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Manga de Dokuha (まんがで読破 Manga de Dokuha?, lit. Reading Through with Manga) is a series of manga versions of classic literature. Published by East Press, the aim of the series is to introduce average manga readers to important literary works they would otherwise not be aware of or willing to read. The series received press coverage for its publication of often controversial political treatises. East Press published best-selling versions of the communist novel Kanikōsen and Karl Marx's Das Kapital, as well as Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Overview

Manga de Dokuha was launched by East Press in an effort to expose young Japanese people to classic works of literature in a manga format. Kasuke Maruo produces each book in the series and outlines the narrative, while artwork is created by Variety Art Works.[1] The books in the series were often sold through easily accessible convenience stores, including 7-Eleven. Maruo said that "We thought that maybe we could get people to read well-known works perceived as tough reads by turning them into manga and selling them at convenience stores." In July 2008, the series' first 17 entries had sold over 900,000 copies.[2] The average sales for an entry in the series were around 35,000.[1]

Significant entries

Kanikōsen and Das Kapital

File:Kanikosen manga.jpg

Kanikōsen (蟹工船?) (published in English as The Crab Canning Ship or The Crab Ship) is a 1929 Japanese novel by Takiji Kobayashi. Written from a left-wing political perspective, the book follows the crew of a crab fishing ship living under oppressive conditions while being exploited by capitalists. The novel, which typically sells around 5,000 copies a year, became an unexpected bestseller in 2008 and sold over 507,000 copies that year. The same year, East Press published its own manga version of the novel, which sold over 200,000 copies.[3] In response to the popularity of the communist-themed Kanikōsen manga, East Press published a manga version of Karl Marx's 1867 treatise Das Kapital. This version presents the original Marxist anti-capitalist principles via the fictionalized tale of Robin, the owner of a cheese factory who experiences guilt for exploiting his workers and betraying his father's socialist principles. Maruo stated that "I think people are looking to Marx for answers to the problems with capitalist society. Obviously, the recent global crisis suggests that the system isn't working properly." East Press's edition of Das Kapital sold 6,000 copies in its first few days of publication.[4]

The renewed success of both the novel and manga versions of Kanikōsen, as well as that of the manga Das Kapital, were often discussed in the context of the rising popularity of left-wing literature in Japan, the late-2000s recession affecting Japan, and growing membership of the Japanese Communist Party.[3][5][6] According to Waseda University literature professor Hirokazu Toeda, "Kanikosen is discussed and analyzed every time a critical social issue occurs — the disparity society, severe labor conditions, consumer product falsification, random killings. This is a unique characteristic of the ‘Kanikosen’ boom and it now is symbolizing or mirroring all those negative aspects of current day Japan."[7] Daisuke Asao, a senior office of the National Confederation of Trades Unions, said that "the situation of those labourers in the book is very similar to modern temporary workers: the unpredictable contracts, the working under heavy supervision, violence from supervisors, the widespread sexual harassment and the pressure against unionisation are all things that modern Japanese recognise every day."[5] Anti-poverty activist Kosuke Hashimoto responded to the books' popularity, saying "I think many young people in Japan are afraid of the future, and that fear is sometimes turning to anger. Reading comics might only be the start."[6] Social welfare advocate Kaori Katada said that "Poverty has been a growing and visible problem for some time, but now people are looking for answers about why it is returning. That's why they're turning to these books."[6]

Mein Kampf

A version of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (わが闘争 waga tōsō?) was published in October 2008. The book is Hitler's autobiography, in which he outlines his Nazi political ideology. The manga version of Mein Kampf was a minor commercial success, selling 45,000 copies.[8] However, it also proved to be controversial. The Financial Ministry of Bavaria, which owns the copyright to the book and has refused to publish it in Germany, issued a statement saying that manga was an inappropriate medium for Hitler's writing.[8] Bavaria's former Japanese representative Toshio Obata stated, "Even 60 years after the end of war, Nazism remains a sensitive issue in Germany. Did East Press exhaust discussions before publishing it? Did it consider the difference between Japan and Germany as to how manga is viewed as a medium?" Maruo defended its publication, saying "'Mein Kampf' is a well-known book, but relatively few people have read it. We think this will provide clues about Hitler as a human being, as to his way of thinking that led to such tragedy, even though he was dismissed as a 'monster.'" The publication of the manga helped reignite the debate in Germany as to whether the ban on the book should be lifted.[1]

