Learning Japanese by manga!
I want to draw manga that would help people to learn Japanese.
When I study English, vocabulary books always annoy me. Because the
example sentences which include new words are really boring, so I don't feel like memorizing them.
Of course I know the famous proverb "there is no royal road to learning", and I do think we need a lot of effort to master foreign languages. However, there should be efficient ways to learn them and if they are fun, it's really desirable.
I guess Japanese learners feel the same when they try to expand their vocabulary using Japanese vocabulary books. As I'm a manga artist, I'm thinking of drawing manga which would help them to expand their vocabulary.
They can read common Japanese manga for the purpose but I think it's not always successful. Since the manga is not made for it, they include various kinds of words and expressions.
In Japan, there is a Japanese proficiency test called "JLPT"which ranges from N5 level to N1 level. I'm going to draw manga which is conscious of the grammar and the vocabulary of each level.
In Japan we can find many manga in how-to-books or practical guide books but I'm sorry to say, this kind of manga is boring as entertainment. Because it's used as a means of comprehensive expression and the attractiveness of itself is not considered.
In addition, according to the mechanism of human memory boringness deteriorate it,and when people get emotional it ameliorates. Interesting manga often appeals to emotion so it meets the mechanism of human memory.
So I'd like to draw manga which is both interesting as entertainment and practical as a Japanese learning book. And as a bonus, I'm going to add short manga titled "manga artists' funny tendencies" which describe funny episodes in manga artists' lives to it.
Learning foreign languages should be more enjoyable!
The Possibilities Of Comics
In Japan comics are used for various purposes besides entertainment, such as for education, advertising, essays, and to give an explanation of something. As concrete examples, you can sometimes find several historical comics to help junior high school students study history, and some comics which explain the law or give advice about for dieting and mental illness, etc.
Comics are so easy to understand that it can be used in many ways. I am somehow interested in educational ones, because appropriate education is useful for anybody.
For example, the increase in the number of obese people has been a problem among developed countries, while Japan is known for its low rate of obesity. There are several opinions about it and one of them is that many Japanese have some knowledge of nutrition since they take Home Economic Education course as part of their compulsory education. I do not know if it is true or not, but if a lack of knowledge of nutrition can be a big cause of obesity in some countries and there are not nutrition lessons for the students, comics which explain it would be helpful.
And I have some good ideas about language educational comics. Maybe I can draw ones related to Japanese learning or English learning. I definitely want to realize this dream someday.
And I am also interested in enlightening comics. There are various types of wise people and predecessors, and their wise sayings or their interesting experiences which often beneficially influence people’s way of thinking and behavior. There are some books that contain such things, and I understand the significance of reading to the end of thick and meaningful books. However the contents of such books are so important that it would be very beneficial if they were introduced to the public in more comprehensive comics.
As I mentioned earlier, my life has been full of difficulties. But under the long adversity I found some kind of interesting rule.
The rule was that “The things that plagued me sometimes turned out to be beneficial to me in the long term."
For example, when I was a university student I was learning Martial art like kung fu as a club activity. I hated it because it was terribly hard, but I could not quit it for several reasons. After I became a manga artist, this bad experience became beneficial. My job requires physical strength so I need to do exercises almost every day, but I don’t feel blue about it. Because compared with the club activity, the exercises are much easier.
The club activity was not the hardest experience in my life, and this rule applies to more severe cases. After I found this rule, I can be positive even in adverse conditions, but I feel sorry that it took me many years to notice it. As a matter of fact, you can find that kind of rule in some books written by wise people. Before I noticed it, wise people had noticed it already. If I had came across one of the books earlier I could have been more positive even when I faced difficulties in my youth.
I hope such beneficial and essential guidance of life like this will spread more widely. Probably comics can play an important role for this purpose.
Prejudice Against Comics
Comics are an excellent way of communicating messages because of their comprehensibility.
However sometimes people seem to mix up comprehensibility and being lowbrow and look down upon comics.
The two things are quite different. The idea that “profound expressions are always highbrow and comprehensive expressions are always lowbrow” is not right. Things can be expressed in either way according to the situation, and I think truly intelligent people can express difficult things comprehensively.
Thus comprehensive expression does not equal a lack of intelligence. Even if you have read many stupid and lowbrow comics, it was merely the case that you have read something lowbrow which happened to be expressed in comics. Such things are always lowbrow regardless of the means of expression, so it cannot be proof of the inferiority of comics as a medium by which to communicate messages.
If it is difficult for you to wipe off the vulgar image of comics, I will recommend that you read “Fire bird” series, in Japanese “Hinotori”(火の鳥), drawn by Osamu Tezuka, who is a doctor, a genius manga artist, and a founder of modern Japanese comics. Since he passed away over 20 years ago, you might think the pictures are a little old fashioned, but you can relish a profound theme that is expressed through comprehensive stories.
I hope the merit of comics is utilized in many fields.