Dr. Gates’s comment on a previous post that got me thinking about the different media forms of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and St. Leon. I remember briefly thinking about their media difference in the beginning, but dismissed it as I wanted to really focus on the their stories. I had thought that I might go down a rabbit-hole about how different people enjoy different media forms and so on, but her comment made me realize that it does have a place in my argument. It cannot be avoided that you can either read the manga with pictures and dialogue or simply watch the anime versus having to sit down and read St. Leon.
The only problem is that I do not want to make it seem like modern audiences may enjoy Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood more than St. Leon because they would rather watch something or read a Japanese comic book (which is pictures with easy-to-read dialogue). Then again, reading manga is not exactly the easiest thing to do as English readers, but is also not the hardest thing either. Since the Japanese read and write from right to left, the manga is arranged as such so English readers have to adjust in what we would consider “backwards.” (Just as our reading and writing directions may be considered “backwards” to Japanese readers.)
Speaking from experience, it took me some time to getting used to from right to left, but after a few volumes, I got the hang of it to the point that when I pick up a comic that reads left to right (like American or Korean), my first instinct is to go to the “back” of the book and read from right to left. However, again, this is my own personal experience and my friends in middle school had varying times of adjustment. One friend got the hang of it quicker than me, and another took longer while also reading slower. So adjustment and reading time cannot be really generalized.
My point is that I want to draw attention to the anime and manga media forms of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood without making it seem like it is more popular with modern audiences because it’s “easier” to do than to read St. Leon. I know that with the antiquated language of St. Leon and the fact a person would have to actually read it (or listen) makes it seem “harder” to consume, but that was not true for Godwin’s original audience. At least, I do not think so.
That is another question I need to answer: could anyone have read St. Leon in that time period? Could have a literature person of lower class even have access to St. Leon? The money? (I am going to look that up right after this.)
Back to what I was saying originally: I do not think that the difference in media forms is a major contributing factor to a modern audience’s preference for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or St. Leon. I think it is a small contributing factor in how Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as an anime/manga may be more accessible for a modern audience. For one thing, the manga is broken up into multiple volumes so while it is a “long” story, it has been broken up in bite-sized pieces that can be manageable even for struggling readers or those who do not fancy reading a full length novel. (I personally think that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has a lot more going on plot-wise than St. Leon, but it is not as noticeable or intimidating due to the smaller chunks of either episodes or manga volumes.)
As for St. Leon‘s media form, I think four hundred pages of antiquated language is an obstacle that modern readers are faced with and is one that Godwin’s original audience did not have. I do not necessarily want to say that this is “harder” than reading Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or watching the anime, but I think it is a small contributing factor for modern audiences. It is unavoidable. Just look at the first line of the Preface: “The following passage from a work, said to be written by the late Dr. John Campbell , and entitled Hermippus Redivivus ^1, suggested the first hint of the present performance” (Godwin 50). In just that first line, not only is there a footnote, but also a reader would have to go to the back of the book to find out what the heck Hermippus Redivivus is. This can ward off potential readers who may have picked up the book just because they liked the cover. Even if the reader gets past that first line, St. Leon is simply not written like modern novels. The dialogue and prose may not be completely (if at all) understand during the first read. To be honest, the novel is not a kind of book that meant for modern readers to enjoy and somewhat turn off their brain.
Not to say that there are not novels written nowadays that are meant to make the readers think, but what a lot of popular literature is meant to be read like that. It is made to not necessarily be simpler, but easier to comprehend with more modern language and context that a modern reader can understand. Think of Harry Potter. It is written so that even a younger audience is understand most of what is going on, but it has deeper themes and situations that older audiences can enjoy and dissect. A reader does not necessarily need to be in Sherlock mode to understand and enjoy the series. The same cannot not exactly be said for St. Leon. Again, that is not a bad thing, but is an obstacle that has to addressed when considering modern audiences’ response to the novel.
So that is where my brain is at right now. I know I want to talk the media differences, but I do not want to go too deep into a rabbit hole. (I definitely do not want to even see the floating furniture.) Honestly, after writing this post, I’m thinking that maybe the media differences and audiences play a big part of my argument. I just don’t want it to overtake my paper . . . Unless I make that my entire paper. I don’t know. I think I’ll know for certain once I look up the accessibility of St. Leon in Godwin’s time.
(word count: 1062)