Girl Power Fuels Manga Boom in U.S.


An Anonymous Patron writes "The New York Times Reports Sales of Japanese comics - more familiarly known as manga (pronounced MAHN-gah) - are exploding in the United States, and much of the boom is due to efforts by comic book publishers to extend their reach beyond young male readers. Beyond all males, in fact."


Where American comics failed, the Japanese manga industry excelled. By that I mean in the area of romance in comics and animation. While there were a few romantic style comics here and there throughout the history of the industry, they pretty much failed to hit their target audience. Perhaps it's because that, even though writers crafted stories for women, artists drew art for men. In Japan, there are styles of art used in most shoujo (female targeted) manga, called bishonen (beautiful boy) and bishoujo (beautiful girl).

CLAMP, a noted publisher of bishonen manga, utilizes the style to full effect. Indeed, it's sometimes hard to tell the males from the females. Both sexes are beautiful, they have long and flowing shampoo-commercial hair, and the males are just as sensitive and sometimes just as feminine as the female characters. Girls and women eat this stuff up because both the art and story targets women.

A subset of this, popular in Japan and just starting to catch on here, is the bishonen-ai and/or bishoujo-ai manga. In Japanese, "ai" means love. These are the manga involving some kind of homosexual relationship. Now the "intensity" of the relationships varies from story to story. In Revolutionary Girl Utena, both aspects of bishonen and bishoujo ai are explored. However the action never rarely gets hot and heavy. The Japanese are very into symbolism, and that plays a large hand there too. However other comics are straight up pornographic in their portrayal of homosexual relationships.

Much to the chagrin of conservative Americans and Republicans at large, these stores are starting to catch on a bit in America. After all, we have nothing like this in our culture where homosexuality is seen as somehow immoral. For the most part, the Japanese have little problem with such relationships because the samurai culture possesses homosexual undercurrents.

Great Western Dragon isn't kidding about bishonen manga. I'm male, and I consider myself straight — and I've frequently found male characters in these series to be quite attractive.

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