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One of the more disturbing words included in the new Oxford Dictionary of English released last week is 'hikikomori'. It's the Japanese term for the 'acute social withdrawal' observed in some teenagers.art and culture Updated: Aug 20, 2010 23:53 IST
One of the more disturbing words included in the new Oxford Dictionary of English released last week is 'hikikomori'. It's the Japanese term for the 'acute social withdrawal' observed in some teenagers. Now comes a festival showcasing what's possibly the most-cited reason for hikikomori in the Far East — manga comics and the engrossing empire of films and games they have spawned.
For the unintroduced, manga — which roughly means 'funny, exaggerated drawings' — is a six-decade-old genre of comics that has, in the last decade, emerged as one of the most followed graphic styles the world over. At the centre of a festival put together this weekend by Cinedarbaar and the Japan Foundation is 'anime', or animation done in the manga style.
Thanks to anime, Indian kids of all ages would recognise the style in the big-eyed, clear-lined television hits such as Pokemon, Doraemon, Shin-Chan, InuYasha or Ninja Hattori — a reason for 'social withdrawal' in some of us.
Shubhank Mauria, head of design at Hyderabad-based game design studio Tigertail, says, "Manga started getting popular in the US in the 1980s, when Voltron was released. It became so popular that they dubbed another series, Astro Boy, in English... And it grew."
How did manga win the fierce battle for comics supremacy around the world? Mauria, who hosts a workshop on Sunday that's part of the Anime Cine festival, says, "It's a more visual style... You may not get the finer points, but most of the time you'll get the basic story even if you don't know the language."
How does the style translate to video games? "There is more depth in the storytelling with longer back-stories of the characters. The sound and combat styles are also distinctive," says the 27-year-young game designer.
Nitesh Rohit of Cinedarbaar, curator of the anime fest, traces the development from a cinematic angle. "Osamu Tezuka, the father of manga, was influenced deeply by the works of Walt Disney and by films from France and Germany. He borrowed some of the style and cinematic techniques of storytelling." In time, films and games started taking cues from the world of manga.
It's a full circle, somewhat like the round, expressive manga eyes. Just hope that the hypnotic allure doesn't induce a bout of hikikomori in us.