Manga

Doujinshi As Unprecedented Visual Subculture

The term doujinshi is coined up by two words, doujin and shi, the former meaning people who share common interests, and shi meaning magazine. The term was originally applied to manga fanzines, hobby magazines and amateur comic books.

It is an interesting fact that usually most popular subculture is cooked up by someone who seeks profit only, and then is fed to a hungry young crowd of fans. This is not always the case in Japan, though. The art is for the art’s sake is what comic market followers are craving for.

Yoshishiro Yonezawa, a novelist, critic and a passionate supporter of popular manga subculture, came up with an idea of founding an enterprise, a market which will be open for all the non-professional manga artists who form their own circles called doujinshis to produce manga mimic artwork and magazines (that are called doujinshis, too). The idea became very popular as Comiket, the largest comic market in the world, is held in Japan twice a year for three days in a row each time in winter and in summer. There are more than 35 thousand circles taking part as well as more than half a million attendees.

It is a space where freedom of expression is preached on a large scale, and organizers never dreamed of so large a success of their creation. Before Comiket, young people who studied in high school or university, took part in comic markets as amateurs, and ceased to participate after graduation. But in mid-seventies this changed drastically. It came to be not only a hobby, but a lifetime passion, as many artists got appreciation and followers due to a growing popularity of doujinshi phenomenon. There are more than two thousand doujinshi markets taking place in Japan each year, and Comiket is by far the most popular one.

Now the idea have spread far beyond Japan as comic markets opened in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and even United States. The number of doujinshi circles mushroomed as markets provided great opportunities for a large number of amateur artists and mangakas (manga artists).

At the outset the predominant part of doujinshis creators were women, about eighty percent. In the 1980s more males became interested, and now the ratio appears to favor female artists only slightly.
We conclude that doujinshi is a visual cultural phenomenon that is shaped mostly by youth, yet its meaning and consequences are of global importance.

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