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INTEREST: Manga Artist Criticizes Messages in Pop Culture Validating Mediocrity


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Valhern



Joined: 19 Jan 2015
Posts: 916
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:18 am Reply with quote
Well this poses an interesting question I often don't see from Japanese authors.

For starters, I wouldn't believe that authors use this message of "It's okay to not try" to sell, my best guess is that they do believe in it, and my worst is that they do believe in it but haven't given it much thought. I do believe there are other things authors deliberately do to grab attention, but that's a different topic.

Now, it's interesting that this author (I don't know him particularly) is trying to take the old idealism of modernity. I'm sure Japan has gone through modernity in it's own particular way, but as he describes it, it seems to be similar to what happened in a lot of countries: the idea of indefinite progress thanks to science, and all you had to do was work, and maybe study.

What this guy is proposing the old debate of "ye olde days were better!" Believing that society was just because it's got clear standars and goals and "life was simpler" is outright forgetting how a capitalist society works, and why things are the way they do, just because life seems to be working correctly.
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Snakebit1995



Joined: 25 Apr 2015
Posts: 842
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:23 am Reply with quote
He's kinda right. This whole everybody wins and we can all succeed is just junk. Sometimes Life sucks and you don't always get to win, and while it's fine to be optimistic you can't expect everything to come to you just cause you "Tried hard enough."

Jobs don't want the guy working 100% they want the above and beyond ones, those going 110%.

I don't mean to be political but this whole Everyone wins, don't get offended bullcrap is what worries people for the future. If all our college graduates start thinking that everything will be handed to them and they live in a nice safe bubble nothing will ever get done.
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FenixFiesta



Joined: 22 Apr 2013
Posts: 2581
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:46 am Reply with quote
It depends on what the message actually is, and even the commenting author doesn't seem completely solid on what an alternate message should be.

A general message of "life is easy" is certainly a day dream at best, and alternatively a message of "join a group/corporation and be completely obedient" is also no sure fire method to happiness.
The "simple" truth is that life IS complicated, you can put an honest effort into your job and find yourself unemployed because of national economic shifts.

To what the author's current point probably is, there may need to be a shift away from day dream scenario's where a lead protagonist automatically win's at life and he is "just like you!" so all you need to do is some minor effort and suddenly "you are the greatest person in the world!"
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Actar



Joined: 21 Nov 2010
Posts: 1074
Location: Singapore
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:46 am Reply with quote
The thing is, there's a difference between "accepting yourself for who you are" and "not giving a shit". I really hope he's not conflating the two. Yes, there was a time where salarymen had to dedicate themselves to their companies in order to be accepted (particularly during the post-war era where they were known as corporate warriors). I think his issue is that the younger generation is now far more interested in pursuing individual goals that putting company before self.

Last edited by Actar on Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:52 am; edited 3 times in total
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Kougeru



Joined: 13 May 2008
Posts: 5539
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:49 am Reply with quote
^ I agree with Snakebit except that it's literally impossible to try "110%". Most people just don't come close to trying 100% normally.

This mangaka isn't wrong at all. There's scientific evidence that has shown that when EVERYONE is rewarded, the end result in children's progress is worse than if we only reward those who deserve it. Positive re-enforcement only works when they've actually done something good. Coming in last and getting a trophy for it rewards coming in last...nothing more. Saying "Good job" for trying, but not giving them a trophy generally still tells them they did, but that they need to work harder to get that trophy. Or, if they're really THAT bad, it shows them that sometimes you lose in the world. Better to learn it in something that doesn't matter like children's soccer than to suddenly learn it in the real world...
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Touma



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
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Location: Colorado, USA
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:59 am Reply with quote
I think that he is overestimating the influence of manga and underestimating the ability of people to distinguish between fiction and reality.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 3442
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:08 pm Reply with quote
It's a pretty complex issue and a lot could be lost in translation so I'm not sure I actually agree with him, but I think I mostly do.

Personally I think my worry is more that a lot of protagonist end up succeeding no matter what and in way where there own involvement and effort are meaningless. So for example a character has a unique super power or gain a super power trough random luck but then the story try to spin it in a way that make it seems like it was trough his own personal effort.

At the same time I think there's a lot of merit in the "you're perfect the way you are", its completely bullshit, but I think its important that younger kid aim for stuff that they're good at and enjoy doing rather than whatever is seen as most valuable in society. I see kid aiming for med school who are obviously not gonna make it every day (not because society is cruel, but because there's thousands of other kid just as or more talented trying at the same time and there's limited number of place, if they make it then some other kid will have his dream crushed, its a zero sum game). I think it be a lot more healthy for them to aim for something they'll be able to do, rather than fruitlessly try to be something they'll never be able to.

