Manga Hokusai Manga at the Ateneo Art Gallery

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Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master’s Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics 

The exhibit runs until July 28 at the Ateneo Art Gallery.

An international traveling exhibition organized by the Japan Foundation is an exploration of the similarities and differences between Katsushika Hokusai’s manga and modern Japanese manga, with works from seven contemporary manga artists from the basis and influence of Hokusai’s manga.

Before I checked out the exhibit, I attended “Manga and the ‘Manga-esque’:
Shifting Definitions and Perspectives,” a lecture by Dr. Karl Ian Uy Cheng Chua, director of the Ateneo de Manila University – Japanese Studies Program. 

The talk centers on how “manga” and the perceptions of “manga” have changed, and how “manga” is consumed and produced in the Philippine context. The talk hopes to present the expansive reach and influence of manga, as well the problems it can encounter overseas.

Dr. Chua started by asking ‘what is manga?’ My answer to that — it’s a drawing with a story, it has Japanese characters, has Japanese context, it has panels and dialogue balloons, that it is read from right to left, and that it’s a source material for anime and film adaptations. I didn’t say it though, it was just in my head while talking to myself. 


To me, I think of manga as very Japanese because it’s highly culturally-rooted. It’s no longer manga to me when there’s no element of being Japanese in it — not the creator, not the story, nothing; even though the style is like a manga, I would only call it copying a manga but not a manga.

I was in a dilemma when Dr. Chua showed on the presentation some examples and I found myself at loss and confusion if it’s manga or not.

I realized that defining manga is complex as there’s no standard definition as compared to Hokusai’s manga. The definition and perceptions as to whether one is to be called a manga is now not only based on the cultural appropriateness of the content — the style, story, and characters. It’s expansive and ever-changing depending on one’s basis and analysis on why one would categorize it as manga whether it’s made by a Japanese mangaka or not. 

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