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Hey, Answerman! [2005-10-07]


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Zac
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:52 am Reply with quote
Keonyn wrote:

Listen, I appreciate manga and anime as much as anyone but I'm not going to pretend they are greater than they are. While it doesn't take scholars to determine classics, it does take a degree of time tested acclaim and appreciation outside a bias fanbase. There are billions of books out there, and only a handful of them are considered to truly reach such a level as these classics, we're not talking about the elite, the rarity goes beyond even that.


I don't think I could have put it better myself, to be frank. This is my opinion in a nutshell.

The closest thing to "great literature" in manga that I've read is Tezuka's Buddha stories and maybe Nausicaa. Neither of them I'd consider as good as something like To Kill a Mockingbird or anything by Mark Twain, and certainly they aren't as globally recognized and beloved. That's not to say that someday Tezuka's stories - which are probably considered great literature in Japan, but certainly not in America yet - or Nausicaa won't one day be considered great literature, but that day hasn't come yet.

Also, I'd argue that Yu Yu Hakusho is not great children's lit. It's violent and cliched. It's a fun story, to be sure, but it's no better or worse than One Piece or Inuyasha or Dragonball or Naruto, because it follows the same formula as those do, which are mostly violent and cliched. Fun reads and easy to love, yes. Great children's lit? No more than your average Superman comic.
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Tenchi



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
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Location: Ottawa... now I'm an ex-Anglo Montrealer.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:27 pm Reply with quote
Mohawk52 wrote:
You could always get a multi-media projector and project it on a screen, or even your wall, and invite some friends over for an anime party?


That would entail me having several things I don't currently have.

Let me itemize them:

  • A projector.
  • A screen.
  • Friends.
  • A large-enough room for a projector set-up to be worth it.
  • Money with which to acquire the aforementioned items, excluding friends, plus a decent supply of anime which aren't extremely limited-appeal "acquired taste" titles, which is what the bulk of my anime collection is.


Plus, at the old-fashioned "watch or leave" kind of clubs, I get to sample a diverse selection of anime I might not otherwise bother watching, even if I could somewhat easily rent them. (I'm from the VHS fansub generation of fandom, so I'm not into the whole "downloading" scene, and I generally don't care for watching cartoons that aren't Homestar Runner on my computer anyway.)
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Keonyn
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 1:24 pm Reply with quote
Interesting articles Proman, but they still fail to really equate the works as world renowned literary masterpieces, but there's no mistake the author of the article loved them. We're still talking maybe 50 to 100 titles among billions. It takes a few articles to truly demonstrate how great something is, but still the literary classics are on a level quite above greatness. It's possible some manga may get to the point they reach that level, but as is often the case with these things we'll likely all be in nursing homes or dead before they really reach that level as it takes a degree of time tested international prestige and respect of the artwork to reach that point.
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Proman



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 1:56 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
Also, I'd argue that Yu Yu Hakusho is not great children's lit. It's violent and cliched. It's a fun story, to be sure, but it's no better or worse than One Piece or Inuyasha or Dragonball or Naruto, because it follows the same formula as those do, which are mostly violent and cliched. Fun reads and easy to love, yes. Great children's lit? No more than your average Superman comic.


I see your point, but it actually reaffirms the point I've made earlier about "great" children's literature not having the same standards as other "great" literature. I think that it does what it's supposed to do (i.e. keeps kids interested). And what's wrong with the fact that it's violent? One can argue that it's actually oine of the series' strengths (and besides, it's kind of hard to how an action series without at least some ammount of violence). It's this action, not the storyline the makes "Yu Yu Hakusho" interesting. Is it cliched? Yes, in some ways it is (and it probably seems more cliched now because of all the imitators it helped spawn) but it's not that bad.

