Why the manga reads differently and theoretically much more fluently than the western comic

Why the manga reads differently and theoretically much more fluently than the western comic
Why the manga reads differently and theoretically much more fluently than the western comic

The Manga it is easier to read as the comic. Anyone with both sequential art formats in hand knows it. With the manga, the entertainment for office workers and students on the subway on the way to work, the pages usually flow with a good rhythm, while some North American comics, especially those of superheroes, make it a little more difficult for us to move on to the next Sheet. It is not a universal rule, but it is common.

Why does that happen? Why an average Japanese can take 20 minutes to read a volume of 200 pages while westerners would take at least twice as long to do the same with a comic?

It is probably a component of Enrichment against side economy: Today the manga is a much cheaper consumer product that is oriented towards its commercial side. His artists and screenwriters work piece by piece, and each work is sold by weight, so it’s understandable that they devote less detail to each page. In the United States, on the other hand, where the comic is sold in color and at a higher price, customers don’t see it well.

And yet, thanks to Twitter, we discovered another reason today. Rachel Matt Thorn, Manga teacher she studied at the Seika University in Kyoto the “rule of T”, something no one has ever referred before, but he found in his studies that he has been working naturally in the Japanese industry since the late 1960s, which has influenced the artistic development of All Further Works and the Cultural Shock that some readers and others suffer from when confronted with the visual calligraphy of culture on the other side of the puddle.

From vertical writing on tablets to sequence problems

This is the reconstruction and translation of what Matt Thorn said in his report last week:

Until the late 1960s and early 1970s, the rules for reading and designing vignettes on the manga were not clear, as was the case in western comics. However, there was an additional complication: the vertical typesetting implied that there was at least one way to organize the vignettes vertically.

We have to add that Japanese comic is the only vertical, not the horizontal, as with us (also the Korean and Chinese comic uses horizontality). It is most logical for us to read from page to page when your education prompts you to read from top to bottom. For this reason, it was more common to install vertical vignettes in the early middle. While our eyes wander from left to right and then jump down to the next line, the Japanese sometimes had to read from top to bottom and then to the left.

Comic page in grid format
Comic page in grid format.

For all of this, the rule of the cross (+) between the bullets applies, the side with the perfect grid structure of a life for them it was very uncomfortable, If your entire side is made up of square spheres that harmoniously conform to the norm of the cross, everything works fine. But what if you come across a cross in a sea of ​​vignettes of different shapes? What the teacher illustrates here with two examples of half-century sleeves. That the reading order becomes chaotic and you have to put arrows.

According to Matt Thorn, there was a time when the creators of the medium made their artists avoid these situations. Neither side should have a cross, which led to the establishment of the hegemony of the T, the traffic signs of the reading became clearer for the eastern reader without expressing them at all. Ten years later it was the typical side of two of the great creators of manga.

Expressed differently:


Here are two different examples of how reading works in the form of T. The vignettes are arranged, so, to understand the order, all you have to do is look at what has been done on the page in relation to the bullet margins.

The T Rule
The T Rule

“Although it is difficult to explain, almost all Japanese under 60 know this rule and process it immediately. Still, they don’t know they follow this norm,” said the professor with reference to the readers.

Faster, more attractive, less flexible… here and there

Like any standardization, this has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand that relieved the distribution and interest of readers in a way that makes them more comfortable, since reading is more mechanical and pleasant. In fact, Matt Thorn linked this rule to the manga boom a decade later. On the other hand, you restrict the creative freedom of cartoonists who cannot experiment with the vignette and its American counterparts.

Manga Store in Japan
Manga Store in Japan

According to the theory, this also widens the cultural divide of readers. That is, if it is already difficult for one another to change the visual reading behavior (west: left to right; Japanese: right to left), it is worse if their vignettes have a different invisible order. But not everything is explained by the norm of T. In fact, scientists have shown that the evolution of the comic shows that the sequential art reader sometimes escapes the instructions of traditional reading, depending on how he presents the cartoons.

An unconventional form of reading
An unconventional form of reading

Let’s look at this scheme Neil Cohn and Hannah Campbell: Interviewed thousands of subjects to collect their sense of reading various viñetísticos arrangements. As we see Readers don’t always look for the answer from left to rightSometimes they jumped directly into the box below. So a) the size of each sphere is important; and b) people do not necessarily follow the patterns of reading texts that are written in visual texts.

Example of a classical “widescreen” vignette
Example of a classical “widescreen” vignette

The American researcher Kaitlin Pederson It has also seen changes similar to those in the superhero comic manga over the years. It opted for a systematization of the page designs to the detriment of greater creative freedom and stylistic chaos. For example, vignettes with horizontal graduation and perfect grids have become less popular, while “widescreen” bullets that occupy a whole range are used much more often.

For Pederson, this happens because over time the page has become the unit of visual measure, it works much more like an isolated canvas.


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