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In ” ‘Manga’: heart of pop culture” (May 26), manga critic Haruyuki Nakano is quoted as saying that “the established styles of drawing — the use of lines — to express a character’s movements and emotions have become so engrained in Japanese readers that it is not easy for foreigners to ‘crack the code’ when the comics are shipped overseas.”

Nor do the subtlety of raw fish, the intricacy of chopstick manipulation, the mysteries of wabi sabi, the secrets of Nihongo and the other usual props make it easy for foreigners to “crack the code.” Not to mention the exclusive four seasons unique to Japan (and shared elsewhere), the cicada, the noise to the blond with blue eyes, and the music for the big WE.

Here we are in 2009, and the Nihonjinron mantra is still alive and blind and happy, fingering the WE-navel. The writer of this article needs to take a trip to Europe’s bookshops to see how the manga code has been cracked for nearly 20 years.

l. dersot

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