“I can go from a Naruto to Maupassant, Baudelaire or Balzac”: welcome to manga fans

A few months ago, Léna Situations posed having her hair done before a shoot, a One Piece in her hand. The commercial figures are dizzying: in 2019, the comic book publisher Glénat, which is not the only one to come out, sold 1.2 million copies of One Piece. In 2022? 4.9 million. Still according to Glénat, between the beginning of 2000 and October 2022, 34.6 million One Pieces were sold in France. A huge snub to all other literary genres. Behind the most cited titles gravitates another galaxy, accessible to insiders and early fans.

“I’ve been reading manga for a very long time! Naruto, Fairy tail, Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, Koruko’s basket,” Rayan lists. Like many, he first went through anime. The Manga channel, then Game One, he fell into it when he was 7 years old. “The Knights of the Zodiac, Olive and Tom, Ranma ½ or Naruto, all released in the 80s or 90s. My parents and my uncle were watching. And my uncle introduced me to it. »

TV, festival, supermarket, all the doors to enter

It’s a festival that immersed him in the manga universe when he was 13 years old. “I went for the first time to Fibda [Festival international de la bande dessinée d’Alger] and I saw manga accessories, cosplay, pendants and… books: that’s where I first discovered the joy of reading. I had 30 minutes to borrow a manga and read it. A great love story since, 11 years later, he is still just as addicted to it.

Antonin, who has been blogging on the subject since confinement, has arrived on titles like Naruto and One Piece. “I must have been about ten years old at the time, just before going to college. I’ve always been intrigued by the manga shelves in supermarkets or kiosks, remembers the young man. I could accompany my parents shopping just to read! “.

“The purpose of a manga is to convey an emotion”

On the manga market, there are legal formats, available in bookstores, and illegal scans, which often prevent them from being spoiled on the networks. And the anime, out of step with the manga, which they adapt. Risky for fans to only follow anime so many scans are circulating on the networks. “It’s thanks to the scans that we access the latest information,” explains Rayan.

“It’s betraying the original work” with an amateur translation, we get annoyed slightly at Glénat. To try to fight against this, the publisher has been offering the “simultrad” for a year, an almost simultaneous translation of One Piece with Japan and the release of an episode, accessible free of charge on Glénat Manga Max.

At the rate of one scan per week, it comes out, for the most prolific titles, about fifteen pages whose reading time is close to 25 to 30 minutes. A production that Marie-Amélie would not miss for anything in the world, who particularly appreciates the humor she unearths in One Piece. “This manga has radically changed my life. He helped me when I needed it the most, especially when I was not well. He makes me feel a lot of emotions such as joy or sadness with the past of the characters, or the death of some of them. »

Emotions and reflections stemming from the character of the characters, but also thanks to the messages raised by the narrative “arcs”. Benoit Huot, manga editorial manager at Glénat, read his first manga when he was around fifteen. “The purpose of a manga is to convey an emotion, and telling a story is a means of conveying that emotion. Themes can be light or heavy, it all depends on the magazine in which they are published. Slavery, resources, abuse of power, that’s what the manga is interesting: it proposes and brings out, it raises questions, but does not give answers, nor does it impose any. »

“Racism, mourning, friendship”, list Marie-Amélie. “The death penalty”, launches Rayan who relies on the plot of Death Note, which questions the notion of good and evil: “The anti-hero characters too. We get attached to it, it’s not necessarily those who do good deeds, they have faults, they are human. »

Everyone agrees that the manga triggers something in them. “That you can’t find elsewhere”, specifies Antonin who admits to reading several genres of manga, “action, adventure, thriller, horror, romance, fantasy, sports. »

“I learned to read French thanks to comics, manga and Picsou magazine”

Manga, anime, video games, be careful not to confuse. “Mangas and animes don’t have the same ending”, specifies Rayan who completes the list of the 7 differences: “Sometimes, there is no continuation on the anime, whereas on the manga yes. “A fan of Death notes as de Maupassant, he remains “faithful to the end of a manga, like the books adapted into films”: ” [le film] Bel Ami has not remained faithful to the original work” he underlines.

A small conservative side which is also found when the publishers change the graphic charters of the covers, according to a repurchase of license for example. “The collection is mismatched”, explains Julien Bouvard, and the publishers are forced to turn around: “For Evangelion, many fans tweeted that they weren’t happy : these manga, they want to keep them. It’s the bookcase aesthetic: many enthusiasts take pictures of their Billy Ikea bookshelf to show they treasure them like the apple of their eye. Like a somewhat bourgeois reader with his pleiad. »

Proof if there is that reading manga is far from incompatible with other genres, including the titles of the Pléiade, Rayan laughs: “I can go from a manga to read Maupassant, Baudelaire or Balzac! And in general, I learned to read French thanks to comics, mangas and Picsou magazine”. On the tone of the joke, of course, remains that it silences all the bad languages: the student in Nanterre holds a double master’s degree and two licenses at only 24 years old.

“We were hiding thirty years ago, today it’s hype”

Antonin has often been criticized by those close to him who consider manga to be more cartoons and the Dorothée club than anything else. After a sport studies football and a double degree in ‘sport management and social and socio-cultural animation’, he worked in the cultural sector. “The debate is often sterile but I think that future generations will be less reductive vis-à-vis the manga. »

Perrine Baschieri at Glénat knows something about it: “It’s generational and what’s great is that the first generation is still reading manga and their 8 or 9 year old children are starting to read it. It was ostracized in our time, because it was seen as not real reading. We were hiding thirty years ago, today it’s hype! »

With a coffee shop in Maubert-Mutualité, Manga café, today Manga café V2, found itself so cramped that the concept moved to the 13th arrondissement, on the Grands Moulins side of Paris. 200 m2 devoted to mangas where schoolchildren from next door meet, accompanied by grandparents, like students from Paris 7 just one street from the shop. “It may not even be big enough,” smiles a young saleswoman who advises buyers. There, you can sit down to read the latest news while drinking a coffee. Or buy the episode we are missing.

A Manga Pass

Kaiju, Bluelock, “a manga that tells the story of the Japanese football team who are tired of losing the World Cup”, Dan Dadan or even Ao Ashi, the titles are spread out on the shelves (Billy? ) which never end illustrating all the diversity of genres. Antonin warns: “Be careful to be reasonable, it is more than a luxurious passion. “I don’t buy as many anymore,” confirms Rayan, “but at the time, I was spending around thirty euros a month, or 5 to 6 manga. » A taste that he willingly passes on to his younger cousins, who will be able to use their Culture Pass to buy their first titles. And, why not, One Piece, the 2nd favorite book of the French.