Edo Period (1603 – 1868) Research

Following the death of Hideyoshi in Japan in the year 1598 Tokugawa Ieyasu became the most powerful man in Japan. He became the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan; going against his promises he did not respect Hideyoshi’s successor Hideyori because he wanted to become the absolute ruler of Japan.

A strict four-class system existed during the Edo period: The members of the four classes were not allowed to change their social status. Outcasts, people with professions that were considered impure, formed another class.Image result for edo japan class system

In 1600 the battle of Sekigahara was won by Ieyasu and his men, he had successfully defeated the Hideyori loyalists and other western rivals. Meaning he now had unlimited wealth and power. In the year 1603 Ieyasu was appointed Shogun by the emperor and had now established his government in Edo (Tokyo). The Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan for a remarkable 250 years.

During the Edo period of Japan under Ieyasu’s rule, he continued to promote foreign trade. He had established relations with the English and the Dutch. However, he did not welcome all things western culture had to offer. In 1614 Ieyasu enforced the suppression and persecution of Christianity.

Int 1615 there was no conflict in Japan; peace prevailed. This was because after Ieyasu had successfully captured Osaka castle he and his successors had little to no rivals anymore. Because of this Samurais were now educating themselves in martial arts further but also in new areas such as literature, philosophy and the arts. Some years later in 1633, the shogun Iemitsu forbade traveling abroad, completely isolating Japan. By 1639 he had reduced the contacts to the outside world. Addition, all foreign books were banned. Selected daimyo were also allowed to trade with Korea, the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Ainu in Hokkaido.

Within the isolation, the domestic trade and agricultural production blossomed even bigger in Japan, particularly popular culture and new art forms such as Kabuki and Ukiyo-e during the years 1688 – 1703 also known as the Genroku Era.

In 1720, the ban on Western literature was lifted, in this several new teachings entered Japan from China and Europe particularly from Dutch and Portuguese travelers.  The Tokugawa government was steadily declining due to several reasons such as natural disasters which was then causing riots. Japan was also facing financial problems,   the financial situation of the government led to higher taxes and riots among the farm population. The social hierarchy began to break down as the merchant class grew increasingly powerful meaning some samurai became financially dependent on them. In the second half of the era,  the continuation of corruption, incompetence and a decline of morals within the government caused further problems; leading many people to soon recognize the big advantages of the Western nations in science and military, and favored a complete opening to the world.

Finally, in 1867-68, the Tokugawa government fell because of heavy political pressure, and the power of Emperor Meiji was restored.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_period

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2128.html

Task 1- EGX Game Preview

Sheeba is an upcoming RPG coming to the Nintendo switch and IOS devices.Screenshot 2019-03-16 at 20.59.05.png

The game is set in the fallen dystopian land of Has Vada. You follow the story of P-Rai and her mutated 40-foot dog Sheeba. Currently, we expect to see an animatic of a story cutscene within the next few weeks. For now, I can provide you with this preview. The story is a heavy focus in Sheeba, particularly the bond between this young girl and her obscure gigantic dog! As you traverse this war-torn land you slowly uncover the history and find out what was before this wasteland was, in fact, a fully functioning society in peace; that’s not to say society doesn’t function in Has Vada. Anarchy rules! The society is chaotic, as you explore the land you will encounter NPCs with a unique fashion sense typically cohesive o their claimed clan. These clan members are usually humble providing your with Sheeba and they are without a kemono. Kemono is what use to domesticated pets of the forgotten world turned rampant in different ways, some grow humongous in size whilst others are mutated in other uncanny ways. Encounter a clan member/members with their Kemono and you’ve got yourself a battle!

Battles in this game are turned based, reminiscent to your traditional RPGs such as Pokemon and Dragon Quest. P-Rai takes is not your typical bystander though, as P-Rai within these battles your companionship with Sheeba plays a major role; as you progress through the game and battle with Sheeba your companionship increases allowing for you to Heal, buff Sheeba’s statistics in battle as P-Rai as well as pull off extreme finishers to stunned enemies. From the preview, I got my hands on I got to participate in a few battles; I can say that they are fluid and very engaging despite the turned based style which is not typically seen in RPGs these days except for in the Japanese market. I can compare the battles to Persona 5’s battles the U.I. is very stylistic and dynamic, as you play your eyes can do nothing but marvel at what is going on on the screen.

