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Media Analysis of Transmedia

This essay will talk about transmedia, which is the ‘process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience,’ (Jenkins H, 2007). Henry Jenkins pointed out that transmedia is the ideal form of a story telling and according to him the transmedia ‘have entered an era of media convergence that makes flow of content of multiple platforms and media channels’ (2003). Transmedia has been increasingly popular across the world to the fact that many of the audiences and consumers are gaining more experiences to reading. Jenkins also mentioned that ‘each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story’, thus promotes deeper levels of audience engagement. In the following essay, I will explore the transmedia of a Japanese manga serious called One Piece, illustrated and written by Eiichiro Oda in 1997 and the story has been continued to develop up until now. I will explain how the brand uses 3 media platforms to tell a story and how the message migrated across platforms.

One Piece is a prime example of transmedia, that is not only popular in Japan, but across the world. This franchise now have several different media platforms from manga books to original video animations (OVAs), anime serious, anime films, video games, music, light novels, cosplay, art and guidebooks and other media including trading card game, merchandise and its collaboration with Hello Kitty; crossing over into the world of Hello Kitty (Fung E, 2011) etc., to tell a story across multiple platform. The purpose of all these transmedia of storytelling will encourage audiences and consumers to find out more, and seek out more of the story across media. Therefore, they can be seen as positive because it is favourable for commercial to market their brands, as it gets people to consume them. On the other hand, it is also positive because it’s a new forms of reading of sustains of depth of experiences as the multiple platform moves across. One piece consists multiple media platform as listed above, however, I will only look at how its media migrated from manga books to the anime serious and to cosplay.

An example of ‘One Piece Kaizoku X Life yaoi manga book 2010 Japan’ found on Ebay (Japan-ssdyuk 2013)

The first media platform of One piece was the print-based Manga books in black and white, illustrated and written in 1997. Hence, a manga book is very similar to a comic book but the drawing style is slightly different and the story begins from right to left. It is suitable to all ages because the pictures illustrated are more surreal. The manga books consist of mainly drawings and speeches, which are faster to skim through the story, just as the characters inside were moving. In addition, the manga books have lower level of access that is more convenient and easy to read. According to the New York Time ‘300 millions book was sold in 2013’ (Jeffrey T, 2013) and it is currently the best selling manga in Japan. In 2014, the number of manga book released had reached up to 748 chapters with 75 volumes. One of the reasons that the manga books can be sold very quickly was because the manga was licensed for English language in 2002, thus enabled more people to read it in different countries due to the availability of more languages. In addition, when then English version of the One Piece manga books were out, it was imported to America soon after a Japanese American entertainment company Viz Media announced the release of 5 volumes in America, it had continued to release the volumes every months and it was greatly increasing. Viz Media is the largest distributor of anime and manga in North America and the anime they sold has the best titles direct from Japan. Nowadays, One Piece manga book are sold worldwide not only because of an increase in its fans but the story line was also very good according to many audiences. For instance, many countries are started to print the manga books such as ‘North America by Viz Media, in the United Kingdom by Gollancz Manga, and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment’ (Jeffrey T, 2013).
A screenshot of the latest anime episode provided by Viz Media (VIZ Media, LLC 2014)
However, not everybody has read or is interested in reading the manga books, but they can use other methods to find out about the story by watching the anime serious. The anime serious is a Japanese style of film and TV animation created by computers programme with higher level of digital access, which is not only aimed at children but many adults like to watch it too. One Piece also has its own anime serious to tell to the story due to the high level of readership; it has been migrated from the manga book media platform to the anime platform, the idea of digital storytelling based on the same story. The anime serious was launched in 1999 (Jeffrey T, 2013) from one episode to the next after the manga books were released and each episode last for 20 minute. Although the story is the same but the two has many differences that fascinate the audience more, keeping the audience engaging with the story. The anime illustrates higher skills with better quality of pictures, colours, and the fact that the characters can move which provides the greater sense of realism, also there are English subtitle and English dub to enable non-Japanese speakers to watch the anime. In addition, the background soundtrack such as fighting and music are more touching and emotional to the audience that is what a manga cannot provide. Up until now, there are over 650 episodes in its anime serious and is still on going. Both of the manga books and the anime can ‘enhance the experience of people reading across multiple media’ (Jenkins H, 2007)
2013 ranking is Top 30 Best Selling Manga in Japan 2013 (Nbakki, I 2014)

Furthermore, the development of the anime series and continue printing of manga books are also produced for marketing and promotional purposes. However both of the platforms are different for instance, Henry Jenkins has mentioned that ‘Transmedia storytelling practices may expand the potential market for a property by creating different points of entry for different audience segments’. The extent of the story is partly made for the marketing purpose as the amount of readers and viewers of One Piece increased. The graph above shows that One Piece is the best selling Manga in Japan with the sales of 18,151,599, consequently, publishing different media platform would also enhance One Piece’s values, sales and profit. Additionally, it is also a new innovation on providing a higher quality for audiences to find out more about the brand and story, as they want to promote as many platforms as possible. On the other hand, One Piece is created for promotional purposes, the creator Oda has once quoted that ‘After 17 years, after more and more new characters being created in the story, I couldn’t stop inspiration coming into my head, I think I can continue drawing for another decade.’ (Brian A, 2014). The story of One Piece has not ended although it has already reached up to 650 episodes, simply because the creator has found himself enjoying the story very much, no matter how much longer it will take. Therefore, it is also a pleasure for creating the media.

One Piece Japanese Cosplay (Huyp92, 2011)

The third platform is cosply, in other words costume-play. Many people watches One Piece animation would dress up like their favourite characters. Those cosplayers wanted to belong to the community of One Piece after watching the anime, as they believe it is fun and interesting to experience like the characters they like. Without the anime, the platform of Cosplay wouldn’t be existed because of the colourless manga books. In addition, these cosplayers are also helping to promote the brand at the same time, especially the Japanese fans.
Moreover, the availability of smartphone with the ability to take photos and videos also enable cosplayers to promote One Piece. Photos and videos are all uploaded onto social networks such Facebook, Twitter and Maxi. Therefore, the movement across different platforms also forms a participatory culture which means ‘members believe their contributions matter and feel some degree of social connection with one another’ (Jenkins H, 2009, P.12). In addition, cosplayers also spread the media across by bringing people’s attention to One Piece and then carried over the online world such as the photographs of their cosplay.

In summary, transmedia storytelling of One Piece is a process where is has multiple platform such as manga book, to anime series to cosplay. This is the ideal form of storytelling because you can enter the story anywhere you want, enter it through reading the manga books, enter it through watching the anime and through dressing like the characters in the story. Any of those media platforms are the entries on into transmedia. The fictions are dispersing across multiple channels for the purpose of creating a new entertainment experiences. In addition, each medium makes it own contribution to the unfolding of the story. One piece is also helpful to the commercial and the market because they can expand their franchise to many more multimedia platforms. Manga provides back-story to the anime, it enhances the viewer’s experience of the anime and after that there’s cosply for people to experience their favourite characters in the anime, and many other that continues the story. The number of media platforms allows the story to spread; One piece has turned from one story across many media which is why it is well known widely across the world.

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