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When I was in high school, there was a popular piece of manga (Japanese comics) called "Toiretto Hakase" (Dr. Toilet). As the name suggests, it was a gag strip full of toilet-related funny nonsense. No, no, I don't want to be a Dr. Toilet.

My generation, as well as younger ones, has been influenced by manga in many ways. Manga has formed a kind of culture in Japan. When I was a kid, reading manga was one of the most enjoyable moments, and on weekday evenings and Sunday mornings, I would sit in front of the TV set to watch popular anime serials. In high school, I would share several weekly manga magazines with my friends at school. It was often said that foreigners were surprised to find a lot of salarymen reading manga magazines on the commuter train. I don't know if it's the case even now as well.

I haven't read manga for about 20 years now. Where has the frenzy gone? My students often tell me about today's manga or anime. It's natural that things around manga will change as time goes by. I feel like reading the silly "Toiretto Hakase" again.


Don't worry Kiyo-san, my teachers feel that same way about me and my friends :p

Manga is becoming more and more popular in North America, even up here in northern Alberta. I love to read shoujo manga (especially CLAMP) and when I come to Japan for my upcoming student exchange I hope to collect more.

Although I am female, I loved to read shonen manga (especially weekly shonen jump and shonen champion) when I was little - probably influence from my older brother. Toilet Hakase was one of my favourite, I still can picture Ichirota doing nananen-goroshi...

Yashiko, I know you love manga. Good luck with manga-hunting in Japan. :)

RR, it's very natsukashii! I also liked Shonen Sunday. And, yes, Ichirota! He seemed like the main character.

I think most Americans are still surprised that Japanese adults read manga. But that is mostly because they don't know what manga really are. The word is translated "comic books" and to an American that conjures the idea of the "funny pages", that is the Sunday comics for children in the newpaper.

In America another problem is that we have nothing analogous to manga--we lack Japan's rich graphical history--all our serious ideas are conveyed through text. This is changing slowly. There are two non-fiction manga in English, "The Cartoon History of the World" and one on physics (which I can't remember the name of) that are the first to present serious subjects in "comic book" form.

I think a more accurate translation of manga would be "graphic novel". It's a bit pretentious, but it help Americans understand why adults read manga.

By the way, many young people in America who are drawn (no pun intended) to studying Japanese do so because of their interest in Japanese manga. (or anime, or video games or J-pop). This is quite different from my generation who became interested in Japan because of its architecture, its mingei, its food, and its clothing.

M, thanks for the definition "graphic novel." I have often wondered if there's a better way to refer to manga. It's really a good example. :)