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Why is old manga unpopular?

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Post #673717
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3:31 am, Nov 16 2015
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So for the sake of the discussion, let's say the term "old manga" refers to series that are more than 20 years old at the time you read them.

I think it won't cause any controversy if I say that old manga series that are currently being scanlated on average have significantly fewer readers than current manga series. In other words, old manga is unpopular, even the series that were considered to be masterpieces back in their day.

The question is why that is the case.
Is it because old manga is genuinely less interesting than modern manga for today's readers?
or
Is it because readers of scanlation are biased and don't give old titles a chance?

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Post #673718
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wiggler
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3:35 am, Nov 16 2015
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I think it's the art styles really. That's the one thing for me that kinda discourages me from reading. The lines and the eyes... And the flatness of it all. It's not that the plot is bad (personally some of the older plots are much better than what is coming out right now) it's the drawing style that I can't seem to accept.



Post #673724
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4:31 am, Nov 16 2015
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Art style. I have immensely enjoyed older manga but they are put quite simply, ugly.

Post #673726
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4:50 am, Nov 16 2015
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Hmm, interesting, I did not think of art at all. Well, I'm not an artsy person, but now I'm curious. Do you think the old style art is simply inferior (less sophisticated) than modern style, or is it that our aesthetics have changed over the years?

Actually, come to think of it, there are quite a few niche mangaka with extremely ugly art style even now. But then, they're niche.

Oh wait, I find One Piece character designs ugly... Am I the only one? And that's anything but niche.

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Post #673728
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5:23 am, Nov 16 2015
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It's not inferior, though the older art is generally less refined. The style of the 90s is different from the style of today. And back in the 80s most of the shounen characters were musclebound monsters. The older stuff has characters with all sorts of interesting shapes.

You will of course find the directly contrasting opinion to the people saying that the old art is flat and ugly. That is of course that the modern art (especially the "Moe" style stuff) is generic and worthless. Every character has the same face and big eyes.

But what do I know. I like the look of Fukumoto's stuff like Akagi

Post #673734
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Lurking
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8:31 am, Nov 16 2015
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I wouldn't necessarily say it's due to an "old" art style.
To be frank, a lot of the subject matter from manga 20+ years ago is outdated to us now.
We've now read too many, say, sci-fi manga stories, so to go back to the ones that started its popularity wont be interesting. We would just see it as using a lot of the stuff we see nowadays.
Older manga were innovative at the time, but not anymore.

Post #673738
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9:10 am, Nov 16 2015
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For me, my tolerance is 1980s I think as the furthest back I've ever read for a manga. I don't know if I've ever read anything older.

For me since I mainly read shoujo/josei; anything like Glass Mask is probably my limit. Anything that looks like it is from an older time (there is a certain style that goes with older manga), it seems obvious to me that I won't like it. It doesn't really have anything to do with the art itself but more what the art represents which is the subject matter. As Karonhioktha said, subject matter is outdated and I think art can bring that sort of message across without even having to read the synopsis or the first chapter. It's superficial but maybe it's my experience with manga that has given me this sense?

For mangas in the 1980s and later, I find their subject matters quite amusing and refreshing; a step out from the modern manga bubble. I have a few favorite mangas that are even written in the 80s, before the 00s e.g. Cipher. Also Miriam is quite a fun too with the spunky little girl. I don't know if it's just me but I find the storylines of older mangas quite fun to read and sometimes better than modern mangas. I've read so many modern mangas that I think that probably influenced me into searching for more unique titles that I eventually found when sampling mangas from the 80s. Also I don't consider 90s are particularly in the "old" category because some of the greatest shoujos were written at that time that remain popular today e.g. Kare Kano, Mars

It's not easy to pinpoint other than to say it is judging a book by its cover/art (which I understand is superficial so I'm not that proud to say that)

In consideration of bias....you have to also consider the fact that it's probably not easy to gain access to raws of old mangas (clean and good ones at least) so scanlators are probably less inclined to work on them too. With that in mind, we don't even have a large representative body of manga from older times so it's hard to judge other than what we've been provided.

Edit: nevermind, the oldest I've read is from 1976 - just checked Glass Mask date.
But it's not my only 1976 manga it turns out. Swan by Ariyoshi Kyoko (1976) is a manga which was (digression from here on out) an entirely unintentional and surprisingly good discovery from my public library (not online which doesn't even have as far as volume 15 scanlated yet which is the last that CMX released in english). Then again, a public library has a limited collection of manga which is also limited by the amount of manga published in english thus I had limited exposure and was limited to what I was available to...however this was after I discovered online manga so.....anyway, Swan was nonetheless an interesting gem that I would say remains relevant in terms of subject matter.

Last edited by mysstris at 9:27 am, Nov 16

Post #673741
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Seinen is RIGHT
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11:24 am, Nov 16 2015
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It´s down to the same reasons modern audiences aren´t interested in movies or TV shows that are older than a decade but why they jump on remakes.
Time moves on and so do tastes so you can´t expect consumers to be archaeologists of the past. The current manga market would also loose it´s audience if everyone was constantly digging though dollar bins and databases.
The audience also demands everything to be set in the present day so the current Parasyte adaptations had to update the 80s setting for example.
Detective Conan and US comics feature a floating timeline due to the that reasons but exceptions as Hajime no Ippo (now set in 199X) or Punisher Max do exist.
Batman was created in 1939, Guts is form 1988 and i obviously like "old" comics (or games or movies or...) if you look at my profile but i am an exception and very few people i meet share my interest in history.

