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Index to Telophase's Manga Analysis Series

Hello! If you've come here looking for essays on manga layout and art and links to other sites that talk about it, you're in the right place. I've written some articles for Tokyopop, and these are the essays that started me out in this strange business of being a Web pundit.

Feel free to add me to your friendslist without asking - I don't get offended by that. :D Please excuse me if I don't add you back - it's not because of you, it's because I've got too many journals on my friendslist to keep up with right now and adding more would completely overwhelm me (I do try to at least go and look at your LJ occasionally). You're perfectly welcome to come in, hang out, read, and comment as you choose.

One request: if you comment and you're not a Livejournal member and don't have an OpenID to identify yourself with, please leave a name. I get lots of anonymice making comments on these, and some sort of name or nickname separates your anonymous comment from all the other anonymous comments and makes all of us take you a bit more seriously. ETA: Anonymous commenting is now off, thanks to anonymous commenters who never leave any way for someone to reply to them. It's easy enough to create an LJ for commenting purposes, and if you don't want to, my email address is posted on my LJ profile page.

I, and the other people who comment here, do tend to reply to comments because we're interested in talking about manga with other people, and presumably you are also. Leaving a way for us to discuss with you is common courtesy.

The Series:
Part 1 - What Makes For Professional Manga (Akira Toriyama, DRAGONBALL Z)

Part 2 - Order out of Chaos (Kazuya Minekura, SAIYUKI)
   Part 2.1 - Follow-up to Order out of Chaos, on SAIYUKI

Part 3 - Visual Flow I (Natsuki Takaya, FRUITS BASKET)
   Part 3.1 - Visual Flow II (Natsuki Takaya, FRUITS BASKET)

Part 4 - Action Jackson - Controlling Time (Hiroaki Samura, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL)
   Part 4.1 - Quick Followup on BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL
   Part 4.2 - Combat (Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO)

Part 5 - Characterization (Obata Takeshi, DEATH NOTE)
   Part 5.1 - Characterization II (Obata Takeshi, DEATH NOTE)
   Part 5.2 - Characterization III (Obata Takeshi, DEATH NOTE)

Part 6 - Aging Characters (Hiromu Arakawa, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, Ashinano Hitoshi, YOKOHAMA KAIDASHI KIKOU) added 10 July, 2005
   Part 6.1 - Aging Characters (Obata Takeshi, DEATH NOTE and HIKARU NO GO) added 11 July, 2005
   Part 6.2 - Aging Characters (Kishimoto Masashi, NARUTO and Ai Yazawa, PARADISE KISS) added 11 July, 2005
   Part 6.3 - Aging Characters Quick Followup added 11 July, 2005

Added 1/8/2008: I ripped apart chapter 118 of Bleach here to see what each page and panel did, and how they contribute to the work as a whole. The analysis itself is in a Google Docs collaborative document: email me for an invite if you want to contribute to it.

Mangatalk, open threads on various themes in manga.
   Gender issues in manga.
   Plot and story cliches.
   Paneling and repetition in Saiyuki.
American comics in comparison.
Why and how does simple graphic design work? Using Fruits Basket to explore the elements of page composition.
Comparing Fullmetal Alchemist and Saiyuki
Differences in Japanese and OEL shoujo
Covers Comparing the covers of the top and bottom 5 manga in the monthly top 50.
Covers, part 2 Continued.

Manga essays and talk in other journals and websites

I have essays by other Livejournal people on manga analysis saved to my memories here. Many of them are also listed out here, in case Livejournal's memory function isn't working.

Essays on manga by Matt Thorn, a cultural anthropologist who teaches at the School of Cartoon & Comic Art at Kyoto Seika University in Japan.

Livejournal communities:

manga_talk - for discussion and analysis of manga/manwha/manhua/OEL manga, and posting links about same.
homemade_manga - discussion, comments, and criticism of your creative manga work
mangaartists - for anime- and manga-style artists

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I'm willing to listen to suggestions for future essay topics, but you'll have a better chance if you ask a question about the process or techniques involved instead of asking for a particular series, since I tend to pick a series that serves as a good example for the subject and not the other way around.

