They are of the same generation as Luffy, the elastic hero of One Piece – a manga of all records, with 106 volumes published and 520 million copies sold worldwide. As children, they were lulled in the 1980s by the adventures of Goldorak, Albator, Candy, broadcast in “Récré A2”, before, the following decade, Dragon Ball or Sailor Moon, presented in “Club Dorothée”, this time on TF1. Like many other young French people. The difference is that, when they reached adulthood, they chose to make it their career.

The good idea of ​​director Dimitri Kourtchine is to give a voice to a large number of these enthusiasts, members of the first “manga generations”, to decode the cultural revolution which, in four decades, led France to become the second country in which we read the most from right to left, after Japan. An expected and successful initiative.

Instinctively, the film borrows from the codes of Japanese manga – comic strips, close-ups, chapters – to feature the particularly erudite speakers, such as the mangaka Tony Valente, the influencer Mademoiselle Soso, the publisher Pascal Lafine, the academic Bounthavy Suvilay, and Sylvie Chang, creator of the first manga bookstore in Paris, where she launched cosplay in France.

Japanese positivity

The historical chronology is precise, making fun of the recurring criticisms, from François Léotard, minister of culture from 1986 to 1988, or Ségolène Royal, from the time when mangas were described as “Japanese works”, to the recent controversies over the Culture pass.

Beyond the multiple and funny anecdotes, the film highlights some key points of the success of anime. First, the retention techniques, which rely on long scenes without action and a very successful storyline.

Then the “drama”. Balak, author of “French-style mangas”, says that, at the start of his career, he wanted to write stories where people cry and laugh, but that this was forbidden in French animation, because it was considered anxiety-provoking. “We are [then] in a society of denial, confirms Brigitte Lecordier, French voice of Son Goku (Dragon Ball): there are wars all over the world, but we don’t put them in cartoons. »

Conversely, in manga, we are entitled to violence. Losing a parent, suffering, can be a reassuring catharsis. Which explains, again according to Brigitte Lecordier, the success of Son Goku, “in initiation of life, like the children who watched him”.

On condition of respecting the “shonen spirit” and its values: effort, victory and friendship. Rapper Youv Dee got a tattoo of a symbol of Naruto, a character who, according to him, embodies this Japanese positivity, and which he summarizes as follows: “Naruto got up, so you can do it! »

But a scent of nostalgia already hovers over certain memories. “I do everything not to become an old fart,” assures Thomas Sirdey, founder with Jean-François Dufour (also interviewed) of Japan Expo, the third largest French show behind the Agricultural Show and the Auto Show. . Now in the role of father, he takes it upon himself to appear understanding towards his 7-year-old daughter, who is dying of laughter in front of Oshiri Tantei, a Japanese anime character with a head shaped like a butt, who “attacks bad guys by farting on them »…