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Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics

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Japanese manga have attracted a devoted global following. In the popular press manga is said to have "invaded" and "conquered" the United States, and its success is held up as a quintessential example of the globalization of popular culture challenging American hegemony in the twenty-first century. In Manga in America - the first ever book-length study of the history, stru Japanese manga have attracted a devoted global following. In the popular press manga is said to have "invaded" and "conquered" the United States, and its success is held up as a quintessential example of the globalization of popular culture challenging American hegemony in the twenty-first century. In Manga in America - the first ever book-length study of the history, structure, and practices of the American manga publishing industry - Casey Brienza explodes this assumption. Drawing on extensive field research and interviews with industry insiders about licensing deals, processes of translation, adaptation, and marketing, new digital publishing and distribution models, and more, Brienza shows that the transnational production of culture is an active, labor-intensive, and oft-contested process of "domestication." Ultimately, Manga in America argues that the domestication of manga reinforces the very same imbalances of national power that might otherwise seem to have been transformed by it and that the success of Japanese manga in the United States actually serves to make manga everywhere more American.


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Japanese manga have attracted a devoted global following. In the popular press manga is said to have "invaded" and "conquered" the United States, and its success is held up as a quintessential example of the globalization of popular culture challenging American hegemony in the twenty-first century. In Manga in America - the first ever book-length study of the history, stru Japanese manga have attracted a devoted global following. In the popular press manga is said to have "invaded" and "conquered" the United States, and its success is held up as a quintessential example of the globalization of popular culture challenging American hegemony in the twenty-first century. In Manga in America - the first ever book-length study of the history, structure, and practices of the American manga publishing industry - Casey Brienza explodes this assumption. Drawing on extensive field research and interviews with industry insiders about licensing deals, processes of translation, adaptation, and marketing, new digital publishing and distribution models, and more, Brienza shows that the transnational production of culture is an active, labor-intensive, and oft-contested process of "domestication." Ultimately, Manga in America argues that the domestication of manga reinforces the very same imbalances of national power that might otherwise seem to have been transformed by it and that the success of Japanese manga in the United States actually serves to make manga everywhere more American.

37 review for Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lianne Sentar

    This is a fantastically researched overview of the Manga Boom in North America (and the years leading up to it and since), and Brienza's accessible prose and clear, intuitive structure for the book will allow non-academics to read it and gain key insight into not just the industry itself, but the broader sociological implications of manga through globalization. And it's genuinely riveting--when one of her industry interviewees said they "got into the manga industry for revenge," I knew I was in This is a fantastically researched overview of the Manga Boom in North America (and the years leading up to it and since), and Brienza's accessible prose and clear, intuitive structure for the book will allow non-academics to read it and gain key insight into not just the industry itself, but the broader sociological implications of manga through globalization. And it's genuinely riveting--when one of her industry interviewees said they "got into the manga industry for revenge," I knew I was in for more than just a dry breakdown of transnational market forces. This book is delightfully raw at times, and includes her fascinating (and sure-to-be controversial) perspective on the psychology of the people behind this niche economy. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in the manga industry and/or the greater Western graphic novel market.

