We’re excited to announce our new review column by Darwin Garrison. Animanga Viewpoint will be where Darwin can discuss and review what’s going on in the worlds of anime and manga. His first post, which just went live, can be found here. His next post will be on the 24th. After that, he will be posting the first and third Wednesday of each month.
One of the reasons I’m so excited about Darwin’s column is because I know how large an impact manga can have on younger readers, especially boys. I was first introduced to it about 10 years ago when I was trying to find something — anything — my son would read. Once a boy who had read everything he could get his hands on, thanks to a teacher who used reading as a punishment, he hated reading. As a reader and a writer, I was desperate to find something to rekindle that spark.
Two things did. The first was listening to books on tape on the way to and from school. I’ll forever thank Jim Dale for narrating the Harry Potter books and — no, I’m not kidding — Diane Mott Davidson for putting her Goldy the Caterer books on tape. Those showed my son that books can be fun and entertaining.
But that still didn’t get him to put book in hand and sit down to read. Manga did. I’d never have thought of it but for one of the youth librarians in our local library. She also happened to work at one of the local middle school libraries at the time, iirc. When I explained the situation to her, she took my son and I immediately to the manga collection and that was all it took. We checked out a couple of volumes and, dragging his heels, my son agreed to try them.
Well, long story short, he came into my room later that night wanting to know if we could go back to the library the next day because he wanted more books. It didn’t matter that they were comic books on steroids at that point. All I cared about was that he was reading. Those dozens of manga books he checked out of the library and then the many more that we bought led him back to enjoying reading.
Since then, I’ve talked to a number of parents and teachers who have seen the same thing happen over and over. I’ve also read my fair share of manga as well. Some of it is very good. Some isn’t. But that’s how it is with any book.
All this is simply my way of saying “thank you” to Darwin for letting all of us know what’s going on in the manga and anime world. As far as I’m concerned, manga is as much a “book” as anything else, especially if it helps get one more youngster interested in reading.