Well, other than those manga love stories, I found many mangas to be inspiring. Of course, manga storylines are exaggerating, or else how can they capture the readers' interest? But do you know, you must have a really broad knowledge of the subject of your manga before you can start on it. Take Slam Dunk for example, from the basic techniques of basketball, to the rules and tactics of basketball tournaments, these are things which a mangaka has to elaborate on. Not only that, he has to make his elaborations short and sweet, yet interesting as well, so that his readers would know enough to understand the storyline, yet not get bored by it. I'm not sure whether it's just me, but I've really learnt the things I know of in basketball from the manga. I might not be good at it but at least I'm not ignorant. The best part is, the interest in basketball never left.
I'm going to elaborate on what I've learnt in each manga I've read, so if you're not interested, skip this entry altogether, yah? Oh, by the way, not all mangas I've read are listed, especially the manga love stories, hee, since you know, it's for pure leisure. :)
1. Slam Dunk
As I've mentioned above, it helped me to grasp the technical details in basketball, as well as the interest for it. Other than that, it showed me the importance of determination and hard work if you want to excel in the sport, or actually, it applies for every other skill you want to excel in. Sportsmanship is another important aspect, especially in such a competitive sport. It's important to realise that rivalry does not and should not extend off-courts. Also, I've learnt that a team sport means that the most important key to win, is not only personal skills, but team spirit. Sometimes, what's left behind after a tournament is not how many points you achieve, but the spirit of the team, that's something that will never be erased from your heart.
Amazingly, this manga influenced me in every way possible when it comes to table tennis. Team spirit became my main priority in the sport. Though we know that determination and hard work are important, our skills might still be inferior to those of stronger capabilities. Therefore, I've formed the mindset that no matter what the outcome is, as long as you've put in your best and you know it, there will be no regrets. I used to tell my team that the title isn't important(although to the school, it is. :P), I just want them to be proud of who they are and display the team spirit that the others are envy of. And that is all there is to it, isn't it? Besides, I've always enjoyed forming friendships and possibly alliances with opposing teams. It's a sense of acknowledgement you get from your worthy opponents, I guess? :)
2. Great Teacher Onizuka
Never judge a book by its cover. Never judge a person from his appearance. This manga is not so much of technical skills but moral ethics. Storylines can get really crude but it's the mangaka's way of capturing his readers' attention and made it his style. I'm not sure whether he's reflecting the life of Japanese students, but I believe that the characters he created are some stereotypes that he has exaggerated. What have I learnt? Hm, let's see. There are parts in which he showed that the grades are not everything a student should strive to achieve. Everyone has their unique capabilities, and that would depend on your determination and courage. I guess courage made up a huge component of this manga. It made me realise so clearly that, sometimes, following the paths that others lead, for example, studying hard, getting good grades and advance, is not hard at all. However, to be able to stray away from the path of the norm, into the path of your own, requires more courage than you can imagine. Of course, it takes great determination to succeed as well. Also, it's only when you've tasted failure, that you could taste your true success. It seems like the mangaka is mocking the elitist education system in Japan as well. Well, what's the use of good grades when you never truly understand how to enjoy your success? For all you know, people who are not as clever, might be happier than you are. This manga served as a great source of comfort for me, especially during my exam period, as you know, I don't exactly belong to the smartass group...but I'm satisfied the way I am. :)
3. Shaman King
Take everything in your stride. Everything will resolve by itself, somehow, somewhat. Alright, this is quite an idealistic way of life, but I still love it. It tells me to take things easy, and that it's not the end unless you think it is. What matters the most is your mentality and mental strength to overcome the obstacles that come your way. Sometimes, allowing things to resolve by itself does not mean that you are not making an effort. It's either knowing that things will not change even when you made an effort or that you're confident that things will fall into place, the way you want it to be. More often than not, it's confidence that determines your success. Also, Having a calm mind will help you to analyse the situation better, whereas the urge to succeed will probably end up disrupting it.
For Shaman King, the setting is out of reality. Of course, there might be some truth in it, for example, priests who exorcise spirits in Japan. However, the mangaka's creativity is unbelievable. Like, JK Rowling, he managed to create characters with different specialised powers, places/destinations with significant symbolism and intricate description, tournaments among the characters with their own set of rules and regulations, all according to his own imagination. Even knowing that such fantasy does not exactly happen in real life, he managed to dissolve the story within the reality. How? The same way that JKR did, by creating another world, only the characters know exist. I guess by doing this, he's leaving a space of imagination for the readers as well.
4. Naruto (Current Favourite)
Nindo - The way of Ninja. How do you prove your existence? By being needed. That is exactly what the main character has been striving to achieve. I do not want to tell you about the story, but without bringing out bits and pieces, you wont be able to understand and enjoy the essence of it. There are characters who had been leading solitary lives as their parents/family/whole clan were killed during missions, invasions or worse, by the character's own blood relations. While some chose to dwell in revenge and others in misery, the main character strived hard to gain everyone's recognition. However, being the seal of a demon, makes it harder as people fear him, thus induces hatred. Yet, not once did he dwell on his own misery. Instead, he tries even harder, as he believes that, the need to be needed gives him the reason to live. In the midst of it, enemies lure him with greater power, but he managed to keep his stand. His nindo, to become the Hokage(leader of his ninja village) may seem like a comic relief to many, but I thought it showed not how much he wants power, fame and recognition, but how much he wanted to protect his village and how much he wants his village to need him to do so. Well, I cannot totally relate to him, thus I'm not exactly learning much from this manga. However, I totally understand the need to be needed. As for a solitary life, I shall not be a brat and claim that I am, because I still feel loved.
'It doesn't matter how you live your life, you can die any way you want too...as long as you are protecting people whom you want to treasure, love and cherish in your life. Do you have such people in your life?'
To be able to create this manga, one must have a deep understanding of ninja's culture and history, so as to make this story more realistic. However, most readers, like me, would probably not know what a real ninja's way of life is. So, by putting in the noble characteristics of ninjas that readers know not, they would be easily in awe, with the ninjas, as well as the mangaka's knowledge. For example, there was this scene that the companion of a character died and someone was asking her to just cry if she wanted to, but she didn't, because the 25th clause of a ninja's way is that, while ninjas are on mission, they are not allowed to reveal their emotions, no matter under what circumstances. Cold-blooded as it is, it seems right, doesn't it? Oh well, I guess I've revealed more than enough plot already. Other than mangaka's own knowledge of ninjas, he's able to create circumstances, difficult tasks and examination criterias for the characters, entirely out of his own imagination as well!
To me, it's already hard enough to draw all these exciting, amusing and sad scenes in a manga, as though it's a movie, but a mangaka is able to combine knowledge and creativity into their skilful talent of drawing. It just amazes me no end! Well, if you think novelists are able, doesn't that make mangakas even better?
PS: As you might have guessed, I'm currently watching Naruto's anime that inspired such a long, random entry. Hee.