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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: 1 World Manga

NOTE: This review first appeared in LA Alternative, Sept. 15, 2006.

Think Globally, Read Locally

by Lyn Jensen

Remember the age-old argument that comics can educate as well as entertain? The three-volume 1 World Manga series that VIZ is currently marketing is a delightful example. It’s not specifically being classified as an educational text, but it’s very different from what’s commonly found in the manga section of bookstores. Teachers looking for something new this school year may want to order these volumes by the boxful for geography, health, science, social studies, and reading courses.

VIZ rates the entire series for all ages but its slant is more adult than that normally indicates. Parents and teachers would be well-advised to exercise some guidance, particularly regarding vol. 2’s subject, AIDS awareness. It’s doubtful, even given today’s attitudes, that many ‘rents consider condoms and pre-marital sex as age-appropriate as Snoopy.

Rather adults and children can read and discuss these manga together, and adults may be surprised to find they learn something as well.
In all three volumes, the teenage hero, Rei, sharpens his marital-arts skills as he battles global villains. Besides the AIDS epidemic, his foes are poverty (in vol. 1) and global warming (in vol. 3). His master is a mysterious spirit who commonly appears in animal forms ranging from a bird to a horse. Not only that, the master concentrates far more on developing his student’s heart, mind, and spirit than fighting skills, much to his student’s chagrin.

While the stories borrow from the shonen (boys’) style, they’re nothing like standard martial-arts manga, for such global foes require a different kind of fight. In the AIDS volume, for example, Rei meets a girl and finds that AIDS has decimated her family and devastated her village. She wants to marry her boyfriend, but she doesn’t know if she can trust him when he says he’s AIDS-free. The characters learn how fighting the AIDS foe requires education, prevention, and medical tests, along with compassion and care for patients.

1 World Manga is the creation of Annette Roman, a VIZ employee who also writes and teaches at Berkeley City College. She teamed with Leandro Ng, an experienced comic artist whose credits include Stargate: Rebellion and Cinder/Hellins. He teaches at the Academy of Art University. The project was created in partnership with the World Bank. All proceeds from sales go to the charity Reading Is Fundamental.


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