One of the latest and most popular imports from the world of Japanese comics known as manga, which are serialized "comic books" that are read by nearly every age group in Japan, from schoolboys to business men.
While the popularity of manga in America is confined to the demographic you might expect: teenage boys with an interest in computer games and fantasy, manga in Japan is huge, with new manga comics coming out all the time.
Its not uncommon to see a salaryman (business man) on the subway in Japan reading his manga comics in a three-piece suit as he commutes to work. And don't think for a second he is reading about Superman! The subject matter for japanese manga is as diverse as the American film industry: action, suspense, comedy, history, religion, adult-themed, soaps operas - there are no limits.
One of the most popular manga is Yakitate, japan manga that has a huge international following and follows a young man who has decided to become a bread maker! There are also popular japanese manga download sites where people go to find manga japan comics for free.
And its precisely because of this broad range of subject matter that Japanese adults read manga in Japanese the way Americans read novels by Tom Clancy or Sidney Sheldon. Animation in Japan culture - unlike America - never got pigeon-holed as the expression of a juvenile or low brow culture.
Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, whose animated film "Spirited Away" did fairly well in America, deals with complex sociological issues one doesn't normally see in Disney movies. In Japanese culture, Miyazaki is treated with the kind of respect one sees in America for Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola.
There is even a well-respected manga Japan series on the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, which tell you this isn't your father's comic books!
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