Welcome back class! It's been a long (...long, long, long) time since our last class, but I guess that is to be expected when a volcano lavas all over your classroom. Turns out fire alarms sound a lot like OH GOD IT'S A VOLCANO alarms. *
*See last class in which we were cut short because of an alarm. Or more specifically, a volcano alarm.
We've got a lot of lost time to make up for, so let's get started!
Last class we went over audience classifications and I recommended a few of the anime and manga I have really loved over the years. Your homework was to pick the anime or manga you want to start. Easy enough, so I expect everyone to have done this *narrows eyes at nervous looking class*.
"But sensei," I can hear those of you who did your homework ask,"I picked my anime/manga....but I don't know how I'm supposed to find the show/manga I want!" Well, my little studentlings, that's what I'm hear to tell you.
Let's start with anime. Firstly, it's important to know that anime is made in Japan....so generally your anime is going to have originally been made with voice actors speaking Japanese. These you will have to watch with subtitles, or subs. If the anime is popular enough, they get remade with new voice actors, or dubs. One is not definitively better than the other, although certainly sometimes the voice acting for a particular show is better than another. Subbed shows are nice because you aren't going to be limited in what you can watch. Luckily there are still plenty of dubbed shows, but it means you are going to be watching the show later than much of the rest of the world and that you will have a much smaller catalogue to choose from. Honestly, about half of my favourite anime are subbed only, but the dubs I've loved have had really stellar voice acting, so I'd recommend trying both options if you can. So the first thing to do is decide if you want to watch something that is dubbed or subbed (if you have both options available to you with the show you want to watch, anyway). Then, I recommend heading over to either Netflix, Crunchyroll, or Hulu, and start watching!
Netflix - Some of you probably already have a Netflix subscription. The good news is that Netflix does have anime, and that it actually has original content anime (meaning anime that Netflix has commissioned/created), which means it is exclusive to Netflix. The bad news is that the anime catalogue is reaaaaaaaally small, so you aren't going to have many shows to choose from.
Crunchyroll - I'm actually fairly new to Crunchyroll, so some of my more advanced students might actually be more knowledgeable about Crunchyroll than I am. I only recently discovered that it does have content available to users for free. Basically, it's set up very similarly to how Hulu works for us as far as regular tv is concerned: it's better for new, ongoing shows but it does have full seasons of older shows as well. There's definitely a lot more content available to a subscriber, and what's really cool is that you can not only watch shows as they come out in Japan, you also have access to their whole manga catalogue as well, which is very, very cool and is making me consider subscribing. (t's super cheap - it's only $6.95 a month, so very potentially worth it if I start watching/reading more again). From what I've seen browsing their website it looks like they have less dubs, or for shows with multiple seasons they sometimes only have one season. I could be wrong, so I definitely recommend checking it out and seeing if they have a show you're interested in watching available on the free version! *Edit - Mitchii also recommends Daisuke and Funimation for subscription services!
Hulu - This is by far my favourite way to watch shows. So far they've had all but one show I wanted to watch (which is a somewhat obscure one, and luckily Crunchyroll had it!) and they seem to have the most dubbed shows available out of these three options. I unfortunately am not able to watch many subbed shows anymore since I don't have time (I tend to multitask while watching tv, and subbed shows don't really allow for that) so this is a big plus for me. Even better, I haven't found a single anime show that was restricted in any way for free users. So it's a huge catalogue, with a ton of choices between subbed or dubbed, and it's free. Hence it being my favorite. (I also think Hulu has a deal with Funimation, so most? all? of the dubbed anime is from Funimation)
And it's as simple as that! Manga on the other hand...not so simple. I first and foremost always want to support the artist, and whereas it's fairly easy to do with anime....not so much with manga.
As with anime, manga is Japanese, so you're going to be dealing with content that's written in a language you can't read (unless you read Japanese, so kudos to you). What this means, is if the series is popular enough, it gets serialized in other languages (most notably in our case, English) and you can go to your library or local bookstore and find it. As with dubs though, you're limited by what gets popular enough to be picked up AND - horror of horrors - things happen like when Tokyo Pop lost it's licensing on a lot of it's series, so halfway through the series they just stopped being published in English. This means, at least in my case and especially for those in more rural areas where the library might only have one or two manga selections, it can be really hard to support the artist even if you want to. The important thing to remember about mangakas is that they work more like a serialized comic or a tv show - if their sales aren't doing well, the story gets dropped. And that's it. You can be halfway through and then BAM. There's no more.
But there's another option: scanlations. Scanlations are basically what they sound like - manga that has been scanned online and then translated. The groups who do this are really, really awesome - there's a team of people who works on scanlating mangas and it's really time consuming, and they do it out of the goodness out of their hearts basically. This is how I discovered my favourite manga ever - Cat Street. It is not possible to find this in any other format in English. Believe me, I've tried. I would LOVE to buy it and support the mangaka (the creator of the manga) but I can only seem to find it in Japanese or French of all things. This is where it gets a little iffy. Ordinarily, I would never advocate searching out an author's work free online, but in many cases it's the only way you have access to their work since it hasn't officially been translated. And it's definitely a more accepted thing in the community to read your manga this way (even if I am still leery of reading things for free). Beyond that, you also want to make sure you are using sites that support the scanlation team too since they've put in all that hard work for free. And to be honest I've had so many sites recommended and then later have been told the site rips off scanlations without giving the scanlators credit. Basically tl;dr it may feel weird, but scanlations are a kosher thing especially when you don't have another way to read the manga. (But if you have the ability to, please support the mangaka by buying, subscribing, or going to a library!)
*Edit - Mitchii from Rainy Ink Studios, a very advanced student has some really great pointers down in the comments. I'll try and add what she says throughout this post, but I also really recommend her site - she's well versed in anime and manga and has excellent taste, so if you're looking for something good to check out she's a great resource!
So here's where I'd recommend starting with manga:
1. The Library - the more you check out manga from a library, the more they see there's an audience looking for more, and the more they buy. And your library might have the manga you wanted to start with anyway!
2. Buy from a local bookstore, Amazon, or join a subscription service like Crunchyroll - Most bookstores (especially if they are online) are going to have a big catalogue of manga to choose from, and Crunchyroll is obviously great because it's very little money for unlimited access to their library catalogue. This way you still get to support the mangaka so they keep writing their story! *Mitchii says the best way is to buy direct from Japan to support the mangaka, so if you don't mind owning in Japanese, this is the super, super best way to support the mangaka.
3. *Edit with Mitchii's advice: Direct from the scanlators - Every manga has a credit page that lists where they post the original scanlation. This way the scanlators aren't being ripped off, and if their site has ads, it supports them monetarily. If you'd rather have all the the scanlations on one site, Mitchii recommends using batoto since the scanlating groups upload them directly.
And that's it for this class! You've chosen your manga and/or anime, you know where to find them so - get reading and watching! We'll return in our next class to look at popular/influential/I just feel like talking about it because it's AWESOME and you should know it shows and mangas in our next class!*
*Unless I change my lesson plan because that is a thing I can do because I AM THE SENSEI HERE.