Dr. M: Day 28--A manga you think is so brilliant it’s like literature

I treat most manga like literature. That "Dr." in front of my name isn't just super-fancy, it's legit. I have a doctorate in literature. Oh, man, I am a dork.

Shakespeare is a Lit. person too, she has multiple degrees in writing and communication. She works with publications every day.

Mr. Empty...he's just cool. He has some degree in something or other, which I should know off the top of my head, but I don't because I'm a bad teacher. Yes, Mr. Empty was actually my student at one point. Now, we're just pals and anime/manga nerds.

I would say that all of us treat at least 60% (if not more) of the manga we read like literature. So, in some ways this isn't a good question for me. It doesn't have to be brilliant to be like literature, in fact not all literature is brilliant. Maybe the question should be about GOOD literature? That's rarer. And that's a hard question.

I've already talked about the complex brilliance that is Loveless, and the a lot of manga are based on eastern literature, things like Saiyuki (very loosely based on Journey to the West) and historical sagas like Basilisk and Lone Wolf and Cub, and even to some extent Inuyasha. There are a lot of stories drawn from western literature as well from classics of Greek and Roman origin, to biblical literature, to more contemporary works.

Sure, a lot of manga are sort of fluffy little bits of distraction (nothing wrong with that) that don't add up to anything especially profound or complex in terms of literary structure or theme, but many more do pay attention to literary storytelling.

Now, if we were talking anime here, I would have an easy answer for you, because I freaking love Gurren Lagaan (the anime not the manga...the manga is less effective), or even the brutal heartbreak of Now and Then, Here and There. Both of those are like literature to me. Pretty much everything done by Studio Ghibli is also like literature (because so much of it draws from literature).

So, why can't I decide on a manga? To be honest, I don't know. Maybe the manga I read is too limited? Maybe I'm just a little burnt out by the mangathon at this point. Maybe I should just go with my gut reaction?

So, I'm going to suggest pretty much anything by Fumi Yoshinaga. Thus, perhaps, reinforcing the idea that Shakespeare and I should just start a Fumi Yoshinaga fanclub. Yoshinaga is an amazing writer. Her work has the kind of depth and characterization that I associate with good literature. Even her "fluffier" and less literary works like Sofelge  have a sort of artistry to the storytelling, but its her multi-dimensional, dynamic characters that really make me think of her work as literary.
Yoshinaga's Antique Bakery...YUM!
Also, great story!

The first work I read of hers was the fantastic Antique Bakery. The characters are adults at a sort of crossroads with their work and personal life. I'm smitten with the coming of age series Flower of Life. I even love the thematic discussion of devotion and sacrifice in her (yaoi) Lovers in the Night. One of the things that impresses me the most about this author is her research ability. I not only learn more about human nature in her manga, but I also learn about cooking and baking (seemingly her favorite topics), history, boxing, art, opera, manga, and about a dozen other topics. She takes time to learn about her character's lives and interests, and it shows in the work and in the characters' knowledge of their fields. She's pretty amazing.

A coming of age story worth a read.
So, I will change the prompt to not, "A manga I think is so brilliant it's like literature," to "a manga writer who writes so well that her work is like literature." Yoshinaga gets my vote.

And when I have time, I will read her whole catalog of works. She's that good.


Mr. Empty said...

You don't read enough oneshots. They are the source for truly, truly great work. I will come and yell at you.

Mr. Empty said...

Also, I'm going to describe myself henceforth as "just cool" to everyone ever.ll