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Gender and the Manga Industry.

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Introduction

Gender and the Manga Industry The manga (aka comics) industry makes up about 40 percent of all publications in Japan. In fact, Japan`s comics industry is probably the largest in the world. Whether is is sci-fi, adventurue, baseball, romance, gourmet cooking or S&M, one can always find a manga catered to his or her personal interests. Coming from a western perspective, where comics were traditionally written for boys, it intrigues me how important a role mangas play in the Japanese way of life. Whether it is on the train, in salons, or coffee shops, one can always see a person sneak a peak at a manga of his or her own choice. Therefore, I can`t help but think that such a powerful medium must have a huge influence on gender in the Japanese society. In such a highly gender differentiated society, how does the widely popular medium of manga reflect the female role in the culture? Can we see mangas as a reflection of society`s gender status (through the characteristics of girl and boy manga)? ...read more.

Middle

In Shonen mangas, the main character is usually a heroic boy that is out to save the world. The boy acquires a certain superpower and encounter great obstacles at the end. This symbolizes and teaches what boys can enable themselves to do. It helps boys believe that they are special and can solve any hardships in the society. In a more extreme extent, it gives boys the idea that they, as the young generation, can rescue Japan and cleanse it. In short, Shonen mangas became a realm that generates ideas to help the imperfections in society. It reinforces the masculinity traits that boys are suppose to acquire and represents how boys should handle problems. This shows the male responsibility and dominance in society. Shojo manga on the other hand serves a different purpose for the women. One important note of Shojo manga is that it is created by a male artist. The father of Shonen manga, Tezuka Osamu, also started the Shojo manga genre. This shows that Shojo manga is created from a male perspective and thus, reflect how women should be in the society or in the mind of a male. ...read more.

Conclusion

Interestingly, while Shojo mangas reflect gender roles in the Japanese society, it also helps women escape this restricted role in society. As I find the connection between gender roles and mangas, I can`t decide whether it is a positive or negative influence on gender roles. But I am certain that it does reflect gender differences in the Japanese society. However, the Shojo genre is changing. The storyline is not only about girls and romance but about girls as action heroes. Sailor Moon, for example, promotes girl power and proves that women are also capable of rescuing the world. In addition, the cute female physical characteristics are slowly changing. Women characters in Shojo mangas are acquiring more male traits and stronger personalities. Present Shojo mangas are described as transgender mangas where it is hard to make the distinction between male and female. Besides the two main types of mangas in the manga industry, a third realm of merging genres is slowly approaching. A mix between genders (both physically and emotionally), mix between powers and tones of the mangas show a new revolution in the manga industry. This shows a response to society with the notion of gender. If my hypothesis, the idea that mangas reflects gender roles in society, is true. ...read more.

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