tamagomago

Manga magazine demographics

Alex Leavitt and I exchanged a few tweets yesterday about his (excellent) Yotsuba&! article, and one point that came up was the way to obtain demographic data about manga magazines. I'm surprised it's not better-known, so it probably deserves its own how-to post. Here it is.

As you know, manga magazines are divided into several categories depending on their broad target demographic, mainly manga for boys (shounen), for girls (shoujo), for men (usually seinen, literally “young men”) and for women (josei or ladies' comics, although the latter term may refer to erotic titles as well). These broad categories are used for classification, especially in book shops, so it's useful to know where a certain manga or manga magazine belongs, even though it doesn't necessarily say much about the contents of said manga (these are not genres), nor in fact about the actual gender and age of readers as we will see.

Almost a little girl

“I am fond of children—except boys.” This famous quote from Lewis Carroll, a noted appreciator of the (preferably naked) youthful female figure, should have put to rest uninformed allegations to the effect that all interest in child-like body features were bisexual in nature. Unfortunately, Carroll is probably not a favorite read among men who measure woman beauty in bust line centimeters, and people continue to believe that we can't tell apart little boys from little girls. Well, yes we can, and we have our preferences (and I don't mean that as yes we can fix the economy; it's more like yes we can bail out Goldman).

Except, admittedly, in those rare cases when we can't (black swans?). I'm refering of course to something akin to the trap concept in manga and anime.

The confusion about moe

Pondering the meaning of moe 「萌え」 sounds a bit 2005, back when the word qualified as a popular phrase in the Japanese media. Nowadays, it's become pretty uncommon among otaku to say that you're moe for such and such, as the term has been somewhat bastardized by mainstream exposure, or has simply fallen out of fashion (angry rants of English-speaking bloggers notwithstanding).

Still, there are no convenient replacements for at least some uses of the word moe. For example, the most concise answer I can give when somebody asks what kind of manga or anime I like is moe-kei. It's quite precise and widely understood (well, not in the general public of course, but the right answer if a Japanese person that isn't an otaku asks about your tastes in anime is more along the lines of “I've heard about that Studio Ghibli thing and what they do looks pretty cool”).

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