Category Archives: Ask Manga Mom

Questions readers have asked about manga. Maybe one of the answers can help you.

Reading (Subtitles) is Fundamental

As many parents with school age children know, getting your child to read can sometimes be a real hassle. This is especially true if your child is struggling in school. In this post-“No Child Left Behind”-world, this can mean pressure from teachers and schools to get your child to improve. I was having this problem with my youngest daughter.

Now, I’ve always believed the way to get someone interested in reading, was to give them a book about something they were interested in or enjoyed. So with my youngest, we tried finding books that she would like, and let her choose the books she wanted to read, but she still struggled with her reading, and never wanted to do it. We were at a loss of what to do, until we found a breakthrough in the form of an anime.

As well as reading manga, I enjoy watching anime based on manga. One series I got interested in was Sgt. Frog from Tokyopop. When I found some fansubs online, I downloaded them to check the anime out. So, I’m out in the living room, watching the shows, and both my daughters come out to see what I was doing. Since these are fansubs, in order to understand what was going on, you had to read the subtitles. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve watched fansubs, or other anime with subtitles. It’s how I prefer to watch my anime. But, this was the first time the girls, especially my youngest, really showed an interest sitting down and actually watching it.

They not only liked watching it, they hijacked the series from me! My youngest starting sgt-frog-dvd.jpgtaking the episodes and watching them in her room. She also started searching Youtube to find videos and more episodes. After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed her reading was starting to improve. She didn’t mind sitting down and reading. She didn’t keep asking if it had been 20 minutes yet (as dictated for homework every night). She was reading whole books (about 60 pages, early chapter books)! Nothing else had changed in that time period. The only thing I could think of that could have spurred this change, was her watching and having to read subtitles.

So, while TV is still a wasteland, it can still have it’s uses. I’m not going to say that this will work for everyone. I think it worked for us, because the girls were already used to the idea of subtitles. It wasn’t until she found something she was really liked and couldn’t see in english, that my youngest finally put an effort into improving her reading skills. But, if you have child prefers TV to books, and they enjoy anime, maybe encouraging them to check out the japanese tracks with subtitles might yield some results.

Never Judge A Book By It’s Cover

Whatever happened to this old adage? It tells us that looks can be deceiving, and by making a judgment based on what’s on the outside will make us miss what’s on the inside, which is what really counts.

ANN has just reported a story from South Carolina about a mother that complained to aAbsolute Boyfriend Vol 1 Books-a-million store about a manga being the children’s section based solely on the cover. What makes this a story is that the bookstore acquiesced to the parent’s complaint and is now moving the manga section away from it’s core audience. All because ONE parent complained. The book in question, Absolute Boyfriend vol 1 by Yuu Watase, feature a boy in a gift box. The only parts of the boy that can be seen are his chest and knees, with the nudity only implied.

What galls me about this story is that it was the mother that was offended. The mother of a boy, that came in to shop for her son. She wasn’t offended after her son picked up the book and she looked at what he picked. No boy would pick up a series called Absolute Boyfriend. And once again a rush to judgment is made that the book is pornographic without actually reading any of the book. The mother makes that judgment as does the writer of the article. Absolute Boyfriend is a title written for teenage girls, and it rightfully belongs in the section where teenage girls will find it. And as the mother of 2 girls I know what’s best for them better than the mother of a boy. But then, for the bookstore to move ALL of it’s manga based on one complaint without regard to audience or rating is really bad judgment and bad business.

This just shows how much is wrong in this country, where the minority can make decisions that affect the majority. It’s not up to this one mother of a boy to decide how all mothers of girls should regulate what their daughters are reading or make them search all over the store to find their books because she was offended by what she saw. It’s this kind of sheer ignorance that keeps our culture from maturing.