Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just Another Manga Monday #5

Julie's a little busy lately taking care of her new puppy (it's a Japanese breed, so maybe she'll post a few pictures sometime soon), so I'll be standing in this week.

As I may have mentioned, I'm not a huge manga or anime enthusiast. But that's not to say I dislike them categorically. As for manga, I've tried reading a bunch of different stuff, but I find that the genre that most appeals to me is education, if that's a real thing. Of course one of the main reasons for a non-native speaker to read Japanese manga is to pick up the language. I think this has to go hand-in-hand with enjoyment. If you try reading something you don't really like, you'll eventually get bored or discouraged and give up. On the other hand, though, I don't think there's much immediate practical benefit from learning the words for things like "sword of divine destiny" or "robotic fusion core." Sure, you may want to work up to that if your ultimate goal is fluency, but it's not going to help you in daily life. I like to read manga that are more down-to-earth and focus on normal(ish) people and situations.

The first manga I read that I really enjoyed and sparked my interest in this "genre" is called ダーリンは外国人 (My Darling is a Foreigner). Several people I've spoken to about it have been aware of the movie by the same title that came out in 2010, but disappointingly haven't been familiar with the comic. This is unfortunate, because from what I've read and heard about the movie, it fails to do the manga justice. While the cinema version is a love story between characters Saori and Tony (the husband and wife of the manga series), the comic isn't a story at all, per say. It's a collection of little dialogues and interactions between Saori (who is the author and illustrator of the series) and her husband Tony (who writes small essays that are inserted between segments). Their episodes together vary greatly by topic, but tend to gravitate both towards language and comparative culture. Not only is Tony a foreigner living in Japan, but he is also a linguaphile both by interest and profession. As such, he is constantly offering up anecdotes about life abroad or lessons about the languages or histories of foreign cultures.

Tony is also very knowledgeable about ketchup...
There are several volumes out now, including "My Darling is a Foreigner" 1&2, "Inside My Darling's Head" 1&2, "With Baby," and a few that I haven't throughly investigated. At least the first one has also been released in English, though I'm not sure if it's being sold abroad.

If you like language or education-oriented manga, I suggest you give this one a try.

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