By Nicole Nowlin
In my previous article, I discussed the state of the manga industry and the various planned, successful, or failed avenues of digital publishing of manga as they can be seen today. The question remains, though, as to whether digital manga is truly the next generation as seen by those who read it. A blog post highlights an interesting story about just that topic, following a moderated panel at the Asia Arts Festival at the University of Kentucky:
I chatted a bit more with the panelists (one a soon-to-graduate senior, the other a freshman) and the topic somehow swerved to the manga industry, its travails, and its push to make a market for more esoteric, alternative manga (which for all intents and purposes mostly means “not BESM-standard”).
After hearing this, the freshman subsequently asked “So, like, are they trying to make it cool to read print manga?” at which both I and the graduating senior goggled for a moment before going “what the hell are you on about?”
Apparently, in his high school, it was seen as uncool to read print manga. I didn’t find out then why it was particularly considered uncool, although the perpetual-behindness of licensed releases may have been a factor, as well as a certain sense borrowed from underground aesthetics that licensed titles may have “sold out” or were otherwise “too mainstream”. It’s also interesting to note that the act of “reading manga” itself apparently wasn’t considered uncool. Just reading print manga.