You can see the influences from graphic novels and manga, A big influence that comes to mind is Scott Pilgrims vs the World, you see this influence, even more, when exploring the fallen world. As you interact with NPCs the game takes on a beautiful art style of big text bubbles with bold fonts. The characters are drawn with passion and have bold expressions amplified with great bold, confident line work that just gives the feeling of an interactive graphic novel. It’s not just the visual style that is influenced by graphic novels but also the writing and the clear cut character archetypes, P-Rai has a sweet innocence to her she is naive, Sheeba can sense this and plays the role of her guardian. Even though Sheeba can’t talk the segments of her interactions with P-Rai are great as they invoke emotions within the player by exploring that classic bond we all know of a human and their dearest pet; love is a universal language. Sheeba also takes inspiration from a classic children’s cartoons: Clifford the big red dog and Maggie and the furious beast. Both of these cartoons include a young girl going on various odysseys with their colossal companions. Companions who can come off as gentle giants and guardians when combined with excellent writing. This is because this dynamic duo allows to explore the two different sides, as well as show the player both perspectives.    Related image

Lastly, I want to touch upon the environment and how you will be interacting with it. Sheeba is influenced by the classic Nintendo game: Mother 3, and it is clear to see as you play the role of a child exploring with your animal companion. Combine that with a subtle soundtrack and exploring Has Vada has a childlike sense of curiosity and discovery, you never know what to expect, the people of this world can be friendly companions that will help you with items you can buy or sometimes even buy from you, or they can be deviants playing on your naivety. I should also mention that Sheeba will not always be by your side especially when discovering new towns as P-Rai wants to prevent angering people with her gigantic dog demolishing their assets. It’s in these situations when you will see the dynamic aspect of the game as you can always call for Sheeba to come if a conversation or negotiation isn’t going to plan; bring Sheeba by your side completely changes how NPCs will interact with you. However, this game mechanic cannot be abused as if used in the wrong situation you could find yourself battling someone else Kemono who is vastly superior to you in level.

Task 1 – Research – Section 1,2

The History of Storytelling

The art of storytelling is something that we as humans have been practising since the days of cave illustration till now, we all remember the story of the three little pigs, jack and the beanstalk and so on. Today storytelling is an intrinsic part of societies, culture, movies, television, and games.

The earliest form of storytelling dates back to sometime between the years 15,000 and 13,000 BC. Discovered in 1940 by a group of French children the cave paintings depict a variety of animals alongside a human, upon close inspection the paintings follow a simplistic series of events; in particular the rituals of hunting. More importantly, the paintings tell a story. It is believed that in the past stories were told in the past to teach whilst calming the fears and doubts of the family. This form of storytelling is visual storytelling.

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The ancient Greek epic poets such as Homer recited poems stories in spoken words; sometimes these stories would go on for hours. They would keep audiences interested through decorating odysseys with sex, violence and mythical creatures. All of these features help to make the experience of listening compelling to the audience

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It wasn’t until 700 BC that the very first story was printed: the epic of Gilgamesh, quickly spreading throughout Europe and Asia, because the story was carved into stone pillars the story spread around rapidly. This is was the start of oral traditions in storytelling.

Another form of Oral storytelling can be seen in 200 BC,  Aesop’s fairytales which were written have great life lessons which still hold up today, However, the written form of the stories was not always at hand. Aesop lived during 500s BC, and his stories were remembered for hundreds of years without a single shred of paper. In fact, the power of the oral storytelling was so strong that even 300 years later the stories were developed for mass production. As humans with various cultures, societies and war throughout history we need oral storytelling, we need storytellers. Storytellers first began to arise in communities based on their ability to inform the people of current events in war and valiant deeds across the globe. Instead of simply reciting what had happened stories allowed for the listeners to listen intensively as the stories preserve raw emotion along with the sequence of the event.Image result for storyteller

Around the 5th century, early forms of handcrafted books were produced in small batches in Rome. These books represent some of the worlds earliest stories told in classic book form told through written words. Despite this massive triumph a thousand years later people still couldn’t read. Therefore  Shakespearean literature was not accessible to all; so Shakespeare decided to depict his stories through plays, combining the great writing for the intellectuals and the great drama and humour for the hearts of the audience, this combination allowed for a wide audience, something which we still see to this day.Image result for imax

300 years later Britain had entered the industrial age. Now exposed to all new sophisticated technology, machines for storytelling were created such as the invention of motion pictures and the radio. Following this, theatres were opened simultaneously across the country; this made it possible to tell one story to mass audiences subsequently making storytelling big business. This way of Storytelling was very popular and can be seen as shared events. Not long later the combination of movies and radio lead to the invention of television where viewers had access to a range of broadcasts that depicted various stories.

