Thursday, 10 May 2012

Live from JAPAN #2 日本第2位から住んでいる

Manko & Atomic on The Strange Gender Divide in Japanese Comics
As a follow up to the previous post from Jason and Manko, they've kindly sent us some more observations from the Land of the Rising Sun...

Manko: I'm sending you a shot from the chain store called Book Off, which is an excellent chain that sells second-hand books, dvds, cds and comics. It's a shot from an isle on the comics floor. The girl section contains romance comics, themes ranging from princess weddings to "boys love". Very different guy section opposite. Maybe Jason can tell you more about that. I find the absolute gender divide quite fascinating.

Jason Atomic: Japanese comics are on every subject, comedy, romance, thrillers horror, sci-fi, cooking, sports, history, biography etc... like movies or TV shows. If you want men in lycra punching each other you might be disappointed, you're more likely to find a story about a girl who works in an office and adopts a stray kitten or some boys who like mountain bikes and going on fishing trips. The shot we sent shows 2 aisles out of about 20 on that floor. 

Yamane Ayano's Viewfinder
Manko: 2nd pic is Otaku [geek] girls outside Mandarake, a chain shop that sells toys and comics. Photography inside the shop is strictly forbidden, so excuse a cowardly shot of the outside, dunno if you even want to use it, but it's interesting and related to the gender divide. [Looks good enough to me! - Steve]

This particular branch in Ikebukuro is called Mandarake Complex and is aimed specifically at girls. It mostly stocks homoerotic comics dedicated to "boys love" genre. It has pretty weird atmosphere - from giggling gaggles of college girls to shy lonesome sweaty ladies shuffling through the isles without making any eye contact. The shop is rammed with fanbooks (many self-published), bootleg slash fan-fiction manga and novels, homoerotic takes on popular characters - from Star Wars, Death Note and Harry Potter to video game and band members, in all levels of explicitness. Note: Self-published or Dōjinshi (同人誌, often transliterated as doujinshi) is the Japanese term for self-published works, usually magazines, manga or novels. Dōjinshi are often the work of amateurs, though some professional artists participate as a way to publish material outside the regular industry.

I'm especially amused by the English Gentleman section that features sexy comics about gorgeous lithe sensual boys dressed in tweed, sipping tea in a lush English mansion garden, before getting dirty with each other. Those comics for some reason are usually written in French (an exotic "foreign" thing, Engrish mounting French?)

Off topic, same area of Tokyo - cosplay wig shop!


  1. How I look foward to visit the land of my ancestors. So much I've heard and seeing about such incredible culture. But I must say, that whole gender separation is as ancient as fucking. My grandparents did the same thing here when they first arrived to this country. Basically left over sexism translated to a new generation in art form. Anyway, I don't get it, as Manko mentioned, manga is over sexualized. Even the one's with no sex has over sexualized characters. Also, in the ranking of fucking per year, average japanese person is in last place (that's why you only see a lot of old people there - not much bay making - also only old conservative politicians killing the country), that's a contradiction to such liberal looking people. About the last one about buying, reading and ditching, that is a very consumerist society, they ditch everything after use (most the times), but they keep what they cherish most. I could give away details about the japanese upbring, but I don't want to spoil your view about Japan. Everyone loves Manga there, but collectors like the ones on our side of the globe keeps them. And not much discrimination either, not many of those stereotypes of utter geekish comic collector (but older people there have a word that can be translated to lazy/idle/not much to do with life). Oh, overspoke here... sorry. Love the blog, mate.

    Best wishes...


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