Kitazawa Rakuten’s (1876~1955) place in manga history is secure. Yet the two important manga historians of today, Shimizu Isao and Miyamoto Hirohito, diverge considerably in their understandings of what Kitazawa represents in this history. Shimizu sees him in terms of continuity, while Miyamoto sees him in terms of discontinuity. Both of these scholars are in agreement that Kitazawa was Japan’s first modern manga artist and that he was an important figure in early-twentieth century manga development. However, Shimizu considers Kitazawa as an important link in a manga history that connects manga’s present to ancient Japanese past, whereas Miyamoto views him as part of a radical separation from the past that established and popularized a new genre recognizable as manga today.
Here I want to explore these two scholars’ contrasting perspectives on manga history with a focus on Kitazawa whose own thoughts on manga I will take up at the end. As many readers are probably not familiar with this artist, I will firstly sketch out his life and career.
Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: art, Box of Curios, Chame, Chojūgiga, Dekobō, Frank A. Nankivell, History, Hokusai, Hosokibara Seiki, humour, image-text, Imaizumi Ippyō, Ishiko Jun, Japan, Japanese manga, Jiji Manga, Jiji Shinpō, Katei Puck, Kidorō, Kitazawa Rakuten, Kitazawa Yasuji, manga, manga criticism, manga studies, Milano Manga Festival, Miyamoto Hirohito, Miyao Shigeo, Mokubei, newspaper strips, Okamoto Ippei, ponchi, Punch, Rakuten Puck, ronald stewart, satirical cartooning, Shimizu Isao, Suyama Keiichi, Tagosaku, Tokyo Puck, USA, woodblock prints, Yurakusha
Manga  does not easily attract scholarly interest as comics. In the name of manga, the critical focus is usually less on sequential art but rather a certain illustration style or character design, and closely related, fannish engagement in transformative or derivative creations (dōjinshi), up to and including cosplay. In many cases, scholars turn to manga as an entry point for research on girls’ (shōjo) culture and female consumers, gender and sexuality, the subcultures of fujoshi (self-designated “rotten girls” engaged in Boys’ Love, or yaoi) and otaku (geeks). Attempts at elucidating the peculiar role of the comics medium in that regard—for example, by focusing not only on “shōjo” but also “manga” when discussing shōjo manga  —remain a distinct minority whenever sociological and anthropological concerns prevail. Be it “fan culture,” “subculture” or “scene,” user communities are given preference over media specificity, texts and individual readings, at least outside of Japan. This applies especially to Japanese Studies, which is still the field yielding most manga research abroad. Here, manga is taken to represent, if not national culture in general, then Japanese popular culture, in the main understood as a youth culture with significant global impact and economic effects. Consequently, the utilization of manga as mere object appears to matter more than methodological diligence. Whether subjected to symptomatic readings of social issues or to sophisticated critical theory, media-specific contexts and manga-related expertise tend to be neglected. This is as much due to specific institutional requirements as it is indicative of a lack within the institution, that is, the absence of a respective field of research and criticism.
Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: aesthetics, Alison Bechdel, bande dessinée, Belgium, Benoît Peeters, Boys’ Love, caricature, children readers, CJ Suzuki, comics industry, digital comics, ehon, fandom, formalism, François Schuiten, France, Franco-Belgian Comics, Frederick Schodt, Fujimoto Yukari, Gakushūin University, gekiga, Gender, graphic narratives, Hergé, historiography, humour, Ishiko Junzō, Itō Gō, Japan, Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics, Japanese manga, jaqueline berndt, Jessica Sugimoto-Bauwens, Kitazawa Rakuten, kodomo manga, komikku, Kyoto International Manga Museum, Kyoto Seika University, manga, manga criticism, manga hyōgenron, manga studies, manhua, manhwa, Meiji University, Miyamoto Hirohito, Murakami Tomohiko, museum, Natsume Fusanosuke, Nicholas Theisen, Nihon manga gakkai, Odagiri Hiroshi, Ono Kōsei, Osamu Tezuka, Paco Roca, ronald stewart, Saitō Chiho, satirical cartooning, Scott McCloud, Shimizu Isao, Takekuma Kentarō, Takemiya Keiko, Takeuchi Osamu, Tezuka, Tezuka Osamu, The Adventures of Tintin, Thierry Groensteen, Tintin, Translations, transmediality, USA, yaoi, Yonezawa Yoshihiro Memorial Library of Manga and Subcultures