The Seven Deadly Sins 120 - Overwhelming Mayhem
Fairy Tail 426 - Black Heart
Toriko 318 - Collapsing in Tears!!

Claymore End

Posted Oct 2nd, 2014 by Jinn

And thus yet another amazing series comes to an end.  Thank you for reading along with us all these years! 

Claymore was one of my favorite manga series since long before I joined Mangastream several years ago, and it’s been a pleasure to translate it for the better portion of the past two years. Wikipedia tells me that Claymore debuted in 2001, and I guess Yagi-sensei deserves a break after all these years. Let’s look forward to his next work! 

With the end of this series, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the work of my fellow staff members, as well as the incredible translation work of my now-retired Mangastream senpai gernot, who was translating Claymore with the highest quality years before I came on the scene, and is responsible for much of the definitive Claymore scanlation out there today. I have strived to follow through in kind. It’s been an honor to carry this series, one of my personal favorites, through to the end (and hopefully in a worthy fashion). 

Thanks again to all of my fellow staffers for seeing us through, and thanks again to all the MS readers!

- waychanger


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Beyond HSDK

Posted Sep 13th, 2014 by Jinn

So although HSDK has had an abrupt finale, Matsuena Shun-Sensei is by no means done. He'll be releasing three one-shots, each featuring some color pages and all ranging around 44-46 pages. They'll be coming out in consecutive weeks, in consecutive issues starting in mid-November.

The first one, coming out on 11/12, is titled "Kanata"
The second, coming out on 11/19, is "Haruka"
And the third, releasing on 11/26, is "DemIII"

Check out the raw page we uploaded at the end of the final chapter to get a tiny preview of 'em.

We will be releasing all three of the one-shots. The above dates are when they hit the shelves in Japan. We're not sure exactly when we'll be getting RAWs, but as soon as we do, we'll be working these out.

Anyways, thanks for reading HSDK with us for all these years!
Make sure to check back for the three one-shots!

-DzyDzyDino


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Somewhere in Translation: Hissatsu!!

Posted Sep 4th, 2014 by Jinn

I don't know where this began -- I'm sure it stems from all the martial arts oriented fiction from China with warriors with long-winded names (Iron Crane Atop the Waterfall) and their trademark weapons or techniques. That probably echoes the martial arts which also has these names for their postures. The names are metaphors, both descriptive and inspirational. "Young Maiden plucks the Shuttle from the Ocean Floor" in Tai Chi, as a descriptive name but also an image to help meditate upon the move and its meaning.

Regardless, nowadays it's just a given in manga and anime. A lot of times they even have injokes or break the fourth wall to joke about it -- they name their techniques. It's a thing. It's geeky. We love it, kids love it. Nothing more badass than a guy with an awesome name for the move he throws at you.

This also is a large point of contention among fans. Those that prefer the Japanese, and those that prefer a translation of the Japanese. A lot goes into deciding which to use, there's no real right or wrong answer for this and sometimes the fans just prefer one over the other. Many times when trying to figure out exactly what the spelling of an attack is supposed to be, the "meaning" of the attack helps to figure it out.

The Hissatsu or Ougi that characters utter before attacks sometimes is just them declaring they're about to use a special technique.

Hissatsu (必殺) literally translates to "certain kill."
Usually a Hissatsuwaza (必殺技) or "certain kill technique" usually is accepted as "special move" -- the definition of which, I'll leave up to you.

Ougi (奥義) is also another one. The general definition of this is "Hidden attack" or "secret attack." Usually it's not so secret, but usually it's pumped up in storyline as the secret techinques of some clan passed down or something.

In reality, these terms are used interchangably along with some other ones and whatever the author feels like creating. Video games like fighting games may use the two to differentiate between a "Special Attack" and a "Super" or something like that.

Other times, the person will have a fighting style or type of magic or something they use and they'll call that out before every attack. "Okama Kenpo!!" (Transvestite Fist Way) "Santouryuu" (Three Sword Style) whatever, followed by the specific move.

