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Thread: [disc] why do people like manga characters ?

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    2KHeroes / Sylvaniah designer luxregina's Avatar
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    [disc] why do people like manga characters ?

    Hey !

    I think the question is in the title : why do you enjoy inpersonnificating ( does that even exist in english ?) Manga characters in video games, and particularly RPGs ?

    Is it the cute factor, is it the exotic "feel" to it ? Does it allows you to dive better in a "fantasy" setting ? Quid about the judeo-christian, medieval reference VS the Samourai feel in pseudo western medieval civilisations ( in short, and more simple : Baldur's gate VS [something] of mana

    Not being a big manga amateur, i'd like pro-manga people to win me over, and explain me why they are attracted to this approach over more "realistic" representation of medieval-fantasy ( In quotes, because I know that talking about realism in fantasy is a little awkward )

    Thanks by advance

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    Because...
    Good question. I guess they just have a good story behind them.
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    I think in America, manga strongly attracts a young to teen audience while it repels the older crowd. Personally, I like RPGs with manga style, but not where everyone looks like super cute preteens. I just can't take the story seriously, unless it's supposed to be funny. If you're leaning towards manga style, something like Guild Wars or WOW seems like a good compromise of realistic and manga.

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    Script kiddie VENGEANCE MX's Avatar
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    IP, neither of those links have anything on them.
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    lets flip the question and ask why people like american game art/ comics? Personally I dont like most of it,
    - to flashy and cheap colors (comic coloring with ugly airbrush look)- or comic shoothers such as Unreal Tornament where you almost have a disco with all those colors flashing over the screen
    - each hero has massive muscles, female characters have atomic boobs o_O, and because of that most male characters tend to have a to smal head
    - war (COH,BF, or urban (GTA,Spiderman,...) setting each time

    to give you a simple reason why I like asian art (manwha, manga,...) because it is different and tells stories from a different perspective - a one I can learn alot from. I am not talking about the american manga phanomen as it is just a blunt rip of and honestly can´t translated into other cultures (imo) and shouldn´t be.
    Personally I even think that the japanese are the better game designers but that´s just my personal oppinion.

    @luxregina: if you never watched any anime or read any manga try once for exxample (anime) cowboy Bebop, Gungrave or Full metal Alchemist with SUBTITLES! maybe that´ll give you a taste of the japanese reason.

    anyway I´m sure marmotte and chris will join this thread soon to defense their maybe similar point of view.

  7. #7
    2KHeroes / Sylvaniah designer luxregina's Avatar
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    to [all] : I'm aware that games like Valkyrie profile, ... Mana , Chrono Trigger, etc boasts some of the awesomest pixel art. I love the execution, I love them : what i'm questionning is the subject, not the treatment ? I'm going a bit further than just the graphic appearance, and i'm wondering about the cultural reference it carries, and why that cultural reference has become the sign of almost an entire generation ? not that I agree or desagree, but i'd like to understand why

    To Render : as I said, I'm by no mean an expert, but, for exemple, I loved Akira and Princess Mononoke ( the latest being my favorite ) - but to take another exemple, I also watched Lodoss War : while I appreciated the whole thing, it got me wondering how this was carrying over on a western point of view, and why it was so successful in that - that's exactly what you are saying : it's a different point of view on storytelling, and illustration ( take as an exemple the change of style of illustration when characters are angry - mouth, eyes, the whole head becomes treated "differently" - or some characters will be over-simplified in treatment, co-existing with some that aren't...etc ...)
    Now, different doesn't nessecerly mean better : if it's better, I want to understand why

    Another exemple : I bought myself Final Fantasy III, on DS, a while ago, and I was surprised by the very childish look of the characters - so another question would be "why nowadays teenagers are compelled with that treatment ?" - I clearly remember that my generation, when we were kids, wouldn't touch a game that would reflect a younger image of themselves ...

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    I like Manga for all the detail, i don't like the cutesy stuff, more the science fiction/action side. I think its a way of bringing reality in a form which surpasses reality itself, a kind of super reality, all the detail or lack of makes the medium very intriguing and mysterious as apposed to the so called 'western' art which imitates reality.

    Maybe the cutesyness nowadays is a product of previous games (chronotrigger, zelda) that may have seemed adult to us, but are perceived by game developers now as child like entity's, also Pokemon and Yugio could be a culprit, i guess its a case of keeping up with trends and hype.

    hopefully that makes sense.
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    I like manga for the surprise details and sometimes complete lack of it, which looks weird/whacky/cool. Some of the shows I've seen are more artistic and have a sense of the artist's real feel to them, and more creative then disney characters. But, again, now due to comercialisation this fine art is dying....
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    I like anime _not_ for the graphical style, but for the actual content. If I wanted to see awesome animations/&stories like Princess Mononoke, Ghost In The Shell, Cowboy Bebop (to name a few very well known examples) there's really nothing to be found from outside of Japan.
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    Patron Saint of Beatings WilloughbyJackson's Avatar
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    I really don't read that much Manga anymore. I think Death Note is the only one I'm buying right now.

