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Japanese Manga Style and its Influence on Pinoy Komiks

The manga style, primarily as a visual style, will always have its roots in Japan. It cannot be claimed by any other country. (Even as it is an innovation of Betty Boop & Bambi.)

Filipino komiks with a Japanese manga style is fruit of that Japanese influence.

Many young Pinoy artists are exposed to anime / manga and they see the work opportunities for those who illustrate in the anime / manga styles these artists will opt to illustrate in that style.

So when they make komiks (or comics) they make it in their favorite style РJapanese manga style. They have adapted its visual devices and clich̩s.

Now the probability of creating a poor comic is much greater than producing a good one, especially when one doesn’t have the training or the support.

The end result is a lot of poor quality manga-style Pinoy komiks exceeding the number of those that are done well in the same style.

Nonetheless, I think that if it were not for anime/manga we wouldn’t get as many young artists getting involved in animation and comics.

Now it is only practical for our artists to seek work that will support them artistically & financially. With Anime/Manga as a global phenomenon, the skilled manga artist will not go hungry.

Is the Pinoy artist proud of the Philippines being a call-center capital? What about a nurse and domestic helper provider? If you are proud of our English-speaking skills and our OFWs – then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be proud of Filipino comic book artists who work in the manga style.

In all examples above, it is the Filipino’s ability to adapt that is important. It is my opinion that the realism in the works of the old Pinoy komik masters reflects this. Realism is enduring and stands the test of time since it can be adapted to many storylines. Visit the Philippine Comic Museum at Komikero.com to see what I mean.

Who are we to deny this generation of Pinoy artists to adapt to the anime/manga if it means they can use the money there to send their brothers and sisters to school? And wouldn’t it be more satisfying for a Pinoy artist to work in the manga style than to exchange his/her gift for answering calls in a call center?

As to the question as to whether the manga style is suitable to carry Filipino language and story – that begs another discussion.

22 comments to Japanese Manga Style and its Influence on Pinoy Komiks

  • maaya

    Hi Joel(again)!

    For you,what constitutes Pinoy comics then?



    (I just came across your site and I guess, you’re a great guy, that’s why i’m asking you….thanks again)

  • Hi Maaya (again)

    Think of Pinoy comics as some guy who takes a girl on a date. The girl assigns him plus “pogi” points and minus “pogi” points depending on how he is as a date.

    Say… if he opens the car door for her, that’s a plus (maybe not for radical feminists). If he picks his nose… that’s a definite minus. Does he pay or do they share? At the end of the day, the girl replays the date and tallies the points in her mind. The guy is still a guy no matter what… but whether or not he is “pogi” to her that’s another matter.

    Now if that guy goes on other dates, you can be sure every girl he goes out with will have a different impression. Because no girl is the same.

    So it is with Pinoy comics.

    If the comic is set in the Philippines, if it uses the vernacular, if it follows the styles of revered Pinoy comic masters, if it is for the Filipino to read and they can afford to read, if it can even be adapted to a global audience — all such things generally add points. But that’s my opinion, and I’m old-fashioned.

    Being myself an artist I would nonetheless defend that what makes comic ART (focus on ART) Filipino is its the intricate inking of organic lines – an edgy art nouveau if you will. The Filipino is not a culture of minimalists as the Japanese are. We look for drama in our lines as much as we do in our lives.

    Others may feel that it need not appear anything like the works of Alcala, Redondo, Coching, or Ravelo. They have the likes of Masamune Shirow, Walt Disney, and Jim Lee to draw from.

    But art aside and story aside. I feel the minimum requirements for a comic to be called Pinoy are either of the following:
    1. Author / creator of the comic is Pinoy.
    2. The author intended for the comic to be appreciated largely by Filipinos.

  • archie

    Its just so simple – “artist”who does manga love the creative imagination in making a good comic – alot of crap is being published out there. Just look at Batch’72 and Cast – poor writing and poor art. now compared it to the works of Leinil Yu and the guy who made Trese. Alot of difference.

    When you say adapt-it means to better oneself-not to produce a crude imitation of something else.

    The early issues of Wizard discusses that comic book should relay something – it should tell a story – simply, it must mean something – very word should come in play with the art (think of watchmen).

    Nuff said

  • I bet you found my definition of an “artist who does manga” too difficult to understand.

    As for the comics you mentioned. There’s a lot of difference in the art, yes. And I think you are judging it in terms of art alone. Since Leinil don’t write comics and for everyone’s info, the writer for Batch ’72 and Trese are the same person. Obviously the stories are all different, and crap is relative. I should make another topic on that.

    And what about the people who don’t do manga, Archie? You don’t suppose they hate creative imagination, do they?

  • i did an acedemic paper presentation on this in australia. hehehehe… maybe i should send you a copy.

