An interesting book. Despite the title, it's actually just a general book on writing stories, not specifically one for writing Shojo Manga. A fun readAn interesting book. Despite the title, it's actually just a general book on writing stories, not specifically one for writing Shojo Manga. A fun read with lots of good ideas and information for beginning writers, I'd actually recommend it to the teens it's aimed towards except for one thing- the translation is a bit off at times. For example, there is a chapter about "Settings", which an English speaker would assume refers to the time and place the story happens, but that's not what they mean. What they're referring to is the controlling ideas of the story, or the "rules" that the writer creates to say what can and can't happen in the story. This isn't very clear, however, and the overall chapter is confusing. If only they'd fixed the translation, this might have been a best seller instead of going out of print....more
As a writer, writing teacher, and a lover of Japanese comics, I was excited when I stumbled upon Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice: The CrAs a writer, writing teacher, and a lover of Japanese comics, I was excited when I stumbled upon Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice: The Craft of Creating Manga on Amazon the other day. Published in English in June of 2017 (it was published in Japanese in 2015) by VIZ Media, it was of immediate interested because Araki is the writer/creator of the manga epic Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, which has been running in Shonen Jump for over 25 years. So, naturally, I snagged the eBook edition of the book for my tablet and started reading.
Having just finished the book, I wanted to share my thoughts, but if you want the short version of my review, here it is: If you want to write Shonen (boys) adventure stories like Naruto, One Piece, and Dragonball, this is a must read. If you’re a new writer looking for a basic book on writing in general, this is a pretty good read. If you’re an experienced writer who has read/written lots, it’s an interesting read, but mostly from a cultural perspective. It’d give it 4/5 stars.
Okay, with that out of the way, lets divide this up into the Pros and Cons of this book.
I’m going to start with the Cons, just to get them out of the way, and because they’re short.
-Araki is a oldschool battle manga/pulp adventure writer. So that’s what he’s basically teaching you how to write in this book. If you want to write something else, it can still be useful, but this might not be the book for you. He’s also a bit of a maverick, with his own way of doing things that falls outside of the norm even by boys manga standards. (He didn’t apprentice under the previous generation, is largely self-taught, and his stories are often radically different than most other Shonen stories are.) -This isn’t a book for visual artists, except in the very general sense. He’s got a lot of suggestions and comments about manga art and comic composition, but it won’t teach you serious hardcore artistic theory like Scott McCloud’s Making Comics and Understanding Comics will. Heck, even those “How to Draw Manga” books will likely give you more actual how-to than this book does, if that’s your chosen style. -Piggybacking on that, the rest of this book is for writers, but again, it’s really just a collection of tips and basic theory that he’s picked up over 25 years in the business. If you want to get into how to write story in depth, John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story is the book you want. Also, the story structure he teaches (Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu) is really intended for short stories and chapters of longer serials, and he doesn’t really go into writing and structuring a full serial. -A lot of the advice here is specifically for the Japanese manga market, because this is just a translation of a Japanese book for a Japanese audience, not an edition for foreigners. -He gives a passage from a Hemmingway story and claims that it tells us information that it really doesn’t. I have to wonder if this is a mis-translation of what he was saying the passage was supposed to be giving us. -There are a few times when the translation is a bit unclear, but those are few and far between overall.
Okay, that aside, let’s look at what the book does well.
-This is a really good primer on writing in general for new writers, whether you’re a visual artist or a pure writer, or both. -This is a great book for understanding the ways of thinking that lay behind writing boys manga (aka The Golden Road), and how Japanese view creating manga in general. His thoughts on how manga are more emotionally driven than western comics are were interesting to read, and he really takes you through the process of creating his manga and how the Japanese manga artist system works. (If this part interests you, you should also read the manga Bakuman, which covers this in more detail and in more dramatic form.) -Araki’s thoughts on the relationship between Setting, Story and Character and how they’re all tied together by Theme are worth remembering and a good primer for new writers. He also gives a lot of good tips and suggestions about those elements of story and how they work in a Shonen comic. -The Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu story structure he outlines is a good one for short story writers to keep in mind, and simple and flexible while still offering a straightforward way to structure your stories. (One of his two Implementation chapters acts as an example in great detail, which is also nice. Although after you read it, you can look at any Shonen comic and see it in action immediately.) -He goes into great detail about how he creates characters, and even shows you his character template that he uses to think through his characters before he sits down and designs them visually. -He goes into detail about his own experiences moving up through the manga industry. It’s not quite “On Writing” (Stephen King’s book), but it does give you a feeling for his highs and lows in the industry. -You get a behind the scenes look at his Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure series, and the thoughts, ideas and approaches that went into making it the series it is. (I have to say, as a Jojo’s fan, I really enjoyed all the tidbits about the series he scatters throughout the book.) -It’s a pretty quick and easy read. It took me about 3 hours to read, and I wasn’t trying to power through it.
Overall, I enjoyed reading it, and as I said above, I recommend it to new writers and Shonen manga fans. Araki himself says this book is really intended as a “passing of the torch” book where he shares his secrets with the next generation of manga producers, and that’s what it is. There isn’t likely to be too many mind-blowing ideas here, but there is a lot of things worth thinking about, and I’m very glad I was able to read it. Like I said above, if you enjoyed this, try Bakuman next, which is a dramatized version of this topic. (And an amazing one at that.)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to track down his Rohan Kishibe stories, which look amazing.
If someone challenged Michael Bay to write a Military Sci-Fi novel using the plot of Idiocracy as it's base, then this is the novel he would have writIf someone challenged Michael Bay to write a Military Sci-Fi novel using the plot of Idiocracy as it's base, then this is the novel he would have written. I've read the whole series, and I don't think I can sum it up better than that.
The characters are paper thin, and will drive you nuts. I can't count the number of times I thought to myself "are all these people f*cking twelve?!?!" as I read these books and I know I'm not alone from some of the other reviews. John Geary is incredibly thick headed and neurotic, Victoria Rione is a stone cold b*tch, and Captain Desjani is a crazy b*tch. By the end of the series I felt like I'd been trapped aboard the Dauntless with these crazy people for far too long, and wanted to get of the ship even more than Geary did! There was more than one point where I almost stopped reading just because I couldn't take them, or their insane soap-operatic relationships anymore, and was only able to get through it when I discovered that I could spot and just skim "relationship" scenes without missing much of anything. (Because you could remove them almost entirely and not change the series a bit.)
So, why did I stick with it and finish the series? Because the space combat in these books is amazing! Thanks largely to "Jack Campbell's" experience as a weapons officer in the US Navy, the books are probably the best balance of realism and fun you're going to read when it comes to fleet actions in space. I don't think I've read its equal, except maybe Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but when it comes to strategy and thinking, this series even has Galactic Heroes beat. (On the other hand, Galactic Heroes is so far ahead of this in the character and story department there's no comparison.)
The plot is just strong enough to keep you turning pages and wondering what will happen next, and wanting to see how Geary gets the fleet out of this next Syndic trap. There's a pattern, but the author plays with it enough that it doesn't get boring, and carries you pretty well through. The author also handles the life aboard the ship with a fairly realistic tone that shows his military background and keeps Geary's small world interesting. (The whole series effectively takes place in 4 rooms.)
So, if you love a good fun military sci-fi read, and can manage to tolerate Bay-level characters, then this is the book series for you! If not, then you might want to read something like Old Man's War or the Honor Harrington series, which proves both depth and characterization in addition to the action. ...more