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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Manga shares gain on leader hopes
Taro Aso (left) with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right)
Taro Aso (left) is known to be a fan of manga and Japanese animation
Japanese comic book shops have been the surprise beneficiaries of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shock exit.

Shares in retailers selling the "manga" cartoon strips surged on belief that manga-fan Taro Aso is the leading candidate to replace Mr Abe.

Mr Aso, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is a big promoter of manga cartoons abroad.

While the main Tokyo market fell after Mr Abe's resignation, manga-linked stocks like publisher Broccoli rose.

The Nikkei 225 index of the largest Japanese shares fell 0.5% as political uncertainty led investors to drop out of the market until the situation became clearer.

But investors pounced on manga publishers and bookshops selling the fantastical cartoon strips.

Shares in second-hand bookshop Mandarake jumped 13% to 436,000 yen ($3,817; 1,879), while manga publisher Broccoli also gained, up 71% to close at 157 yen.

"We are happy to receive people's attention this way," said Kenichi Saito, a Mandarake store manager in Tokyo.

Building bridges

Outside Japan, manga comics are mostly associated with science fiction and fantasy - often with violent or explicitly sexual content.

Chihiro
Spirited Away is a classic example of anime - animation based on manga styles

At home, however, manga encompasses a much wider range of genres, from high literature and non-fiction to soap operas, thrillers and even sports.

Their characteristic style descends from the popular woodblock prints common in the 18th and 19th centuries known as ukiyoe, which often featured humorous depictions of Japanese urban life.

The Oscar-winning Japanese cartoon film Spirited Away had its roots in this style of cartoon, as did Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

Mr Aso, who had served as foreign minister before his promotion in a cabinet reshuffle in July, has argued that embracing Japanese pop culture was an important step to cultivating ties with other countries.

Earlier this year, he oversaw the creation of the International Manga Award to honour non-Japanese cartoonists.

"It is my hope that manga, through these works, will act as a bridge to the world," he told a local newspaper at the time.


SEE ALSO
Nikkei falls after leader resigns
12 Sep 07 |  Business
Japanese prime minister resigns
12 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Manga's world of make-believe
20 Mar 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan's madness for manga
18 Sep 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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