  • frederick david

    hello i think joel ,is right..i my self would agree na i do my own komiks….i did it in manga style but ido appreceate what our ancient artist do…in fact i have theyre work( darna,etc) as my precious kolekyons ever..”.saludo ako sa kanila” but the point is …uor generation is totally different to them( our honorable ancient artist)….you must do the trend BUT do it ,,in a real Pinoy ways and attitudes…dont adapt the japanese attitudes in our komiks…wat i mean is…do our komiks w/ a manga style in pinoy real emotions , attitudes and kung paano tayo makisama sa tao….promote our traditions ,cultures and watever the PINOY has made off!!
    yeah i do yhe komiks of my own..but i did it real pinoy!!!! salamat joel for the ideas…i do salute wat you sed!!!!!!!!!!!!! mabuhay pinoy komiks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • carlson

    i think good ART is one that responds to local situations.
    good ARTcannot help but be nationalistic.

    it need not should PHILIPPINES, but the heart is.

    one can get foreign influences, but they are filtered thru a sincere filipino heart.

    manga—and japanese influences—-can help, but at a certain point, it gets in the way.

  • “As to the question as to whether the manga style is suitable to carry Filipino language and story – that begs another discussion. ”

    That one is easy. If we look at Manga books with foreign scripts, we don’t mind. If They in return saw our manga in tagalog (foreign script) same deal, shouldn’t bother them either 🙂

    but they might think, JAP art with foreign scripts. They might go, “weird!” hehe because they are so nationalistic nad they think that their country owns the art style. Taboo? maybe.

    Maybe if they look at a Redondo comics with tagalog writing, they might not mind it as much? Hell, I think I craeted more questions than answers here hahaha.

  • jasper

    yeah i totally agree with you. The only problem i see about today’s Filipino comics are the artist becoming too engrossed in the concept of becoming japanese themselves thus producing japanese work too, instead of appreciating the artistic incline of mangga and adapting it to something wonderful for themselves(there’s nothing wrong with improvised or inspired works). I mean, we (us) shouldn’t try to be something we aren’t but also we should be open minded to see the good in other influences. I like what carlson said, ahehe, good art responds to local situations. THere’s got to be something good in every culture and we’ve got to make the best out of it. If we claim to be good Filipino artists, our works in my opinion have to contain the trademark filipino emotion or essence. A lot of Filipinos have talents/gifts in ARts and I’m pretty sure they were also put in the Philippines for a reason. Anime Fan myself, i’ve got to give kudos for the inspiration.

    It’s just too bad that a lot of filipinos fail to see the good side to being a filipino…

    As to what Gilbert Monsata said, how about the manggas in French?

  • I believe the Filipino culture has still affected and will continue to affect generations of anime fans here a great deal beyond what we can readily perceive. An upbringing in the Philippines carries with it so much treasure (and baggage) that can’t be so easily “Japanified.” For now… 2008, I think it’s clear that the visual aesthetic of anime & manga has already gained far more acceptance with us Filipinos than un-illustrated Japanified stories done by Filipinos. Filipino writers Japanifying the way they name their characters or how those characters live — that alone has a very strong ability to DISCONNECT the story from local readers.

    Nevertheless, whatever connects a Filipino creator to both to his/her passions and to his/her audience (no matter how small) wins the day. Japanified or Americanized or Tagalized – it doesn’t matter. The world has become small enough and big enough for the Filipino to connect even with Filipinos who would rather forget they were Filipinos.

  • Addison

    Wow long spanning conversation to ah.

    Simply put, it’s just Sturgeon’s law. 90% of everything is crap.

    No exceptions. If gold wasn’t rare, it wouldnt have any value. Same thing in art and literature. Every innovation, every style, every genre will suffer from this. That’s how it is. At the same time each and every one of those will have their share of gold.

    On topic, right now the biggest revolution happening is the amalgamization of cultures. The restriction of time and space for meme to take root and grow has now been shattered thanks to the internet and other information dissemination advances. No such thing as too mundane anymore. The world has always been changing, along with every culture continuing to trade and steal with and from each other. This time however it is on overdrive and very hyper. Keep up or be left out.

    I will not quote Oscar Wylde about pratiotism and the vicious (although I did kind of already with that sentence), but I like how the world is going global as it should be.

  • analyn

    Is there more influnces that japanese brought in the Philippines?

  • Mylene

    hi there, Mr. Joel…
    impressing! that’s how u r 2 me…
    im in japan…tried to research articles on the effects of manga to very young audiences…eventually landing on ur site gave me bits of wisdom…hope to chat with u personally…just in case uve got *that* extra time yet…pls leave me a msg to the abovementioned ym…thank you and More power…


  • This is weird for me to comment on such a topic seeing how I am African-American but honestly I found this page through my own quest to determine the creditable/acceptability of making Manga.
    I agree completely that Manga is a product of Japanese Culture and while I’m all for Japanese Influenced art, I submit to you this “If you copy everything about Manga and just change the words and nationality around does that create a new product.”
    I believe an Artist should be as original as possible and I think the institution of Manga itself is so Japanese in the sense that it’s like the only drawing style they use. Why do you think a few Japanese Artist defect to America to work in comics it’s for true artist freedom. The ones you give up when you self-limit your style to that of Manga while being willfully condescending to the styles of your forefathers.
    I submit to you what I know I’m going to do for myself and my culture. I’m going to study traditional African Art as well as the great African-American legends of comic today and everything else that I like including stuff outside my Diaspora. So when I decide to sign or rather self-publish a series of my own it will be in a style that’s unique to me but may have a strong influence from Japan but more importantly it will have a strong influence from my culture.

