A friend of mine is working on a series of posts about ten reasons why she loves Japan, and I thought why the heck not? That would really give me something to blog about. So sorry, Caro, but I loved your idea and I'm copying it! :D
I've already decided what I'm going to do for my ten posts and the first five ones will be related to popular culture, while the final five will be a little fancier and high culture.
So I'm going to begin where it all started: Manga/Anime/Dorama.
Manga and anime is how I got into Japan in the first place. It started with the ordinary animes: Pokémon, Digimon and Sailor Moon. When I was 11 a friend of mine introduced a comic called W.i.t.c.h.. On the back of it it said something along the line of "a brand new comic in manga style". I had no idea what manga was so I looked it up online and then I found this comic magazine called Manga Mania... Manga Mania contained Chobits, Love Hina, GTO and School Rumble when I started out, but during the years some of the mangas were switched out. Then it switched name to Shojo Stars with completely new comics... Anyway it all started with W.i.t.c.h. and Manga Mania. At the very peak I think I had about 200 volumes of manga. I'll show off my old manga shelves:
On those shelves are Hellsing, School Rumble, Azumanga Daioh, Watashi no Suki na Hito, Chronicles of the Grim Peddler, Ju-On, Magic Knight Rayearth, Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, xxxHolic, One Piece, Godchild, Death Note, Legal Drug, Wish, X/1999, Sugar Sugar Rune, Power!!! (Girl Got Game), Chobits, D.Gray-Man, FairyTail, Demon Diary, and Model.
Obviously I've read more than that, for example Nana and Paradise Kiss. But when I discovered OneManga I read loads more than I did when I only had the manga in book form. One of my favourites there was Doubt. Anyway I've read most common ones. The only series left in my bookshelf now are Death Note and Godchild. Then I have some random volumes too, like Watashi no Suki na Hito, Nana, Durarara!, Naruto (cause they all are in Japanese), Azumanga Daioh, Chronicles of the Grimm Peddler, FairyTail, School Rumble and Ju-On.
I still love manga way more than I like anime. But I'm only reading One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, FairyTail and the occasional D.Gray-Man nowadays. Since OneManga closed I've kind of gotten rid of my addiction to reading manga all the time. Not even MangaReader is helping. Maybe I'll have the time and energy to pick up reading manga again sometime in the future.
I was never as crazy about anime as I was about manga. But some of the best ones I've seen were recommended to me by an old boyfriend and I still have them on my HDD: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Baccano! and Durarara!. I was never a fan of Hetalia, but I love, love, love, love Ouran High School Host Club. One of the first animes I ever fell in love with was Card Captor Sakura, it's so cute and fun and exciting. That old boyfriend really liked anime and used to watch them online from some streaming site. Another one I remember that was okay was Baka to Test to shoukanjuu. The main problem I have with anime is that it usually looks so cheap. It didn't bother me when I was little and that's why I can still watch Pokémon and not care that it looks terribly cheap. But in many cases it does. Some parts of Tengen looks cheap, but overall it's nice. Baccano! and Durarara! have so awesome characters and stories that the overall look of the anime kind of disappears.
Anyway, the reason why I feel in love with manga in the first place was probably the drawing style. The first manga I truly loved was Chobits and the way Chii looks is just... adorably beautiful.
The beautiful drawing style is obvious in my favourites Chobits, Godchild, Sugar Sugar Rune and Model.
But then there are also the stories that appeal to me. The characters usually have very ordinary traits and they are easy to relate to even after they get awesome superpowers and save the world a couple of times. The stories are usually like entire movies in comic form and the more exciting ones are almost always inspired by sci-fi and/or fantasy. One Piece is my absolute favourite manga, although the main character is obnoxious and although the drawing style isn't very beautiful or complicated. I love D.Gray-Man because of it's beautiful and sad story.
Manga is movies and books in comic form - easier to read, but the pictures clearly transmit the feelings of the characters or the serenity of the scene. Despite it being in black and white. Anime is usually based on manga and it's not always they manage to transmit the message in the anime as well as in the manga, but sometimes the anime turns out better - as is the case with Baccano!. Still anime is waaaaaaay better than our western cartoons. They are more watchable for all ages and they are less hysterical (the voice actors don't sound hysterical all the time).
Then there's dorama (which is the Japanese pronounciation for drama). I haven't been as crazy about dorama for as long a time as manga. I think it was in early 2009 when I first fell in love with dorama. A friend of mine who loved Oguri Shun showed me Hanazakari no Kimitachi e and Hana Yori Dango. Loved both. Then I found SARS webpage and started to download subbed dorama episodes myself. I soon fell in love with Koizora, Stand Up!, Gal Circle and Gokusen too. Then I took a break from it and last year I decided to give it another shot. That's when I discovered the Liar Game franchise. OMG I love it! And I've recently seen the dorama for Ouran High School Host Club, which was hilarious and awesome. Totally loved it. The reason why I love dorama isn't because it has to be super serious all the time, the dorama is allowed to be a little weird - especially if it's based on a manga or anime. Then there are those that are just heartbreakingly beautiful like Koizora. I loved the manga Paradise Kiss, but the anime was plain bad, so when they announced that a movie was going to be made from it I was very sceptical towards the whole concept. But now I've seen it and I love it! It's fantastic! Not entirely canon, but well - fantastic!