the DVDs may find the visual grammar University of Arizona in and storytelling used in manga chalTucson (Language, Reading, lenging to follow. Not to mention that & Culture, 1430 E. 2nd Street, 512 Education its multimodality is difficult to comBuilding, Tucson, AZ 85721prehend and build upon to make 0069, USA). E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. meaning.
What are manga, anyway?
JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY
It is not unusual for subjects of the comics to be drawn breaking out of their rectangular frames. moving images on television. 98) as they partake in the dynamic interplay among cultures. What begins as manga in Japan and ultimately gains popularity is likely to become anime. an artistic technique intended to capture certain feelings and emotions (Adams. nonhypertext. p. texts. They rely on highly contextual cues. Many are likely to confuse and interchange these terms. and literacies. as we do. 2004. But because dialogues may be read from right to left. Proficient manga readers are adept at negotiating multimodality. combining visual and auditory modalities: facial expressions. artistic format. the manga hype has lured many JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 41 . Conversely. and rightto-left directionality (Colford. It has since been widely released internationally as both manga and anime (Grigsby). 2003). Readers in Japan must negotiate a variety of fonts and script styles. 2004). and landscapes within (or jutting out of) a strip’s rectangles. frame. The integrative storytelling style of manga relies heavily on homonyms and onomatopoeia. or video games). in English editions of manga (Allen & Ingulsrud). The variation in directionality. drawn characters. tone of voice. Wheeler. 1999). 2003. to create dynamics and atmosphere (Ito). Manga are said to require “a complex visual reading on the part of the reader” (Adams. and were anticipated to clear US$120 million for 2004 (Wheeler. to be a challenging read. The series began in Japan as manga in 1992 and was quickly reproduced as anime. whereas anime are animated cartoons (i. identities. readers as being more authentic. Manga are reflective of Japanese communication. this popular series is about a superheroine who fights for “justice” against the “Dark Kingdom” (Grigsby. Sailormoon is a perfect example of this fluidity. 1999. manga are printed comics found in graphic-novel format. 2005). Manga sales in the United States have exceeded publishers’ predictions. what originates as anime is often also appropriated into printed manga form. the dialogue and the visuals in manga are not just expressed through the written words. and at times horizontally. 71). and font is also found to apply. or borrow from English or romanized Japanese (Allen & Ingulsrud. manga translations have retained the original Japanese style. 1998). Why should we care about manga? We contend that there are two main reasons that warrant drawing educators’ attention toward manga: (1) the comics’ sheer popularity—evident by the sale of manga across the United States— and (2) the unique multimodal reading that manga seem to demand. usually expressed through Japanese characters called katakana. 2004). filling a primetime Saturday night slot on TV Asahi. using pictures and illustrations only as supplements to it (Carrington. and grunts (Ito. which both refer to Japanese varieties of what U.S. Librarians are delighted. “using image plus language in increasingly complex ways” (Bearne. if to a lesser extent. audiences would consider to be “cartoons. dialogue may be printed in kanji (Chinese characters). Public libraries are having a hard time keeping the bound manga books on their shelves.. p. even proficient readers of English— who are not experienced with this level of multimodality and have been socialized into more traditional. story lines—may find manga. Moreover. There is little doubt that proficient manga reading demands a reader who is a negotiator of multimodalities.e. Manga readers are likely to attend to graphical information at the same hierarchical level as the printed text. movies.S. Sales were estimated to gross US$100 million in 2003. left to right. alternate between the two Japanese character families of hiragana and katakana. It is interesting that many of the U.” Specifically. at least 75% higher than the previous fiscal year. The series that conform to Japanese directionality are perceived by U.S. 2004).Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies anime. This is a drastic change from traditional reading that involves attending first and foremost to the written text.
