Monday, October 12, 2009

Comic books

I really can't give an unbiased opinion but today I'm going to tell you about what is taking up a lot of storage space in my closets.

What do you think about comic books?

Japan has a "manga" (comic books) and "anime" (animation and cartoons) culture that I'm afraid I don't understand at all but it seems to be different from the Western counterparts.

When I was in college there were a few Japanese foreign students who received care packages from home regularly. The boys especially looked forward to these packages because their mothers would send them comic books. COMIC BOOKS?! How juvenile! I couldn't believe that these 20 year old, young men and women who would be shaping the future of Japan were pouring over comic books completely forgetting that they were mature adults. Talk about looking down on people. My nose was as long as an elephant's.

And then I came to Japan and spent a few months in Tokyo and other large cities where I had to make use of the public transportation system. Wherever I went businessmen would be hanging onto subways straps and scrunched into train car corners and would be absorbed in their comic books. And heaven forbid, when I took a glance at their reading material, some of the subject matter could make my face burn. My image of comic books grew even less favorable.

Comic books are not the flimsy things Superman and Batman graced in America. They are BOOKS. Or in some cases there are numerous comic series in a very large heavy book that seems to come out weekly (I think). There are love story comic books, adventure comic books, science fiction comic books, mystery comic books. There are comic books about history, about sports, about cooking, about teachers. I have lady friends who look forward to monthly comic books and follow a series.

Tetsu was never much into comic books (thank goodness!) but Takumi and Leiya turned on to them fairly early in their elementary school days. I remember a first grade teacher encouraged comic books as a viable source of reading practice though I was trying to steer my kids towards library books. I did break down and buy a set of Bible comic books in hopes of inspiring a little more interest in Sunday school though.

When Leiya hit jr. high I can remember her being very uninterested in Japanese Social Studies and my friends suggested I get her started on history comic books. They swore that their kids learned a lot more history through the comic books than they did through the dull, very confusing text books. I can't remember if that strategy worked to raise Leiya's grades in Social Studies.

Tetsu was no help at all in encouraging other reading material because as the kids grew older he'd bring them presents of comic books in a series that he knew they liked. SLAM DUNK was a favorite one about basketball. YAWARA was about a girl judo champion. He occasionally brought home the whole comic set meaning that he'd lug home 30 books at a time reassuring me that these would be classics someday. The kids were ecstatic.

When Takumi graduated from high school and left for the States he told me I could throw out anything and everything in his room EXCEPT for the comic books.

"I don't know why. I just don't want to lose those."

and so they have languished in his closet for these 6 years. Each of these special plastic boxes holds 30 comic books and Leiya has another whole closet full that she didn't want thrown out either. And just to defend my kids, Marlene, my American friend with two college age kids in the States, said that her children gave her the same message.


So this is why I don't have any more storage space than I do. Comic books abound!

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