As for a reason, I suppose it's just kinda badass. A point of pride maybe, "You know it was ____ badass attack that gotcha." Even in the western world, this is kind of echoed in Pro Wrestling, although they dont really (or do they?) shout out the names of their attacks. They're "representing" their styles, I suppose -- though usually in manga/anime, there's almost this unspoken rule that it's almost like an incantation, like the attack wouldn't work if this wasn't declared before it. (Come on, how many of you as a kid thought by shouting "Kamehameha" loud enough... just loud enough... ah, nevermind.)

Once getting into the naming of the attack, this is where authors get a lot of language play.

One thing they do is create combinations of kanji. The kanji they use to name the attack aren't always official combinations, but creative combinations with an implied meaning. Just like in English, if a villain used a "hyper-electro-flashbolt" you'd kind of know it was some fast electric projectile or something, even though that's not a real word.

But because the compounds aren't official, they don't always have official readings either. Here, authors often use furigana to their advantage. I talked a bit about furigana before, but essentially it's the small characters printed next to kanji in some publications that gives the pronunciation or reading of that kanji (in order to help the reader).

Authors use this at times to imply meaning or give the reading they want. The same is true with attacks. When that happens, it becomes a pain in the ass to translate at times -- especially when the reading either has nothing to do with the kanji or is in a foreign language. Usually, we take the meanings of the kanji as a clue on where to start. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's way out there.

For example, in the recent issues of Toriko, the Horse King used an attack known as "Destroy Breathe." The furigana was written as "desutoroiburiizu." So, why not "Destroy Breeze"? -- Well, apart from that being pretty stupid (as if a manga never did anything stupid...) "ahh run away from the destroy breeze!!" etc... apart from that... we take a look at the kanji (the chinese characters) that the attack is written with.

絶滅の呼吸

Now, normally that would be read as "zetsumetsu no kokyuu" which translates to "breath of destruction." The author, however, gave it a different reading -- the name that he wanted for the attack, with the kanji to provide its meaning. Hence, we go with "Destroy Breathe."

The kanji and the reading don't always line up so nicely, and sometimes the intent is pretty damn obscure.

And of course, you get the times where they don't give a foreign language name to the attack, and leave the kanji as Japanese. In those cases, we (at mangastream) almost always give the Japanese name for the attack, followed by its translation in a note. For some series though, the fans have accepted an English name for a technique.

Kage Bunshin or Shadow Clones? Haoshoku, Kenbunshoku, and Busoshoku Haki or their many other accepted translations?

Also, because the Authors take freedom in naming their attacks, often with katakana for using words from another language, sometimes deciphering their names and how to spell them in English can be a nightmare.

As many of you do know, katakana is a phonetic alphabet "a e i o u ka ki ke ko ku ta chi te to tsu sa shi se so su etc etc etc..." so to spell out certain words in Japanese, they have to approximate. Sometimes it works out very easy with minimal changes. Point = po-i-n-to. band = ba-n-do.

Sometimes it's a little bit of a stretch. party - pa-a-ti. hamburger - ha-n-ba-a-gu.

Sometimes it's way out there, like the ever infamous McDonalds = ma-ku-do-na-ru-do. Anything with a th is always fun. Three = su-ri-. Earth = a-a-su.
Shove it up your Earth.

So, when the possible word can be any language at all, the kanji (that is, when it's there) is the only thing we've got to cling to for any clues.

In One Piece recently, someone used an attack called "Za-n Te-gu-ju-pe-ri"
I remember being stuck on that for a very long time, with no idea what I could do with it. Xantac Jubilee? I was really lost. The kanji was my only real hint.  

斬・星屑王子 (Zan - Hoshikuzu Ouji) (Slash/Behading - Stardust Prince)

Okay. The Zan means "beheading" or "slash", but the reading was left intact as "zan" even though the rest of the characters aren't even close to the same. Why?

This was in One Piece, and Oda loves to use puns and plays on words. Therefore, I assume the Zan is going to be just that. He wanted it to be a kind of slash, but it's possible the word is San and not Zan and he's just making a play on words.

