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What if all Marvel movies were only targeted at men / boys? That’s a sort of weird thing that we think about as we get into this week’s topic: Fans of anime and manga “for girls” (aka: Shoujo and Josei). What is the most popular shoujo / josei title? Do men read / watch it? How successful is it? All this and more on this week’s episode with special guest, Caitlin Moore (I Have a Heroine Problem, Anime Feminist)!

Next week, we’ll overthrow a dystopian goverment (WAKE UP, MEEPLE!) and probably grow a bunch of fields to feed our family to not die in some medieval time; that’s right, we’ll be talking about fans of board games!

Where can I learn more about Caitlin Moore?

Caitlin is the author of I Have a Heroine Problem, a blog about critically examining media (particularly, shoujo and other anime / manga) from a feminist perspective. Right now, she is running a column examining abusive relationships in Shoujo, which is on week eleven as of this writing.

She is also a contributor to the Anime Feminist as a columnist and ocassional Chatty AF (the Anime Feminist’s podcast) guest.

She is also a multiple-time panelist at a variety of conventions, tackling topics such as Awesome Women Making Anime, Romance and Abuse in Shoujo Manga, Isekai Shoujo of the 1990s, and Is This Feminist or Not?

AND, if that’s not enough, you can find her on Twitter: @alltsun_nodere

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins and history:
Anime and manga (animation and comics) are very broad categories of media, originating in Japan. Shoujo (young girl) is one of four main categories of anime and manga targeted at different groups also including shounen (for boys), josei (for women) and seinin (for men). Shoujo and josei are not so much a genre unto themselves as they are target demographics for reader/viewership.

Shoujo dates back to the earliest 20th century when magazines specifically for girls first appeared in Japan. The wide-eyed look commonly associated with shoujo dates back to early illustrations in these magazines. Until the mid-1960s, men vastly outnumbered women in terms of mangaka, and between 1950 and 1969 large audiences for manga emerged in Japan, as did a flood of young female mangaka. (Wikipedia - Shōjo manga)

Josei began to appear during the 1980s during a different manga boom when girls who grew up reading shoujo manga in the 50s and 60s wanted manga for adult women. (Wikipedia - Josei manga)

The history of shoujo and josei would be an episode in itself, so we’ll leave it at that for now!

Broadly, shoujo tends to focus on romance and interpersonal relationships, and includes titles that you may know of like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yuugi and Ouran Host Club. Josei tends to focus on slice-of-life stories and more realistic relationships (as compared to idealized ones) and includes titles like Kuragehime / Princess Jellyfish, Loveless, Paradise Kiss, and Honey and Clover.

Most Active:
Anecdotally, it would be easy to say now-ish is the time that Shoujo and Josei fandoms are most active with shows like Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Sailor Moon Crystal, and the boom of Josei titles being released in North America.

…And Google Trends data would mostly support that hypothesis. Interest in Shoujo and Josei manga by search volume had been mostly flat since 2004 until around 2013 where interest starting creeping up, with some large peaks around October 2014, May 2016, and April 2017.

Size of Fandom:

To give very rough approximations of size of the fandom (at varying levels of interest):

  • The Sailor Moon series (highest selling shoujo series ever) has sold over 35 million copies worldwide
  • In Japan, the top-selling Shoujo manga magazine has an average circulation of almost 1 000 000
  • In Japan, the top-selling Josei manga magazine has an average circulation of almost 200 000
  • In North America, Shojo Beat had an average circulation of almost 40 000 copies before being discontinued in 2009

Fan Demographics:
We have limited demographic information this week due to the large surface area of the topic. That being said, we did manage to find some data on anime fans from the International Anime Research Project. Of the more than 700 participants in the 2016 survey:

  • 54.8% of participants identified as male
  • The median age of participants was ~25
  • Participants were fairly split on interest in interest in Josei: the largest group (~25%) did not know of the “genre”, and roughly equal groups liked the genre and did not like the genre
  • Participants overall liked Shoujo to some degree (~45%)
  • Participants also indicated some of their other interest being: gamer (73.1%), sci-fi fan (50.1%), writer (38.1%), artist (33.2%), musician (23.3%), brony (7.9%), and furry (5.7%)
  • The largest group preferred subtitles (49.5%), followed by folks who like both equally (40.4%)

Changes in Fandom:

Around the world:
Google Trends data lists the following countries as the top ten by search volume: Japan, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Phillipines, Chile, El Salvador, Singapore, Malaysia, Peru (Canada is 36th, and the United States of America is 46th).

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

Z
In Japan, is Josei / Shoujo (Anime / Manga for girls) regarded as something filled with aspirational messages, or as a cultural edifice that tries to teach more traditional values?

T
Sailor Moon is the most popular Shoujo / Josei series.

G
Is there a notable portion of the audience who are grown men (similar to Bronies)? If so, what’s their deal?

Jesi
What is the ratio of success of shoujo / josei to shonen (male equivalent) (by whatever measure)?

mixter_leach
I’m wondering if it’s very well regarded or if it’s seen as something silly and frivolous in Japanese culture.

 

The Verdict

T is in. Has some reading to do, especially josei.

G is in. Character driven stories is appealing.

Z is out.

Caitlin is in. DEEP in. There is no way out. Forever.

This week’s spotlight

Anime Feminist

Anime Feminist explores Japanese pop culture through a feminist lens. This includes interviews, roundtable discussions, and visual analysis, broaching topics like gender, sexuality and representation. We have regular discussion posts, links round-ups, features and podcasts. We review new anime premieres every season, making sure to highlight any potential dealbreakers we can see for a feminist audience.
Anime Feminist - About

Anime for Humanity

The mission of Anime For Humanity is to expand the awareness of Japanese animation to inspire the community to create good.

We use Anime and Cosplay as tools to make a change for a good cause. Through hospitals, orphanages and disability center visitations, we engage children to express themselves artistically by providing joyful experiences and entertainment.
Anime for Humanity - About

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Board Games!

Z
The boom in board game creation over the last decade comes from people remembering unsatisfying board game experiences with Life, Trouble and Monopoly as a kid.

Caitlin
What board game has the most detailed, complicated, esoteric rules?

T
What is the most expensive non-monopoly board game (that is commercially available)?

G
...The change occured when Monopoly became public domain (and we started having dumb -opoly games)
Board games help popularize kickstarter.

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

  • If you want to help us to create more amazing fannish content, become a patron on Patreon; even as little as a dollar a month pledge really helps us out!
  • If you want to be part of our podcast (or just want to check us out), we record our podcast LIVE on twitch.tv every monday at 20:00 Eastern Time!
  • For all the latest updates, check us out on Facebook or Twitter
  • To see the latest hijinx from our conventions or even our daily lives and adventures, check us out on Instagram
  • For our latest convention updates, Let’s Plays, and other in-real-life video, check out our YouTube channel
  • We’re also on iTunes, and Google Play, and would love it if you could leave a review and rating!
  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
  • Everything is thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.

Ahem

We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.

 

Thanks

Thanks again to Caitlin Moore for taking the time to chat with us and share her knowledge and experience with us about shoujo and josei! We definitely have some recommendations to follow-up on, and it was informative to get more details about the shoujo boom in North America in the early 2000s (among other things).

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