In a previous post, My Beautiful Laundrette , I made comments on Japanese laundrettes with comparisons to ones in the UK. England. As with most interiors which require a waiting action, there is plenty of literature to keep one occupied, which brings me to the topic of this post, Japanese comics.
Japanese comics have been a very popular form of pop culture over here since the early 1950s and are read by all ages. Manga, as they are commonly known, is big business, making millions and the comics are translated into many languages across the globe. A typical manga comic is printed in black and white and on very thin paper. They come in various size formats, which caters for the consumers young and old. For instance, the One Piece B5-sized comic, popular with students, can be easily stored in a student’s school bag. Then, there are the bulky and cumbersome-looking comic books, very uncharacteristic in Japanese design in my view. They have the appearance of an old telephone directory or car manual . Seeing middle-aged businessmen taking these weighty-looking objects out of their suitcases fascinates me.
Manga comes in a wide range of genres such as romance, sports, school life, gangs, mystery and fantasy. The comics range from the tame to the ones with a high violent and sexual graphic content. You also have to bear in mind, what we think in the West is explicit might be considered tame in the East. It’s the comics which depict Japanese social realism which I find engaging. Just by leafing through this comic at the laundrette, I see familiar themes and issues in the narrative- high school girl titilation, yanki and bosozoku subcultures, sexual behaviour, noodle slurping, suicide, modern living, dinky interiors, mansions, communting to work and educational environments.