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"