Friday, October 05, 2007

Bible Manga: How Will the Church Respond?

A Report on the Bible Manga Meeting:

We held a "Bible Manga Informational Meeting" in Tokyo on October 27th, 2007. At the meeting Roald Lidal, director of New Life League Japan, announced that the Japanese version of Manga Messiah (the first book in a series of five) will be released early in 2008 and sold in mainstream bookstores in Japan for between 800 and 1,000 yen per copy.

MM (Japanese version) will also be available in Japan to churches and other ministries for the deeply discounted price of 250 yen per book -- if ordered by the case directly from the publisher.

Lidal emphasized that the Japanese used in this series of books will be genuine "street Japanese" in typical manga style. Participants speculated that many, if not most, Christians in Japan will not appreciate the Bible being published as manga. But, Lidal is deeply committed to his almost forty-year-old dream of producing genuine Bible based manga that will connect with mainstream Japanese.

We got to see a full color draft of "Manga Mutiny," the first of the five Bible Manga books. No details but I can assure readers that NLLJ is taking a bold and exciting approach to depicting the early chapters of Genesis.

The attendance at this meeting was low, only a dozen. It could have been one of those days when lots of people had other things going on. But, my feeling is that it indicates the established church is not very interested in Bible Manga. This is because Japanese pop culture is feared, ignored and/or rejected by a large percentage of Christians. This is a huge blind spot but people can't see that because, well, because it IS a blind spot.

How important is pop-culture in Japan?

Lidal told the group that a few years ago a Japanese manga series called Shyonen Jump, was publishing 6 million copies per week. One of the well known series published in the weekly Shyonen Jump magazine is a series called Bleach. The manga called "Bleach" is an amazing depiction of a cosmic battle between good and evil spirits. The story is squarely based on widely held Japanese beliefs about the spirit world. Bleach has also been produced as an anime series.

This kind of story is part of pop culture in a country where people are said to be "secular" and "not interested in spiritual things!"

Both "Shonen Jump" and Bleach are popular in the US market as well.

Note: "Shyonen" is the standard way to spell this word and also better reflects Japanese pronunciation, apparently the publishers decided to use "shonen" to make it shorter.

This photo is a montage of images from "Bleach"


Robin said...

Do you think the church would respond differently if the books left out the bare breasts and earthy language? Or is it just a general traditionalism that keeps them from embracing new ideas? Just curious, too, as to the make up of the group at the meeting: were there pastors missionaries, nationals, gaijin?

scott said...

"Note: "Shyonen" is the standard way to spell this word and also better reflects Japanese pronunciation, apparently the publishers decided to use "shonen" to make it shorter."

Shorter? Come on. Sorry, but there is really no standard way to do romaji in Japan. Romanization is a western way to deal with approximating Japanese pronunciation with roman letters. there are several styles of romanization currently in use. I have never seen "shyo" as a way to romanize しょ。If you write ”shyonen, people will say shy-o-nen, or shi-o-nen, both incorrect. I have never come across this manner of romanization. Shonen is the best way to romanize for a non-native speakeer as one can phonetically get close to the native pronunciation.

Anonymous said...

My Name is Ashley Hawkins, and I am very familiar with Bleach, and Many other such manga/anime...I also enjoy listening to Japanese mainstream music although I am frequently disappointed by the lyrics, so I set out on a search for "pure" youth japanese worship...It doesn't exist apart from westren copy....a shame if you ask me because there are certain beautiful qualities that are unique to japanese music that draws from traditional sound. Someday I hope to reach this group of forgotton, ignored people...If we are able to reach the fringe in america, we can reach the fringe in Japan. But Second Rate Christian Material in either country is not going to cut it...I think that Manga Bible is a great recently showed up in my local Family Christian store here in the US and does not at a glace appear to be some cheap version of manga or cheap gospel...I think that the book should go over well with teens in Japan...if the wording is more typical...If teens become interested in God through manga Bible, it is possible that they will eventually be drawn to the straight forward word...I is going to happen...There is Going to be a REAL revival in Japan...they will regain what they lost during the era eons ago when Christianity was outlawed by war... I want to do something to help... I have always had a love for Japan... I want a reaching the new generation, the forgotton and fallen generation that is everywhere in JPN...For Now I will be in Prayer but someday I want to be part of the frontline.... I want to see the culture/ the country first hand, I don't just want to preach at people.NO! I want to know them...I wonder to what extent God has or has not called me to missionary work...or to work here in America...Please...extend your prayers for me in this matter...Arigato Gozaimasu!