REIMAGINING JAPAN

HOW TO READ A MANGA
Manga, pictorial narratives which can range from simple comic strips to elaborately illustrated graphic novels, is arguably modern Japan’s most potent and creative form of literary expression. Manga in its contemporary form emerged during the years of US occupation following Japan’s defeat in World War II. The medium was heavily influenced by American popular culture, including comics, cartoons, television and film. But the antecedents of manga can be traced back centuries to wartime propaganda posters, early woodblock prints and even ancient scroll drawings. In modern Japan, manga has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Serialized manga, in an array of different genre, attract readers of all ages. Globally, the form has inspired imitators in a kaleidoscope of different languages, and influenced the work of writers, illustrators and film producers from many cultures. Thus we thought manga a natural format for contemplating Japan’s future. To that end we invited Peter Tasker – economist, novelist, fluent Japanese speaker and lifetime manga connoisseur – to team with veteran Japanese manga artist Toshio Ban in creating an original manga for the digital version of “Reimagining Japan.” The result of their collaboration pays homage to the tradition of British satirists and also the great Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki, whose novel “I Am a Cat,” first published in serialized form between 1905-06, found humor in the contradictory mores of Japanese society in the Meiji era. In deference to manga’s traditional format, “I Am a Digital Cat” reads from right to left. For guidance on how to follow the dialog in the panels, please refer to the diagram below. READ THE MANGA FROM RIGHT TO LEFT

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