“Office manga” has become the latest craze to distract Japan’s overworked and angst-ridden office workers. Comic narratives of everyday office life are proving popular in a way similar to that in which Ricky Gervais’ The Office was popular in Britain and the US.
The most popular of the kind is I Am Otaryman which is a humorous autobiographical account of Japanese office life, written by a 30-year-old systems analyst, has sold 670,000 copies since it launch last year. Another manga, Hataraki Man (“Working Man”), depicts the struggles to obtain a work-life balance in the Japanese office.
According to Professor Roland Kelts of the University of Tokyo, “Office-themed manga are serving a very serious need in Japan now. Japanese office workers today face uncertainty. Their parents did not. So they are naturally drawn to hip narratives such as manga that reflect their predicament.
“More workers are becoming dispensable and temporary. Manga, by virtue of its punk roots, is the only Japanese art form able to express such dissonance.”