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MANGA: Sixty Years Of Japanese Comics

A Review By: Neo Magazine

Neo Magazine is the UK magazine devoted to manga, anime, Asian films, games and more.

There’s a reason why this magazine exists, and that’s to provide info on the world of Japanese and Asian pop culture for those of us in the West who are not fortunate enough to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the phenomenon. One of the key components of this culture is manga – Japanese comic books. Tapping into this rising zeitgeist, Laurence King has cannily commissioned noted authority (and Neo writer) Paul Gravett to provide a book dedicated to the history of manga. With a pedigree in the publication of art books, it’s no surprise that the format Laurence King has chosen for its ambitious Manga: Sixty Years Of Japanese Comicsis a weighty, lavishly illustrated coffee table-style paperback. Through ten chapters, Gravett somehow manages to encapsulate the slippery eel that is manga, covering the artform’s origins in post-Hiroshima Japan, the country’s wholesale acceptance of the medium to the same degree as TV and film, and manga’s seemingly infinite diversity by catering for all sexes and tastes.

All the major manga series and creators are touched upon to varying degrees in the book (although Osamu Tezuka, the ‘Walt Disney’ of manga, is granted the singular honour of having an entire chapter dedicated to his work), and there are plenty of real gems of information to be discovered within its oversized pages. Somehow, Gravett even finds the space to discuss manga’s effect on other mediums, including the promotion campaign for the 2002 World Cup, as well its influence on creators in the West.

The amount of illustrations on offer is enough to make you dizzy. From full page Japanese manga covers, through to reproductions of translated and original comic strip works, Manga proves to be an excellent ‘first stop’ resource tool. Gravett’s ability to take the book’s remit and break it down into a format that is equally accessible to novice and diehard fans alike cannot be understated. It is a remarkable achievement, making this book an essential purchase for any mangaphile’s library. Highly recommended.

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