The Current State of Anime, Manga, and American Comics Today
Once in a while, I’ll randomly pick up a graphic novel, get engulfed in it, and then not read another one for a couple of years. Recently, I’ve come across Dilbert and Gantz. If you’ve been living under a rock, Dilbert is an American comic strip that’s about the seemingly illogical nature of corporate culture.
Gantz is a Japanese manga that’s been made into an anime and real-life action movie. I recommend checking out the anime which is two seasons. If you want to go more into it, the manga continues the story for a while. The story’s basically about a Japanese high school kid that gets run over by a train while saving a homeless person who’s fallen on the tracks. The kid comes back alive via a black ball that orders him and other chosen dead people to kill aliens.
Yeah, it’s a pretty weird story. But the main character, Kurono, goes through growing pains as he struggles through what it means to have courage, sacrifice for others, and navigate through his relationships with females. Because it’s Japanese, it’s also x-rated and pretty gory. Essentially, you have blood, tits, and bodies torn apart in almost every chapter.
Anime, Manga and Japanese Culture
Intentionally or not, Gantz provides a good look into the nihilism of contemporary Japanese culture. When trying to help the homeless person off the tracks, Kurono is initially hesitant. And even when he attempts to do so, by standers don’t really help him and are excited to possibly see another human being get run over by a train.
More importantly, it shows that the Japanese, just like many people throughout the world, are walking blindly in a matrix of self-absorption, entertainment binging, and anti-social fetishes.
Dilbert and Its Message to Society
As American comic strips go, Dilbert is not your apocalyptic horror story where mad men on bikes go riding in the desert looking for victims. What it does show is that so much of our waking lives are spent at work with people we may not necessarily like. But we try to make it work even though the rules that guide us don’t seem to make sense, ethically or business-wise.
It’s also just really funny. When comparing it to other comics in the Sunday edition of a big city newspaper, it blows the competition away in terms of humor. Because so many people work in offices, cubicles, and in front of computers, the company culture has become a “thing.” It’s a different kind of matrix that’s more narrowly defined to our mundane, daily lives.