By engaging with a wide range of manga characters. much like soap operas or movies. like other multimodal texts of consumer culture. 71) Multimodality and the New Literacy Studies Here we return to Grigsby (1998). is an obvious exception). Given the popularity of manga among young adults. Usagi is the name of an ordinary Japanese schoolgirl who transforms magically into the valiant superheroine Sailormoon. 2004. Ultimately. popular culture. and in greater complexity than in traditional U. Gender is addressed more flexibly. it is possible that manga story lines not only afford readers a nonlinear. comics.. Usagi has a fight with her brother. who is also a martial artist. these reoccurring flipflops do not seem to have a major impact on the young man’s developing (heterosexual) romantic relationship with a young woman. rich imaginative read of the world but also tap into an array of complexities in human experiences toward which young adults seem to feel great affinity. & Kawasaki. Nevertheless.. 2000). race. 2003. children and young adults make connections between these popular texts and their own life experiences (Allender. For instance. characters may appear in the nude when taking a bath. p. (p. and linked to broader social goals (Barton & Hamilton. 2004. is occasionally transformed into a voluptuous young woman as a result of his accidental dipping into magical waters. youths to public libraries (Carey. who is a martial artist. Frey & Fisher). Subplots are highly common.. These scholars hope to encourage a shift from educators’ traditional perceptions of literacy as an autonomous set of skills to be mastered to a view of literacies as a range of social practices affected by social factors. in a subplot. For example. The cat convinces her by giving her a “cute” pendant. The theoretical framework that has come to be known as the New Literacy Studies encourages educators and researchers to 42 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 . manga provide a way for youths to negotiate alternative identities. Manga. 215). the multimodality of manga texts “extend[s] the traditional notions of text and literacy” (Carrington.S. Usagi becomes Sailormoon! Make up! Prism power! Meanwhile. The brooch begins shining. like any cultural texts. Thus. by the way. his father. she pitches another little tantrum and says she has had enough and wants to go home.. Several scholars have claimed that manga require multimodal reading skills and a sharp critical inquiry stance. nudity is not necessarily connoted with sexual activity. such as socioeconomic status. who paraphrased Sailormoon in great detail. less moralistically. Contrary to what might be expected.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies new patrons among U. nevertheless. or gender. it is surprising that these comics have not been explored in greater depth in the literacy research literature. the jewelry store owner and mother of Usagi’s friend have been taken hostage by the evil ones.. Moreover. The black cat Luna arrives. 2005). Scholars who directly or indirectly contribute to what we have come to term the “New Literacy Studies” all point to the need to broaden our understanding of literacy. Reid. may be dismissed as another form of lowbrow. evil ones and save her friend’s mother. the plots are usually nonlinear.. manga plots are rather indirect: It is not always clear who the main protagonists are (although Sailormoon. At one point. recent studies have reported on how manga have been used as both a teaching tool and a subject of cultural study (Allen & Ingulsrud. Luna guides Sailormoon to defeat the Unlike many Western comic strips geared toward youths. is occasionally transformed into a panda bear. from whom Usagi learns that she is Sailormoon. dynamic plots. and storyboards. Frey & Fisher. which focuses on the conquests of a schoolgirl-turned-heroine. In a very popular series.S. 2004). a young man. Usagi goes to the mirror and looks at herself with it on. as shown in the above example. then goes to her room and takes a nap.