Storytelling in Games 

As technology developed further along came another form of media, video games. Video games are a huge force in the world of entertainment; in the year 2018 the gaming industry generated revenue of $137.9 billion and is projected to grow to $180.1 billion by 2021Gaming today is on par with movies and television, and even exceeds them both in ways as this media allows for upwards of 100 hours of storytelling to be told in a unique interactive way that puts the player first. Games are built upon creating emotional responses in the player, because of this they need great stories with treacherous adventures and compelling characters.

Just like books, television, and film. Games have several genres and sub-genres each having troupes and distinctive features, most importantly the all mostly have a solid narrative structure they follow to present a story throughout the period of the game.

One of the most popular genres is the action/adventure genre this include games such as Assassins Creed, Farcry, and Zelda; these games typically put the player at the centre of all the action with the plot depending on them to progress as well as depending on the player to be the hero of the story. I suppose that this genre is so popular as the narrative is usually linear.  Take a game such as Uncharted 4 which presents a story with characters, puts you as the player in the role of Nathan Drake in this story being told and the player is basically taken on this visual, interactive, narrative ride for 20 hours or so. Alongside state of the art graphics engines, characters and environments are rich and filled with life which only helps aid in invoking a feeling of engagement with the player.

Role-playing games or RPGs is a vastly popular genre in gaming, these games firstly started out with traditional 8-bit graphics with a turned based combat style; a feature which is still used in Japanese role-playing games or JRPGs such as final fantasy. Throughout the years RPGs have evolved alongside gaming, such as some series adopting real-time combat and full HD 3D graphics. However one thing has reminded true which is the way RPGs present the narrative throughout the game,   I believe RPGs are so beloved by many due to the player feeling as though they have a voice in the story. This is because RPGs include the feature to let the player choose between dialogue choices throughout the game which often change the development of the particular arc in the story.

Here are a few examples of the different character archetypes you can find throughout games:

The Gruff – This archetype is usually seen as the all American video game character. He is typically caucasian, masculine and guff, carrying a machine gun or some type of heavy weaponry. This character archetype is usually seen in the shooter genre of games; they are the reckless type but only for the greater good. Masterchef from Halo is a good example, he is honest, strong and not afraid to put up a fight.

Image result for master chief

The Heroine – This is archetype is always a female character who is at the main protagonist of the said game who you will play as. She is really strong and the opposite of your typical feminine character you may be used to in games such as the damsel in distress. A good is an example is Samus from the Metroid series, she is well written as the writers do not force the fact that she is female she is genuinely strong and a fearless leader at heart. However, she has a softer side to contrast her strong self-disciplined side this does not detract from her ability to hold her own in a fight though. The developers show this through her aesthetic design of being in a fully armoured suit and zero suits.

Image result for zero suitImage result for samus

The Legend – This character archetype plays on the idea of waking up to magically being destined to be something special, a legend. This character usually does not have to go through the training or hard work as they are destined to do their particular mission. Link from the Zelda series is a great example; particularly the latest instalment of the franchise: The Legend of Zelda Breath of The Wild. You wake up in a cave to a voice from the princess telling you that the fate of the kingdom lies in your hands.

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The revenge seeker – This archetype derives from writes relying on tragic backstories of a character to make the player feel emotions of empathy towards the main character. As a player, you like the idea of the story of a man who loses it all and is now against the odds and even so in a state of seemingly darkness and despair, the character stands up and forces his way through in search for the light of hope. This classic archetype is relatable to so many different situations which is why players love to play as these characters. Kratos has a fascinating and unique relationship with vengeance. Not only is he out for blood for his dead family, but for his brother and for the life and nightmares he’s endured thanks to the Greek gods. Kratos is so tangled in the cycle of hatred and revenge that he has no hope of ever escaping, which really shines as a great showcase of the revenge seeker archetype.

