(dojinshi) (同人誌) is a Japanese word that technically means "a book for people of the
same interests." What is inside
the book can vary. One of the most common forms of doujinshi is
fan manga (fan comics), but doujinshi can contain a variety of materials: fanfics, sketches and drawings,
guest art, original stories, original comics, reviews, opinions - anything, really. Many doujinshi have
combinations of the above; sometimes, but not always, online auctions will list the distribution of text
and comics (for example, 30% text, 70% comics). Serious doujinshi collectors should quickly learn the
kanji for "novel" (小説), which is how the Japanese refer to fanfics. (Many doujinshi contain only
Most doujinshi are produced in Japan, though there are also doujinshi from Korea, China, and Taiwan.
Doujinshi are most often created based on anime, video games, and manga (in that order), although there
are other sources, too, such as ones based on musicians (J-pop singers and J-rock groups), movies (like
The Lord of the Rings
), books (notably Harry Potter
), and TV shows (such as Supernatural
In the Western world, "doujinshi" has come to refer to fan manga, although (as explained above) this
is not an entirely accurate definition. "Doujinshi" has also been used to refer to online fan manga
in the west.
The copyright issue of doujinshi is a bit iffy in Japan. Fan-based doujinshi are technically illegal.
However, because doujinshi are supposed to be priced only to cover the expenses of printing, because
they are printed in limited quantities, because doujinshi help to grow the fandom and promote the
original series, and because many professional mangaka (manga artists) got their start doing doujinshi
(like CLAMP), most companies tolerate them. There have been, however, rare cases where companies have
gone after doujinshi, notably Nintendo and hentai Pokemon
Some mangaka and mangaka assistants release doujinshi even after going professional. For example, Tanemura
Arina's art assistants have released dojin (including romantic hentai doujinshi) based on Tanemura's manga
series under the circle name Strawberry Lunch. Akamatsu Ken, creator of Love Hina
, still releases
many doujinshi (including hentai dojin) for various anime/manga series. Takeuchi Naoko, the creator of
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
, released a doujinshi artbook called "Infinity"; the artbook featured
artwork by her friends, including professional mangaka and the anime seiyuu. Kakinouchi
Narumi, the co-creator of Vampire Princess Miyu
, regularly releases doujinshi with sketches, comics,
artwork, etc. for Vampire Princess Miyu
and Vampire Princess Yui
There are doujinshi conventions held regularly in Japan where doujinshika (doujinshi creators) sell
their doujinshi. These include major conventions such as Comiket (held in summer and winter) and
Super Comic City, in which one can find doujinshi from any fandom, to smaller comic conventions, as
well as special events geared towards specific fandoms or pairings. Most doujinshika will indicate on
their websites or in their latest doujinshi which conventions they plan on attending and on what days
they will appear, sometimes with titles of doujinshi they plan on selling there. Some conventions (and
all of the larger ones) have pamphlets with lists of all the circles attending and their locations. (For
larger conventions, you need to buy these pamphlets in advance in order to plot out your course and
locate your favorite circles.)
Doujinshika are not supposed to profit from their works. The costs of their books are normally only
to cover the price of printing. The reason why doujinshi is often so expensive for people living
outside of Japan is that middlemen sell doujinshi for marked-up prices. Furthermore, the cost of
international shipping, as well as commission fees for using deputy services, contribute to the
increased cost for non-Japanese. However, even in Japan, doujinshi by popular circles can sell for
a lot, particularly on Yahoo!Japan and other online auctions. (Again, however, these profits
go to a middleman, not the doujinshika.) This is due in part to the fact that doujinshi are printed
in limited quantities, and many doujinshi are sold in limited venues - often only at doujinshi
conventions or through direct-mail via the circles' websites. Some circles may also sell their books
through online doujinshi stores (with marked-up prices for the store). Regardless, there are only
so many copies of a doujinshi, and once a circle runs out, that's often it. Occasionally, individual
books may be reprinted (this is somewhat rare) and sometimes they may be "remixed" into reprint
collections (this is more frequent than the former, especially for popular or prolific circles).
Doujinshika are usually known by their circle names, rather than by their personal names (which are
usually pseudonyms anyway). Circles (サークル) are the groups that publish the doujinshi. Although
many circles have only a few contributors (artists, writers, etc.) and many only have one (referred
to as "personal circles"), the number depends on the group and the project. Doujinshika sometimes
change their circle names or pseudonyms depending on different factors such as time, fandom, and
Ratings, genres, and content of doujinshi vary greatly, from comedy to romance to drama to sexually
explicit material. Again, most doujinshi have fan manga, but many also have, or only have, fanfics
(novels), reviews, and opinions. Some doujinshi focus on pairings or couples ("BL" = boys love /
male x male, "NL" = normal love / male x female, "GL" = girls love / female x female [rarely used]),
others do not. (In the west, "BL" is often referred to as "yaoi" and "GL" as "yuri.") Basically,
like any other medium, quality and subject matter will differ depending on who is producing it.
The standard doujinshi size is Japanese B5 (7.2 x 10.1 inches). Other common sizes are A5 (5.8 x 8.3
inches) and A4 (8.3 x 11.7 inches). A5 is also the most common size for anthologies. Most doujinshi
are printed and bound professionally by printing companies (called offset (オフ) doujinshi). However,
many doujinshika also release copy-bon (コピー本) (copy books), which are self-printed books, generally
quite short, that are made from lower-quality materials; for example, many copy-bon are just photocopied
and stapled together. Note that the content
of the book is not necessarily lower quality.
Actually, many copy-bon are highly sought after, as they are usually produced in even smaller quantities
than offset doujinshi and are therefore harder to obtain.
In addition to doujinshi, there are also doujin products like stationary (which are very popular as
well), cards, pencil boards, calendars, and other goods.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is © Takeuchi Naoko.
Images of Sailor Moon are © Mucchiri Muunii from the circle Hello World.
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