The first thing that came to mind, admittedly, when I saw Stardust Prince was Katamari Damacy. After I abruptly gave up on that avenue, I also thought of what's known in Japan as "Hoshi no Ouji-sama" lit - "Star Prince" a.k.a. The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). If you've never read it for some reason, it's a classic.

It's written by Antoine De Saint-Exupery... and a quick google in japan's wiki confirms it. Saint-Exupery is written as "sa-n-te-gu-ju-pe-ri"
Oda replaced the San with a Zan to fit make it a play on the name, but the name of the attack would be spelled "Saint-Exupery".

Other times kanji could be like "Spinning scythes of bloody murder" and the reading could be "corn on the cob" or something completely unrelated to it.

A lot of time, there's subtelty in the word play that can't be translated in any way, so more often than not new attacks are accompanied in our translations with a translator note explaining it. We try to be complete to make sure you're not missing anything, but in the end we still have to decide what goes in the bubble.

Translations are just that. They're never going to be a perfect equivalent of the language, but we strive to bring you translations of a high quality that read naturally in English and that are enjoyable. By learning a little bit about Japanese, it helps you better understand the context and content a bit more. Though a lot of this, you probably pick up on gradually as you read manga on your own, there's always so much I wish I could add with each chapter.

I had a lot more to say, but this is already pretty damn long already. Till next time!

-dzydzydino


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Translating Names in Manga is a Strange Thing

Posted Jul 26th, 2014 by Jinn

There are many issues to face when trying to translate from Japanese to English, as it's not always a direct one to one translation.

In fact, it rarely is.

Many words and idiomatic expressions don't have an English equivalent, some things need cultural context, and so on. Right now though, I wanted to talk about names. Names that aren't native to Japanese in particular.

I'm sure many of you already know this, but written japanese is made up of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.

Kanji are Chinese characters. 忍、念、男、女、刀 星、闇、殺
But of them, Japan has designated roughly 1,945 for general usage. Each one has its own (sometimes multiple) meaning, and multiple pronunciations based on context.

力 means "strength" and is pronounced "chikara" however it can be pronunced "riki" when used in certain combinations.
馬力  bariki   "horsepower" or it could also be "ryoku" when combined here 協力  kyouryoku  "cooperation".

Hiragana and Katakana are Japanese Alphabets. These characters have no meaning on their own. Each is a phonetic (A, Ka, Sa, Ta, Ha, Ma, etc.)

Hiragana are used for native Japanese words and parts of speech. It looks like this:
あのさぁ、ぼくはかめがすきですけど。

Katakana on the other hand is used for non-native Japanese words or certain kinds of emphasis and looks like:
ナンデロボットガカタカナシカシャベレナイ

So for every name that is not a traditional Japanese name, it ends up spelled out phonetically within the constraints of the Japanese Alphabet. While some are fairly obvious or use common conventions for converting to English, others can be much more obscure. There's not necessarily any fully right way to go about it. There may be some outright wrong ways at times, and some almost certainly correct ways but you can never be certain until the author states how it's spelled in English.

For example, let's look at the character who up till recently was known as "Branchi" in Toriko.
His name was spelled out as BU-RA-N-CHI.
The first thing I do as a translator is look at it and see if it resembles any real life names.
Hrmmm...  Nada.
Next, I just go over some possibilities:  Branchie, Branchy, Buranty, etc...
Without finding anything I was too excited about, I stuck with something close to the phonetic pronunciation and hopefully safe... "Branchi." (Was never happy with that.)
Recently, "Buranchi" was revealed to be one of a group of three characters.
The other two were "DI-N-NA-A" and "NO-SHU."
So with "Dinner" and "Nosh" as two parts of a three man set and trying to figure out how "Branchi" fit with that, his name suddenly became obvious:
"Brunch"
Until something gets officially printed, it's pretty much up to the translator's discretion to decide what's gonna pass as a character's name.
Once something appears in canonical print always takes precedence.
That's a general golden rule.

For example, Roronoa Zoro.
I had always assumed the Zoro was after Zorro, the masked fictional character.
(I could be wrong on that part.)
However, as for the name "Roronoa"--
"Roronoa" is undoubtedly "L'Olonnais" from Francois L'Olonnais, a french pirate.
Buuuut his name has appeared as "Roronoa" in print by Oda numerous times, so Roronoa it is.

