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Kaotic Korner - About Reading Manga

+ posted by Kaoz in Staff Blogs on Mar 17, 2016 08:37
What's up, everyone, Kaoz here. Welcome to a blog post of sorts. This is something I will be doing at completely irregular intervals and it will mostly focus on manga (shocking, I know), translation and maybe I'll throw some Japanese culture in every once in a while.

Today I want to talk about reading manga, or rather about "how" to read them. This sounds pretty weird I'm sure, but I promise it'll make sense later on, so let's get started.

So, not long ago I read a book about constructivism. It was in a very different context, but I think it also applies to reading manga, or any fictional story really. The basic idea is that knowledge isn't absolute and cannot be transferred from one person to another, but instead has to be constructed by each individual for themselves.

Now you might be wondering about how this applies to reading and in my mind the answer is that there is more to reading and enjoying a series than simply looking at what it says on the pages. I wager that most of us feel at least somewhat similar in that regard considering we're on a site dedicated to discussing manga. So let's imagine there is a scene or development in a series that you don't understand - if you don't just discard it completely, your response will likely be either "Wow this is stupid and makes no sense." or "How could this make sense?".

Either response is technically valid, but I think that if you respond with the former, you're essentially robbing yourself of actually enjoying the scene, depending on how important it is you might even feel like it ruined the series for you. However, if you try to understand what's going on and figure things out, I would argue that it really enriches your experience instead. And you probably see how constructivism plays into this now. A manga isn't just something the author puts out and that's it, but as the reader it's up to you to complete that process in a way and expand on what's being presented to you to really get the complete experience. In a way, I would even call this a collaborative process between an author and one or multiple reader(s).

There are a few more things to keep in mind though. I just called this whole thing a collaboration, so at least as far as the author is concerned, you have to actually respect their input as well. This means you can't just substitute a development you don't like, instead you should work with and incoporate it into your extended view. Another important thing to consider is that in a lot of cases you may never know if you were right about the things you thought and oftentimes there are multiple ways to interpret something. And that's fine. It just means reading a series can be a very individual experience and unless you exchange the ideas you have with others (and even then at times) it might even be a unique experience to you. In other words, sometimes others won't agree with your interpretation and you won't agree with theirs and that's also fine, it's just good to be aware of that.

Finally, do you have to do this? Of course not. It's just what I think is a good way to really enjoy the series you're reading. Maybe you're not very invested in a series and don't care enough to think into it very deeply, although in that case you probably won't care if you don't understand something either. There's nothing wrong with that, but if it's a series you really like, I urge you to actively develop it in your mind alongside what's happening on paper. It certainly makes for more fun and interesting discussions.

That's it for today, hope to see you all next time.

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About the Author:

Alias: Kaoz
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Registered: Oct 31, 2009
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