Tags: manga_analysis
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I've slowly be going throught the posts, and am awaiting your book on creating comics.^_^ Anyhow I do want to become a pro artist some day. But are these pros just natural brilliant or do they study making comics? I'm having enough trouble just learning how to draw. I'm beginning to wonder if drawing can be learned actually. I don't really think about my panels and pages, if it looks pretty I just got with it.
It's partially learned and partially innate, I think, but what people have innately varies from person to person. It follows a lot of the basic rules of composition and how to direct a person's eye trhoughout a picture; it's jsut that with most comic pages your picture is formed of a set of smaller pictures and you ahve to make sure that the composition within each of them feeds into teh greater composition of the page as a whole.

Maybe some poeple do it mostly innately. I don't. SOme visual flow comes naturally to me, but a lot of it doesn't. I'm doing these essays in aprt to foce myself to look for it and find it, so then I can consciously practice it, witht eh hopes that eventually most of it will become natural to me and I won't ahve to think of it any more - the page will just look right to me. :)


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Nice. I hope you don’t mind, I added your livejournal to my friends list for easy reference, very informative!

Hey, no prob, and thanks!
This is wonderful. As a freshman in art college and a hopeful sequential art major, all of this was fantastic to read... very eloquent and enlightening. (I also didn't realize Mello was bullying that kid. x_x; ) It's great to see such appreciation for these fantastic mangaka, and a solid explanation of why they're so good. They really inspire people like me, however they manage it... and you're explanining exactly how. X_x;

(DBZ was my first manga, and BotI and Fruits Basket - which I discovered at once - were the manga that hit me hard enough to change my direction in life and go for art colleges... it's hard telling that to some, but I think you'd understand. XD)
Thank you! I'm glad they're helping you. There's not much in English on these sorts of thing - all the How To Draw books deal with the less-important things, and don't mention how to construct the story visually. They give a few hints here and there, but nothing really useful. There's always McCloud's Understanding Comics, and Eisner's books on sequential art, but nothing specifically for and with manga, which is similar in a lot of ways but different in others.

it's hard telling that to some, but I think you'd understand.

Absolutely. XD


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this is wonderful... will take me a while to read though XD thank you!! btw your username worries me *shivers*
Thank you!

That's one of the more interesting responses I've received about my username, although I think "That's my favorite phase of mitosis" is the most interesting. I got it when I dropped my name into an anagram generator and it popped up with "Telophase Fines." The next time I needed to pick a username on a board, I used 'telophase' and it stuck.
Nice. I think the first comparison was a little harsh though. The combat Naruto one was probably my favourite.

I think a bit on One Piece would be cool too. I'm not sure what the topic might be... Maybe style or personal iconography?
Harsh? In what way? I;m willing to explain my reasoning behind not cutting anyone any slack, but I'd like to hear your reasons first, so I'm not putting words in your mouth.

I'll think about One Piece. :) I'm snowed under at the moment and probably won't get to any more essays soon, but if a topic occurs to me, then hey. :)
You might be interested in this manga analysis I once happened to find.

I've been planning since a while ago to post a bunch of manga sequences in my journal, not really as an analysis but rather to gush about how beautiful and powerful the timing and visual flowing are. xD Maybe I should do that soon.

Will there be more on the subject of characterisation?
Are you familiar with Naoki Urasawa's works? He did Monster, 20th Century Boys - highly acclaimed and multiple award winning authour and imo draws the best facial expressions in manga ever. And he's one of the best at visual storytelling.
Oh, nice, thanks. And yes, you should. XD (And do it very very soon, and tell rachelmanija because she's on vacation in Japan at the moment but sick and stuck inside for the most part, and requesting manga analyses amng other things to entertain herself.

Will there be more on the subject of characterisation?

There could be. XD Provided I find the time somewhere. I've heard of Monster at 20th Century Boys, but haven't read them.