That's just the tip of the iceberg really. Once you get into the names of attacks and techniques or made-up concepts, along with creative and inventive kanji usage, there's a whole other world of interpretation to deal with. But I think I've rambled long enough for now.

If you found any of this interesting, had any questions about any of the translation process, drop a comment and I'll do my best to get back to you!! I find this stuff interesting myself and thought you might.

Thanks as always for reading.
-dzydzydino


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Content of Naruto Color Pages and Small Rant

Posted Jul 23rd, 2014 by Jinn

Figured we'd write a little blog post about those color pages in this week's chapter, as I'm sure they'll cause a lot of controversy and discussion. So I asked our translator dzydzydino to read them and give us a quick summary. He ended up ranting towards the end, but it makes a good post nonetheless. :D


So, this week's Naruto came with a little two-page color spread before the comic about the upcoming Naruto movie, entitled "The Last" ...which of course launches all kinds of speculation as to whether or not it's actually going to be the last Naruto movie or signifying and upcoming end to the series.

Nothing about that is mentioned. However, we do see some sketches by Kishimoto, who will be writing the story and doing character design for the movie. The pictures we see are of a grown up Naruto, under a title "Curtain Call on a New Era" Naruto Project. Lots of fancy big text like "AT LAST" "LONG AWAITED" "NARUTO PROJECT FINALLY IN ACTION" etc. etc.

Is there a forseeable end in the future of Naruto?

Personally, I think if the series is gonna end, it's either gonna be with Sakura dead or Sasuke. Though who knows... we all might be happily ever after, after all. Or we might be happily reading Naruto in 2020, and Kishimoto and Jump might be happily cashing in on 21 years in print.

If the series is actually ending, I'll probably be a lot more accepting of whatever happens. I know Kishimoto has written some of the Naruto movies before, but after seeing enough non-canonical filler-worthy movies written by assistants and asshats alike, I've stopped watching spinoffy movies.

Though there's something universally fanservice-y about seeing your favorite characters all grown up... like the end of Harry Potter. It's a given though--It's why every major series always has a timeskip. So kids can growup alongside their manga. So fart and boob jokes can turn into Kamehamehas and Rasengans.

Regardless, it's been a long run so far, from its start in 1999 to now, it's 15th year in 2014. My interest has varied from feverish to casual over this series throughout those 15 years, but I have always come back to it at some point.

I happen to be enjoying it currently, and wouldn't mind it ending on a high note as opposed to slowly fading into obscurity and getting cancelled.

Opinions? How do you feel about the story currently? Is the end nigh? Must we repent? Shannaro~


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Naruto - The Conflict between Message and Readers' Expectations

Posted Jul 22nd, 2014 by Jinn

Since the beginning of the series, Naruto spread messages against hatred and war. You could notice it already in the first episode, when Naruto declares his wish to be Hokage and prove himself in the eyes of the villagers who hate him, and later on when Iruka accepts Naruto as a human being and not a monster that killed his parents.

During the pre-Shippuden part, these kind of messages keep popping up in some occasions. For example, Naruto's speech in the Zabuza arc in attempt to explain that ninjas are people with emotions and not just tools of war. But the important thing for this discussion is; the message of the manga was never a main key element in the plot itself at that time.

The focus changed during the Shippuden part, and the message of the series became the main topic of the story. You could see it clearly in the Pain arc and Nagato's ideology of "The Cycle of Revenge". The manga's message, brought to the readers by Naruto, is that hatred and war can be stopped if people choose to cease violence. In this particular case - not killing Nagato and avenging the death of his beloved sensei. Eventually, Naruto beats Nagato by the infamous "Let's Talk no Jutsu" which most of the readers feel uneasy with.

Now, let's discuss recent events. Since Sasuke's defection from Konoha, the readers expected the manga to end with a final clash to the death between him and Naruto, who both were presented as eternal rivals since their bromance in episode 3.

But it's not going to happen.