Image result for kratos

 

OxenFree

Oxenfree is an indie game developed by night school studio, a game where the narrative is put first and it pays off big time. The game keeps players engaged with dialogue that is finely written and delivered even better to the standards of some of the top TV shows; this makes the player emotionally attached to the characters as they are relatable. This happens when the developers take time to ensure that the characters are fleshed out with their own unique qualities to them, it is important when creating a good narratively driven game to have fully fleshed out characters as they are the spearpoint in progressing the story. Because of this Oxenfree’s gameplay can be excused as it is not your typical action game with dynamic gameplay elements, the player gets hooked on the method of storytelling, the suggestion of emotional baggage is enough in itself to keep you playing. On top of that the player feels as though their choices carry weight as each dialogue choice effects the progression of the story for better or worse, not only does this add replayability but it also makes the player play less mindlessly as they would a game like call of duty but instead thoroughly and methodically; as it is truly thought-provoking.

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The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is an action RPG that released in 2015 on the PS4 and Xbox One. Developed by CD Projekt red the game is a great showcase for story combined with a vast open world with immersive graphics. The game focuses on a country torn by conflict, not just the landscapes but also the people and you can feel it. Similar to Oxenfree the player can interact with NPCs choosing what they would like to reply, giving the opportunity to expand knowledge on the lore without having to read through dreaded wiki pages. Speaking with the people of this world feels as though they actually are inhabitants, the developers have put effort into them and how they tell their stories, in the Witcher the player gets to progress through the story through action-packed chivalry and also bold oral storytelling. Because of the great NPCs, the player can get immersed in the sub stories alone, let alone the main quest. When the player is playing in the main quest they are engaged through great storytelling, gameplay and character progression. The character progression plays a key role in the story in a subtle way. I say this because as you play through the game you become attached the main protagonist Geralt, you are exploring the lands as him and as you slay beasts and bandits you gain experience points; with these, you can assign them to specific areas to develop Geralt. This is a such an important mechanic in creating an emotional response in the player as when the player reaches the end game they look back and feel a sense of accomplishment as they are a much greater man then they were at the start of the game.

Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is a PlayStation 4 exclusive title that released in 2015. It is an action adventure game developed and published by Sega. The game acts as a prequel to the well-established Yakuza series, however, it differentiates itself as throughout the chapters in the story you will switch between two characters, making you see the story from two different perspectives. On its own the gameplay without story would not hold up as it is your typical action, over the top Japanese style brawler; whilst fun it can get repetitive, to redeem this the game includes 3 different fighting styles per character which can be upgraded as you progress through the story, leading me to the second redeeming quality: the story. The game is set in Tokyo 1988, playing as Kiryu Kazama a yakuza member, right from the get-go through excellent visual storytelling you come to find out that you have been framed for the murder of one of the leading heads in a yakuza family, now the yakuza is after you. On the other hand in later chapters alternating from Kiryu you play as Majima Goro exploring his story, eventually, the two paths cross however aside from that the twos stories both explore the testing the limits of loyalty and redemption, it’s truly captivating. This is all done through great writing, pacing, and animation. The game is not dubbed so it is all Japanese with English subtitles, the story is done so well that it has managed to engage audiences beyond Japanese natives. This is done through various character archetypes that give the player a range of characters to relate to as well as events. I should also mention that this game is grounded its set in the 80s and I can only imagine the feelings of nostalgia this game would awaken within adults that grew up in this era especially Japan natives that lived through this era.Image result for yakuza 0

Sources:

https://www.polygon.com/2018/6/28/17464538/yakuza-0-food-drink-kiryu-majima-club-sunshine

 

Final Major Project Research: The Shining Princess

Shining princess is a traditional Japanese fairytale for kids, also known as the tale of the bamboo cutter. My final major project will be my adaptation of this classic folktale, illustrated in a classic manga style, after i will take my images and create an animatic with them. Due to the length of the full folktale my FMP will focus on the first two princes’ treating it as a continuous  on going series as I will go ahead and wrap up the full story at a later date; so essentially I will be telling the first two chapters of the manga. At the end of the second princes’ journey the animatic of the illustrated manga pages will return back to the animation scene that appears at the beginning of the FMP little girl character at the start would have fallen asleep. Therefore her mother closes the story book and shuts the door to let her sleep leaving the rest of the story to be told another night. My manga will focus on the journeys of the first and second princes’ journeys mainly the second as he ventures into a mythical land, whereas the first prince: realising that it was an impossible task, the first prince returned with an expensive stone bowl, hoping that Kaguya-hime would believe it to be real, but after noticing that the bowl did not glow with holy light, Kaguya-hime saw through his deception.

