Fandom, as we’re well aware simply by the existence of this site, is becoming more and more global. Western fans are into Eastern entertainment, and vice-versa. But it isn’t just a matter of superhero movies. Some BBC standbys are becoming big news in Japan, especially among the otaku set. Most notably, literary classics and mystery series are making the jump from World Masterpiece Theater (and, to a degree, the fujoshi fandom) to the mainstream.
Back in 2008, josei manga magazine Melody began syndicating Please, Jeeves, a “comicalization” of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster novels drawn by Bun Katsuta. While the manga was done with the blessing of the Wodehouse estate and was based primarily on the original novels and short stories, many panels and settings were fairly notably drawn from the 1990s Granada series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
In the intervening years, shows like Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, and the meta-series Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes have made their way to Japan as well. And when BBC’s Sherlock hit, it made Benedict Cumberbatch a national favorite — enough that his work in both Star Trek: Into Darkness and Doctor Strange were the stuff of massive media events and press tours.
Sherlock‘s manga adaptation happened far sooner than Jeeves & Wooster‘s, released by Kadokawa and adapted by manga artist Jay. The interesting thing here, though, is that it wasn’t in a josei magazine. It was (and still is) syndicated in Kadokawa’s Young Ace, which is a seinen-aimed magazine. This may seem like a no-brainer to murder mystery fans, but the fandoms for UK adaptations — especially of mysteries — has almost always skewed toward a slightly older female demographic.
Is it because Sherlock is just that popular in Japan? It could be. Regardless, Western fans can now benefit because Titan Comics (who also hold comic licenses for Doctor Who, Torchwood, and other foreign-language properties like Sky Doll) is releasing translations of the series. Granted, they’re fairly easy to follow as they follow the scripts of the shows. But the manga also play with camera angles, add new covers and bonus art, and serve as a way to show how a foreign audience sees Western shows.
Will you be giving the Sherlock manga a try? Are there any other shows you’d like to see Japanese artists adapt? Comment below!