The Seinen Alphabet: D

I started this project a while ago, but then I took a break because the manga industry was irritating me. My equilibrium has largely been restored, so let’s resume! In just a minute! After I relate the essence of an interesting conversation I had with Erica (Okazu) Friedman about seinen. She had recently written a piece for The Manga Critic in which she expressed an enduring fondness for seinen, but she noted that the seinen we tend to see isn’t representative of the vast majority of the category, which is much more “Clive Cussler audience” in nature than the art manga we tend to see. I’m not saying I’m dying for Clive Cussler audience manga, but I thought that was worth noting, at least to drive me to confess that I’m not as interested in the macho stuff as I am the off-brand stuff. All that said, “D” is for…

North American publishers Dark Horse and Del Rey (I hate your new web site!) have both published a number of seinen manga titles. Dark Horse in particular is well known for its releases in this category. Before it shifted its priorities primarily to shônen-ai and yaoi, Digital Manga published some nifty seinen titles. DC published a number of excellent seinen series under its CMX imprint, but then they killed the line because they can’t make all the profit off of crappy movie adaptations of Emma starring Jennifer Aniston. Okay, we should all be thankful for that.

I’m never exactly sure where the demarcation point is between gekiga and seinen, though I would assume that gekiga can be viewed as a subset of seinen. Thus, a nod must go to Drawn & Quarterly for publishing a great deal of work by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who helped create gekiga and whose autogiobraphy, A Drifting Life, recently won a few Eisner Awards.

On the licensed front, there are several Viz titles worth mentioning.

Detroit Metal City, written and illustrated by Kiminori Wakasugi and originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal, is a hilarious parody of death metal, its providers and adherents.

Shirow Miwa’s Dogs, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Ultra Jump, has some amazing art and takes an interesting approach to ultra-violence.

Q Hayashida’s Dorohedoro blends ultra-violence, comedy and the supernatural. It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Ikki magazine and is serialized on Viz’s SigIKKI site.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon has published Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood about a man who gets the chance to relive his early teens. The comic was originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic.

They’ve also published Hideo Azuma’s autobiographical Disappearance Diary, originally published by East Press.

And there’s Doing Time, Kazuichi Hanawa’s autobiography of his stint in prison.

We came this close to not seeing all of it in print, but dedicated fan nagging resulted in Tokyopop releasing all of Minetaro Mochizuki’s amazing survival drama Dragon Head, which originally ran in Kodansha’s Young Magazine.

On the unlicensed front, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Drops of God, written by Tadashi Agi, illustrated by Shu Okimoto, serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, and profiled in roughly one million news articles.

Kio Shimoku, gifted creator of Genshiken, has a new series in Kodansha’s Afternoon called Digopuri, which is about a newborn and the frazzled adults around her.

Delcourt publishes some awesome manga in French, some of it seinen.

I’m never sure about the magazine Dengeki Daioh, published by Media Works. Most of the resources list it as shônen, but it’s widely described as basically being for perv-y grown men perhaps best represented by the male teacher in Azumanga Daioh, which ran in Dengeki Daioh. And here lie the perils of discussing categories! Does one go with the official publisher line? The on-the-ground reality? Or the general, filtering perception that reaches North American shores?

So, what starts with the letter “D” in your seinen alphabet?

Updated:

Commenter Jim mentioned Naoki Yamamoto’s Dance Till Tomorrow, a seven-volume series published by Viz and originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Big Comic Spirits. It was serialized in Viz’s Pulp up until its cancellation.

14 Responses to The Seinen Alphabet: D

  1. Erica says:

    Dengeki Daioh is defintely seinen, no clue why anyone would call it shounen. Ultra Jump, also very seinen. Frankly, outside of Yuri stuff (and including much of it) most of what I read is seinen. ^_^

  2. grace says:

    very interesting post! i read all sorts of manga, though primarily shoujo, josei, and yuri, with a bit of shonen thrown in for good measure. i have read a little seinen but not much which brings me to this “newbie” question: so for a wonderful series like Twin Spica, is it categorized as seinen simply because it ran in Comic Flapper? i’m very much loving Twin Spica (I must add, thanks to you) but it “felt” very shoujo-like.

    just curious – it’s the same thing when i wonder about gekika and seinen, as you point out.

    oh, and i love, love Detroit Metal City. Followed it when i was in Japan. i’m glad the film has been picked up by Viz Pictures.

    • davidpwelsh says:

      That’s basically the key to the demographic categorization, yes, and it isn’t always useful when a book gets licensed and translated. Additionally, Yotsuba&! and Emma are seinen, but they certainly have an audience wider than just adult men. Honestly, I’d assume they did in Japan as well.

      But looking at the roster of series that have run in Flapper, it does seem more like a magazine for grown-ups who like good comics than a demographic-specific anthology for guys. I could be wrong, though.

      • James Moar says:

        Japanese book and manga stores usually arrange the collected editions by demographic as well, so over there the categories aren’t just for the magazines (classic series get put in an all-demographic “cultural” category, though).

  3. Jade Harris says:

    To be fair, Ikki set out to provide manga without demographic distinctions, so titles like Dorohedoro are intended to defy easy labelling.

    Otherwise, I think a lot of these labels are getting to be a little exhausting as a fan. Every time someone mentions a book as a ‘seinan manga,’ they practically risk someone coming along to challenge the label more than they are making themselves any clearer. And if I like A Distant Neighbourhood, that’s really not much of an indication that I’ll like DMC as well.

    Though when someone starts refering to music I like as ‘post-electronic EBM bedroom thrash vibe’ they’ve completely lost me. I find myself using sound effects half the time, as in ‘I’m looking for something with a nice Rher! grit but a cold tinkle and synthetic Wom to it like Last Rights.’ I’m not sure that would help with manga, but it might be fun.

    • davidpwelsh says:

      I often suspect the same post-demographic intentions of some of Kodansha’s magazines. When you’re hiring Ono and Yoshinaga and Anno and Soryo, you aren’t really catering just to the traditional adult-male core, are you?

  4. Aria says:

    Del Rey’s new site screams less love for manga!D=
    I miss being able to scroll down and look at all their titles without being directed to the Random House store just to buy it. It’s awful that Del Rey has to cut back on graphic novels because if this continues I can imagine that the downfall of CMX will happen all over again.

  5. DanielBT says:

    Here’s an early look at the Digopuri Manga. I had some trouble finding this, since the spelling was different. (It was spelt Jigopuri instead)

    http://ogiuemaniax.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/moe-anime-girl-gets-pregnant-has-baby-jigopuri-volume-1/

    The only other Manga series I know of that deals with Teenage pregnancy is Akkan Baby. The protagonists of that series are utterly ignorant and open about sex, and are completely surprised when the girl get pregnant.

  6. [...] Welsh is up to the letter D in his Seinen Alphabet at The Manga [...]

  7. Jim says:

    Dance ’till Tomorrow was the first Seinen title I thought of when D came up. Possibly as I’m in the middle of re-reading it. Perhaps you’re holding that back for ‘P’?

  8. JRB says:

    “Dengeki Daioh is defintely seinen, no clue why anyone would call it shounen.”

    Dengeki Daioh is listed by the Japanese Magazine Publisher’s Association as shounen. The JMPA is some of the more readily accessible category data, compared to the relative difficulty of figuring out what the publisher thinks a given magazine is, and the huge difficulty of figuring out who actually reads it…

  9. Aaron says:

    I would add Dance in the Vampire Bund

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