A Doujinshi is a self-published work such as artbooks or manga are available.
Doujin is published by the group. These days, the terms are almost interchangeable.
There are literally thousands of doujin groups today (35,000 attended the 2016 Summer Comiket).
Then there’s the total number of doujinshi that are published each year can only be guessed at, but it is certainly well over one million.
What is the difference between Doujinshi & Doujin?
Another term that you will hear frequently in this area is “Circle“.
This is the English term most often used (and sometimes Japanese) to describe a “doujin” group.
Literally, it means “the same person”
Circle – A group of people who are interested in the same things and come together to share doujinshi.
You might have a particular series.
Shingeki no Kyoujin Or Haikyuu.
This could be a population like shoujo.
It could be a theme such as BL (Boys love).
Many circles specialize in this.
Shounen Jump Titles that are focused on a specific f*tish (like furries), or real-life in animate objects (yes, it is true).
Doujinshi Conventions & Comiket
Comiket happens twice a year. It’s a fascinating three-day event at Tokyo’s giant.
Big Sight Event complex organized by theme.
The first two days of the event (normally Friday through Sunday but the Winter version will be moved to avoid the New Year’s Holiday) are dedicated doujinshi that are perceived as being targeted at women and Touhou merchandise.
Day 3 is dedicated to comics aimed at men.
Comiket is one of the most popular cosplay events worldwide.
Nearly half the event space is occupied by corporate interests: Aniplex To Nitroplus and everyone in between.
Major doujin events are held in Japan every weekend, with some being organized around particular themes or fandoms.
Comiket is the biggest, but it is not the only one.
It exists as a sort of “choose your own adventure for f*tishes”, with smaller events for each f*tish.
There are also franchises like Touhou Project that are fan-run but are not corporate but are somewhere in between.
Touhou, which has its own retail store in Akihabara, is a major presence in the corporate and doujin areas at Comiket.
The Doujinshi Scene and Big Business
It’s no secret that anime and manga are big businesses.
There’s a lot to be made in Blu-ray and DVD sales and merchandising.
This is the world’s biggest anime and manga event.
It is not organized by manga/LN publishers, distributors, or production companies.
Comiket creators of doujinshi host the bi-annual gathering that draws over 500,000 people to Tokyo.
Although the industry is present in Tokyo, it wasn’t established that way.
Comiket was started by a handful of artists and attracted only 600 people.
How did this small, technically illegal, cottage industry become the de facto partner to the corporate manga/LN universe and anime/manga/Macross-media?
This story is like many others.
It has an “only in Japan” quality.
The simple answer is that the anime industry saw doujinshi to be a benefit to their business.
Doujinshi’s popularity grew with the success of the franchises that they represented.
Today, many doujinshi is original material that is not attached to anime/manga/LN characters or mythology.
However, it would be difficult to accept the existence of one without imposing restrictions on the other.
A visit to Ikebukuro or Akihabara (or Osaka’s Den-Den Town), will reveal the significance of doujinshi for the daily affairs of Japan’s anime industry.
Three floors on the main drag Chuodori’s biggest retailer Toranoana in Akihabara are dedicated to doujinshi.
The “all-ages” floor has its own floor. Mandarake and Melonbooks are two other large retailers that devote a lot of their retail space to doujinshi.
Touhou owns a dedicated outlet and several smaller stores that only sell doujin-related products.
It doesn’t stop there.
Historically, many well-known mangaka and writers (such as Akamatsu Ken) have moonlighted as doujin writers, usually under assumed names.
This arrangement allows them to produce material (often 18+), that they wouldn’t be able to release through their publishers.
Their real identities are often known to their hardcore fans. In addition, there are important industry figures like KEY co-founder Hisaya Naoki who got their start as part of doujin circles (Hisaya still writes doujins today).
Most remarkable of all is the change in the relationship between doujin creators large studios and publishing houses.
Although the natural connection was established organically, the anime industry now actively seeks out the doujin community to be a “farm network”.
Each major player visits the huge doujinshi halls of Comiket to find talent that could make them money. Doujin writers and artists travel to Comiket to attract the attention of these scouts.
They see it as an opportunity to further their careers. Every Comiket hosts dozens of meetings that are arranged in a hurry between people from the industry looking for mangaka, animators, and independent creators who want to make it big.
The prominence doujinshi has achieved in the mainstream manga, light novels, and anime is perhaps as good a sign as any of its increasing establishment statuses.
Its existence used to be a secret.Genshiken(a notable exception), but today, a Trip to ComiketIt has almost become a common trope as an onsen episode a school festival arc.
It is the basis of their entire premises.
The doujin world is probably the most famous anime depiction.
Tanaka Romeo(who also wrote shoujo-Tachi) in his Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita AIC A.S.T.A. has adapted novel series to a stunning level 2012 In 2012 .Jinrui’s The depiction of a whole sub-genre in BL (Boys Love), fandom, from birth to absorption at the establishment was completely tongue-in-cheek.
Its satire is spot on – and it offers a great “Doujin 101” introduction for those who are not familiar with the phenomenon.
It is not coincidental that JinruiIt was immediately followed up by a similarly sharp satire on the commercial manga business.
What started as a ragtag subculture of guerrillas has become an established culture.
It’s difficult to distinguish between “official” and “fan-created” these days – but that’s exactly what the studios and publishers want.
Doujinshi has been an indirect revenue generator for them for many decades. All that’s changed since then is the formalization of their relationship.
Creators are benefiting in that they see more revenue from their work and can even use it to bridge the gap to a career as an artist or writer.
Is there something missing? Is the doujin community losing its creative independence by embracing anime’s corporate culture? I would answer “yes” and “no”.
Doujinshi was never more about money than it is today.
You will be amazed at the creativity displayed by the Japanese fandom in Comiket.
It is a unique explosion of expression, unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else in the West.
It’s a must-see for every anime fan. Just make sure to bring lots of water.