The Original Story 

One day a bamboo cutter named Taketori no Okina comes across an uncanny, shining bamboo stalk. Upon cutting the stalk he finds a baby inside the shoot, approximately the size of his thumb, He rejoiced at this event and took the little girl home to his wife they decide to name the girl Kaguya-Hime. Thereafter, Taketori no Okina found that whenever he cut down a stalk of bamboo, inside would be a small nugget of gold, he quickly became rich. Kaguya-hime grew from a small baby into a woman of ordinary size and extraordinary beauty within weeks! At first, Taketori no Okina tried to keep her away from outsiders, but over time the news of her beauty spread. Attracting five princes; all asking for the princesses hand.

After some persuading the princes managed to talk Taketori no Okina to get the princess to accept one the princes’ as her partner. However she had set out a set of tasks for each of the princes’; she named a specific item for each one to retrieve for her, mysterious items which will require them to go on treacherous odysseys to retrieve, she says that the first prince to bring back the item she had asked of them she will happily marry. The first prince was told to bring her the stone begging bowl of the Buddha Shakyamuni from India, the second prince: a jewelled branch from the mythical island of Hōrai, the third prince: the legendary robe of the fire-rat of China, the fourth prince: a coloured jewel from a dragon’s neck, and the final prince a cowry shell born of swallows.  The first prince returned with a replica. Likewise, two other princes attempted to deceive her with fakes, but also failed. The fourth gave up after encountering a storm, while the final prince lost his life in his attempt.

Following the events of all the princes being unable to fulfil ht requests of the princess the Emperor of Japan meets the princess and upon falling in love with her he asks for her hand. She denies, saying she is not from his country ; therefore she cannot go to the palace with him. However she keeps in touch with him, continuing to rebuff his requests and marriage proposals. That summer, whenever Kaguya-hime saw the full moon, her eyes filled with tears. Though her adoptive parents worried greatly and questioned her, she was unable to tell them what was wrong. Her behaviour became increasingly erratic until she revealed that she was not of this world and must return to her people on the Moon. As the day of her return approached the emperor sent an army to protect the princess they inevitably lose and the princess declares that she must return, as she leaves to return to her native land escorted by heavenly beings which arrive at her door. Before leaving she left apology letters to her parents and the emperor. She then took a little of the elixir of life,  and attached it to her letter to the Emperor, and gave it to a guard officer. As she handed it to him, her feather robe was placed on her shoulders, and all of her sadness and compassion for the people of the Earth were apparently forgotten. The Emperor ordered his men to take the letter to the summit of the mountain and burn it, in the hope that his message would reach the distant princess. The men were also commanded to burn the elixir of immortality since the Emperor did not wish to live forever without being able to see her.

 

 

 

The History of Manga

1200 AD

Japan 1200 AD a set of painted handscrolls were created by an  anonymous artist but is known to be humorous in his works, this set is referred to as Chōjū giga (Handscrolls of Frolicking Animals). It shows rabbits, monkeys and frogs behaving like humans, doing things such as bathing and wrestling. This work is considered by some to be the foundation of modern manga. The Tale of the Monkeys made in the late 1500s follows on from this and shows monkeys acting out serious and comical human situations. It includes  fukidashi (early examples of speech bubbles), and other techniques essential to modern manga.

1700s

By the late 1700s, Japanese artists  started kibyōshi this is the practice of  combining pictures and words in comic illustrated novels. This works of art commented on, and sometimes satirised, aspects of contemporary society. These novels were published in large numbers mainly for newly rich and literate urban audiences and show that from an early stage, Manga could be political.