2004. Misaka. while many parents and teachers may dismiss manga reading. which often overlap the physical and the virtual world (Jacobs. It is doubtful that teachertraining programs and K–12 curricula are encouraging teachers and students to develop an adequate metalanguage to help them understand the construction and features of visual texts. Squeeze Text has its own rules. see Ito (2005). English text needs to be converted to its most compact format. to maximize compression. p. Thus. to help youths to analyze and evaluate the constant barrage of information in “today’s visually drenched world” (Abilock. in order to communicate efficiently using SMs. Like the older elaborate picture scrolls. For example. Misaka also argued that the explicit and often elaborate political statements and social commentaries were fitting for story manga. 2001). with their strip style and multiple boxed frames that implied the passage of time. requires an understanding of the semiotics of languages and literacies. 1986). and patterns (Williams. and certain words are converted to a single symbol without losing their meaning. 30). 2004). Schodt. 2001. This means that to adhere to the limits of 160 characters per message. more to +. 2003. textures. even if its origins are debatable (Gravett. from social change to proestablishment rhetoric (Kinsella. Today. This framework is especially beneficial to examine the multimodal literacy practices of manga readers.. shapes. Visual texts. 2004). The New Literacy Studies not only encourage a critical reexamination of what counts as literacy but also broaden the definition of texts. JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 43 . 26). But to do so. people are more likely to negotiate a range of texts and contexts simultaneously. which typically equates to a compression ratio of 30% to 40%. As critical educators. The roots of early modern manga.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies examine the range of literacy practices that people engage in to mediate and make meaning of their lives outside the context of formal schooling. Proficiency in manga and anime. less to –. Kinsella. the user must be proficient in communicat- ing through Squeeze Text (Carrington. we educators and literacy researchers need to broaden our definitions of texts and recognize that our bias toward written text is a result of our own socialization in a printdominated world. Semiotics of manga speak directly to “the overlapping nature of image and text and the shift towards the primacy of the image” (Carrington. sizes. Schodt estimated that Japanese narrative comic art is perhaps as old as the civilization itself. Some educators argue that 21st-century metaliteracy skills are to be taught explicitly in schools. avid manga readers are strategic literary negotiators of that form of text. Scholars in cultural studies and sociology assign the agenda of adult manga as texts that directly reflect a broad array of political editorializing. for example. they told a story. however. can be more effective than verbal text in expressing perceptual information such as colors. 218). 2000. 23) in a newly industrialized Japanese society. however. as in Short Messages (SMs). A brief history of manga The art of manga boasts a lengthy history. Thus. noting caricatures uncovered in the 7th-century Horyuji Buddhist temple. p. and most to ++. Misaka (2004) constructed the history of modern manga as an artistic movement birthed by European political cartoonists living in Japan in the 19th century—a form of “east meets west” (p. positions in space. So the word for is converted to 4. 1999. all text is converted into lowercase. p. Jacobs. 2004. The evolution of manga as serialized comic art opened the doors for more complex stories and messages. it is our role to encourage students to “value the multiple forms of literacy and representation that constitute their lived experiences” (Williams. 2000. 2004). are neither religious nor mundane but social and political.g. Several scholars have underscored the impact of new technologies on how we use and think of language and define communication (e. For a more in-depth account of manga’s place within the context of Japanese history.
2000. audiences as a new marketing frontier.S.S. Dragon Ball Z. films. and partially due to the competition from and demand for newer entertainment media such as video games and DVDs.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies 2004). Tales of competition are often developed by situating manga characters in national sports such as baseball. Before the publication of manga. 44 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 . more commonly known as graphic novels. Manga comics with anime counterparts in English are likely to sell better in the United States (Wolk. colorful back covers. sumo wrestling. boys’ comics. These compilations. 2001). rising popularity among older readers has encouraged publishers to invest in the U. in which friendship and struggle are often popular themes. present a manga series in its entirety (Misaka). erotic and pornographic” (Kinsella. focusing on social issues that other Japanese media dared not cover (Kinsella. Manga are commonly accessible as serialized strips found in magazines and newspapers. 2004). Manga have been referred to as the fastest growing genre in U. are a forceful mainstay in modern story manga. The five spheres of manga In Japan. 2004). The four main genres of manga to emerge after World War II are shonen (boys’) manga. The black-and-white graphic novels resemble a thick paperback book and often include advertisements for other manga collections on their glossy. 1999). Misaka. 2000. interests and stages of life” (Gravett. He paralleled this popularity to the rebuilding of Japan following World War II and the revival of the Japanese economy. specialist.6% of Japanese manga publication was geared specifically toward young male audiences (Kinsella. Boys’ manga: Compassionate competition. and rediisu komikku (ladies’ comics). Nevertheless. youths. sports. 