  2. 5 out of 5

    More Bedside Books

    "Clearly, all of these metaphorical ways of talking about manga are hardly better than convenient fictions which do next to nothing to illuminate the actual social and cultural transformations taking place. There are people—lots of them, in highly organized groups—responsible for what has occurred. Yet, it is precisely these people who have been written out of the standard stories of manga’s success. According to the common wisdom, the innate properties of the manga object itself were the cruci "Clearly, all of these metaphorical ways of talking about manga are hardly better than convenient fictions which do next to nothing to illuminate the actual social and cultural transformations taking place. There are people—lots of them, in highly organized groups—responsible for what has occurred. Yet, it is precisely these people who have been written out of the standard stories of manga’s success. According to the common wisdom, the innate properties of the manga object itself were the crucial factor, while those individuals behind it have been made invisible, silenced, and superfluous. It is as if the manga is doing it all on its own." Whether it’s a local library, bookshop, convention, package arriving at your door, digital platform or, eBook download Japanese comics have become a global phenomenon. In the last decades comics from Japan have reached the hands of people young and old in different languages, further inspiring in their wake a new generation of creators across the world over. So it’s quite opportune that sociologist Casey Brienza embarked on field research about the industry publishing these comics (as well as some prose) in America, which also reaches English speaking populations near and far. The resulting academic book, though written more accessibly, and published in 2016 Manga In America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics is likely to surprise many. In over 200 pages Brienza covers not only the history (focusing largely on the beginning of the manga bubble forward) with innovations and disasters but, insights into the industry and its place. A vivid picture is painted representing companies (including the Japanese side), business models, licensing, marketing, anecdotes and confessions of CEOs, translators, editors, adaptors and comic letterers among other workers. It’s an industry of evangelizers, opportunists, tastemakers, gatekeepers, rawness and skill, sacrifice and reward. A simple Japanese word describing comics turned into a both familiar and nebulous concept through marketing and influence. Around this is importantly framed the difficult questions of the effects in this cross cultural exchange. Of course readers may be most concerned with the enjoyment of what they consume first. For my part I’ve known people who have been involved in publishing in different capacities and heard my share of stories of the years too. As a result some of this book was not news to me and a few assertions felt a little off base. Though, this is hardly a criticism with all the subjects covered, intended to give something to everyone, packed into the page count. If one has any interest in this category of books, it can be very beneficial to educate yourself about just how you get to hold them in your hands. I heartily encourage everyone to read Manga in America.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dan Gorman

    It's ok, but not quite what I was looking for. I hoped for a straightforward history of manga importation to the U.S., but the book is a work of sociology, mixed with a state-of-the-publishing-industry report. Brienza uses a lot of social theory (Pierre Bourdeau) to assess the flows of intellectual property from one nation to another, hence the transnational component of the book's title. This is interesting material from a critical theory standpoint, but not what I was in the mood for reading o It's ok, but not quite what I was looking for. I hoped for a straightforward history of manga importation to the U.S., but the book is a work of sociology, mixed with a state-of-the-publishing-industry report. Brienza uses a lot of social theory (Pierre Bourdeau) to assess the flows of intellectual property from one nation to another, hence the transnational component of the book's title. This is interesting material from a critical theory standpoint, but not what I was in the mood for reading on my vacation! The shifts from theory to a history of the industry to sociological interviews with manga editors make for jarring shifts in tone. Yet I was intrigued by the family-like structure of the manga industry in America (Brienza's thesis). Relatively small numbers of people, like the editors of Viz Media and the chief comic book buyer for the now-defunct Waldenbooks, masterminded the introduction of translated comics in America. Family-like infighting and/or close relationships affect everything from translation and adaptation to licensing and author royalties. The material on translations done at home, as well as direct-to-digital publishing, was intriguing. Ultimately, Brienza shows that manga is popular not for its Japanese aspects, but for its familiarity (in translation) to American culture. The book ends by asking rhetorically if, in the future, American-style standards will reshape Japanese comics in Japan.

  4. 5 out of 5

    D.F. Pendrys

    This is a fantastic book. Not only does Brienza walk through the history of Manga's development in America, she discusses how sociological issues play a role uncovering some threads that are useful to see. Also she looks at the recent struggles in the industry and the future given that. It is a very useful book to read for a variety of reasons and of course incredibly well researched.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Hemmann

  6. 5 out of 5

    LHW

  7. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Matthews

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chuchuchu

  9. 5 out of 5

    Morgana Santilli

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fran Apey

  11. 5 out of 5

    Electra Reads

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A fascinating book, though I could have done without the theoretical section.

  14. 4 out of 5

    P

  15. 5 out of 5

    J Michael

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jake Forbes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ysabet

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meep

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mely

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ville Kokko

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diogo Prado

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lawless

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Irvin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  26. 4 out of 5

    Feliza Casano

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lillian

  29. 4 out of 5

    Corinna Cornett

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica De

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lori

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kendal

  33. 5 out of 5

    R

  34. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  35. 5 out of 5

    Skyler

  36. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  37. 5 out of 5

    Todd

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