Is Manga Dangerous?
In this article I am trying to convey the following message: Manga come in many formats and themes including a large and widely read category including extreme violence, sex and innumerable sexual perversions and, the format of Manga, its broad readership and its connectivity with our mind and the way we learn make Manga a pervasive and on some level dangerous form of media amounting to nothing less than brain washing.
For the uninitiated first I shall ask, “What is Manga?”
Manga (kanji: 漫画; hiragana: まんが; katakana: マンガ; Manga.ogg listen (help·info)) (English: /ˈmɑːŋɡə/) consist of comics and print cartoons (sometimes also called komikku コミック), in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 20th century.
Ok, thats great but allow me to make this more cut and dry. Manga are Japanese COMIC BOOKS. Yeah, thats it. Comics. Despite all the hoopla that often surround “Manga”, particularly by Foreigners who have fallen in love with them, they are just comic books. There are many types of Manga including manga for children, preteens, teens, late teens, young adults, older adults, men and women etc. Stories and characters are as broad and wide reaching as one could imagine. In fact alot of what you might find in Manga you could not imagine. It is often that bizarre. I am not going to spend 5 hours recreating what someone on Wikipedia has already done, and done well, so I recommend that if you need a more in-depth, and fairly neutral yet detailed examination of Manga, its history and its types you go and check it out there. Just search “Manga”.
Manga is everywhere
Although figures vary, Manga on the whole, including books and magazines, make up about 26% percent of the overall books and magazines PUBLISHED in Japan. However, if one looks at books that are actually purchased by consumers the figure rises to 42%. This means that 42% of the literature being purchased by the Japanese, nearly HALF of it, is Comic books. Manga can be found at convenience stores, book stores (by the floor) and even libraries. In addition I can say with no doubt at all that at least one manga can be found in nearly every school students bag or backpack and in many a “grown ups” brief case or hand bag. I was a bit surprised 6 years ago when I wandered into a library in an elementary school and found shelves, rows upon rows of Manga. These contained a variety of historical type books including biographies about likes of people such as Mozart, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. etc and so forth. I also encountered Manga designed to raise social awareness or teach life lessons. During free time, if one made a visit to the library and I did several times, 90% of the students you would find inside would be reading Manga, and not the copies regarding social awareness or ethics. The books went largely untouched. Except for the Sex education Manga which I found had become quite popular…amoungst 4th grades.
Manga is a Powerful Learning Medium
It might be more appropriate to say that Manga is a deceptively powerful learning medium. At a glance, literally or intellectually, one thinks “Comic book; disregard” but this is a mistake and possibly a grave one that the government, advertising and publishing has NOT made. They are aware of the power that Manga have to program, infect, clutter and ultimately numb the mind.
Learning is an interesting and complex process. For some, education is a punishment and for others a reward. One thing that is universally true for 99% of the developed worlds populations however is that in highschool and later university we cram our brains full of FACTS. FACTS FACTS FACTS. What we and the education system engage in, is less about EDUCATION and much more about TEACHING. We are taught Largely…Useless….Facts.
So when free time comes and our minds can finally relax what happens? Our minds OPEN. Our breathing relaxes and our brain waves shift and our minds become wide open portals for information to flow into. This is why at 31years old, although I can barely remember my multiplication tables, I can still remember the code for “Contra”, Entire Chapters of dialogue and narrative word for word from “The Hobbit” and I have a photographic copy of nearly the entire “M.E.R.P.” Game masters book in my head. If you don’t know what Im talking about, don’t fear….it’s probably better that why. The point is once we relax not only do our conscious minds open and take in information more smoothly but our super powerful SUBCONSCIOUS minds begin to soak things up like the proverbial Sponge. It’s fascinating how powerful our minds are. In my case every subject I ever cared about or was interested in I remember a wealth of information about regardless of the fact that my actual study habits did not change at all: They always were non-existent. Hence I could fail my second attempt at Algebra 2 in my senior year and get the pleasure of enjoying a resort like 3 months of summer vacation in school with all the other degenerates from my county yet my 8th grade English lit class I simply CANNOT remove it from my memory, so interesting was the teacher and his material. Im not even a math dunce. I coasted through Geometry with high A’s. It all had to do with relaxation and interest.
Here we come back to Manga. It is being digested during periods of relaxation. The people reading it are interested in it, this is why they purchased it or stole it (oh yeah, it happens even in Japan).
In addition to this relaxed and receptive mental state you also have to recognize the intense combinations of graphic pictures, words, and how these are utilized in the Manga – incorporation with the readers hands. Manga are not unlike a puzzle, just as western comics are. Sometimes the reading is not linear and one has to be able to focus and recognize the pattern of the story line, frames and boxes in order to grasp the plot and move forward. This pattern recognition system comes from something called Spatial intelligence and is a function of the “right Brain” or the subconscious. So while yes, the left brain is being activated while reading it has been shown that the RIGHT hemisphere of the brain is much more active when “reading” hanzi/kanji style written formats. Afterall, these are just antiquated pictographs. So not only are the pictures, the pattern recognition from frames and the writing system itself all accessing the subconscious but the hands are being used to scan or handle the book itself. This incorporates another sense into the experience making the learning “Feed back loop” more broad hence increasing retention consciously and ever widening the subconscious gates for deep penetration of the material.