2000). soccer.S. shojo (girls’) manga. although comic shops in both Japan and the United States offer story manga in bound compilations (Kinsella. This popularity is greatly due to manga’s tailoring for a wide range of target audiences. a series of visual formats or anime (video games. whereas the late 1960s reflected political and avant-garde manga movements that included publications of leftist interest. even tax guidelines have been distributed in manga form. the demand for authentic. These four categories may also overlap into a fifth manga category that includes “hobby. one where the success of manga has been astounding (Misaka). in 1996 only 40. and television cartoon programs) was pitched at U. 5). Recently. p. basketball. We expand on three categories here. Gravett (2004) argued that manga series such as Shonen Jump appeal to boys and men by stressing values such as friendship. Since the mid-1990s. publishers resorted to U. Thus. seinen (adult) manga. p. perseverance. and even fishing and car racing (Gravett. and winning. Although manga as an industry originally catered to boys. collecting card games). market. The 1920s and 1930s featured manga as an outlet for response to Japan’s postindustrialist Westernization (Misaka). 1999). Yu-GiOh!. In addition to graphic novels. strips of manga can be found in newspapers and magazines—with topics ranging from finance and economics to sports and leisure.S. sales of manga in Japan have been in a steady decline (Misaka. But the politically charged story manga quickly progressed into marketable mass entertainment for all ages. 45). it’s hard to avoid manga. publishing. accommodating a variety of “tastes. Although manga are geared mainly toward adolescents. however. original manga strips and graphic novels is high despite the cost— ranging from US$10 to over US$20 per book. specifically in the 12 to 17 age bracket. and Pokémon ushered in the manga hype (the last two were also marketed as interactive. Yu Yu Hakusho. 2004. The social and economic turbulence of the mid-1980s marked a time when manga were first appropriated by corporations and government agencies as a means of balancing pop culture movements with the political interests of the Japanese state (Kinsella.
Much as in the past. fantasy and science fiction. Such elements persist today. Ogi. 1996). Boys’ manga also include a share of lighthearted humor—gags. Sailormoon seems to “compensate” with traditional notions of heterosexual femininity as her svelte adolescent features are transformed with more womanly characteristics (Grigsby. often these boys’ manga follow the life of an ordinary male protagonist who fights his way through the big leagues as an underdog. Ito. Sailormoon is a fine example. see Festle. so the thrill comes from reading how he overcomes all challenges with determination and honesty” (p. This particular series presents a female protagonist in an actionadventure role and her pursuits to protect the earth from the queen of the “Dark Kingdom. they often pit a young female protagonist in a position of self-empowerment. Sailormoon’s transformation from child to woman also invokes parallels to the state of affairs in Japan: “Part of the popularity of the character may be because at one level she resolves major tensions present in contemporary Japan with respect to the diminishing primacy of the mother role for women” (p.” She is. becomes a metaphor for life. today’s girls’ manga dabble in love and romance. and the petite noses. granddaughters. whose masculinity is defined by values of “heart” and “perseverance. required to be strong. p. The arrival of Mazinger Z in 1972 introduced the adventures of a high-tech robot. however. Shojo Kai (Girls’ World) generally idealized domesticity and servitude. 2004. 54). Postwar advances in modern technology inspired new ways of constructing the underdog type of hero to entertain and enlighten male audiences. to big business. 75). 54). But in her transformation to her superheroine alter-ego. and this formula has been widely applied to a variety of settings “from martial arts. we found that the so-called strong and powerful young female protagonists are also the ones who compliantly fulfill their caretaker roles (as good daughters. Through training—not just physical but also mental and psychological—the young boy becomes a man. At the turn of the century. Sailormoon’s brave. mouths. In reviewing the research literature. a “sports manga hero is bound to win. They respond readily to the needs of their families and communities (before their own needs—although those are seldom voiced explicitly). and hips. heroic conquests to save the world seem to require compensatory conventional. intelligent. intelligence. and authoritative. long lashes. Although these contemporary female protagonists are proclaimed by reviewers and literacy researchers to JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 45 . slim torso. a character that inspired decades of spin-offs and appropriations that pitted technology. 2003). although breasts are often grossly exaggerated (Gravett. or girlfriends). In other words. and power politics” (Gravett. limbs. 2004. 2002. pranks. similar to boys’ manga. Girls’ manga: Compensatory sexuality. through the jewelry that provides her with magical powers. Sport. This image was particularly manifest in the physical drawings of women in girls’ manga—the large eyes and pupils. 1998. Male artists created story lines and characters to project female roles—for example.” But boys’ manga are not just about sports heroes. This paradox is also found frequently in contemporary young adult literature in which young women are the main protagonists. or lose well.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies 2004). and strategy against the world’s evil. heterosexual femininity to appeal to young female readers who are in the process of constructing their own gender identities (Grigsby). Ever since the 1950s manga have been credited for increasing Japanese youths’ interest in sport. and breasts. What could be defined as the epitome of the modern protagonist in girls’ manga—a character designed for and by women—is often construed as paradoxical. then. jokes—and a strong appeal to the male libido (Gravett). therefore. for a discussion on “compensatory” and “apologetic” behavior as it originally relates to sport and female sexuality. the role of mother and homemaker as submissive and sexually available companion. which evolved into the construction of female empowerment. Postwar Japan (particularly the 1960s) was also a watershed time and place for girls’ manga.
