I [Scot] don't know how many of you who frequent this site read the comments, but I'd highly recommend doing so. We don't get many of them, but the ones that we do get almost always add something really important to our ongoing discussion of Worship and the Arts in Japan. Anyway, I found this following cartoon in a link from Paul's February posting about the Channel of Hope. It shows, in a sardonic way, the potential for "New Media" outreach in Japan (New Media includes, well, new media, like youtube, animation, manga, or whatever was just released yesterday).
Anyway, it was taken from the "Internet Evangelism Day" website, and the article as a whole is so good I'm tempted to quote it verbatim. But, as it is, I'll just give you the link:
Manga outreach is something that I am personally very interested in. Manga became popular in the USA during my college years, and to this day, there are six separate series that I follow in their weekly and monthly incarnations (this doesn't include series that are already finished that I have read through or am reading). I think this, in a way, is directly related to my childhood dream of becoming a comic book artist. I realize now that God has given me a different skill set, and that I will probably never become an artist, but my love of the medium has never waned. And every time I step outside of my house, I'm reminded of how widespread this interest is in Japan. I mean, even Lawsons and 7-11 sell the latest volume of several manga series. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. First, that the manga series have several volumes. Second, that these volumes are sold in convenience stores. A few years ago in America, graphic novels took up a fifth of a bookshelf in smaller stores, and whole shelf in larger stores. Finding the graphic novel that you actually wanted was a near impossibility. I'm STILL searching for Spiderman's "Maximum Carnage" arc--a search I started in Middle School. If you lucked out and the graphic novel was still in print, your only option was to special-order it from a big chain like Barnes and Noble or Borders.
And last month, in Japan, I picked up Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 19 in a convenience store in Yonomori--a town which doesn't even have its own post office.
So I am very glad that people are starting to do manga outreach in Japan. We have posted many times on this blog about Next, a division of New Life League Japan, who is publishing manga based on the Bible. They released Manga Messiah last year, which covered the gospels, and they will be releasing Manga Metamorphosis later this year, which will cover Acts.
Back in December, Next hired me as an English proofreader/ Quality Checker. As such, I have seen and edited the first 150 pages of Manga Metamorphosis, and I can tell you that it is quite a bit better than Manga Messiah. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite. Posted with permission of course. Click on the images to see a higher resolution.
The Great Comission
I also had the chance to visit Next and New Life League Japan about three weeks ago. I was very impressed with what I saw. Manga may be a new step for them, but printing is not. They print Bibles for so many languages that I stopped counting after 20. They also print calendars, books, and pretty much anything else that combines paper and ink. In their staff of about 50, eight different nationalities are represented. The highlight of my visit though was the chance to preview the art of Manga Mutiny, the tentatively-titled third volume in the series that covers the book of Genesis. Next had decided from the very beginning that they were going to have different artists for the Old and New Testament, and it shows. My two main concerns for the art in Manga Messiah and Manga Metamorphosis were that the art seemed to be aimed at young children, and that there were way too many panels on every page, which made it feel cramped and rushed at times. I understand the reason for this, as they are trying to fit a whole book into one manga volume, but I miss the full-page splash images that are so prevalent in manga. It just so happens that both of my concerns were addressed. The art feels much more mature in the third volume, bearing a slight shojo style, and there are some BEAUTIFUL splash pages. They are without any text right now, but I think these pictures will speak for themselves. Click for a higher resolution (my apologies that the only camera I had on me was my cellphone camera).
The Garden of Eden
Babel Tower and Abram
So, things are looking good. Thanks for reading and thinking about this New Media outreach. It could have profound effects.