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Projects to Promote International Understanding

World Report “Japanese MANGA and Youth Culture in East Asia” (January 28, 2012)

 On Saturday, January 28 2012, the World Report: “Japanese MANGA and Youth Culture in East Asia” was held at the Kitakyushu Municipal Gender Equality Center MOVE. The event drew an audience of approximately 100 people, 30% of whom were male with over 60% in their 40s or younger. It was impressive that the event attracted many more men and young people than expected.

 Focusing on Japanese MANGA (comics) culture, which is currently gaining more and more popularity in other countries, this seminar served as a good opportunity for speakers and the audience to more deeply understand gender expressions found in manga and consider how Japanese MANGA is received overseas.

 In the former session, Dr. Fusami Ogi (professor at Chikushi Jogakuen University), coordinator, presented a keynote report on how Japanese MANGA has developed and how it has transcended the boundary between domestic and international markets. Of particular note was Japanese MANGA for girls, which is distinctively characterized by its unique drawing styles, such as characters with big eyes and long arms and legs, drawn in luxurious fashion, and with an exotic atmosphere (black hair and blue eyes). Although such styles first became popular in the 1950s, they are far from losing their luster with the change of the times. With the phrase “KAWAII” (cute), the styles have been positively received in other countries.

  Dr. Ogi’s report was followed by presentations by Dr. Kim Hyo Jin, (assistant professor at Korea University) and Dr. Ming Hung Tu (assistant professor at Tamkang University, Taiwan, Province of China) on how Japanese MANGA has acquired popularity in other countries. Their presentations revealed that Taiwan, Province of China, and Korea share a great deal in terms of the influence of Japanese MANGA, such as the popularity of Boys Love (BL) MANGA (comics for women with the theme of homosexual love) and cosplay (costume play) culture. The presentations were very interesting.

 The former session was concluded by a presentation, along with a demonstration, by Ms. Foo Swee Chin (FSc), a Singaporean MANGA artist. From the perspective of a MANGA creator, she explained how to distinguish between female characters and male characters when drawing, and identifying the typical differences between Japanese MANGA and American comics.


 In the latter session, a discussion was held among the above speakers, in addition to Ms. Yoshie Kusano (student of the University of Kitakyushu) and Mr. Yoshihiko Nakagawa (student of a graduate school of Kyushu Institute of Technology), who asked questions of the speakers. From the perspective of young people, they exchanged opinions on manga culture and the change of gender awareness. Some audience members commented, “I didn’t know that MANGA for girls had such a history,” “I’m surprised to know how big an influence Japanese MANGA has abroad,” or “I hope that a seminar with the theme of MANGA (pop culture) will be held again.” It seems that the event provided a good opportunity to think again about Japanese manga culture and gender expression found in manga.