Manga Over Everything


Here’s something I want to ask everyone - What if you never expected that your tastes would gradually change over time?

11 years ago, I was at a church gathering one night and the group that held it asked everyone to pick two things you couldn’t live without. After that, other people would have to guess which one was the most important out of the two. I decided to name my Sony PlayStation 2 and PC as my choices. When it came for the group to guess the true winner, they all guessed correctly. Deep down, the PlayStation 2 was my sweetheart. Video games were a big part of my life at the time.

Fast forward to now where manga has become number 1 on my interest list. You can argue that it’s pseudo-reverse as the PC is superior to the consoles. The internet, in combination with the Kinokuniya near me, opened my eyes to a mixture of worlds to read about. While I still play video games, a lot of them don’t interest me. Hell, I never thought that I would quit reading American superhero comics for manga when I was in my early ’20s.

There are studies that show that we won’t stay the same. This happens because people are horrible in predicting their own futures. They have a tendency to assume that their interests in things will last forever. How many of you have felt that way?

Yet I haven’t grown out of manga and also anime for that matter. That love kept growing over time. Despite all the internet drama surrounding the industries, I didn’t quit following the two mediums. However, I don’t follow as much anime as many fans do. I mostly stick to manga-to-anime adaptations, as they count as manga series for me to write about. There are a few exceptions, but anime ranks 2nd below manga.

Anime is diverse, but manga goes into subjects anime or even live-action series wouldn’t dare touch. There are some unique stories that you have to see to believe. They may not translate well onto other media. Now there are a few of those wacky tales that do get adapted, but that’s because of the boundaries lifted when drawing versus putting animation on a screen for a casual audience. Remember, storytelling’s roots not only lie through oral communication, but on scriptures as well.

Manga’s diversity continues to fascinate me, despite how much information you need to take in versus watching an anime episode. Manga fandom isn’t as huge as anime fandom, but both compliment each other very well. It’s just unfortunate when I don’t see anime fans read manga sometimes. But that can all change in an instant just like everything else, right? I mean, manga publishers are hitting anime conventions more often. All it takes is one unexpected piece of manga art to hit their emotions and change their view. For publishers, an anime adaptation does wonders

In my case, I was a shonen-loving maniac that is now appreciative of seinen and josei material. It was unexpected as I never thought about getting outside my inner circle, so to speak. I can’t see why folks can’t change their manga tastes as they get older and read more of it. The more diverse things are, the more enticing they can be. Diversity should be a key cog in keeping interests and the passion for them alive for a long period of time.

To end this story, here’s a quote from Final Fantasy X-2’s Yuna during the game’s ending.

"So much has happened! And I’m sure it’s only the beginning. Through the smiles, tears…through the anger, and the laughter that follows. I know that I will keep changing. This is my story. It will be a good one."

Guess I never expected video game nostalgia over manga nostalgia to surface in my head, huh? Maybe video games will be my number 1 hobby again in my future. Though honestly, my own fortune-telling sucks and you know what, it’s alright.

Change doesn’t have to be scary if you look at the good parts of it, right? 

Step one. Suppose you clear away all the happinesses that you distrust? Step two. Clear away all the unhappinesses that you have come to trust. Get rid of them too, don’t count on your miseries or your titillations. What will be left behind? Perhaps, after you’ve cleaned all that out, you might find in the back of your cupboard something like the theme of the Goldberg Variations. A deeply trustable happiness. A tender, discombobulating — but not discombobulated! — smile with just enough sadness and loss in it to be believable, to be endurable.

Jeremy Denk's beautiful meditation on ”the mishmash of reverence and irreverence” in Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Lest we forget, happiness is a learned capacity


We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?

Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.