Ross School - Senior Projects 2011


Student: Tina (Mingyan) Fan

Mentor: Mami Takeda

Domain(s): Cultural History, Visual Arts






Title: The Rise of Manga in the Land of Rising Sun


I wrote a research paper about Manga (Comics) in Japan. By doing this project, I wanted to explore the cultural values and historical importance of Manga, thus refuting the idea that Manga is “Junk Literature.” There are mainly three parts to my paper: the history of Manga from 8th century until modern Manga went to war, Manga’s impact on Japanese society, and the influence of Japanese culture on Manga. Through the process, I learned a lot about the Japanese history, their culture, and read a great collection of interesting Manga. I also improved my skills in writing a research paper.



Paper (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)






My project is a research paper on Manga called “the rise of manga on the land of rising sun.” The Japanese term “Manga” meaning “comics.” However, in my interpretation, manga goes beyond comics. Comics, like Sponge Bob, are shallow, childish, and most of the time, meaningless. On the other hand, Manga can actually make you think, it is educational, and it has the potential to enrich your life.


My ultimate goal is to educate people about manga. To be more specific, I want to explore the depth of content of manga. Just as I stated above, Manga is sophisticated, it is Educational, Serious, and it Changes your life. Manga serves educational purpose in school to teach young children historical facts. Manga is also a Big Money Maker. For example, in 2002, 30% of the total sale of publishing material came from Manga. Another goal is to remove stereotype of manga from people. And Eventually I want to persuade more people to read manga.


My original idea for senior project is to create a manga book. However, after several drawing class, I found it more interesting to research about Manga than to draw a manga. Thus, I decided to do something more academic for my senior project, which is to write a paper.


I began my paper with the history of Manga because it is important to learn its origin if you ever want to know something thoroughly.


After I finished the part of history, I finally decided my thesis statement: the mutual influence of Japanese culture, society, and manga.


As soon as I decided my thesis statement, I started thinking about which manga would support this statement. This was not an easy task because there were so many great manga books. So after talking to my mentor, we decided to do it by categories: I will talk about the science fiction manga, sports manga, and yaoi. From those, I can just search for whichever one is the best-known.


After choosing manga, the fun part came. I have to read all those manga books. Although I said before I’ve read a lot, but most of those I chose were either old, or sophisticated which I never considered reading before.


Although reading manga was fun, to build the bridge between manga and Japanese culture was a painful task. I could not find any useful information directly online. Thus, Mami suggested I should check the time this manga was drawn and search for the history context of that time separately. I did that, and it works, but it means I have to read the history of Japan from WWII to nowadays, which is an extremely time-consuming task.


To support my thesis statement, I divided the rest of my paper into two parts.

The first part is Japan’s influence on Manga. I choose science fiction manga and Neon Genesis Evangelion. The other part is Manga’s impact of Japan. In this part, I talked about Yaoi Manga, which is homosexual Manga, and Sports Manga.


After I finished my paper, I have to edit it over and over again with Mami.  We emailed back and forth, and we revised it 4 times before the final vision.


In doing this project, my research skill is highly improved. I learned a great collection of academic and scholarly websites other than Google and Wikipedia. I also learned that not everything is common sense as I assumed, so I have to have a resource for every single statement in my paper. I learned how to differentiate between good and garbage resources, which saves me a lot of time when researching. I learned how to organize a paper. Rather than wasting time trying to put everything into one single piece, I learned to separate a long paper into appropriate sections. The last skill I learned is citation. Now I know how to do citation, how to do in-text citation, and how to cite international resources.  


Through this project, I learned a lot about Japan, which stimulate my further interest in this country. In the future, I will go to Japan during the coming summer break for about 1 month to learn their language, and traveling around. In long –term, I really hope to become an editor in a company publishing manga.


Works Cited


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Outside Consultant


Name: Therese Lichtenstein

Occupation: Art History teacher at Ross School


One main part of my research paper is the history of Manga. Ms. Lichtenstein is an expert on this – the history of Art. She knows a lot about the history of Japanese art, and some modern Manga characters.