On the problem of defining manga: A study about the influence of Taoism and Zen Buddhism on manga aesthetics
RésuméSince the expansion of Japanese comic books throughout western countries, the so-called “manga style” has get attention from audiences and theorists. But how can we identify such Japaneseness? Trying to fulfill readers` interests, books have been published under the how-to-draw-manga label, usually highlighting the visual composition of characters, from clothes to facial expressions to hairstyle. From the academic perspective, particularities of page layout have been also considered since Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle`s idea of tabularity. Such structuralist perspective is also echoed by contemporary scholars such as Benoît Peeters and Thierry Groensteen. Investigations on what is called the “grammar of mangas” were also proposed by Neil Cohn or Scott McCloud (or at least based on his contributions). But what are they referring to by “manga”? Artists from all around the world translate mangas into transnational experiences. This study proposes a wider understanding of the manga narrative style and its particular aesthetic influence on readers. The study focuses on the Asian philosophies of Tao and Buddhism, identifying how their ideals are articulated to promote reader’s immersion in the narrative. The article investigates the visual representations of the Taoist idea of vacuum and the Zen idea of trivia, which characterize the visual and narrative fluidity of manga – especially those whose stories are based on everyday life.
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