The heroine says. often trapped in oppressive spaces of marriage and family life. masturbation. Ultimately. the lady characters often overcome life’s 46 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 . 2004). desires. The genre rediisu komikku. As heroines. However. Once married I would not have any freedom. and more recently sexism. The image of sexually powerful young women in manga is paradoxical in this regard as well as in another sense: The comics are designed and drawn to entice male consumers as much as to entice young women seeking modern-day heroines as role models (Gravett. Topics seemingly taboo to the U. As a type of feminist discourse. the protagonist provides the reader with a sort of psychological reward: The female adult reader can vicariously relive her youthful dreams and experiences. or college student—stories tend to focus on themes such as love. cross. reader are often framed as natural. However. For example. Ladies’ manga: Tensions between empowerment and conformity. 2004). Considering the connections between popular culture and critical literacies. The class collectively read Hydrant. 2002. homosexuality. ladies’ manga attempt to address the experiences. At some point. playful. protagonists tend to be victims of gender stereotyping. often without the intent to be sexual discourse (Gravett. the readers of girls’ manga adopt a more mature. if ever. students were encouraged to rely on the In ladies’ comics. and needs of women and to present role models for the modern Japanese woman (Ogi. careers.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies be nontraditional. was born in the 1980s as a more mature extension of the classical themes found in shojo manga (Ito. and dream-like fantasies are common in girls’ and ladies’ manga. the authors encouraged students to collectively list the techniques the artist used to convey meaning. divorce. a wordless graphic novel that illustrates the life of a woman living in a housing project without running water. female friendship. gender-role boundaries (Rubinstein-Ávila. the female protagonist consistently reinforces the idea that Japanese women’s ultimate life goal is to find and marry a Prince Charming. I have also been thinking that I do not want to marry. disobey. This paradoxical issue of power is also present in ladies’ manga. unsanctioned) literacies into the classroom.S. which complicate the idea of manga as a site of empowerment for female readers. acceptable. 2002). Ito (2002) quoted one rediisu dialogue between a heroine and her girlfriend. romance. these challenges are consistently laced with romantic fantasy and “lustful perversion” (Ito. Frey and Fisher (2004) used Will Eisner’s graphic novel about city life to encourage urban high school students’ development of reading and written communication skills. mother–child relations. 2005). 73). and nonsexual in manga. Nudity. According to Ito. I have a very difficult time taking care of myself. and then I must protect my family and make everyone happy. whether she is a housewife. and bodily fluids (Ito. who are reflecting on marriage as a rite of passage into adult life. positive way. 77). some educators are making use of graphic novels to develop students’ traditional writing skills. often showcasing what is traditionally private and personal: voyeurism. they seldom. or transgress mainstream. ladies’ manga might be viewed as soft pornography. I think it is very important for me to be positive and take the first step [to marry] (p. Rediisu komikku tend to focus on the reality of life as experienced by the modern Japanese woman. Is there a place for manga in the classroom? Although there are many reasons for educators to carefully consider the pros and cons of bringing alternative (especially alternative. and even domestic violence. or ladies’ comics. p. after brainstorming colorful vocabulary. gender-bending. 2003). barriers in some empowering. sophisticated style. office worker. Even while considering her unhappiness or dissatisfaction with life. 2002). I started to think that turning my back on marriage will not lead to my growth as a human being.
