Behind the Scenes: Marie on Manga

Manga is a genre of comic books and graphic novels that is widely read and respected in Japan. No matter how old you are, where you live or what subject matter interests you – you’ve almost certainly read manga.

“In Japan, manga isn’t just for entertainment – it’s also for education,” explains Marie. “Many Japanese authors translate successful business and self-help books into manga – it’s how a lot of people study.”

Manga reaches such a wide and diverse audience that when Japanese illustrator Yuko Uramoto contacted Marie about creating a manga version of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie agreed immediately. To kick off the process, Marie shared anecdotes about how the KonMari Method™ had transformed her clients’ lives. One story – about a young woman whose cluttered space was as messy as her love life – stood out. Marie and Yuko used this as the premise of “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story.” The main character – a single woman named Chiaki – hires Marie to help her tidy. As Chiaki tidies, sparks fly with her cute next-door neighbor and…well, you have to read the book to find out what happens next!

Designed to be read back to front and right to left, manga has its own distinct style: Black and white text and graphics flow from cell to cell – and strips come in all shapes and sizes. Speech bubbles – or fukidashi – change to convey the speaker’s mood: Solid and round fukidashi are used for normal speech; cloudlike ones express happiness; and spiky bubbles indicate anxiety or surprise.

When “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up” was translated from Japanese to English, the format and layout had to change, too. In an intricate process, a designer flipped all of the art so the book could be read front to back and left to right; then, Japanese characters in the art had to be re-reversed so they weren’t backwards.

For readers of all ages – and in all languages – manga is a way to stay on top of cultural trends in Japan and absorb information in a visually compelling way. “It’s interesting to think about adapting more of my books,” muses Marie. “Turning ‘Joy at Work’ into manga would be fun!” Cue the office romance.

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