Nature or nurture? Perspectives of Japanese manga on an age-old debate
For centuries, the question of whether heredity or the environment plays\ a more significant role in determining individual identity has been hotly contested.
1 Studies suggest that 50 percent of who we are psychologically is genetic, but in the world of manga, that proportion may be higher. 2 This analysis will examine undertones of the “nature versus nurture” debate in three of the most widely circulated manga series – Dragon Ball, Naruto, and The Prince of Tennis – by highlighting connections between each series and its implied perspective on personal growth and development, and drawing upon direct quotations and key plot points as evidence of genetic and external factors.
3 Finally, the results are applied to the context of manga as a developmental force and identify potential implications on the next\ generation of global readers.
Manga: a pop culture pandemic
anga, the Japanese phrase for “humorous pictures,” typically consists of highly stylized comics or print cartoons that tell dramatic tales. In Japan, the concept of illustrating these character-centered narratives dates back to as early as the 12
th century; today, manga in Japan represents a thriving $3.6 billion industry.
No longer isolated to East Asia, the popularity of this art form has spread throughout the world, reaching virtually all races and age demographics. Despite only gaining attention in North America starting in the 1970s, manga publications already command an impressive market, generating roughly $175 million of annual sales in the United States and Canada alone.
5 With a continuously growing online readership, it is no surprise that more business leaders and politicians are recognizing manga’s expanding role in economics, entertainment, and international affairs. Even Japanese Prime Minister