The Cycle of Media
Although we are focusing on manga in isolation from other forms of media in this exhibition, it is essential to remember that manga are but one form - albeit often the seminal one - in an integrated cycle of mass media that includes fiction, film, animation, television series, fan commentaries, and consumer goods. Simply put, the transposition of a manga into another form of media enhances its importance, reflecting it back on itself in another version, attracting greater attention to it, and allowing fans different ways of interacting with it. The deep connection between manga and anime (Japanese animation) goes all the way back to Tezuka’s foundational Astro Boy, which he animated for television himself. A live action TV series was also made of the story, as well as several animated and live action films. In fact, some famous works, such as Doraemon, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, or Akira, although initiating as manga, are actually better known through their animated television series and/or movies. Nonetheless, it is notable that so many pop culture “franchises,” with branches extending into many different forms of media, have their roots in manga, demonstrating the formative importance of this form.
That said, manga too do not exist outside of the influences of popular fiction and film. In some cases, the origins of a manga, such as Vagabond, lie in fictional works, in this case Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi. All manga derive some of their compositional angles and sequencing from cinematic techniques. Moreover, the themes and stories that dominate manga often derive from subjects popular in the film and fiction of their time. Therefore, we should always consider manga in relation to other forms of media, even when we explore them as a separate medium.