Saturday, October 09, 2004


It was the end of August that I wrote about this topic last time. Now, here’s the PART II.
(Yes, there’s going to be Part III, IV, V and could be more if I felt like it, so be ready. : ) )

Some comic books I have
(C)Shogakukan, Hakusensha

There seem to be several ways to categorize Japanese manga, and I guess what we call "Supo-kon manga" can be a legitimate category. The “supo-kon” is a word made by combining supotsu ("sports" pronounced in Japanese way) and konjo (guts), and it means something like fighting spirits or guts in sports. The story of this kind of manga is mostly about a person who’s in sports struggling hard and succeeding in the end.

In a classic Japanese supo-kon manga, there is always a very talented hero/heroine, let’s call him/her S, in a poor family. And there is always a rival who is from a very rich family, good looking, an excellent student in class and thus very popular everywhere. But the rival knows that S has more talent in the particular sports they’re competing in. S always gets bullied by other members who are jealous, so S’s uniform is found torn apart in the locker or, if it’s a ballet manga, a glass piece or drawing pin is found in S’s toeshoes. You know, the classic. Despite the bullying, S goes through a special training and invents an almost miraculous technique that no one else can ever do……

To me, Kyojin no hoshi (Star of the Giants) and Attack No.1 are good representatives of the classic supo-kon manga/anime. (I was delighted to hear that one member of the Italian national volleyball team saw Attack No.1 on TV in her childhood and decided to be a player.) In this kind of old ones, the underlying philosophy seems to reflect the value of that time. It’s always all-or nothing and you just have to work hard but shouldn’t enjoy the sports. Enjoyment is something low, and seriousness and constant self-denial are essential for improvement….

The recent sports manga, however, describe the hero/heroine’s personal growth in a variety of ways, and are more positive and self-affirmative. I’d rather call the new ones “sports manga” to distinguish them from the old-time “supo-kon” manga. I definitely like the recent ones, but can’t help having special nostalgic feeling towards the old ones, too. Anyway, reading this kind of sports-related manga always makes me feel exhilarated and encouraged. I think it gives us a good chance to experience virtual success with the hero/heroine in the story, and makes us feel empowered to be able to face difficulties in our real lives. There are judo manga, tennis manga, ballet, baseball, pingpong, volleyball, basketball, boxing, pro-wrestling, billiard, shogi(Japanese chess), car racing… almost anything that you can think of.

posted by obachan, 10/09/2004 08:36:00 PM


Oh, you are like a PhD in manga.
I should appreciate getting your permission to cite a few passages from "JAPANESE MANGA -1-" and your reply to my comment on it. I'm going to write my version of an essay on manga, including Suiho Tagawa and Machiko Hasegawa. I sent a letter to the latter in my student days. ... And "Putcher in Wonderland (Fushigi na Kuni no Putcher)," a serial in the magazine Shonen-Kurabu, just after the World War II ...
-- Tatsu
commented by Blogger Tatsuo Tabata, 10/10/2004 1:59 PM  
Sure, please cite my passages and comment.
I heard there are some universities that actually offer courses in Manga studies.
commented by Blogger obachan, 10/10/2004 6:32 PM  
> Tatsu --- I included “Creative Commons” logo on this site for you. From now on, you don’t need to ask for my permission for citing what I post to this blog, provided that you live up to the conditions you see when you click on the logo.
commented by Blogger obachan, 10/11/2004 1:43 AM  
Thanks a lot for your kind consideration. -- Tatsu
commented by Blogger Tatsuo Tabata, 10/11/2004 9:16 AM  

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