Astroboy and the Origin of Manga, the Japanese Comic
Manga (漫画), The Japanese comic book, was the term chosen by the Japanese to name their comics on paper, just as the Spanish would speak of comics, the Italians of fumetti, the French of bande dessinée or the Americans of comics. Such was the impact of Japanese comics in the West, especially since the 1990s, which managed to create its own identity: Japanese comics were no longer Japanese comics, but had become manga.
Source of the Manga
While it is true that their origin, or the first artistic expressions, can be found in picture books of the Edo period (1603 – 1867) of authors such as Santos and Kyouden or Hokusai, the Japanese comics began to bring forward their own style and storytelling techniques during the time of the American occupation after the Second World War. The Americans brought with them their comics and cartoons such as Disney works, comic strips, Superman comics, or animation pieces by the Fleischer brothers, such as Betty Boop, Bimbo or Popeye.
This American influence was fundamental for Japanese artists to develop their own identity. And once again, Osamu Tezuka – remember, God of the Japanese comic – had a lot to say.
The universal Creator born in Osaka was in love with the animation of Walt Disney’s studio and cinema in general. Looking at the seventh art, he gave the cartoons an unprecedented narrative complexity, not only in the manga but in the Universal comic. Their vignettes gave off Movement, their structure and placement were not Baladi and, in short, the stories gained in depth thanks to their new techniques. On the other hand, he was also responsible for the aesthetics of the characters of the Japanese comic that still lasts to this day, with large eyes, heads, fine hair, and rounded figures.
In 1951 he was born his most universal work, Astroboy (鉄腕トト, tetsuwan Atom), initially known as atomutaishi (Atom Ambassador). Like so many other Japanese comics, Astroboy would share stories with other characters in a monthly magazine, Shonen, but it was such the Android’s success that readers requested him to star in his regular series.
Umataro Tenma is a robotic engineer who loses his son, a modern Geppetto who gives life to Astroboy to fill that emotional void. As expected, he does not succeed, and frustrated sells his creation to Hamegg, owner of a robotic circus. After a series of adventures and misadventures, Astroboy will become part of the Science Ministry to find rebellious robots and combat any possible threat to humanity.
Like Superman, Astroboy has a great heart and a will of steel, he detests violence, but on many occasions, he has no choice but to use lasers coming out of his fingers or the barrel of his arm. Along with these abilities, others very similar to those of the hero of Krypton, superaddition and the possibility of flying thanks to the jet pack inserted in his feet. Also, it has eyes capable of translating up to 60 languages and a supercerebrain that allows you to perform very rapid calculations.
Japanese Comic for 100 Yen
In Japan, the manga is still a very important industry and a mass phenomenon. In 2015 we raised 283 trillion yen – about 218 billion euros, if not calculated wrong. For you to get an idea of the economic impact, in 2016 some 60 million were invoiced in Spain with the sale of comics in general.
Thanks to this success, a powerful second – hand Japanese comic book market – powered by companies like Book Off-was developed, offering consumers the opportunity to read complete collections at Laughing prices. These kinds of bookstores specializing in used books and comics offer a huge selection of titles from 100 yen – about 80 euro cents – and if that were not enough, they do not put any impediment to their corridors being filled with freeloaders – I say this with affection, many of them are students – who read full volumes right there. The Japanese take great care of their sleeves, and with rare exceptions, the conservation status of these specimens is optimal, and the savings are considerable.
The Book above Off, and other stores like Furuhon Ichiba or Mandarake, also offer lots of complete collections at a reduced price, which come out a little more expensive than buying them one by one for 100 yen but avoid the trouble of looking for those numbers that are not available.