A Manga Therapy Session with Tony Yao

Posted by Linda Yau on Apr 11, 2011 in Animation, Comic Books, Fandom |

manga therapy

Anime and Manga Fans have been recently, and still consistently aware of what has been happening over in Japan. So when the there was a 24-hour podcast marathon, Tony Yao was part of the line up.  Recently I got the opportunity to conduct an e-mail interview with Tony Yao of Manga Therapy: Where Psychology & Manga Meet. He was upfront about his experiences, so this interview may or may not have been what you have experienced. He is a fan as well as a multi-site blogger to keep an eye out for.

dragon ballz

What was your first anime title? Was it the same as your first manga title?
The first anime I ever really watched was probably Dragon Ball Z around the age of 10. This was before the series became popular in America. I grew up with Chinese-dubbed fansubs of the series. You can say the first manga title was also Dragon Ball Z as well. Back in high school, I use to read summaries of the manga before it got licensed. When VIZ Media released the first volume in the States though, I had to get it since I never thought I would see manga being published in America.

Which do you prefer? Anime or Manga?
I prefer manga, mostly because anime adaptations can screw up fans’ opinions of the series. One example is Rurouni Kenshin. The anime ended in filler hell and it really threw off fans. Yes, the second OVA series were made to provide closure. But, they pale in comparison to the manga since the manga is the TRUE, original vision of the author.  So when the anime was going in one direction, the manga was still ongoing at the time, it elaborated on Kenshin’s past and set the tone for his future. All the major protagonists had sufficient closure in the manga version, including Saitou Hajime (who is a personal favorite character).


Manga is always ongoing every week or every month with no fillers. You always get new developments. However, anime is also good because you get to see characters’ mannerisms in animated form. Certain scenes can have more impact when done with great voice acting. Even battle scenes can look more amazing in anime.

What is your opinion of  a good anime/manga title? Any favorites or recommendations?
To me, a good anime/manga title has to have amazing characters. They make or break a title. With good characters, everything else subsequently follows. You can have a great plot, but what happens if your characters are too shallow or boring for readers to like?

Right now, my favorite anime/manga titles are currently Gintama and One Piece. There is nothing else like those two, so I highly recommend both. The characters in each of those series are very well-developed. Another title I currently like is Fullmetal Alchemist. Although it ended last year, the series holds a special place in my heart because the Elric brothers are truly inspiring to those who want to succeed in their goals despite being surrounded by corruption and greed.

How welcoming do you think it has been for reading or watching across genres to the opposite sex? Would you view/read anime/manga that is targeted towards girls?
To quote a line from the Megatokyo webcomic, “Shoujo manga helps me solve my relationship problems.” I know a lot of girls read shonen and some guys read shoujo. My boss told me that more women in Japan are reading Shonen Jump these days. She joked that the title is now “Shoujo Jump”. Clearly, there has been a focus on shonen series that appeal to girls over the past few years.

Two good examples are Katekyo Hitman Reborn! and Kuroshitsuji [Black Butler]. Good lord! I really think the fanbase for both series is 90% female. Some of the male characters in both series are extremely good-looking. A majority of Reborn! cosplayers I have seen are female. In spite of what I have just mentioned, I find this trend as pretty interesting and encouraging because this shows that even if you have a set demographic to target, it does not mean it will not reach out to another audience.


I actually read Kimi ni Todoke ~ From Me to You and I love it. I don’t really follow too many series that are targeted towards women, but I would read/watch one if people are talking about it.

What fandom do you identify yourself as?
Probably Gamer. I think playing video games can develop one’s personality to be a better person. Video games get a really bad rep, but there are psychological research studies showing that video games can improve learning and cognitive functions. I myself have become a better person from playing video games. I just think we need more people, like Dr. Jane McGonigal, to preach the benefits.

How do you feel about the trend of anime and manga going?
Dai Sato (screenwriter for Cowboy Bebop, and Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex) once said that anime will die in a few decades. However, here’s what I think. I think we’ll see a new wave of creativity because of the disasters in Japan. Will there be less of the “moe”/”bishoujo” stuff? Maybe.

In Japanamerica, it was noted by some industry people that the great works of anime and manga in the past were created because of the experiences of World War II. Matt Alt even said that trauma creates art.  But, I do think that the next great anime/manga will come from someone who sees life from a whole new perspective because of the chaos he/she has been through. I also think Japanese manga publishers will be more involved in digital media going forward. They have no choice now, given the state of the country at its current period. [Shonen Jump as cause of the tsunami released an issue online]

As a blogger, other than your own site, what sites have you been involved with?
I write on the blog for Samurai Beat Radio, a site that focuses on Japanese music events around New York. A few of my articles are also published on AniCulture. I also have a video game review up at the Diva Review. I would like to get involved as a columnist/contributor for other sites in the future, though I’m not really which ones yet.

Which format of social media do you prefer? Podcasting or Blogging?
I don’t actually have a preference since I like to do both. I’m pretty outgoing and I love to write. Though sometimes I do have slip-ups when podcasting and I hate that.

Has your blog definitely fulfilled its mission of what it has said it would be?
That’s a good question. As of right now, I’m focused on gaining a community. I do think that there is a demand for my type of blog and it might take a while for my blog to achieve its mission. Besides, I only started doing my blog about a year ago.

Do you picture yourself as a anime fan/blogger, ten years from now?
A fan, yes. Anime and manga have always been a big part of my life growing up. There’s no way I’m giving up on them. Blogger, that depends. I do want to make a living off of it somehow if I can. Though if it lands me a job that’s stable and related to my interests, I will be content with that.

Linda Yau is a fan of Japanese culture, and various anime/manga titles. She is a freelance writer and editor under her own name or animemiz. Her main blog is here and she can be contacted by Twitter.

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