Also, your comment on Superman comics (regardless of its overall validity) shows a certain ammount of pre-existing stigma that many people seem to have about graphic literature in general. A lot of people seem to think that simply due to its format manga has a set of limitations (which is a completely false claim - it's not the format ut the people who work with that format that ultimately determain whether or not a particular piece is going to be great). I think part of it is due to the fact that most of us read a lot more traditional books in our lifetimes than we read manga. Plus a great overall selection of traditional books that we have in most parts of the world, compared to manga, allows us to be more picky. That is why we have a lot easier time trying to come up with "great" novels than "great" mangas. Still, I think it's a point that needs to be made.
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Zac
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 3:41 pm Reply with quote
[quote="Proman"]
Zac wrote:

Also, your comment on Superman comics (regardless of its overall validity) shows a certain ammount of pre-existing stigma that many people seem to have about graphic literature in general. A lot of people seem to think that simply due to its format manga has a set of limitations (which is a completely false claim - it's not the format ut the people who work with that format that ultimately determain whether or not a particular piece is going to be great). I think part of it is due to the fact that most of us read a lot more traditional books in our lifetimes than we read manga. Plus a great overall selection of traditional books that we have in most parts of the world, compared to manga, allows us to be more picky. That is why we have a lot easier time trying to come up with "great" novels than "great" mangas. Still, I think it's a point that needs to be made.


I'm a pretty big comics fan and I'd argue that some American graphic novels come very close to being great literature; one of them, Maus, by Art Speigelman, I believe is actually worthy of the title. I haven't read anything close to that caliber in manga and I assure you if I had, I would be the first to crow about how it deserves a place in the pantheon of great classic literature. It isn't really about bias, to be honest. Great childrens' lit is like The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, not Dragonball Z volume 14.

I mean, I love Frank Miller (although his recent work on All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder is kind of Rolling Eyes )and Warren Ellis, and Transmetropolitan is something I'd consider really great, but again, none of these are really even close to being considered "great literature" by pretty much any system of judgement we have.
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kirtai



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:06 pm Reply with quote
Ahem. English teacher here. I'm not claiming that makes me an expert of what constitutes "great literature" but I am saying that I had to wade through a truckload of so-called "great literature" to get the shiny piece of paper hanging on my wall.

You're having a futile debate here. First of all, comic books aren't literature, just the same as movies aren't literature, and music isn't literature. It doesn't demean the art form in anyway, it just goes into a different category. It tells a story a different way. I think the discussion that is trying to take place is whether comics can tell a story as artfully and with as much mastery as any "great" literature. I say yes they can. Most of those classics people harp on are only in your English books because they PHYSICALLY stood the test of time. Beowulf isn't great unto itself, it is just the only piece of literature we have from that period, so you have to read it in high school.

I'm not saying that they aren't good reading, but to me, great literature tells a compelling story that applies to the heart of humanity. It has real characters that act in a real and believable way to a given situation, no matter how unreal. When the author can make us connect with the character, so that his experiences become ours and we learn something of ourselves from reading it, that is great storytelling, whether it is a song, a play, a movie, a book, a comic, or even a T.V. show.

If you can use your art form to bring an idea to life in an original way for the consumer of that art, you have achieved greatness, in my opinion. I think there are a lot of mangas that do that. Some manga are cliche, but there is no such thing as an original story. They are all based on human experience.


Ack! I can go on and on on this subject, but I better stop. Please enjoy my soapbox and disagree with me.
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ANN_Bamboo
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 5:35 pm Reply with quote
Just because something is entertaining doesn't really make it great. Sure, Nancy Drew is entertaining, but I wouldn't call it great literature. It's the same with comics. There are comics with great stories and deep characters, but just because they're enjoyed by thousands of people, it doesn't necessarily make them great literature.

Having a great story isn't the only prerequisite for being great literature. There're several parts that go into such a distinction, and help differentiate between a truly great work of literature, and something that's merely entertaining or engaging.

Heck, sometimes it's not even the storyline that really matters. Take, say, Beloved by Toni Morrison. Honestly, the story is pretty standard and basic, but no one even notices that, or cares about it, because that's really only 1% of the entire experience. People admire it for its style, its portrayal of womanhood, its comments about "the black experience," etc.

