Friday, February 26, 2016

Black History Month with Anime 2.0

Artist Credit!

Hello everyone! Hopefully you're enjoying February, the month of love and history! Specifically speaking,  February is Black (African-American) History Month. In many cases, Black History Month gets pushed to the side which is an unfortunate incident. However, I believe that it deserves a spotlight, even in mediums not directly related to such culture, like anime.

First and foremost, I'd like for you guys to check out my previous Black History Month Anime post, from last year. It was my first time writing on such a topic and I believe you'll find some interesting things there, as well as diverse characters. If you have the time please give it a read.

With that out of the way, I'd like to welcome you to my second post on this holiday; version 2.0. Last time I focused mostly on the presence of dark-skinned character, black or not, in anime. Surprisingly, a lot of characters fit into this list. The moral to take from that previous post is simple; even though such characters can be stereotyped, I appreciate anime for including them and allowing such a diverse work.

This time around, I'd like to discuss the importance of having this holiday and celebrating or including characters inside and outside of anime and the community. Also I'd like to focus on what the inclusion of such people or characters teaches us as anime fans and otaku.

Black Cosplay Leads to More Creativity

Ikkitousen Kanu Black Cosplay
Cosplay Source ~ Kanu from Ikkitousen

The first thing that comes to mind is black involvement in the anime community. One of the most prevalent examples is cosplay. Cosplay is a touchy subject due to the natures of character's outfits, and appearances. Anime features such exquisite designs that it's easy for people to get upset when a character isn't portrayed perfectly. There have been numerous cases of this in the past, but my take on this is a little different.

I believe that sometimes we have to let go of the mentality that "the original is always better." There has to be room for creativity somewhere along the line. I believe that black cosplayers (and other people of color) provide this to the overall community by dressing up as characters that don't share their skin or hair color. 

So I can say that I appreciate these cosplayers and their wonderful cosplay. Without them, we would be going by the book on every little detail of cosplay, which is something that isn't necessarily bad, but should be done in moderation. 

Diversity in Anime

Elbia Hanaiman Outbreak Company
Elbia Hanaiman from Outbreak Company

Black or dark-skinned characters provide more than just presence, they allow anime to continue being a diverse medium. If anything, they continue to inspire a trend of diversity.  Again this keeps anime from falling into the pattern of focusing or including the same character types again and again. In fact, a few of these characters stand out from the crowd based on their skin color. 

All things aside, a lot of these characters in anime are important play a essential role in the story. Naruto without Killer Bee would lead to the ninja not learning to control the nine tails, overall making him a weaker character. 

The whole story arc in that series would have to be changed, because of a single character's absence. Without these characters certain series would not even exist, especially ones where they are in the main character role.

Diverse Backgrounds Teach Empathy

Amy and Ledo from Suisei no Gargantia

Lastly, I believe that having varying backgrounds and people with different appearances allows us to learn and experience more. On top of that, we can become more open-minded and connect more with other people. It is important to feel comfortable with our own race and appearance yes, but by appreciating others you can learn to love all types of people, and overall become a well-balanced person.

Thus, this is one of the main lessons I find in anime, regardless of which one I watch. This is also the one I feel that many fans can connect with the most. We draw pictures of characters we love, we wear clothing and dress up as them, and do tons of other things to celebrate and express our feelings. It's amazing that we are able to love a character that may be different than us on the outside, but similar on the inside. This is something that we do without thought, that can apply to real life.

I believe that without Black History, without the black race, and without people of color; anime itself would lose a little bit of it's magic. So I appreciate these factors for keeping anime the way we know and love!

So please, even if you don't come from an African-American background, remember that Black History Month exists and respect it. It's an important holiday built on many things, some which can be found in what we love; especially anime.

Thank you all for reading this post, and I hope to bring more to you in the future!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Anime versus Manga: A Quick Comparison


When picking up a series, most fans usually have a decision to make;watch the anime, read the manga, or perhaps both. In some cases, the two are exactly alike. They feature the same plot, same characters, and the same story elements, with the difference being the medium. For more unique situations, the anime and manga can be completely different and offer a new perspective to the general story line.