  • Lester

    I grew up watching ghost fighter, dragon ball Z etc. like many other pinoys do. Hence, there is no doubt there is a lot of pinoys that like manga-style comics more rather than that what is called “traditional pinoy komiks”. For me another reason aside from being more exposed a lot to the said Japanese style of art (i.e. Anime and Manga) for Filipinos to seem to love that art form more is because of its versatility, it could cover maybe almost every genre, it could be as realistic as a portrait but could also be as unreal as those little chibis, yet in a harmonious way.

    Not so long ago, I have read this article of a traditional-pinoy-comics artist, although he may not said it directly but it seems that he is against pinoys who use manga-style comics for he think it is not being nationalistic. I totally do not agree with him, i don’t think that choosing foreign form of art to be inclined with, alone, means turning your back to your country and I also don’t think that sticking to what they think traditionally pinoy could best describe someone as being nationalistic.

    So, for pinoys that love to draw manga, that is just okay, as long as we do not just immitate but innovate, innovate in a way that we make manga to fit our own culture.

  • The way I see it is that comics are a visual language. Sometimes a language dies out when fewer and fewer people speak it. There was a time when lush pen-and-ink was the style in-vogue…the visual language of that time.

    But times change and cultures mix and mutations sprout…in the visual language we use to communicate with each other. Every generation responds to a visual language (comics) if it tells stories that touch their soul and express more imaginative qualities over what other visual languages offer….I guess Manga and Anime had such a powerful effect on kids, young and old…something that older visual languages could not replicate.

    So like Latin decaying into oblivion, even if it is a beautiful langauge…English coming into age along with other languages…the transition of the comic book artist preferring to use Manga/Anime as their visual language is just a natural progression or a changing of the guard.

    Unless ANYONE can express the same wild ideas, storylines, character designs that a Manga artist can do in their particular visual language (comic book style) and touch other people’s souls the same way that Manga / Anime has done for kids of this generation then I guess Manga is the new visual language that artists will “speak” when they communicate their stories to the world.

    Kumusta na Joel! Long time no see…hehehe. Sa comic book conventions na lang tayo nagkikita! Good luck sa studio mo!

  • HyoriiA

    I dont even care..
    I just post a tremendous mail here…
    (GOODLUCK for us in our performance tomorrow…)

    basta i just love watching animes..because they are beutiful and sometimes funny.. eheheh XD

  • Dean Matthew Ayuzawa

    If this is a mere fad in this generation, surely, adapting this culture would be good. We might be able to awaken in ourselves, the youth of the Philippines, both an individualistic and collective feeling of nationalism as Japan shows with their manga. But I could not erase this certain notion at the back of my mind that all of these might somehow be some part of a bigger scheme, a hidden imperialistic motive perhaps? However I might be assuming too much due to the lack of sleep that I entertain thoughts that manga might be a way of inculcating their culture unto the world and convincing everyone that they have the superior culture, enticing everyone to their web…ah~
    this might just be some ramble of a wannabe insomniac. I ♥ ANIME since I was a kid so what the heck.

  • Aftermat Salazar

    Good day to everyone.
    I need advice for developing manga art creation. been writing and making comic art since early 2000, but im really interested in manga art. i need it for my story.
    can anyone give advice or may provide their skill and talent.
    reply na lang po sa comment kung may interesado

    [Proud to be Pinoy!]

  • Mr. Salazar if you’d like to take up workshops on Digital Coloring + Painting you can contact me for a Pixel Pintura Workshop

  • Maget Eden

    I got tired of reading some manga and watching anime, I was beginning to get bored with their usual plots. But when I listened to the radio about filipino comics, I quickly searched for them on the internet and my mind was blown away, their drawing styles were really different from manga, it was beautiful. It might sound corny, but it somehow revived my pilipino identity on comic-arts, I am really proud that we’ve got some really awesome pinoy comics here that isn’t influenced by manga/anime. And now, I began reading some liwayway magazines for some pinoy comics. I bought some Kikomachine komiks (they’re really funny haha), and now ‘am planning to buy some “where the bold stars go to die ” and “Elmer”. Am still a newbie with pinoy comics and am’loving them. with the thought of having pinoy mangakas (at first ewwww) but then maybe someday it would evolve into something unique and great =)

  • Vanessa Sario

    a filipino artist who drew comics in japanese manga style.. thats definitely me >..<

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