Anyone can write a good story or a pretentious poem. Walk into Barnes & Noble and you'll see shelves upon shelves upon shelves of good stories, but a work of truly good literature is more than just that. I love the story for Chrono Crusade, but 500 years from now, I doubt anyone will be putting it on summer reading lists.
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Genjackel



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 8:30 pm Reply with quote
It's hard to state what is literature. A comic book can be literature as it tells a compelling story and will draw the reader into its world. As can a movie or music. It depends on the persons definition of what literature it. To me literature simply is something that tells a story which places many things under literature. However for something to be considered a piece of great literature, it takes a lot more then that. For something to be considered great literature, not the person, but society has to confirm that. For me, I did not enjoy the tale of two cities, but I know that it is a great novel because it has influenced and been influenced by great events. I mean, I think Tom, Dick, and Jane would be considered a great piece of literature.
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remember love



Joined: 24 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:32 pm Reply with quote
kirtai, no offense but I disagree with you and agree with Genjackel. There more forms of literature then just books as there are different forms of art. Art has different forms raning from pictures to sculpture to just someone standing still for an extreme amount of time in a strange way. Literature is the same. Literature has many forms from books to poetry to plays to manga to comic books to even movies. To me a movie counts as a play because what is a play but actors going through a story difference between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet the play and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet the movie is one seen away from a stage and the other you see live people.

I'm not here to argue with you kirtai just expressing my feelings on this and my belief is that there are forms to literature and comic books and manga are apart of it.

Now I'm not saying that manga should just automatically count as Great literature because I don't believe that. To become great literature you must overcome time and you need for everyone even people who hate the literature to think of it as great literature. Like, All Quiet on the Wetern Front by Erich MAria Remarque I wasn't totally in love with it but people were. With the telling of a grim war,the styling of writing, and philosophical views it became one of the "Great Literature" of it's time.
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Bruce Lee



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:03 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
...I'd argue that some American graphic novels come very close to being great literature; one of them, Maus, by Art Speigelman, I believe is actually worthy of the title. I haven't read anything close to that caliber in manga and I assure you if I had, I would be the first to crow about how it deserves a place in the pantheon of great classic literature.


I'm 100% behind you with that comment. Here I was thinking I was the only one who read Maus. I actually thought the Anime was based on this story. Embarassed

But 1 more thing we all need to keep in mind - Manga is a relatively new art form. Sure, it's been going strong in Japan for some time now, but not until recently has it made its big break here in North Amerca. This makes the majority of us from the US and Canada biased. IMHO, it's unfair to compare Shounen Jump to Shakespeare or Clamp to Cannery Row.

Shakespeare's most popular works weren't fully appreaciated until after he was dead. More recently, Steinbeck was criticized in his day. And even though it's not literature, Weezers 2nd album Pinkerton, which was panned by the critics, is now considered a classic.

Okay, that last example might not mean as much, but it goes to prove my point. Manga is new here in North America. Once the generation who grew up with it have children who grow up with it, and their children have children who grow up with it, we'll renew this conversation. I'd bet that we'll have more than a handfull of classics.
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remember love



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:09 pm Reply with quote
So Bruce Lee would you agree with me that manga is a form of literature?
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Proman



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:38 pm Reply with quote
remember love wrote:
So Bruce Lee would you agree with me that manga is a form of literature?

I would definitely agree with you. I think saying that manga is not literature is, quite simply, ridiculous. There is a reson why we all say that we reading manga, as opposed to watching it. Just because manga contains pictures, in addition to text, does not prevent it from being literature.
By the way, one of the many official definitions of literature is simply "Printed material". I think that remember love's definition of literature is just his own interpretation of what literature can be (and I dare say, a rather limited interpretation at that).

By the way, I've read Pulitzer Prize winning "Maus" and "Maus II" and it is, indeed, a great piece of work.
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remember love



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:24 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
I think that remember love's definition of literature is just his own interpretation of what literature can be


You're right it is. But I was useing examples of why I consider them literature. And I think I did a good job of doing it. If I have to consider shakspeare plays literature when that has to do with the "stage" then I will say movies are just as much literature because they go through same motion.
No to argue with you or anything Proman just my opinion which I will always defend to the fullest. Wink
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Proman



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:44 pm Reply with quote
remember love wrote:
Quote:
I think that remember love's definition of literature is just his own interpretation of what literature can be


You're right it is. But I was useing examples of why I consider them literature. And I think I did a good job of doing it. If I have to consider shakspeare plays literature when that has to do with the "stage" then I will say movies are just as much literature because they go through same motion.
No to argue with you or anything Proman just my opinion which I will always defend to the fullest. Wink

I understand. I also want to say thart while I may disagree with you I still respect your opinion. Personally, I think that as long as plays work as a written text (and Shakespear's plays work extremely well) they can be considered literature. I apply the same logic to things like screenplays as well.
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Andromeda



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:56 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Quote:
I'm sure you've heard this question thousands of times, but I'm just curious. Anyways, getting to my more important question...Does someone with your anime experience understand FLCL or Furi Kuri completely? As far as I know, not very many people do, but everyone seems to enjoy the show none-the-less.