1814

Image result for hokusai manga

The word ‘manga’ (漫画) has been used to describe various styles over the last two centuries. In 1814 Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) known for his famous print: The Great Wave created a series of picture books titled ‘Hokusai manga’ published in 1814. Because of this he is closely associated with the word manga. The collection of books shows collections of assorted sketches, instead of narratives telling a story; despite Hokusai naming this project manga his view of the word is different from how it is viewed today.

1858

In 1858 Japan had opened their doors to international trade, in Yokohama a new foreign settlement and port was opened. It was here that the very first newspapers in Japan were printed, including Japan Punch by Charles Wirgman. Japan Punch presented cartoons with satire, depicting local westerns and their difficulties in establishing commercial and diplomatic relations with Japanese. The journal had a major influence on Japanese artists and writers who, at the time, were concerned about Japan’s rapid modernisation, and established similar publications to satirise Japanese government policies. The cartoons show black ink figures rendered with a dipping pen as we know in manga today, featuring hatching techniques.

1880

Japanese artist Kawanabe Kyōsai painted a provocative, humorous stage curtain for the Shintomi theatre on 30 June 1880.  On that day, after consuming a few bottles of rice wine, Kyōsai retreated to a studio and started painting. Four hours later he arrived with 17 meters of painted curtain, depicting the members of the acting company as various kinds of monsters. Kyōsai’s homage to the actors created a sensation. His spontaneous wit and expressive line stand at the root of modern manga, his work contained bold black lines with expressive strokes, as well as combining the kanji lettering alongside the images.

1902

During the late 1800s the development of the Japanese manga market was starting to develop through early photographs such as photos of print shops taken around the time. Simultaneously the new publications came to rise such as Topical Manga; Kitazawa Rakuten (1876–1955) Japanese illustrator and commentator launched this humorous newspaper in 1902 as a Sunday supplement to News of Current Affairs. He also  modelled Jiji manga on the Sunday comics sections of US newspapers.

1920s

The Manga we know and love toady first began to emerge from an international background of serislased cartoon strips in magazines and newspapers during the 1920s. Okamoto Ippei (1886–1948) arranged for the syndication of US cartoons in Japan. He also founded a school encouraging manga artists to work in their own individual styles. Manga sugoroku is a board game that Okamoto Ippei designed in 1929 and shows the lifestyle choices available to the modern young woman.

1940s

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During the 1940s post war Japan faced new censorship by allied forces. At this time Japanese people had little money to spend, therefore a new trend emerged in Osaka were Japanese natives would create and buy akahon (red books). These books were not only cheap to print but included long- well formatted manga storybooks which were then sold on roadside stalls. One red book in particular stood out in its success: Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island) a series produced in 1947 by Tezuka Osamu (1928–1989) and Sakai Shichima (1905–1969). A title which grew to rapidly sell 400,000 copies!

1960s

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During the 1960s, Shirato Sanpei was a key figure in the genre of gekiga a Japanese term for comics that literally means “dramatic pictures”. It describes comics aimed at adult audiences with a cinematic style and more mature themes. Shirato was an innovator who helped to build the avant-garde manga magazine Garo, it was this magazine that allowed participating artists  to retain control over the editorial process. This policy coincided with alternative ideas current in the 1960s and early 1970s. Shirato’s series Kamuiden chronicled various struggles against injustice and corruption, and became a classic of its genre.

1970s

Image result for the poe clan manga

In the 1970s the well established shōjo manga (manga target to girls) genre saw new developments. These new developments included stories which only featured only boys which was revolutinary to the genre; the stories tackled themes such as love and freinship suppourted with great characters ehich developed over time. A great representative of this period is Pō no ichizoku (The Poe clan), published from 1972.

1980s to present

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It was here that the golden age of manga arrived as we know it today; this was not sudden as it followed Japans economic boom during the time. Manga reached a peak in the 1995 – in that year alone 1.34 billion tankōbon (manga collections) were published. Amongst these manga the most successful still to this day which is still being published with an on going story and anime is ONE PIECE: a series that has been running at the number 1 spot since 1997. The story follows a boy named Monkey.D.Luffy who obtains obscure rubberlike skin on his adventures with his friends, his goal is to one day become the king of pirates as well as looking for a priceless treasure called ONE PIECE.