On May 20, a few days after the effective date, the death of the mangaka Kentarō Miura (July 1966 – May 2021). The noisy mechanism of the world jams for a few seconds. Berserk (Planet Manga), his great work that has sold more than forty million copies, invades the message boards and profiles all over the globe (#berserk, #kentaromiura respectively first and second in Twitter’s global trend).
The dark ink of the plates, the quotes, the entire microcosm created by the author at the end of the Eighties expands, imposing itself for a few moments as the thing to talk about. It is a pillar, an unfinished work that crystallizes over time, literature in its simplest form. What remains of Berserk is sadness mixed with beauty, but it is also a symptom, because manga have been under our eyes for quite a while, but only recently have we recognized the extent of their success.
The first arrival of Japanese cartoons in Italy was thanks to The first heroes of Francois Caradec (Garzanti, 1962), a collection that contained a short title from the 1930s: Son-Goku of Shifumi Yamane. Printed in the Japanese way and not overturned, it will then be identified as a source of inspiration for the most famous Dragon Ball (Star Comics editions) by Akira Toriyama.
The manga market in Italy however, it owes its real success to the television transpositions of the seventies, which served as a real springboard. The anime, commonly called Japanese cartoons, passed through television, the main means of mass communication, and more than one generation of girls and boys found themselves growing up with giant robots and little girls with golden curls.
The first to be broadcast in Italy were Barbapapa e Vicky the Viking in 1976. Two years later they hit the screens Heidi e Grendizer. And then below Remi e Capitan Harlock, the Great Mazinger, Jeeg Robot D’Acciaio, Lupin III, it’s still, The Mayan Bee, Red-haired Anna, Candy Candy, Bia The challenge of magic, A sword for Lady Oscar e Lum. These are just some of the television transpositions that have most influenced entire generations of seventies e Eighty.
The corresponding printed publications of that period were often distorted by the publishers, between censorship and rewriting, which undermined the quality of the original works and few titles were treated in detail.
The the nineties can be considered the golden age for manga in Italy. The wave of Japanese cartoons had disseminated curiosity, interest and passion in the new adults, who began to develop new economic possibilities in parallel and could therefore buy those same stories on paper. The number of titles and the different genres offered a wide choice for all types of readers.
The paper product began to distance itself from the television one, because the continuing restrictions applied changed the stories themselves; the first sector magazines also committed themselves to publishing products not only for children but even for adults, limiting reviews and censorship. The manga was consolidating, because the imported product was more respected.
The market developed in those years thanks also to the lucky intuition of some publishing houses, first of all Star Comics editions e Planet Manga, who decided to support the production of American comics with the translations of the first real manga. Dragon Ball was the first publication in Italy a respect the original Japanese style of reading, with the boards from right to left, without therefore modifying the original work and the narrative sequence chosen by the oriental authors. In 1999, manga became the leading sector of Star Comics, which brought to light great industry classics such as Ranma ½, The Zodiac Knights (Saint Seiya), Ken the warrior e Sailor Moon.
Those stories, those drawings, speak in a different way than that of the great American superheroes, closer to the reader and more intimate. The male figures they are not afraid to show theirs more emotional sides and, in some cases, they depart markedly from the stereotype of the alpha male. Some protagonists change sex for a curse or are forced to wear men’s clothes to pursue a military career, as in the case of Lady Oscar. They appear homosexual love stories, intricate emotional triangles, friendships that turn into tormented loves. The language is direct, clean, avoid compromise and get to the point.
The manga has always anticipated the narration of a slice of humanity which was still relegated to the darkness of obscurantism, used different colors to speak to all its audience, and spread the myth of a production that has nothing to envy to the great classics throughout the world.
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The further success recorded in the last period for the manga market (think of the rise of Star Comics in the sales charts) should therefore not surprise. The increasing diffusion of graphic novel He has helped clear the reading of comics even for older age groups than the usual reference range; furthermore, the wider diffusion due to influencer, animated series on streaming platforms and easy availability through theecommerce, has given yet another push to a market that has carved out its own space for a long time.
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In response to this greater resonance of the manga in the publishing landscape, the publishing houses have proposed in recent years products capable of riding this wave of success. Among re-editions of great classics (including The rose of Versailles – Lady Oscar collection published by J-pop, Akira published by Planet Manga, Berserk of Planet Manga, One Peace Comix Box Set published by Star comics), mixed publishing products (such as Strix first manga signed by Licia Troisi per Star Comics which includes a multimedia project, made up of a live action television series and a manga, both of Italian production) and insights into the life of mangaka (His name was Gilbert. The girls who changed the story of the manga of Keiko Takemiya, translated by L. Usai, BD editions, where the author tells the story of her revolutionary career and the background of her difficult career as a mangaka), the manga race shows no sign of abating, and is consolidated, clearing the prejudices that wanted him away from the book for quality.
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An example of this is what happened last May 20, when the world was shaken by the news of the death of Myura. Not only a mangaka dies, a work of art dies which has fascinated generations and generations of lovers of the genre. An unforgettable pen dies, and the network – no longer hidden – of enthusiasts who loved his work, vibrates, remembers and is moved in celebrating those who, in their own right, colonized with his work, from a desk in Japan, a whole world.
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