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.

Over at MangaBlog, ALC’s Erica says:

“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?)

6 Responses to Geezers

  1. gynocrat says:

    I should’ve read your blog first, and then called it day. ^_-

  2. Huff says:

    “Nana is technically shôjo, but Honey and Clover is full-on josei, right? At least in terms of its publishing history?”
    To my knowledge both are considered shojo titles that happen to be aimed at/read by older teens or women in their twenties. The labeling system is rather confusing (I have no idea what Awabi would be since Takahama’s stuff usually runs in avant-guard anthologies that aren’t sex-specific), but I always get a very shojo “vibe” when I’m reading both of them, more-so with Nana due to the relentless melodrama, as opposed to someone like Erika Sakurazawa or Nananan Kiriko.
    I completely agree about how we need more josei published here. In some ways it seems to have an even harder time selling than a lot of genre seinen titles. The day Kyoko Okazaki (whose work is about as far away as you can get from “chick lit”) gets published in English I’ll be as happy as a clam.

  3. Rilina says:

    I’d say Honey and Clover is borderline josei, if not full-on josei. One of the truism of librarianship is that teen readers don’t go for nostalgia, and Honey and Clover definitely has lots of that. I really wonder how it’s going to do in Shojo Beat. I suspect Honey and Clover is also considered josei by some because its anime adaptation was aired in the Noitamina late-night time slot.

  4. Simon Jones without a blog says:

    I’m also pretty sure that Honey and Clover was in a Josei magazine. Though I might be wrong on that. It’s not a series I’m particuarly fond of.

  5. […] David Welsh has more coverage of the difficulties faced by publishers looking to bring manga geared towards adults to American bookstores, and Christopher Butcher offers commentary as well. […]

  6. ed says:

    Simon is correct. H&C is from a josei imprint and magazine. Some would consider Kaze Hikaru a josei title but that is a little more borderline as most of the series in Flowers Magazine have older characters as leads but Shogakukan markets this as “shojo” on the cover.

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