Animated for anime: Teenagers embrace Japanese art forms
MILTON Lindsey Ruosch loves talking about manga, whether it’s with friends, librarians or a Janesville Gazette reporter.
“It’s just so unique,” she said. “It’s not like comic books or other reading. There’s so many different types, and not a lot of people know about it.”
Soon, the 14-year-old Milton girl will be able to talk about manga and anime—Japanese-style comic books and animation—with other enthusiasts at the Milton Public Library.
The library is hosting an anime and manga night at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, in response to the art forms’ popularity among local teenagers, said Brianne Anderson, library assistant in charge of teen programming.
Manga and anime have been around for decades in Japan, but they’ve become wildly popular in the United States in the last few years, Anderson said.
The library has been adding to its collection as it sees teens request the works from other area libraries. Sometimes the teens ask the library to acquire a certain anime or manga, she said.
The Japanese developed a recognizable drawing style, which has now been adapted around the world. The characters have gigantic round eyes, pink cheeks and tiny, sharp noses. The women have long, straight hair, and the men tend to wear casually rumpled suits.
Manga read like American novels and come in every genre, from romance to science fiction to thriller, Anderson said.
“Just as we have all genres on our shelves, they have all genres in manga,” she said. “I’ve even seen a Western.”
Anime is often a movie or television series based on of a manga series. The style has become popular in the United States with the films of Hayao Miyazaki, director of “Spirited Away” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”
Among Lindsey’s favorite manga are “Fruits Basket,” about a family possessed by the spirits of the Chinese zodiac, and “Naruto,” about teenage ninjas.
“I know it sounds kind of corny, but it’s actually kind of fun,” she said.
Anime and manga have become popular at other local libraries, too, said Laurie Bartz, young adult librarian at Hedberg Public Library. Beloit Public Library has an extensive collection of both, and Hedberg is building up its collections, she said.
“We have a lot of kids that come in for both,” she said.
But not everyone approves of manga, Anderson said.
Some teachers and parents have complained the books keep teens from reading more challenging novels, and the works can be violent.
For example, one of Lindsey’s favorite works, “Death Note,” deals with a teenager who finds a supernatural notebook that he uses to kill people he considers evil.
Manga usually are rated for age appropriateness, and it’s important that parents monitor what their children read, Anderson said.
But as long as it’s age appropriate, Anderson thinks manga and anime are good for teens.
“I think anything that gets them to read and gets them into the library is a good thing,” she said.
What are manga and anime?
Manga and anime are the Japanese words for comic books and animation. Outside of Japan, they refer to a recognizable Japanese style.
Manga, which usually read back-to-front in the Japanese style, are serialized, illustrated novels. They come in any genre, from romance to science fiction.
Anime often are movies or television shows based on manga. The works of Hayao Miyazaki, director of “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” have increased anime’s popularity in the United States.
“Spirited Away” won an Oscar for best animated movie in 2003.
IF YOU GO
What: Anime and Manga Night. Teens will watch “Karin 1: Infusion” and discuss manga. Refreshments will be available. No registration is required.
When: 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26.
Where: Milton Public Library, 430 E. High St.