Now, this may be odd coming from an anime blogger, but I tend to look down on both anime and manga (and on film in general). I enjoy watching anime and reading manga, but I tend not to accord it the same respect I do to the best literature. Anime and manga are, first and foremost, entertainment. Literature is entertainment, as well, of course, but the best literature, which we’ll call “classics”, goes a step further: it revolutionizes our perspective of the world and our place in it.
To give an example, I recently read “A Canticle for Leibowitz.” The book chronicles the history of a monastic order in a world recovering from a nuclear winter. I won’t say any more about what happens, it doesn’t really matter (go read it), and I’m not sure if I agree with everything the book is trying to say, but I can say unabashedly that this book is a classic. It left me bawling for the last third of the book (manly tears, of course) and I’m still thinking about it three months later. It made me see the world in a new light. People will read this a century from now and think the same thing.
Unfortunately, I can rarely say the same thing of most anime and manga, which are filled with explosions, lolis and neko-mimi. There are anime and manga which, when pressed, I would probably label as classics: Simoun, Narutaru (the manga), and Haibane Renmei, to name a few. But I could easily fill an entire bookcase with books I consider classics, and I can count the anime I would label classics on one hand.
So why the huge disparity in volume of classics between mediums? It’s probably simply that there are more books. As everyone knows, over 99% of everything is crap. And I’ve seen a much much larger percentage of all the anime created than I’ve read of all the books written. But even so, I haven’t found an anime or manga that quite measured up to the very best works of literature.
So, you’re asking, when will this guy get to the point?
Well, this year, I found it. A gift from God: a manga I could unabashedly place on my bookshelf between the Bible and Les Miserables. Oyasumi Punpun.
Oyasumi Punpun follows the life of Punpun from childhood to adulthood. I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say Oyasumi Punpun is one of the most soul-crushingly beautiful stories I’ve ever read. The pages will tear your heart back and forth between the heights of heaven and the depths of the abyss.
The artwork is stunningly beautiful. as are the characters.
Oyasumi Punpun was the best thing I’ve read all year. If you haven’t read it yet, I can’t recommend it enough.
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12 thoughts on “GOOD VIBRATIONS!! — Eleven Days of Advent and One Day of Christmas #6”
I have heard a lot about oyasumi punpun but now i’ll definately try it.
P.S :- Would love any other suggestions for good thought provoking novels/short stories.
If you’re looking for short stories, you can’t go wrong with anything by Ray Bradbury or by Borges.
For thought provoking stuff, I really like Raymond Smullyan’s short stories- he’s a logician who has some pretty interesting ideas. Umberto Eco’s novels (particularly the Name of the Rose and Foucalt’s Pendulum) are quite thought provoking as well, although they’re longer. Also, give the Stranger and the Myth of Sisyphus by Camus a read. Those are some of my favorites.
Cool thanks .. I’m actually reading Focault’s pendulum at the moment but having do so in conjunction with wikipedia so going quite slow :).
Also is it just coincidental that most of the above books are quite old ?
It’s a great book. 🙂
They’re all old mainly because I’ve been slacking off on my reading lately… :/
One of my favorite current authors is Murakami, I’m looking forward to reading IQ84 over the next couple of weeks.
Do you think Monster compares well with some of the best mystery literature?
I haven’t read the manga, only seen the anime. I think it’s a great show, but I wouldn’t say it’s on par with the best of mystery literature, like, say, the Name of the Rose. (ok, so I’m not really a big fan of mystery literature either… not sure the Name of the Rose even qualifies)
damn i have the exact same take on literature and manga/anime and THIS MANGA TOTALLY MADE THE CUT.
i have never been so moved by a manga before….
Glad you liked it! I felt the same way.
Just marathoned it … its so moving . The best thing i like about it is the way it handles such depressing topics without actually forcing the issue .. you know like its sad now .. things will get worse so keep crying.
Those few moments of punpun’s totally makes it worth it
Glad you liked it! As you say, it knows exactly how to smoothly and effortlessly reach the emotional climax. I really need to read the latest volume now!