Another aspect is that nobody want to read story about loser, so having a story where the main character tries his best but end up failing would probably not be very interesting. In that sense I guess he's right that they do it to sell more, but they can't do anything about what there audience want.
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Kartonnendozen



Joined: 28 Jun 2016
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:31 pm Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
Another aspect is that nobody want to read story about loser, so having a story where the main character tries his best but end up failing would probably not be very interesting. In that sense I guess he's right that they do it to sell more, but they can't do anything about what there audience want.


Except in Germany And The Netherlands. Rolling Eyes
But maybe it is the schadenfreude aspect of Not being the loser.
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
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Location: New York
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:32 pm Reply with quote
He does point out why I hate My Hero Academia so much.

But yeah, life is hard, but those older works had a message of optimism. Life is hard, but dammit, hard work will make it pay off. None of this "don't bother" or worse "everything will fall into your lap." Life can suck, but the people who work at it, with any luck, should be able to make it suck less.
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Suena



Joined: 27 May 2012
Posts: 289
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:46 pm Reply with quote
If he's talking about not liking stories where the main character gets everything by doing nothing, then I do agree that it's not a great message (and I think we see a lot of that in badly-written young adult books here).

But at the same time, it's well known that Japan doesn't have the best environment for improving mental health. Many mental illnesses lower your sense of self-worth and achievement. Why work hard if nothing you do will be worthwhile?

For these people, there is value in celebrating what little you do have. Reading these kinds of stories can help them feel better about themselves (i.e. give them the perspective that healthy-minded people have about themselves), and that might be what gives them the courage to go out and try more. So I can't trash it, because this kind of "affirming" stuff has actually been very helpful for me.

In other words, different kinds of stories are enriching for different kinds of people at different times in their lives.
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:48 pm Reply with quote
I think the interview subject phrases his words a bit too vaguely for my tastes. Celebrating success when it is earned shouldn't be scorned.
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Camiru Mylle



Joined: 22 Oct 2011
Posts: 141
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:53 pm Reply with quote
Beatdigga wrote:
He does point out why I hate My Hero Academia so much.


This. Ukh, the overall impression I have of this series ever since I read it was mediocre up until now. How is this so damn popular? No no, I get it.

I mean really, it's okay to have stories that are times cliché. But when it's so done to the point you don't see just a tiny bit uniqueness to it.... then ugh.

About the article.

Quote:
"I'm wonderful just the way I am," "each of us is special by nature,"

People don't need to elaborate that phrase again and again. It's just makes them insecure for some reason.
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lys



Joined: 24 Jun 2004
Posts: 1012
Location: mitten-state
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:55 pm Reply with quote
Touma wrote:
I think that he is overestimating the influence of manga and underestimating the ability of people to distinguish between fiction and reality.

I think the messages seen in manga can often be a reflection/product of cultural beliefs and trends... but also can then inspire or encourage readers in one direction or another, too.

One silly example: I've been reading Viz's release of QQ Sweeper recently: a supernatural story that involves cleaning (sweeping, scrubbing away dirt) to keep away "bugs" that invade one's mind. I don't need to believe the premise is real to take away the message that, hey, maybe I could work a little harder at keeping my home tidy and clean.

Conversely, I loved the recent Tanaka-kun is Always Listless anime, but did have to resist the temptation to fall into "listlessness" myself after watching (so it was a good thing it aired on Saturdays here...). It's fun escapism now and then, but if the media I consume were full of this kind of message, I could see myself gradually being swayed.
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jdnation



Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 2020
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:02 pm Reply with quote
Beatdigga wrote:
He does point out why I hate My Hero Academia so much.


Wait, what? I'm trying to figure this out... Having only seen the anime, how does My Hero Academia advance mediocrity being rewarded?
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 4016
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:03 pm Reply with quote
Think the message is "You don't have to PUSH to succeed, you don't have to be #1 to feel good about yourself, and you don't have to struggle to be something you don't want to be."
And, ahem, no, that's meant in the sense of a post-Recession generation that realizes the 80's Corporate-Samurai culture the society maintains to believe in during a struggling economy just isn't working in the current times, and just wants to be their own selves pursuing their own creative interests.
(Which is a common wish among the manga/anime culture.)

Those in the current Abe era, nostalgically brought up on the "Ganbare!" generation, can't quite get their heads around the idea of not running into the sunset to be #1--"Isn't the world of ("Aim For the Ace") better?"--and join the general societal lumping of newly independent graduates who don't want to be peer-pressured in with the evil, irresponsible NEET culture who crawled into a corner and (they believe) protested their right not to work and succeed.
For us, it's not like the 60's, it's more like when the corporate 80's became the comfortable parenting/good-cause 90's, and we joked about those "Yuppies buying Volkswagens and moving to Vermont" and said they'd be "Moving back in with their parents five years later".
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