With this in mind, we might then ask, what makes a manga worth reading and what makes an anime worth watching? What makes one more preferable over the other? Could we go as far to say that one medium is better than the other? Today, we'll take a look at both, and decide whether this is true or not.

So the very first thing to do is to see what they have to offer. While there are many similarities (such as telling a story, introducing decent art, and more) there are also numerous differences.

Comparison Between the Two

Manga Aspects

One of the biggest reasons why I love reading manga is the fact that it offers comments from the creator. Now this isn't present in every manga, but it's quite interesting to see side entries pop up during manga chapters stating the writer's feelings and trials when creating the manga. Not only this, but it makes me feel even better when I purchase the manga because it lets me support them as well! (Although I understand that this is quite difficult depending on the series/person.)

On top of this, the manga is usually the starting point or the original work. Have you ever witnessed an anime then gone on to the manga just to realize how different it is? What about reading a manga then grimacing at how much is removed in the actual anime? For me, I know both cases all too well. There are times when changes are good, but there are other times when the original is more appealing.

The third positive aspect is a big benefit for me and many others; reading speed. The main reason why I don't watch as much anime anymore, is that there's little time in my day for it. The same goes for many others who work a full time job or who are students. Thus, reading is a bit more convenient because were not limited to 24 minute episodes or other fixed intervals.

Another big aspect is that manga is somewhat limited in it's means and resources, however this places power in the audience's shoes. We have to create the voices, the music, the atmosphere, and mostly everything aside from the story and visuals. There's a lot more imagination involved and I love that!

Lastly, manga tends to offer a completely different side of the story. We are either allowed to see things in perspectives that we normally wouldn't view in anime, or we're given more time and ease to view them. The story may be nearly-identical to it's anime version, but there's no doubt that differences will exist somewhere or another.

Anime Aspects

On the other hand, anime has quite to offer as well. One thing manga can't match is the liveliness of anime. Although characters usually have great stories and amazing personalities, anime really flushes these out and brings them alive. Without anime, I believe such characters wouldn't feel as real or as human as we are.

As an aid to this cause; voice, music, and SFX play a heavy role in the liveliness of anime. Manga readers unfortunately get the short end of the stick in this regard, as sfx (sound effects) have to be written out in the manga world. Anime openings and endings also have a tendency to get stuck in the heads of viewers and the simple melody of them can easily remind a fan of their favorite anime moments.

We can continue to connect the dots, as these aspects allow for further characterization and development of the characters. Nowadays a voice can make or break a character. It can guide viewers and act as a foil to their personality. On the other side, it can misguide us and make us a believe character is something they really aren't. The main thing is that it's much harder to achieve this effect in written form.

What good is anime if it can't be accessed? One of the greatest things about anime is that it's becoming more wide-spread, and may be even more so than it's written counterpart, manga. Many legal streaming websites have arisen, and subs are now available in multiple languages. The same is becoming true for manga, but from my own experience I have seen this more on anime's side.

The last trait is one that both share, but pull off in different ways. Anime also provides the audience with a different side of the story. There are cases where anime delves from the original plot, or doesn't make use of the original plot at all. What matters is that we're getting and different view that we wouldn't have had before.

Conclusions and Personal Thoughts

Sekirei Manga

After examining both sides, I believe that neither medium is better. Both are necessary and both bring things to the table that the other one doesn't have. However, I feel a bit more partial to manga, just because it happens to keep my attention and allows me to enjoy more series. 

Anyone who knows me and has been reading this blog probably has heard that I struggle with watching many anime. On the flip side, with manga I can easily finish a series in a day if I enjoy it. 

Thus the goal of this post wasn't to really determine a clear victor, but to take both sides and see what gives them that magic touch. For me manga still has a magic touch in it's art and story telling, even if it's less sophisticated than it's anime counterpart. Anime also has that magic touch in it's ways of creating a memorable plot and interactions between the cast.

 I believe as long as anime or manga doesn't lose that touch, they will continue to be successful.

Thus, I turn this post over to you my readers. What medium do you prefer more, anime or manga? For what reason? Do you believe one or the other is better, or are both needed? If you have time, feel free to comment below!

Thank you for reading~