@Caskar97: Manga (or books in general) used to be way more popular as print used to matter. Print is dead and piracy is in. Just look at us.

Last edited by residentgrigo at 5:22 pm, Nov 16

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Post #673757 - Reply to (#673734) by Karonhioktha
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4:29 pm, Nov 16 2015
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Quote from Karonhioktha
I wouldn't necessarily say it's due to an "old" art style.
To be frank, a lot of the subject matter from manga 20+ years ago is outdated to us now.
We've now read too many, say, sci-fi manga stories, so to go back to the ones that started its popularity wont be interesting. We would just see ...

This is how I feel too, although I can't quite explain it. But old works do seem to be somehow lacking compared to modern ones.

In light of this, one of the things I'm curious about would be is there really improvement in sophistication of story lines and plot devices (and also art, as has been pointed out by others) from generation to generation, or it is simply that our tastes change?

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Post #673758
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4:56 pm, Nov 16 2015
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I think it's because manga was a lot less popular back then, so older manga just aren't as well known.

Post #673762
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9:38 pm, Nov 16 2015
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I'd say Caskar97's response the closest to what happened. Until the massive boom of Japanese media that started in the 80's, there really wasn't anything that really gave the public a reason to pay attention to Japan, aside from Sony's electronics.

As for the "unappealing art style" debate, that's a weak argument because there was more stuff out there besides Tezuka and Ishinomora. They were just the most well known ones.

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Post #673769
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Seinen is RIGHT
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10:45 pm, Nov 16 2015
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You guys have no idea what you are talking about regarding sales data. Like at all.
Here are a 2 well worded articles to enlighten the masses. The Death of Manga: Failure to Adapt and Why Manga Publishing Is Dying (And How It Could Get Better).

The mid-80s to the mid-90s were The Golden Age of Jump and i remember reading in an encyclopedia that the manga market made about 10% of the Japanese book market in the 90s. I will come back later with current numbers and manga is obviously not going away (neither are my beloved US comics) but the market will look drastically different in a decade. The amount of quickly dying anthology publications is noticeable and the format itself is an antiquated joke. Crackdowns on piracy (the TPP for one) are becoming noticeable too so we will see. I for one welcome our digital overlords and don´t expect the Jump Trinity to end any time soon as they are singlehandedly keeping the premier manga magazine afloat. Even DBZ (old and unpopular ~eh?) had to come back...
(I wonder how my related job will look like in a decade none .)

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Post #673774
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12:41 am, Nov 17 2015
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I don't know about popularity per se, but it's hard for me to find a manga I like that was made over 25 years ago.

If the story's good enough, I can handle just about any art style, besides ones that are overly gratuitous in sexualization, or stereotypical to to the point of being offensive. But the problem is, most of the time the story and characters don't appeal to me. The comedy is awkward, the plot is predictable, the women are too submissive, and the romance, if attempted, too cheesy, unsatisfying, and/or cliché.



Post #673775 - Reply to (#673769) by residentgrigo
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1:15 am, Nov 17 2015
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I believe they're referring to the non-Japanese market for manga, which was considerably smaller in the 80s-90s, especially in English speaking countries.

Quote from Transdude1996
As for the "unappealing art style" debate, that's a weak argument because there was more stuff out there besides Tezuka and Ishinomora. They were just the most well known ones.

Unappealing doesn't mean lesser. For example, contemporary pop music is generally less complex and artistically interesting than classical music, but it has a much broader public appeal.

As residentgrigo pointed out above, people prefer newer releases in more than just manga. It seems to be a common trait across media.

(Also, I'd argue that Tezuka & Ishinomori drew better backgrounds than a majority of modern mangaka, and surpass almost all modern artists when it comes to panel layouts. Don't be so quick to knock their art!)

Post #673778
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3:01 am, Nov 17 2015
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You could carry this topic over to why is old anything (recreationally/culturally) typically less popular to the modern masses.

In the case of manga, the biggest reasons are both relevant appeal and art style. Social change like gender equality/stereotypes, smart technology, and globalization have all had a major impact on Japan over the past several decades. Why wouldn't I have reason to believe a manga made in 1960 was a little sexist? On top of it, globalization and the internet have basically numbed us to plot cliches, dramatic devices ect that no longer can be pulled off as easily. We've seen it all in every kind of media.

For the art style it ultimately comes down to personal preference but the reason it's less appealing to most is simply due to the era we live in. Art styles dating many decades back were looser, rougher, flatter and more exaggerated in line work. Modern manga typically has a much cleaner digital look (because of technology). We're used to seeing everything HD and on screens. Crisp patterns, textures and lines are conventionally what's "in fashion". Does that make it better and the older one worse? No. technology has just changed a lot of our aesthetic preference. It's what were used to seeing.

Personally, manga that is roughly 20-35 years old I would consider the subject matter and humor to be relevant enough to read. If the style was "dated" or significantly different than modern styles, I might reconsider. I'm picky about what style I read any manga in, modern or not because it is a visual read. I care about what my characters look like!

I would imagine most people who read manga will be deterred if they dislike the art style for whatever reason - not all, but most. Manga is a visual comic, what the style is can definitely make it or break it.

Last edited by ChildofSecrets at 3:11 am, Nov 17

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