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would probably be useful reading for you, both his essays and his comic works. He covers a lot of the same ground, in a more general sense.
Oh, yes, he's excellent. :) And McCloud - between them they pretty much cover everything I've talked about. Other than them, there's just not a whole lot out there that specifically focuses on manga or even non-superhero layout, which is part of the reason I'm doing these. (the other part being that every time I do one, I get a little bit better at it. XD)

The zen of manga


13 years ago

Hello, telophase.
I'm the guy who posted a comment about the sound effects used in DEATH NOTE.
Do you remember me?

I really like your characterization essay on DEATH NOTE. And I think it's worth reading for other Japanese DEATH NOTE fans, too.

Would you do me a favor?
May I translate your essay and publish it on my weblog( http://chitatopops.net/ )?
I'm anything but an expert with translation, but I'll do my best.

Volume 7 of DEATH NOTE is supposed to be released on July 4th in Japan. So I think it's a good time to do it.
Thank you.
*waves* Hello! :D

Sure, you can do that, I'd be honored. :) Thanks! I'm quite interested in knowing what you and other Japanese fans think - I'm aware that everything I analyze is through a filter made up of my culture, language, and personal history, and I'm interested in knowing what things I miss, or misinterpret, or read too much into, when compared to people who are using different cultural/language/personal history filters, as well as what we all see in common. (I've got an academic background in anthropology - the differences in culture fascinate me. :D)
Woohoo!!!! It's all in one place, now! I missed a lot of this, so now I can read at my leisure. Thanks for posting this. :)
You're welcome! XD


10 years ago

Hiya! I'm here from two places, kinda -- one is Kiro's journal, and I realized that you had a LJ and I hadn't noticed it yet. And from DA as well, were I've admired your work for some time now. Anyway, I thought I'd add you, since we both love Saiyuki and we share the same birthday! Cool, huh? :)
:D *waves* Welcome!
Hey. I seem to have fallen off your friendslist, if I was ever on it... could you re-add? Thanks. I'd like to make sure I can order the Super Seekrit Project.
Hm *checks* Nah, you're still on my friendslist and the Butterfly Kick filter - I just yesterday started a very small filter for posting in-progress work to be ripped apart beta'd on the Project Blue Rose, but when it's ready to order it'll be quite public. :) And I'll be posting the cover, which is what I'm working on now, publicly as soon as it's done. :)
I'm SO glad I read these before starting my webcomic! Because of it, I started paying attention to things like layout, flow, panelling and such, and it did wonders to the quality of my comic.
Thank you SO MUCH!

Anyway, I've been wanting to write a One Piece manga analysis for a long time now (Focusing on conveying dynamicness through comics), But I'm not so good at writing.... Maybe I'll take a shot at it though. Manga_talk should REALLY be more active. XP
*pokes around webcomic* Hey, nice job! Glad I could help!

And you should definitely write up that analysis and post it. :D (Don't worry about the quality of your writing - the only way to improve it is by writing. :D)
I hope you don't mind that I friended you. I don't have time now, but I would really like to read your analysis series. I can un-friend if you like. Thanks!
No worries - I'm not one of those people who spaz over something as silly as someone friending me when I don't know them. :D I think of it as more of a reading list instead of a "friends" list.

Glad that you're interested in the series, though! XD
hello, came across through a google search....
I would like to request, if I may, that you change the "manwha" on the manga talk community to "manhwa", because the former spelling encourages and fosters mispronounciation (and I hate having to listen to someone say it 20 times at a panel ^-^;; )
sorry for bothering you randomly, and if I sounded harsh or insulting or something.... >.<
read your DN article, by the way. good stuff.
Thanks for correcting my spelling. :D


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13 years ago

it seems that you've set up two lj tags: "manga analysis" (which becomes "manga+analysis" and "manga_analysis". might want to combine the two.

Thanks very much for doing them, by the way: i'm learning a lot.

I was startled, by the way, to open the first volume of Fruits Basket and be utterly bewildered by the layout there. I would have thought America's best-selling manga would be more populist and accessible...
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