    JUST AS I PLANNED!

    As for Japanese type RPG games, I've always like them more than "traditional" style RPG games (although I was a big D&D player). I remember getting annoyed when playing Ultima V on the Apple IIe because it had gotten so "realistic" that you needed to keep characters well fed, hunt down and find all the ingredients for your magic spells, if you ran from fights with tough monsters you would be branded a coward, etc... Japanese RPG tended to be more character driven, and story focused. There are many more plot points, twists and turns, like you were playing a movie. I also enjoy their "spin" on the traditional D&D type worlds (with things such as advanced technology, monsters based on asian lore, or just odd monsters like the Tonberry Creepers).

    In Japanese RPGs like Breath of Fire for SNES and the DragonQuest series, you are running around in an open world, and often, you will see a cave or island you can not reach, but you KNOW you will eventually be able to go there and find out what is there. You just need to find the boat, airship or special ability to get there.

    As for the style of character design, the big eyed thing comes from the fact the "god of manga", Osamu Tezuka, loved the Disney cartoons when they came over to Japan afet WWII. The tradition stuck, for various reason which it would take to long to type out. The chibi (cute and short) character design (such as in FFIII remake) were traditionally used in old Japanese RPGs, but you'll find that even if the characters are cute the plotline, plot-points are not.

    Basically, no matter how the presentation is done, fans of anime/manga works understand that the story can still be very mature and complex with cute character designs. This fact has been more and more accepted as anime/manga has become pop culture in the western world.

    A great example of this is one of my favorite animes right now, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni or When Cicadas Cry. If you look at the character designs, they are very cute. However, the plotline is an insane mix of comedy, drama, horror, psychological thriller, etc... I won't spoil the plot here, but it does involve, murder, "demons", torture, paranoia and features some of the freakiest laughs in the history of anime:


    I can understand how the graphic style would appear cute or childish, if you never were a fan of it before it hit the mainstream pop culture. When I ran an anime club (The Akira Solution), I created a "sample" videotape for the kids in my high school who made funny of me for liking "dumb kiddy cartoons". Of course, I picked only the most graphically violent animes to appear on that. They still had that "cute", big eyed style, but people accepted the fact that not all cartoons were for kids.

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    Who needs pants? hooligan2001's Avatar
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    I normally enjoy manga not for the character design but more so with the types of story's that are associated with them. Cowboy Beebop has to be one of the best series I have watched. The cross between real and fantasy I found pretty cool.

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    When you know are. Son of Bryce's Avatar
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    There seems to be confusion with the wording of things that I'm not educated enough to try and clarify.

    lux seems to be asking what people find attractive about Japanese artwork in the form of manga or anime, in the context of RPGs. I have to say that the way he worded this topic makes it incredibly difficult to respond to - and the wording in my reply may not be any better. haha

    This is a hard one to respond to because what comes to mind are two Japanese RPG series, Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy, which are blatantly Western-styled stories - knights, dragons, castles, princesses and such. I don't think it's the character artwork that's important at all, it's the style of storytelling that is the culprit here. There are some themes that are more prevalent in either culture - be it originating in fables, folk tales, pop culture, or whatever. This of course can lead to shaping the way a society tells its stories, something everyone grows up familiar with.

    I think a big draw of foreign artwork is that it is foreign. It allows you to get a perspective from someone in different shoes. That can be attractive if you've grown tired of the things around you. Especially if you live in a culture as diluted at the United States, for instance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VENGEANCE MX
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    Hey Timmy!!! walsher's Avatar
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    I think for me it was how the characters looked and showed emotion. Unlike alot of the realistic games its sometimes hard to get a feel for there emotions. But in anime/mangas there emotions are shown in such unique ways. Plus it was something new and different at the time.

    IP, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness still one of my favorite games. Love there art work.

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    I'm going to go all psychological on this one; please bear with me.

    Many people respond to manga-style characters (and other _simple_ styles of artwork) because it allows them to project their own personalities onto the characters - in effect, they 'become' one of the characters (usually the lead). The 'chibi' or 'super-deformed' style of manga is especially effective at this, as many facial features are underexaggerated or omitted altogether - this allows more advanced projection, as the audience can read a variety of different expressions into the character. Think Zelda, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy 7. Not only do these games have simple manga-style graphics (anime-style would be more accurate, but... meh), but they share one other characteristic: the main character never speaks (beyond a few sound effects, at least). This prevents the game from putting words into the mouth of the player, as they can imagine for themselves exactly how 'their' version of the character would respond to certain situations.