DBZ uses storyboards to constantly negotiate a good-andevil character dichotomy. Ultimately.. television. for example. In the case of students using manga for classroom study. 2001. 121). Nevertheless. Frey and Fisher also used this exercise as a springboard to instruct students on how to effectively convey multiple ideas in fewer words. p. Students can use this dichotomy to investigate how the animator. powerful female in manga mirrored in Western advertising campaigns. original stories of their own. which succeeded in teaching writing technique and the art of “consuming ideas and information. The genre is the embodiment of hybrid texts. Critical educators can encourage youths’ reflexivity about their use of popular culture by selecting appropriate texts for the classroom that help students situate themselves in the world around them and underscore how power shapes “our emotional.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies elicited vocabulary to narrate their own individual stories in a written composition. critical reading of unique media like manga “calls for both the expression and examination of multiple points of view” (p. Gilles Poitras. 121). for instance. multiliteracies go beyond just communication through myriad modes. revert to their original position. p. they can use the mechanics and multimodalities of the comic strips to learn “how to question their own pleasures” (Alvermann & Heron. as well as various ways to describe tone and mood. or appear to operate from both positions at the same time” (p. [how] characters change position (from hero to villain). As Kress (2000) reminded us. how. This technique was used with great success in a reading of the computer-based anime Dragon Ball Z (DBZ). society? Skills may transfer This article introduces the world of manga to educators. 2004). As in the case of various manga serials from which it originates. social and material lives” (Alvermann & Xu.koyagi. a librarian and manga enthusiast in northern California. is the consistent image of the sexually enticing yet assertive. 24) as they produced concise.S. Frey and Fisher’s exercise. As Alvermann and Heron (2001) contended. For example. political. p. the semiotics of the wordless graphic novel inspired Frey and Fisher’s students to become not only more descriptive writers but also critical “consumers of ideas and information” (p. older students could also use Kinsella’s (2000) manga spheres as an entry point for critically examining societal disparities in the representation of gender and sexuality. do boys’ manga frame athletic success as a venue for proving socially acceptable notions of masculinity? How might this view of athletics contrast or compare with conceptions of sport in U. JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 47 . No efforts were made to construct Eisner’s text as an impetus for raising awareness on poverty and the greater social issues being conveyed. Manga could be used in the classroom to develop students’ analytical and critical reading of visual texts. each mode has its own regularities.” failed to serve as a practice of critical pedagogy.com. How. students can examine how a manga storyboard “works to invite and produce particular views” (Alvermann & Heron. students may survey examples of girls’ and ladies’ manga to analyze the female paradox of power and submission. 2003. as author of the texts. In the spirit of situated literacies and influencing students to think as critical consumers of ideas and information (Frey & Fisher. provides librarians and teachers with resources through an up-to-date guide to anime and manga accessible through his website at www.and third-person narrations. manga’s hype among young adult readers is examined through the New Literacy Studies. 148). inequalities in the representation of males and females persist crossculturally. Students experimented with first. Although manga is by origin a Japanese genre. 121). and movies? On another note. “visually portrays the characters in ways that convey traits of altruism and treachery. For example.. 121)..
