Vinland Saga Manganka Says He’s Against Western Influence on Manga


Manga Passion interviewed Kanai-san, the mangaka who wrote/edited Vinland Saga, who told them he’s against western influence in producing manga:


MP: You yourself have overseen several internationally renowned works with titles such as Vinland Saga, Ajin: Demi-Human and Planetes. To what extent do you already think about the (potential) international success of a manga in the feedback you go through with the mangaka and perhaps try to make it more accessible to audiences outside Japan?

Kanai-san: No, not really. For example, there are various codes against the depiction of violence, against the depiction of nudity, whether male or female, or religious codes that I follow. However, I think that there are no fundamental differences in the population in terms of what they perceive as important – be it in Japan, Germany, China or South Korea. Even if it is the case on a political level.

I don’t allow myself to be influenced by so-called political correctness abroad and design the works accordingly. I think that if it’s interesting, it will usually be understood, regardless of whether you come from Africa, Chile or Greenland. I’ve never made a big deal of it so far. But even if a work takes up a very Japanese theme, for example, or a German work a German theme, a Chinese work a Chinese theme – in the end the root is the same, I think.

Stopping a work because it deals with a problem that is too Japanese, or specifying to do something – that hardly ever happens. More specifically, I wonder if there is a difference in Japanese entertainment content between works that are internationally successful. Is it the works that focus more on the Japanese market or a global market?

I don’t think it’s possible to create works that are exactly in the middle, nor would such works really appeal anywhere. Take Skip and Loafer, for example, which is about a girl who comes from the Japanese countryside and moves to the Japanese city of Tokyo alone to study at a good high school. I think people all over the world will certainly understand her feeling of insecurity in the same way. That’s why such works tend to appeal to an international audience.

In this respect, I really don’t think that works need to be adapted for audiences outside Japan. Although I’m not sure how it is for people from countries where there are no rural areas or no cities. I have no idea what it’s like in Dubai. Maybe I’m biased. (laughs)


He’s correct in the sense there’s only so many stories written in many different countries that can have the same premise and follow the same paths, so while taste in specific ingredients obviously remains a point in contention, there’s really no point in arguing about whether Japanese products should follow the same MO as in the USA, for example, which today has become a hypocritically woke disaster.



MP: To what extent do you think global exchange is important for the medium of manga?

Kanai-san: I think it is very important. Kodansha’s management believes that the number of children in Japan is rapidly decreasing and the domestic market is gradually shrinking, so we need to expand our markets. I think that’s a lot of nonsense. (laughs) It’s the same everywhere in the world.

I believe that the birth rate – except in Africa and India – is declining overall. I find it shameful to expand abroad because the domestic market is shrinking. (laughs) But thanks to advances in digital technology, people living abroad can now easily read manga from Japan.

At the same time, it has also become much easier to target the Japanese manga market directly from abroad. So I’m happy when people who find Japanese manga interesting write to us more and more, and when people who like Japanese manga read it, whether they live in Brazil, Antarctica, Tibet or Kenya.

It would be nice if they didn’t just read the illegal pirated copies, but paid a bit of money for them. But if they don’t have money and there are a lot of pirated copies, I think the pirated copy is okay for now – I could be beaten to death by a board member for saying that now. (laughs) First of all, it’s important that manga are read.

Only when they are available is it possible for self-drawn manga to be submitted to Japanese labels. I would therefore be delighted if both the readers’ and authors’ sides were to become more global. But simply expanding into foreign markets because the domestic market is shrinking is really shameful and should be reconsidered. (laughs)

The mindset that Japanese publishers will get poorer and poorer if they don’t expand overseas is pathetic and should be abandoned. Now that it is possible to read and draw manga abroad, I hope that the manga fan community itself will grow. No matter where they come from and no matter what religion they belong to. So when it comes to the question of whether I think globalization is important, I can say that it’s much more fun this way.


Of course a decline in birthrates isn’t an excuse for political correctness. Mainly because if birthrates are declining, specific countries should be trying to repopulate through their own societies, not the least being Japan themselves, and they have made clear they’re aware of the unfortunate situation.


Anyway, good for Kani if he recognizes why political correctness is detrimental to artistic success, and conforming to foreign standards that’re actually poor ones will not solve anything. Maybe one of the best ideas he could consider is developing stories with a positive approach to sex, parenthood and child-bearing. That’s something we doubtless could use in an era where such concepts are being villified by wokesters.


Originally published here.

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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1