I think a lot of people find themselves confused by the chaotic art direction of FLCL, and in turn think that because the style of the show is so over-the-top and bizarre that the story is also really confusing and nonlinear. I mean, the sequence of events - although the events themselves are strange and surreal at times - makes sense and follows a pretty basic coming-of-age story, albeit one populated by robots and aliens and all manner of anime trappings. The show plays by its own rules, and while the logic it uses is twisted, it does follow through. What's not to understand, really? Again, the events themselves are weird, but the story isn't told in a confusing or experimental fashion; the plot moves from point A to point B just like every other anime out there.

Watch it again with this mindset and tell me if you still think the show's confusing or nonsensical. This is kinda like saying you don't understand or can't comprehend The End of Evangelion; frankly, it just isn't that hard to piece it all together. Some people get so thrown off by surreal imagery that they focus on that and lose sight of the storyline, which might be hard to follow if you aren't paying strict attention but really isn't very complex. There's nothing wrong with that, but watching something again with a clearer head - and maybe a better understanding of the series' visual style - might clear it up for you.


You know, I might be wrong about this... but I think they're actually referring to the references in it, more than the quirky storytelling style. I noticed references to Cutey Honey in at least one episode, for instance, and other anime or manga, many of which are quite obscure to most American fans, especially the really, really casual ones who tune in to Adult Swim but don't really follow the fandom much.

Or, little things like... in tonight's episode, the girl had the two lit lighter things on her head, which if you're a bit more familiar (than some are, at least) with Japanese culture or at least have seen more anime/manga, you'll recognize as an image seen in certain horror... things... (I think), only it's usually candles. I think it has something to do with exorcisms, but I can't be at all sure. Anybody know for sure where it stems from? I've seen it at least once or twice and I THINK somebody told me once that it had something to do with exorcisms, but my memory is often notoriously unreliable and who really depends on something a completely random online stranger with no academic or journalistic credit says? Wink

Additionally, some scenes, like the one where the teacher is trying to teach kids how to use chopsticks, it's sort of hard to tell whether this is a parody or homage to some scene in something somewhere, or a cultural thing, or included just for pure humor purposes.

Of course, this is one of the things that makes FLCL so much darn fun in my opinion; when you watch it the first time, you can just enjoy it for the story and characters and humor and the funky animation and cool music, and maybe catch little references and feel all knowledgeble. Then, the more knowledge you get of the culture and pop culture of Japan (Cutey Honey being one example I already mentioned), the more little things you catch, and that makes it all the better during repeat viewings. Sort of like Excel Saga for me, I like to watch that one without the ADVidnotes first, to see what I can catch on my own and to just enjoy it, and then I watch it with the Vidnotes to see what I missed and learn something fun or interesting. Very Happy


I could be wrong, but this may actually be what they meant (or not. You never know...). Yeah, the basic story is simple, but the references are many and varied, and it gets more fun and more interesting the more you find out or know about Japan and its pop culture (or, I should probably say, it's geek/nerd culture, as some of the references are no doubt aimed at the fanboy base, which Gainax quite often... is there a politer word for "panders to"? Because they're... sort of nice about it, or at least, they have fun with it, but they certainly do like to play with the hardcore otaku. I've heard they pretty much started out as otaku, though, so this makes sense. Feel free to correct me if I've got any of this wrong).

So yeah... that MIGHT be what they meant. Does anybody know of a good fansite that looks at some of the references? I wonder if the Anime Companion has anything on it yet... I haven't read all of volume 2 yet and haven't checked out the site, so I wouldn't know (major pimpage for The Anime Companion, by the way. AWESOME book, and if you really want to understand Japanese culture and pop culture as it's referenced or portrayed in anime more, it's brilliant for that, being that that's it's central purpose).


-Andromeda
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