Why is that? Mainly, because it will contradict the entire message of the manga. This turn of events was hinted since Hashirama's story about the founding of Konoha with Madara in hope to stop the blood spilling between the clans, and became even clearer by Naruto's and Sasuke's recent conversation with the Six Paths - in order to achieve peace, the endless fight between Senju and Uchiha must stop. Naruto and Sasuke fighting to the death now would only mean that nothing has changed.

So here lies the conflict: What should a writer do - fulfill the readers' expectations or stick to his message to the end, whether the readers like it or not?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by adi P. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Fairy Tail Zero & Fairy Tail Ice Trail

Posted Jul 17th, 2014 by Jinn

These two spin-off chapters were serialized in the debut issue of Mashima's own, new monthly, "Monthly Fairy Tail Magazine".

The first, Fairy Tail Zero, details the meeting of the founders of Fairy Tail and exactly what happened between them to lead them to found the guild. Ice Trail is a spin-off manga concerning Gray.

Both were written under Mashima's supervision, but while Mashima personally draws Zero himself, his executive assistant Shirato Yuusuke is the artist behind Ice Trail. Both are therefore official canon. Also published in the magazine are two special art pieces of Natsu and Igneel, which we have included as part of the first chapter.

Both of these series are monthlies and we will continue to cover them as they come out.

 


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Interpretations vs Adaptations

Posted Jul 14th, 2014 by Jinn

I recently watched the Death Note anime and I noticed that, aside from a handful of scene changes, it was almost shot-for-shot with the manga. There was no filler and besides translation differences, the dialogue was pretty well the exact same the entire way through. I found that this actually hurt the anime, as characters continually explaining what they just did really slowed down the action, and there was no improvement on the disappointing ending.

This got me thinking on manga adaptations in general. Manga is a unique form of story telling, as it provides a fully-functioning storyboard within its medium. This means that most anime will just be a colorful, moving read-aloud of the manga they are based on, with almost no artistic liberty given to the script writer or story boarder. As well, seasons are generally not limited to a small, abstract number of episodes, so the story doesn't need to be shortened.

Now, compare this to other stories: novels have to be compressed to fit screen time, so many scenes are removed, added or changed; American comic books have inconsistent plots written by multiple authors, so a few concepts and characters are chosen and turned into a screenplay; most TV series are very episodic, so reboots just create an entirely new plot. This method of interpreting a story, opposed to adapting it, is a double edged sword. Sometimes, through inconsistencies or just sloppy production, the interpretation does not do the source material justice. Meanwhile, there are others that have taken the story above and beyond what it had been before, albeit in a changed fashion.

So, what if we were to apply this concept of “interpretation” to manga? Say an animation company got the rights to reboot a big anime, like Dragon Ball or Full Metal Alchemist (or, most recently, Sailor Moon), this time with the artistic freedom to change the story as they pleased, while keeping to the very bare-bones plot. Would you, as a manga reading community, welcome the change and like to see how things could be done differently? How many of you would say that the changes could somehow “ruin” the source manga, and why? What series would you like to see changed into an interpretation, rather than a simple manga adaptation? Any suggestions of your own on how you would change a favorite story in a more cinematic way?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Adam. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39

 


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Power Scaling And Power Ups

Posted Jul 10th, 2014 by Jinn

Whenever I read manga, one thing I value very highly (since it helps me enjoy the fighting more) is the attention to proper power scaling and balance with regards to power ups. By power scaling I mean keeping in mind a definite level of power and ability for characters and using that to relate to how they fare in battle with their opponents. Even when this isn’t explicitly shown (as in Dragon Ball Z), I find it helps me enjoy it a lot.

An example in One Piece, is seeing Usopp going against Trebol and Sugar, knowing there is no way he can win against them and wondering how Oda is going to pull a victory off. Mangas I think have good attention to power scaling are Feng Shen Ji, One Piece, Soul Eater, Berserk, History’s Strongest, UQ Holder and Negima. Those I believe don’t seem to give it much importance are Bleach (the recent defeat of Zaraki) and Fairy Tail.

