Fantasy Can Speak the Truth: Focusing on the Manga Series, “Fruits Basket”

By Rebecka O’Malley and Mio Bryce.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This essay will discuss the educational capability and relevance of manga as popular media for interrogating problems faced by adolescents, and providing responses to issues that are just as valid as novels and films. The global popularity of manga has been growing, along with the socio-cultural and commercial significance of manga, although there is still strong criticism of the medium as ‘childish,’ ‘trivial’ and potentially ‘harmful.’ One of the strengths of this medium is captivating storytelling and many manga, particularly “shōjo” (girl’s) manga, contain psychological believability and a sense of realness in dealing with a number of serious issues that the readers may face. Such manga often feature fantasy and encourage the reader’s emotional alignment with the characters, expressing the subjective ‘truth’ involved in their treatment of social issues. Using the very popular manga series, “Fruits Basket” by Natsuki Takaya, this paper will look at how effectively manga can employ fantasy to represent issues facing adolescents, focusing on interpersonal relationships, especially the leading characters’ relationships with their mothers.

Keywords: Shōjo Manga, Takaya Natsuki, “Fruits Basket”, Adolescent Issues, The Educational Capability of Manga

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp.81-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 782.770KB).

Rebecka O’Malley

Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Mio Bryce

Senior Lecturer and Head of Japanese Studies, Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Bryce is a senior lecturer and the head of Japanese studies in the Department of International Studies at Macquarie University where she teaches Japanese language, literature, and manga related units. She has a Ph.D. in Japanese classical literature, The Tale of Genji, from the University of Sydney. Mio is particularly interested in historical, socio–cultural, and psychological issues depicted in fiction. She is currently involved in interdisciplinary research in youth cultures, with a particular focus on manga and anime, in conjunction with the English Department at Macquarie University.


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