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Trickle of Consciousness
Speed of immersion
So I finally got around to reading the title stories in the first volume of Tsukuba Sakura's Land of The Blindfolded, and I enjoyed them quite a bit. There's an interesting premise (one character can see the future, the other the past) with some nice little twists already working in. I should say something more substantive than that, because I really do look forward to the next volume, but reading it, I hit on something less specific that I'm encountering with manga.

Is it just me, or do other people find them really fast reads?

I should clarify. Most of the time, a fast read is due to immersion. With those, you sit down, start reading, and you don't realize how many pages you're consuming until you get to the end, or you look up an hour later and realize you're already halfway through the book or something (for the record, I have never managed to get halfway through a prose novel in an hour. I'm a horrendously slow reader).

With the manga I've been reading, though, I actually notice the speed. I'm flipping through pages at what for me is quite a clip, and when I get to the end, no matter how much I liked it, somehow the whole process feels ... slighter?

I've wondered if it isn't a word balloon issue; since the balloons are often still shaped for their vertical japanese text, it seems difficult to fill them efficiently with horizontal English. I look at the word balloons in the manga I've read, and there just seems to be a lot of empty space. Or, rather, comparatively a lot of space.

I've wondered if it's the layout. I feel like there are more skinny panels in manga than in more traditional western comics. Tall and narrow, usually, with a good bunch of diagonal slashes of panel. If I'm remembering my Understanding Comics, narrower panels tend to "read" as shorter spans of time.

Close ups? I'm remembering half shots of faces, lower halves of faces, or shots centered on the eyes. All understandable, all wonderful individual elements of mood, but do I maybe read partial shots like those with a speedier eye?

And if I'm going to just list any old thing that I think might be part of it, I might as well ponder the impact of reverse pagination. Most of the time I can catch the right to left rhythm pretty well, but I know my natural inclination on turning a page is to hit the upper left corner. Does that little bit of time equate to reading ahead, maybe? If it does, it could be I'm taking just as long to read two pages as normal, but if I'm catching bits ahead of time, maybe that second page reads faster because I sneaked a peek?

It's entirely possible that all of the above simply adds up to my needing to better absorb the culture of manga reading. Reading western comics is natural to me, though I never realized how much so until I gave my dad a trade collection of what I thought was a pretty standard series one Christmas, and he later told me he kept getting lost on the pages trying to figure out where he should be reading next. So maybe I'm just like my dad here, and getting a feel for the pacing of manga is going to take a better internalization of the whole reading process.

Or I could just be happy that I've found something that my molasses-speed reading skills can gobble up on the quick, but where's the self-important, over-analyzing fun in that?

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see the 2 drops in the bucket or add a drop
musouka_manga From: musouka_manga Date: July 14th, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC) (wanna link?)
What you're noticing is actually purposeful. Yes, most manga is a quick read, but that's because of the way the medium is (generally) set up. There is supposed to be a certain flow to the panels, and, especially in shoujo manga like LotB, a lot of visual shorthand is used instead of detailed backgrounds.

There are meatier series out there if you feel you're not getting your fill. ("Shounen Magazine" seroes especially seem to like to go heavy on the text) But light reading is usually pretty much par for the course in a lot of shoujo manga.
jkason From: jkason Date: July 16th, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC) (wanna link?)
"Slight" was probably a bad word choice on my part, as it makes it sound like I'm complaining that there's less content in manga. I suppose it's more that I wonder if I'm not missing some of that visual shorthand you're talking about, maybe? I know there are a lot of little things in manga visuals that probably have more specific / significant meanings than I'm attributing to them. And I guess I was just musing on how much I take for granted my ability to infer all that kind of stuff in western comics (and thus maybe feel more solidly immersed. I mean, it's not like it takes me twice as long to read a western comic, really, so much as I don't notice the reading) in light of how much I don't naturally catch it in the eastern variety.
see the 2 drops in the bucket or add a drop