With regards to power ups, usually they tend to feel very biased in favour of protagonist when not handled properly. An example, in my opinion are the free christmas (or easter) gifts Naruto and Sasuke got from the Sage of the Six Paths, and Orihimes tears bringing a dead Ichigo back to life with a plethora of abilities suited for dealing with Espada number 4.

What do you think? Do you feel power scaling and power ups need to be handled right in shounen manga or do they just not matter? Has a correct or abysmal handling of them ever made a significant difference in your enjoyment of a manga? If so, can you share those experiences?

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Lightsyde. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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A Consideration of Reading Choices

Posted Jul 3rd, 2014 by Jinn

Have you ever made the decision to step out of your comfort zone and read a manga that you knew little about? Consider the different factors involved in the decision whether or not to give a manga a try.

First off, what drew you to mangas like One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach in the first place? Was it the strong personalities of the characters? Was it the storyline that had you wrapped up from page one? Or was it just because it is popular and you could discuss it with your friends on a weekly basis?

Many previous posts have attempted to generalize these most popular manga series. This is because the most popular manga (OP, Naruto, Bleach) are like popular music: formulaic and catchy. Researchers have determined that pop music is basically crack for your brain. Naruto was the "gateway" manga that got me hooked on the medium, but it is easily not the most meaningful manga I have read.

Manga, like any other art form, can elicit many different emotions from a reader other than just giddy excitement. So please consider what you want from reading manga. Can you suggest a series that is meaningful to you and believe other people should read? To begin, that series for me is Homunculus (Mature/Seinen Drama).

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Zach. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Do you think Bleach should have ended after Aizen's defeat?

Posted Jun 29th, 2014 by Jinn

For a while, I agreed with the argument that Tite Kubo should have ended the manga series, Bleach, when Aizen died. The following arcs after Aizen seemed like Kubo trying to milk his success on Bleach's popularity, and that if it did end with Aizen's defeat, the series would be a master piece.

The fullbring arc felt like a rushed and disappointing excuse to return Ichigo's power in order to continue the series. Even now, this feeling remains. In my opinion, not only was it  terrible, but also boring.

But now with the Quincy's arc, I realised that Kubo's purpose of extending Bleach seems to have more meaning behind it, and that's to answer the mystery between the Shinigami and Quincy, along with the king of Soul Society. This might spoil a little, but Uryuu Ishida's family and past has been very vaguely shown early in the series, showing the struggle of the Quincy's beliefs and the Shinigami's system. There's also the problem with Ichigo's parentage - why is it important for him to belong in both sides of the war? Is Ichigo a "Romeo and Juliet" device, ultimately reuniting the Shinigami and Quincy (possibly through his death) due to his race?

My opinions on whether Bleach should have continued or not changed. I think it's good for Kubo to answer the mysteries he created in the first place, and Bleach is finally getting more and more interesting again. Do you agree? Is there any more mysteries Kubo created previously that hasn't been fully explained? Would you have been satisfied without knowing the past between Quincy and Shinigami?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Rhastae. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Go On, Finish It! But...How?

Posted Jun 24th, 2014 by Jinn

As I was recapitulizing on FMA and how perfect in tune its ending was with the general concept of the series, I got around to thinking about how I would end a manga, specifically a shounen manga. So I presumed I had a series running in Jump for example (yeah, I've been watching / reading Bakuman lately, I admit it), and my editor and I came to the point where we both agree that it's time to move on and let my story end. Would I let the protagonist (or at least deuteragonist) die? Is that marketable? Would people still like it? Would I like it, after all the hours I probably would have put into creating, developing and drawing this little guy or girl for years of my life? Or should I make it a pretty, wibbly-wobbly, timey-dimey... ah, happy ending? Facing a decision like that must be pretty harsh. So I'm asking this: How would you want your favourite shounen series to end?

