nihongo|Gekiga|劇画 is Japanese for "dramatic pictures." The term was coined by
Yoshihiro Tatsumiand adopted by other more serious Japanese cartoonists who did not want their trade to be known as mangaor "irresponsible pictures." It's akin to Will Eisnerwho started calling his comics" graphic novels" as opposed to " comic books" for the same reason.
Tatsumi began publishing "gekiga" in 1957. Gekiga was vastly different from most manga at the time, which were aimed at children. These "dramatic pictures" emerged not from the mainstream manga publications in Tokyo headed by
Osamu Tezukabut from the lending libraries based out of Osaka. The lending library industry tolerated more experimental and offensive works to be published than the mainstream "Tezuka camp" during this time period.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s the children who grew up reading manga wanted something aimed at older audiences and gekiga provided for that niche. In addition this particular generation came to be known as the manga generation and read manga as a form of rebellion (which was similar to the role rock and roll played for
hippiesin the United States). Manga reading was particularly common in the 1960s among anti- U.S.-Japan Security Treatyand Labor oriented student protest groups at this time. These youths became known in Japan as the " mangageneration."
Because of the growing popularity of these originally underground comics, even
Osamu Tezukabegan to display the influence of gekiga cartoonists in works such as "Hi no Tori" ("Phoenix"), produced in the early 1970s, and especially in "Adolf", produced in the early 1980s. "Adolf" has heavy influences from Tatsumi's artwork, with more realistic styling and darker settings than most of Tezuka’s work. In turn Tatsumi was influenced by Tezuka though storytelling techniques.
Not only was the storytelling in gekiga more serious but also the style was more realistic. Gekiga constitutes the work of first generation of Japanese alternative cartoonists. Some authors use this original definition to produce works that only contained shock factor.
As a result of Tezuka adopting gekiga styles and storytelling, there was an acceptance of a wide diversity of experimental stories into the mainstream comic market commonly referred to critics as being the Golden Age of Manga. This started in the 1970s and continued into the 1980s. In 1977, writer
Kazuo Koikefounded the Gekiga Sonjukueducational program, which emphasized maturity and strong characterization in manga.
shōnenmagazines became increasingly more commercialized, gekiga's influence began to fade. More recently the most mainstream shōnenpublications have lost a lot of gekiga influence and these kinds of works are now found in slightly more underground publications (usually seinenmagazines). In addition other artistic movements have emerged in alternative mangalike the emergence of the avant-garde magazine "Garo" around the time of gekiga's acceptance into the mainstream manga market and the much later Nouvelle Manga movement. These movements have superseded gekiga as alternative comicsin Japan.
A few Examples of
Mangakawho Draw in Gekiga Style
Takao Saito(of " Golgo 13" fame)
*"Drawn and Quarterly Volume 5". Ed. Chris Oliveros Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly, 2003. pg 59 ISBN 1-896597-61-0.
*Schodt, Frederik L. "Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga". Berkeley, Calif.: Stone Bridge Press, 1996. ISBN 1-880656-23-X.
*Schodt, Frederik L. "Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics". New York: Kodansha International, 1983. ISBN 0870115499
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