    This is primarily where Eastern- and Western-developed games differ - games from the East tend to allow the player much greater emotional freedom and involvement with the characters while Western stories tend to be tightly-scripted affairs with the hero(ine) playing their part fully, with no room for interpretation (think Halo, Gears of War, God of War et al - could you honestly think of those characters as an extension of yourself?).

    There's also a commercial aspect; many of the most successful 8- and 16-bit-era games used this art style and made heaps of money. The success was noted, and the cycle was perpetuated with Western companies thinking that they could reap similar benefits by apeing the Japanese style.

    Last but not least, there's the technical point of view: 8- and 16-bit games only had a limited amount of pixels and memory to play with. Using 'super-deformed' characters allowed the artists to bestow the characters with easily-recognisable features, while the body types could be re-coloured and recycled for other characters with a minimum of effort, and little memory overhead.

    Phew.

  17. #17
    When you know are. Son of Bryce's Avatar
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    I understand your point about greater emotional freedom, mikey, but I think that's something that we should take another look at.

    Willoughby made some great points about Western RPGs being more "realistic". From the Western RPGs I've seen, you have greater control over the main character. For example in Knights of the Old Republic, you have the choice to be good or evil by choosing what they say. Same with Fable. At the same time, there are Japanese games that have this sort of control over the story, the only thing coming to mind are Guardian Heroes and dating sims.

    Mikey, you mention games like Gears of War and Halo when talking about "no room for interpretation". I think I get what you mean. The stories are written in a style for these heroes to be super-human and have no need for help of any sort. But I don't get how Eastern games necessarily have more character involvement since they're just as linear as far as story goes.

    Maybe it's just based on your own personal feelings. If it's a story you can relate to better you'll feel for the characters. If it doesn't relate to you, you may feel detached.

    The "main character not talking thing" is something that I think it common in games across the board. Nobody talked in video games when they first came around. Maybe solely because of technical reasons, but that's how things began and people had to develop these world and stories with this in mind. A character that doesn't talk allows you to easier fill the gap of who the main character is. At least that's what people say anyway.

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    Really, I find that manga and anime just has really, really good story lines.
    When you have a good story that fits into 20 hours or so, its impossible not to become a lot more linked with the characters than with 2-3 hour movies, or some random sprite you've never seen before.
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  19. #19
    2KHeroes / Sylvaniah designer luxregina's Avatar
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    That's a very interesting take on the subject, Mickey - and while I agree with many of your points, i'm still wondering about this one : [b]Using 'super-deformed' characters allowed the artists to bestow the characters with easily-recognisable features[b]

    I didn't thought of it this way, and I must say that you certainly hold something interesting for me here - that's nice from the industry point of view, but, on the other hand, that doesn't explain to me how people nowadays, don't mind much transposing themselves into a walking todlers ( i'm speaking, as an example, of Final Fantasy 3, on Nintendo DS ...) ... ok, I exagerate a little bit, but you see where I'm going ...



    If I go back on what you are saying, Mikey, I would then respond that the "chibi" style ( that's it, right ? cute big head with little body? ) totally hinders my own identification to the character - i don't look like that, don't "dream" to look like that, and maybe the last time I came close to look like that was 30 years ago
    Of course, a RPG is more than just a physical identification, but, if my childhood memories are correct, I remember that, when I was a kid, I wanted to look like my heroes ...

  20. #20
    Zombie Coder EvilKris's Avatar
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    Dudes I really have to say it probably all comes down to 2 things;

    a) amazingly crisp and attractive eye candy

    b) very, very good stories

    Anything more I fear is overanalysing.
    Rpg's are by far the most popular type of game in Japan- if they weren't you wouldn't have so many people working on them. There is huge competition between companies to make theirs the best, always knowing that their next game could make or break them. Square clearly set the benchmark back in the day with FFIII and ever since then RPG's have consistenly targeted to achieve bigger and better glory.

    Sorry to break your theory 6911- but I'd say the big head thing is a sales technique to make the game appeal more to the Japanese girls, who love cutesy cute things and can't get into games that have a lot of hardcore violence or gory detail. Japanese girls play almost as many games as the guys over here.
    One point you should know is that although these games are available on the world market, it's really Japan where they make their biggest impact and sell the most units. So frankly, the whole anime style is part & parcel of what is defined as to be 'pleasing to the eye' for ALL people over here and in fact if you think the anime look is restricted to just games and comics, you'd be wrong. You can find little cute character avatars for almost every major company in Japan.

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