One of the extensions of the recent discussions about the commercial viability of manga for adult men – seinen – is similar disappointment with the state of josei – comics for grown-up women. Blogless Simon Jones notes:
“Though, looking at it, I’ve noticed that, while selling better than Senin, Josei doesn’t sell particuarly well either. While it’s obvious that females are the dominant manga demographic, I suspect it tends more towards girls rather than women and so the far more…chick lit-ish Josei or the arty stuff or the just plain older stuff just doesn’t sell as well. And in many respects, that’s a terrible, terrible shame.”
I’d add that one of the mildly annoying trends of manga publishing is that the price often goes up with the age of the target audience.
“ALC Publishing works very hard at keeping the schoolgirlyness of our yuri to a minimum in order to reach a more adult audience. It’s harder than you might think.”
So is audience age as much or more of a factor than its gender? It’s certainly possible. There’s always talk about giving the current majority of manga readers – kids – someplace to go next when their taste for shôjo and shônen gives way to a desire for something sturdier. And there’s certainly sturdier stuff available, if you know where to look which, in my experience, generally isn’t on the shelves of Borders or Barnes and Noble in the U.S.
I wonder how many of the 87 titles scheduled for Fall release are aimed at older audiences, excluding the yaoi niche (which gobbles up 32 of those 87 slots)? Yen Press has With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, and Fanfare/Ponent Mon offers Awabi. Aurora’s parent publisher has an extensive josei catalog, though their early announcements don’t necessarily reflect that. And one could always surmise that Viz’s Shojo Beat imprint is pushing things in a josei-ish direction with Nana and Honey and Clover. (Nana is technically shôjo, but Honey and Clover is full-on josei, right? At least in terms of its publishing history?)