List of entries

TitleOriginal author/editorISBNReleased Date
The Broken Commandment Tōson Shimazaki ISBN 978-4-87257-812-6 July 2007[9]
Rashomon Ryūnosuke Akutagawa ISBN 978-4-87257-834-8 October 2007[10]
Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky ISBN 978-4-87257-835-5 October 2007[11]
Kanikōsen Takiji Kobayashi ISBN 978-4-87257-836-2 October 2007[12]
Night on the Galactic Railroad Kenji Miyazawa ISBN 978-4-87257-866-9 November 2007[13]
War and Peace Leo Tolstoy ISBN 978-4-87257-867-6 November 2007[14]
On Decadence and The Idiot Ango Sakaguchi ISBN 978-4-87257-868-3 November 2007[15]
The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky ISBN 978-4-87257-889-8 January 2008[16]
The Setting Sun Osamu Dazai ISBN 978-4-87257-890-4 January 2008[17]
An Encouragement of Learning Fukuzawa Yukichi ISBN 978-4-87257-909-3 March 2008[18]
The Red and the Black Stendhal ISBN 978-4-87257-910-9 March 2008[19]
King Lear William Shakespeare ISBN 978-4-87257-932-1 March 2008[20]
Bushido: The Soul of Japan Nitobe Inazō ISBN 978-4-87257-908-6 April 2008[21]
The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka ISBN 978-4-87257-911-6 April 2008[22]
Light and Darkness Natsume Sōseki ISBN 978-4-87257-933-8 May 2008[23]
No Longer Human Osamu Dazai ISBN 978-4-87257-810-2 July 2008[24]
Kokoro Natsume Sōseki ISBN 978-4-87257-811-9 July 2008[25]
Thus Spoke Zarathustra Friedrich Nietzsche ISBN 978-4-87257-972-2 August 2008[26]
Night Flight Antoine de Saint Exupéry ISBN 978-4-87257-973-4 August 2008[27]
Faust Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ISBN 978-4-87257-974-1 August 2008[28]
Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri ISBN 978-4-7816-0002-4 October 2008[29]
The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli ISBN 978-4-7816-0004-8 October 2008[30]
The Dancing Girl Mori Ōgai ISBN 978-4-7816-0003-1 October 2008[31]
Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler ISBN 978-4-7816-0011-6 October 2008[32]
Dogra Magra Yumeno Kyūsaku ISBN 978-4-7816-0012-3October 2008[33]
Das Kapital Karl Marx ISBN 978-4-7816-0021-5 December 2008[34]
The Possessed Fyodor Dostoyevsky ISBN 978-4-7816-0022-2 December 2008 [35]
The Sickness Unto Death Søren Kierkegaard ISBN 978-4-7816-0023-9 January 2009[36]
Les Misérables Victor Hugo ISBN 978-4-7816-0024-6 January 2009[37]
Moby-Dick Herman Melville ISBN 978-4-7816-0080-2 March 2009[38]
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald ISBN 978-4-7816-0081-9 March 2009[39]
Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes ISBN 978-4-7816-0082-6 March 2009[40]
The True Story of Ah Q Lu Xun ISBN 978-4-7816-0083-3 March 2009[41]
Das Kapital, Volume II Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels ISBN 978-4-7816-0124-3 April 2009[42]
Ulysses James Joyce ISBN 978-4-7816-0084-0 April 2009[43]
In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust ISBN 978-4-7816-0085-7 May 2009[44]
Hagakure Yamamoto Tsunetomo ISBN 978-4-7816-0125-0 May 2009[45]
The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare ISBN 978-4-7816-0168-7 June 2009[46]
The Origin of Species Charles Darwin ISBN 978-4-7816-0167-0 June 2009[47]
And Then Natsume Sōseki ISBN 978-4-7816-0200-4 July 2009[48]
Pandora's Box and Villon's Wife Osamu Dazai ISBN 978-4-7816-0201-1 July 2009[49]
Water Margin Shi Naian ISBN 978-4-7816-0207-3 August 2009[50]
Manifesto of the Communist Party Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels ISBN 978-4-7816-0208-0 August 2009[51]
Macbeth William Shakespeare ISBN 978-4-7816-0221-9 September 2009[52]
The Sorrows of Young Werther Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ISBN 978-4-7816-0220-2 September 2009[53]
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson ISBN 978-4-7816-0241-7 October 2009[54]
A Christmas Carol Charles John Huffam Dickens ISBN 978-4-7816-0242-4
Fool's Life Ryūnosuke_Akutagawa ISBN 978-4-7816-0275-2
The Book of Five Rings Miyamoto Musashi ISBN 978-4-7816-0274-5
Kojiki Ō no Yasumaro ISBN 978-4-7816-0276-9
Nihon Shoki Prince Toneri ISBN 978-4-7816-0277-6
The Life of an Amorous Man Ihara Saikaku ISBN 978-4-7816-0314-8
The Tale of Genji Murasaki Shikibu ISBN 978-4-7816-0313-1
Analects Confucius ISBN 978-4-7816-0313-1
One Thousand and One Nights Complied work ISBN 978-4-7816-0326-1
I am a CatNatsume SōsekiISBN 978-4-7816-0347-6
Byosho RokushakuMasaoka ShikiISBN 978-4-7816-0348-3
War of the WorldsHerbert George WellsISBN 978-4-7816-0363-6
The Interpretation of Dreams and
Introduction to Psychoanalysis
Sigmund FreudISBN 978-4-7816-0364-3

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ishikawa, Tomoya (2009-09-30). "Manga 'Mein Kampf' gives Hitler a new audience". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  2. "Novels under manga cover: Convenience stores go literary". Yomiuri Shimbun. 2008-07-25. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Demetriou, Danielle (2008-11-18). "Das Kapital turned into a manga comic". Yomiuri Shimbun. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  4. "'Das Kapital' comic has mass appeal". The Japan Times. 2008-12-24. Archived from the original on 2008-12-26. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lewis, Leo (2008-11-18). "Karl Marx goes manga in a Kapital comic strip". The Times. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 McNeill, David (2008-11-20). "A revolutionary reworking for Marx's 'Kapital'". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  7. Liddell, C. B. "Red star rising: With global capitalism on ropes, communism gains in Japan". Metropolis. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Manga Version of Hitler's Mein Kampf Sells 45,000". Anime News Network. 2009-09-06. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
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