TOKYO (majirox news) – Doujinshi. Misunderstood. It does not mean anime sex comic books, although much of it is sexual in content. Doujinshi means self-published. It is the Japanese version of what the West calls a Vanity Press. Doujinshi allows unknown artists and fans the means to pursue their creative dreams via the world of anime comic art.
Doujinshi are often produced by single mainstream manga artists to further explore the exploits of the characters they have created. The artist Ken Akamatsu of Love Hinafame produces doujinshi under the name of Awa Mizuno. It has also been an experimental creative outlet for established artists like Narumi Kakinouchi, who published the exquisite doujinshi anime series Vampire Princess Miyu. Nobuteru Yuki, the creator of Vision of Escaflowne, began his career publishing doujinshi under the pseudonym The Man in the High Castle, which was actually the title of a novel by American Sci-Fi author Philip K. Dick.
A group of artists who create doujinshi are called a Circle. One of the most famous Circles is a group of women artists named Clamp, originally called Clamp Cluster. Formed in the 1980s by Nanase Ohkawa, the Circle consisted of 11 women artists and writers. Clamp created doujinshi, which got them into the mainstream of manga, and produced such long running series as Rg Veda (their first big hit), Cardcaptor Sakura, Tokyo Babylon, Magic Knight Rayearth.
“Clamp ranks among the most successful creators of doujinshi/manga in Japan and the United States,” said American journalist Charles Solomon.
Doujinshi butts heads with the Japanese Government in several ways. Many of the themes and characters are derivative and/or parodies of established anime series and artists. This is in defiant conflict of Japanese copyright laws as doujinshi creators rarely get legal permission from the originators of an anime series to use their original work in any form. In the US or the UK infringement of copyright normally provokes immediate legal action by the injured parties. In Japan intellectual property theft of anime is usually ignored.
In fact, doujinshi proliferates because it enhances the popularity of various anime series and characters. Essentially, it helps large commercial publishers of manga get free publicity and marketing of established works. It is a talent pool for new artists and writers, which allows successful artists and writers to experiment without any boundaries. Some doujinshi stories do contain sexually explicit material, since there are no legal restrictions. This is behind the typecast misnomer of the name doujinshi. There are several sexual categories of doujinshi.
Hentai is the general term used for sexually explicit, sexually perverted, or pornographic doujinshi. It is sometimes referred to as “H”-doujinshi. Hentai can be heterosexual interactions, homosexual interactions, and sexual fetishes. Yaoi doujinshi depict male homosexual trysts while Yuri doujinshi feature female homosexual pairings. The fetishes range from Bakunyu (big breasts), Futanari (hermaphrodites), Lolicon (Lolita prepubescent types) to Tentacle erotica.
The diversity of perversion is limitless. Imagination prevails. Doujinshi is a huge money maker for Japan at Comiket/Comic Market. It is the largest fair in the world for doujinshi. It is held every winter and summer in Tokyo. There were 560,000 visitors from all around the world at last year’s event, which generates a lot more people than the Tokyo International Anime Festival does.
This August 12, 13, and 14 Comiket will be held again at the Tokyo Big Sight. And, surprise, surprise, the ban by Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government is already having an effect. The organizers have already distributed pamphlets on the new “underage” law and how the exhibitors must proceed for compliance. There are 35,000 Circles that are expected to participate.
Things should heat up more than normal in August for Comiket depending on the reaction to the Tokyo International Anime Festival this March. Whether the ban or the alternative Anime Content Expo will dilute attendance at those two concurrent events remains to be seen. More importantly: Does sexless sell?
Heather Russell is a writer for majirox news and CEO of Rinkya — www.rinkya.com