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Manga Mania

With fan clubs in several major cities,Japanese Manga and Anime are fast gaining popularity in India

Written by Debjani Paul |
July 6, 2012 1:38:24 am

With fan clubs in several major cities,Japanese Manga and Anime are fast gaining popularity in India

They love everything related to Japanese culture — they cook Japanese food; meet to discuss their favourite Japanese manga comics and anime shows and,at times,they even dress up as the characters from these books. They are Indian fans of manga and anime,who call themselves ‘Otaku’,a Japanese word for people obsessed with manga,anime and video games.

While manga is a form of comics,written in Japanese and drawn in a style developed in Japan in the 19th century,anime is a Japanese-style of animation. Manga and anime such as Naruto,Bleach,One Piece and Kuroshitsuji are extremely popular in Japan. In the West too they are read by people of all ages. In India,however,these art forms are beginning to find appreciation.

Each of the manga fan clubs in Mumbai,Kolkata,Pune and Chennai have hundreds of fans who communicate with each other through social media and host get-togethers through the year. At these meetings,the club members discuss the latest developments in mangas and animes; exchange books and videos that they have and sometimes,even dress up as the characters at events known as cosplay . The meets also include origami,anime screenings and tarot-card reading sessions.

Daniel Victor,a member of the Pune Anime Club (PAC) says,“No one really understands our obsession with manga or anime. They’re not just cartoons or comics. They have beautiful art,interesting plots and well-planned characters. The Indian otaku is not someone who has no friends and who sits inside all day long.”

Reetam Majumder,a member of both the Kolkata Anime Club (KAC) and the Mumbai Anime Club (MAC),says fan clubs are making an effort to popularise the art form and to raise awareness about it. “Recently,we had Japanese cooking sessions and cosplay events,skit-writing and acting sessions,” says Majumder. The KAC has an internet radio station which plays music from anime shows round the clock. MAC has an in-house band,the Wasabi Vibes,which performs at all the Mumbai meets. It has also performed at the Cool Japan Festival in Mumbai,he adds.

According to Vamika Kapur,a member of PAC,manga and anime got a boost in popularity after the Cool Japan festival was held in Mumbai in March,this year. The festival included activities such as an anime art competition,kimono dance performances,robot shows and the first national cosplay event in the country.

Hundreds of people turned up at the event from all over the country and took part in different contests and activities at the festival. Inspired by the response at the Mumbai festival,Majumder and Victor have come together to find a way to bring more manga and anime works to India. The two fans recently conducted a survey to find out what Indian manga and anime fans prefer to read or watch. One of the key findings says that distributors don’t supply manga comics and anime shows in India because they assume that there isn’t enough demand for them here.

However,the survey also says that 50 per cent of the respondents showed interest in buying manga and anime works and merchandise. “We want to take these results to publishers and distributors. Right now,fans are scattered all over the country and what we’re trying to do is to bring them together so the distributors see a potential market in us,” explains Victor,who works as a web developer in Pune.

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