E. Kress. & Kawasaki.. Barton. Manga literacy: Popular culture and the reading habits of Japanese college students. Kinsella. Martinez.. Reading Literacy and Language. K. and information-literacy skills. & Fisher. shifting boundaries and global cultures.Understanding the manga hype: Uncovering the multimodality of comic book literacies Manga are in line with the current literacy revolution. The first Japanese manga magazine in the United States. 48(1). Language Arts. & Freebody. and the Internet in an urban high school. (2003). (1981). information communication technologies. 19–25. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Daily News (New York). Adult manga: Culture and power in contemporary Japanese society. (2003). 30–36. and sounds. S. Reid. 35(1). The skills manga readers use may transfer well to other media. V. & Hamilton. Texts and literacies of the Shi Jinrui. Gravett. 46. Manga. Reading Research Quarterly. E. New York: Columbia University Press. Luke. For example. Muspratt.. Manga: Sixty years of Japanese comics. S. 81. (2005). American Behavioral Scientist. D. Sailormoon: Manga (comics) and anime (cartoon) superheroine meets Barbie: Global entertainment commodity comes to the United States. Alvermann. & Heron. A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society. languages. 39.H. Ivanic ‡ (Eds. A seven-power lens on 21st-centry literacy: Instilling cross-disciplinary visual. Gee. Adams. J. 1–18). news media. 38(3). London: Routledge. C.J. 78–83. (2004). (1996). G. S.E.D. Winter). 69–75. English Journal. 45. (2005. 68–85.P. Martinez (Ed. (2000).. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. It is not surprising that the multimodal and iconographic features of manga attract consumers across age groups.. reading manga is very much like playing video games if we consider both as literacy “domains”— as space for deciphering images and practices.. Hamilton. Using graphic novels. (Guests). (2004. Colford. Multimodality in multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. (1998).). New York: National Public Radio. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. (2004). 75.H. 456–475. S. E. Popular culture in the classroom. D. (2004). January 31).E. flashy artwork. D. D. G.P. The worlds of Japanese popular culture: Gender. 93(3). P. The world of Japanese ladies’ comics: From romantic fantasy to lustful perversion. (2000). 12–14. M. D.E. 20(1). and youth literacies: A cultural studies perspective. (2004. D. Culture & Society. Boom time for manga books: Edgy tales. 93(3). representation and text. (2004). D. London & New York: Routledge. English Journal. shifting boundaries and global cultures (pp. The Journal of Popular Culture. Of mice and manga: Comics and graphic novels in art education. REFERENCES Abilock. Alvermann. p. Publishing Research Quarterly. 48 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT & ADULT LITERACY 50:1 SEPTEMBER 2006 . Grigsby. 59–80. Carrington. 18(1). Kinsella. 674–683. the popularity of manga among youths and young adults on the cusp of the 21st century may be precisely a consequence of this genre’s highly multimodal and semiotic properties. & Ingulsrud. Pro-establishment manga: Pop-culture and the balance of power in Japan. Playing nice. (2004). Thus. anime and Japanese culture in America. New York: DC Comics. London: Laurence King. Carey. A. Barton. K. M. In D.P. Ito. Jacobs. 25(2). Media. 98–103. graphic images. Rethinking literacy: Communication. Frey. Complicating contexts: Issues of methodology in researching the language and literacies of instant messaging. anime. P. (2000). and vice versa. The Journal of Popular Culture. 31(1). Multimedia Schools. (1999). 21.E. Allen. In D. Talk of the Nation [Radio broadcast].). Ito. Gender. (2001). 7–15). Constructing critical literacies: Teaching and learning textual practice. NJ: Hampton Press. Gee (2004) argued that it is highly beneficial for adolescents to practice negotiating semiotics in order to develop critical and multidimensional thinking. and genders. Literacy practices. K. M. 23–30. (1999). Cresskill. Eisner. Bearne. (1997). (1998). as traditional reading is being expanded into postmodern readings that combine print text. (2003). Children’s everyday literacies: Intersections of popular culture and language arts instruction. The Journal of Popular Culture. A. (Eds. (2002). (2004). D. 567–572. 118–122. 215–228. J. Misaka. K. W. 145–154. 394–406. cultures. J.. M. British Journal of Sociology of Education. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. P. & Xu. Festle. Situated literacies (pp.. P. & R. (2003).. New York: Cambridge University Press. Alvermann. 37(3). International Journal of Art & Design Education. New York: The big city.). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 10(6). (2004). Media. Literacy identity work: Playing to learn with popular media. Allender. April 30). N.
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