Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Manga Rule

The Code of the West in manga fan circles is that "scanlated" fan translations are only offered online when the work has not yet been picked up for distribution in the US. When a deal is struck and Viz or Dar Horse announces that an American edition is on the way, the work comes down. As a guide to dealing with ethical questions related to downloading material from the Internet, "the manga rule" offers a serviceable approach.

In which spirit allow us to recommend a new work by the great Naoki Urasawa, "Billy Bat," which is being posted, at least for the time being, on mange fan sites like this one.

This new series by the creator of "Monster" and "20th Century Boys" is manga-metafiction. Envisioning the comic book work of the story's central character, Kevin Yamagata, a Japanese-American artist working for "Marble Comics" in the U.S., gives Urasawa an opportunity to work in a completely different style from his fairly naturalistic norm -- basically a funny-animal partiche of a classic hard boiled private-eye tale. At some point, Yamagata himself becomes the protagonist, traveling to Japan to combat charges of plagerism, and Uraswa's style reverts to his very satisfying and expressive dramatic mode.

Don't forget to read from right to left.

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