Kyoto Seika University became the first college in Japan last month to set up a Manga Faculty, but there are already several other universities across Japan that have established manga or anime departments.
Osaka University of Arts has taken on as lecturers top manga-ka Tsuyoshi Nagai and Michiko Satonaka to guide its Character Creation Department, while comic artist Reiji Matsumoto has been made a professor at the Takarazuka University of Art and Design and Monkey Punch, creator of the phenomenally popular “Lupin the Third” series will hold the Manga and Animation Course in the school’s new Media and Arts Department.
Why the universities so caught up in the academic side of manga are all located in the Kansai Region remains something of a mystery, but perhaps a hint can be derived from the area’s traditional penchant for business and the size of Japan’s comic market — about 60 billion yen annually.
Then again, Japan’s manga and comic market has been on a downward slide since 1996.
“What you really want to look at is the manga where sales have plummeted enormously even as the overall market declined in size,” a teacher from Kyoto Seika University’s Manga Faculty says. “Manga like ‘Spirits’ and “Morning,’ which target white-collar workers of the present and future, are the ones to look at. Salarymen are now facing a situation of radically changing values that are unlike any other time in the postwar era. Gone are the ideas of promotion by age and lifetime employment and in their place are wage levels decided by performance and ability.
“White-collar workers are caught up right in the middle of this maelstrom of changing values. These two magazines have been unable to create characters with an outlook that meets the changing value system of the times and consequently their sales figures have dropped out of the bottom of the market…”