Now I myself am not really thinking that much about Bleach and Naruto. Possibilities in these two series are getting more and more limited, and I don't want to skip ahead to it. I'm waiting for Kubo-dono and Kishimoto-dono to show us their idea of a satisfying ending. No, personally, I really focused on the road down the Grand Line, speculating (once again) what finale would fit One Piece's and Oda-dono's style the best. I for myself would love to see Luffy not become the Pirate King. Wait, what did he say? Yeah, I love seeing him in the role of the challenger, you know? It's the same with Ippo. Whenever he's defending I'm not nearly half as thrilled as when he's challenging. And I love that about Luffy. He always goes places he's not supposed to, and he always gets it done in a way you wouldn't expect of an established, worldwide-renowned and feared pirate. He's the guy who gets his excitement out of upsetting the odds, as is typical for shounen, I admit. But he does it in his own airheaded, yet totally passionate and awesome way. And even if those upsets will become more and more of a rare sensation as he closes in on the very strongest, I still don't want him to end up as a ruler or a patron or whatever, effectively becoming the strongest guy around.

But that's only me and my strange ideas. How would you want to see it end? What ending would you see fit, if not for One Piece then for Naruto, Bleach or Fairy Tail? Do you even want One Piece to end? Perhaps I don't...

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Crowy. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Romance In Shonen

Posted Jun 17th, 2014 by Jinn

Shonens seem to have some trouble dealing with romantic issues. Yes, obviously there are fantastic mangas about human relationships, but I'm talking about shonen in particular. I've found the way all my favorite shonens handle the relations between the sexes unsatisfactorily to say the least. They tend to skirt around issues of dating and attraction, or simply relegate them to comedic relief moments. I've never quite understood this.

To me, having characters show romantic feelings - and all the joy and heartbreak that goes along with it - is one of the most convincing ways to make characters come alive, to make them endearing and relatable. Characters will ramble on and on about protecting nakama, but what about protecting the woman/man you love? Those feelings should be just as powerful.

It seems the authors are uncomfortable talking about these issues. Is it that they themselves are unsure of how to properly depict their characters in such a way? Do they not know how to write romantic scenes? Or are they afraid they'll bore their younger audiences?

Let me pick on One Piece for a moment, because it's a manga almost all of you have read. What would change if One Piece dealt with mature romantic relationships between the characters? Wouldn't it be entertaining if Nami ever reciprocated Sanji's feelings, if even just a little? Or if Robin and Zoro started showing some feelings for each other? To me these situations would make the Strawhat Crew an even more endearing family. Instead all we get is Sanji's nose bleeding and Brook stealing panties. We all know Oda is a fantastic storyteller, so why has he ignored these potentially captivating story threads?

What do you think? Do you want more romance and relationships in your mainstream shonen, or do you think it's a waste of space? Why do you think this aspect of life has been so overlooked in these works? Are there any shonens you read that get it right?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Stephen. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39


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Implied Deaths vs. Shown Deaths

Posted Jun 9th, 2014 by Jinn

Because of the demographic to which many of our favorite series appeal, implied deaths have become a norm in flagship pieces such as One Piece and Naruto.

In One Piece there are many implied deaths during arcs like Water 7, Impel Down, The Paramount War, etc. I mean how do you feel knowing that Luffy murdered a large number of people while trying to save his brother, i.e. the guards who fell to their deaths in the boiling water/blood, soldiers and pirates during the rescue, etc.?

In Naruto countless Shinobi die without so much as an introduction, whilst a main character like Neji is used as an emotional tool for the readers.

Do you think it’s OK for authors to use secondary characters’ deaths merely as fodder, and use main character deaths as an emotional tool? We aren’t saying that those moments aren’t fun (like when a planet blows up in DBZ) but isn’t it a little bit cavalier in teaching kids in about how little value some lives have, versus the weight that the lives of “important” people have? It would be absolutely impossible to give a voice to every character, and the deaths of the main characters have weight because of our attachment to them. Still, it sometimes bothers me that these fun-loving characters murder all the time. Just a thought.

Do you, our esteemed patrons, ever feel the same?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by James and his crew of two. If you're also interested in submitting your ideas for a blog post, you can find all the instructions on how to become active yourself here: http://mangastream.com/blog/39

 


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The Four Tribes Of Manga

Posted Jun 1st, 2014 by Jinn

While browsing through TED I came across an interesting talk titled “The Visual Magic of Comics”, by Scott McCloud, an American cartoonist who is better known for his nonfiction books about comics. Among the topics he touched on was his categorization of different types of art. McCloud calls it the “four tribes of art”, which can be applied to any medium of art including music, literature, film, and manga.

