Friday, August 29, 2008

Get the Book! Kana de Manga: Japanese Sound Effects!

The paperback volume Kana de Manga: Japanese Sound FX is authored by Glen Kardy and illustrated by Chihiro Hattori and offers some interesting detail on the subject of Japanese manga sound effects.

The collective term for these Japanese sound effects is giseigo. There are categories: giongo for voiced sounds, gitaigo to display feelings and gijogo to reflect psychological conditions. With the exception of some graphic novels and comics published here in the United States, this form of visual onomatopoeia is more prevalent in Japanese manga and other print material. Japanese sound effects are composed in both hiragana and katakana. Deciding which to make use of is essentially an artistic judgment call. But as a rule, hiragana will be employed for soft,pleasant sounds and Japanese words while katagana comes in handy for harsh, loud sounds and foreign words.

This publication offers less in background detail but more on select sound effects across several chapters, including Animal Sounds, Human Sounds, Mechanical Sounds, Nature Sounds and other Miscellaneous Effects.

MNOAOS Zach is a big fan of Doctor Slump And Shaman King manga currently available at your hometown book stores but these are apparently recent English language reissues from the Japanese originals first published in the 1980's. Unfortunately, the unique printed sounds have been replaced with Romaji or English transliterations: largely just big silly words.

Addendum: Actually, not true! The big words are more in keeping with comics published in the USA in the sense that they are monster sounds. This Saturday Zach and I stopped by Borders Books and Music and picked up the latest copies of Shaman King. Like stateside comics, big, heavily fonted words like RAAAAAAH: crowd noise, WOOOOSH: wind, and SPLOOSH: water splashing are standard fare. There is the more enigmatic DOOM and SHEEN for sunlight. What is missing is the far more subtle print sounds for emotions and psychological mindsets, something that western audiences would have no reference for in such publications.

This book is available from Manga University at http://www.mangauniversity.com/ but I was able to obtain a copy right off the shelf at a Borders Books and Music here in little old Albany, New York.

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