Why is the subconscious such a factor?
Our conscious minds have alot of barriers and blocks and rules and limits already installed. By the time we are 6 or 7 we have been powerfully programmed to behave and act a certain way. By the time we reach our teen years our brain washing has been extensive and by the time we get to our company it is complete. The subconscious mind has no barriers. It accepts and assimilates EVERYTHING at some level or another. Much of this information is lost in the massive murky infinity of our subconscious, however it is still there. The more total the feed back loop and the more senses and parts of the brain involved in the assimilation, this in conjunction with the frequency with which we ingest such material, can make the recurrence or resurfacing of such information or experiences much more likely.
Simply put, if you have two dogs in your subconscious mind, one black and one white, which one will be bigger and stronger?
The one you feed more.
This brings us to the danger of Manga…
Sex and Violence
Tomes upon Tomes of Ghandi and Mother Teresa Manga, this is not.
It is not unlike the Exploited song Sex and Violence.
A very large part of the Manga publishing business is devoted to books that specialize in gruesome violence and obscene sexual acts. In fact these are quiet popular and even sell at a more expensive price than some other benign Comics in Japan simply because THEY CAN. People are still going to read them.
The following are a list of standard themes:
decapitation, Hacking people up, Rape, Teen Rape, Lesbian Rape, BDSM, Sado Masochism, Bullying, Suicide, Various Tortures, Imprisonment then more Rape, Pedophilia, Bestiality, Various forms of Amputations, Sex with Amputees, Rape by aliens, Rape by Demons, Rape by unidentified tentacles, Murdering ones parents, Murdering classmates and teachers, Rape and murder of senior citizens etc.
The categories are endless and pervasive. It is not strange at all to be on an evening train going home and to see the Salary man standing next to me reading a large Manga Magazine thats pages are depicting some absurdly large breasted women being gang banged in a space shuttle by a team of Ninjas or a highschool girl with E cup super breasts tied to a chair being choked by the Massive erect penis of some Black character complete with Afro or Corn rows, wearing an NBA uniform.
On a more personal note I was at a standard Japanese home in Shizuoka spending time there about a year ago. I remember waking up early and coming downstairs to have coffee before the gracious family taking care of me woke up. On the kitchen table was a Manga book and while I had my coffee I opened it up. I was appalled by its contents. It was about a Male nurse who comes to work for a female TV star who had recently been in a horrific car crash and her legs and arms had been amputated. All that remained was her gorgeous (very western looking) face, massive bust and hot looking back side. So this Male nurse finally loses his mind and in the comic book repeatedly states to himself and to her how he simply cannot control himself as he rapes her over and over. He utilizes various nursing equipment to abuse and torture her and then SM equipment to silence her and this goes on according to the story for sometime, weeks. Over time, the women begins to accept her fate, even thinking she deserves it and then falls in love with her attacker deciding that only he can truly love her. This is also pretty common, not only in Manga but also in Japanese Pornography.
The art was extremely graphic. I skipped breakfast that morning.
I inquired as to whose manga this was once everyone was up and to my shock and horror it was the 15 year old sons. Tall and smart, and a tennis star at school to boot who HAD a girlfriend, it was a surprise to me. I tried without being rude to ask if his parents had EVER looked at this book as it was just sitting on the kitchen table he had not tried to hide it, and the reply was “No I have my own Manga I like to read.”
In the End
Manga has a very wide audience and it is essentially unregulated. It has been pawned off as “Contemporary Japanese Culture” and those last two words “Japanese Culture” basically make it Bullet proof. Try and bring up the lunacy and filth being pursued by the industry and you get blasted with the culture taser. What nonsense. Guns in every household and a wild west mentality are American Culture but does that make those things good? No.
Manga works the same way. It needs to be regulated.
The format of Manga makes it a hyper potent way to transmit information to a group of people, those buying Manga and pouring over it week after week, that are very open to suggestion. The Youth and the Middle class worker largely disenchanted with their day-to-day life. These people are very open to programming and the adoption of new ideas whether they are good or bad. For this reason alone the content in Manga needs to be controled and regulated. Im not proposing to eliminate sex from Manga. But is it necessary to protray the Gang Rape of a 13 year old? Even if it does not push a young man toward suicide or rape it will likely, as can been seen all over Tokyo and Japan, nurture a state of Nihilism that is already in existence and needs no re-enforcing. In fact, it needs deconstruction.
The artists and publishers who produce this should take responsibility and the parents of the youth should show some sort of interest in what their children are spending their free time with. Manga is in fact, Dangerous.