As the label suggests, there are four groups in McCloud’s classification. The first group of artists are called animists. This group is best characterized by their devotion to transparency of content. They emphasize the substance that comprises their works. The second group, classicists, are devoted to beauty and craft. They seek to perfect the composition of their art, and this goal remains priority above all on their list. The third group, iconoclasts, are devoted to the truth and nothing else. They seek to portray the human experience as it is, as raw as it can be in its truest form. They are couriers carrying authentic messages of the human condition. Last but not least, the formalists are distinguished from the others in their love for experimenting with their art. They are devoted to form, which includes details of style and technique in their art and those of others.

It is important at this point to clarify that no artist can be described as being only “classicist” or only “animist”. This classification is useful because it allows us to identify qualities that every artist possesses, only in different proportions. Needless to say these proportions are what make each artist unique.

With my newly acquired awareness of McCloud’s four tribes of art, I couldn’t help classifying every manga that crossed my mind. For most shonen manga such as One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach, the authors seem to have equal proportions of animist and classicist qualities. Although the plot is crucial, as it is in every story telling medium, because manga is a visual medium its art is equally important, especially because it lays out the world the reader comes into contact with.

With certain seinen manga such as Berserk, I see more of the classicist qualities. The artwork is beautiful, and you can immediately appreciate the amount of effort that must have went in the process of drawing each chapter. The iconoclast qualities of devotion to the truth is also more prevalent in the genre of seinen manga, such as one of my most favorite works, Monster by Urasawa Naoki.

Formalist qualities are very hard to see in manga. Many prominent manga authors have experimented with their technique and developed a style of their own, but in many of the mainstream manga that dominate the markets today, art styles have become standardized. It would be more interesting to see more experimentation on the market, because it is something that has become all too rare.

Scott McCloud’s classification of art gives us a great way to think about manga. Can you identify your favorite works as having the qualities of one or more of these tribes of art? I would love to hear about everyone’s opinions.

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by Brian.


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Pick Your Poison

Posted May 29th, 2014 by Jinn

Every long-running manga generally develops a formula. It is a dreaded, yet sometimes necessary tactic for lengthening a manga. Some mangaka rely too heavily on the formula, and it makes the story stagnant. Others figure out how to keep it exciting, even if the reader knows the general formula. Below are some of the formulas I have noticed in the Big 3, plus a note on DBZ and HxH.

Bleach: Fight a super-strong enemy, and right when things look really bad, get a mega boost and overpower them. Get the enemy against the ropes, only for the enemy to reveal they were hiding their true power all along. Hero gets beaten nearly to death (but you are made to think they are dead). Then another hero (who just got a power boost from secret training) saves the day. Rinse repeat, and nobody but the bad guys die.

Naruto: Present an enemy. That's not your real enemy, but you won't know that until you defeat the decoy. Use team effort to defeat the decoy. Sometime between defeating the decoy and defeating the true enemy, everyone else gets overpowered and they put their trust in Naruto. Naruto has beefed up sometime before the final battle, and OP-Naruto saves the day.

One Piece: The Strawhat Crew is going somewhere, but ADD Luffy gets distracted and decides to do a side mission. The crew eventually splits up (Zoro always gets lost, Sanji always gets distracted by a girl). All of the crew fight someone of greater strength and just barely manage to win. They move on to the next place, slightly stronger, and with a bigger bounty on their hands. (They may or may not have picked up a crew member.)

Hunter x Hunter / Dragonball Z: You fight. You get defeated. You train. You get stronger. Some people die. You fight again. You win. (One story is severely more complex than the other though.)

 

Do you agree with the assessment, or have you found a formula of your own, maybe for a different series? What are your favorite and / or most despised formulas? What do you think about formulas in general? A necessary evil? Did you spot any exceptions to the listed formulas above?

 

Note: This blog post was devised and written by bijun.


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