Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys…

fujoshi-stereotypeThere is a great deal of cogent sense and thoughtful sensibilities to be found over at Kathryn Hemmann’s long piece about “Boys’ Love” manga, singling out something I wrote last August for NEO 107 for “articulating a common sentiment extraordinarily well,” although she doesn’t necessarily mean that in a good way. WARNING: the words “Not Safe For Work” do not come close to describing some of the pictures accompanying the article, so do not click unless you are ready for an eyeful. Or possibly a fistful.

The Manga Snapshot column is just about to reach its 100th chapter, marking more than seven years rifling through the magazine shelves of the Japanese comics business, picking out a different magazine anthology every month. Over the years, I have covered manga for boys, manga for girls, manga for girls who like boys who like boys, manga for old men, manga for old men who wish they were boys again, manga for boys who like boys dressed as girls, manga for boys who like girls, manga for boys who think they probably would like girls but haven’t actually talked to one and hence regard them with all the realism of glow-in-the-dark unicorns, manga for women who are ridiculously obsessed with their cats, manga for housewives who love their husbands, manga for housewives who love other people’s husbands, and coming up in NEO 113 (which I just finished writing last week), manga for women who are quite miserable, but love hearing about women who are even more miserable.

I always try to follow a formalist perspective, teasing out suggestions of the implied readerships, not only from the manga themselves, but also from the peripheral content — the editorial asides, the letters pages, the horoscopes, and the adverts. Where available, I also use reader statistics from the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association, which often supplies illuminating data about who actually reads a title — as noted in my essay, “Living Happily Never After in Women’s Manga” (find it here), such details can often be intriguingly counter-intuitive. Sadly, in the relatively small niche of “Boys’ Love” publishing, such statistics are less freely available — I would suggest, at least in part, this is in order to allow the magazines to hide financially counter-productive data regarding the size or composition of their readerships. This, in turn, allows certain sectors of the readership to perpetuate “the stories they tell themselves about themselves,” for good or ill.

Every time the Amazon Japan order thunks onto the doormat, I think that’s it, there can’t possibly be any more titles left to cover. But there’s always another few lurking in the shadows. I have yet to get to the in-law appeasement sub-genre, and I’m still poking around in search of a legendary title for military housewives. Only a tiny handful of early Manga Snapshots were reprinted in Schoolgirl Milky Crisis, so the other 150,000 words or so can only be accessed by buying Neo magazine. There’s very rarely any evidence, at least in the postbag, that anybody reads the Manga Snapshot at all, which is why it was so pleasing to read such a considered and assiduous appraisal.

Cans of Worms

It’s panda-monium on our 18th podcast


Available to download now, Jeremy Graves is joined by Manga Entertainment’s Head of Acquisitions Jerome Mazandarani, and Schoolgirl Milky Crisis author Jonathan Clements to discuss the dramatic potential of a Pamela Andersen zombie, the perils of PAL, and the likely cost benefits of restarting the Manga Club.

00:00 Jeremy Graves intro regarding MCM Comicon and the coming live podcast panels: Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May, both at 1130, on the main stage.

01:30 The befuddling patois of Panda Go Panda.

04:00 And so we begin Jeremy’s “fairly fast-paced, quick, packed show.” Trying saying that fast, it’s harder than saying Princess Jellyfist. Slight delay for the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood collection blu-ray. Bakuman now back to 17th June. Naruto Shippuden Box Set 13 also delayed till 24th June.

12:00 London Comicon coming up, where there will be a live podcast recording with special guests, plus details of the convention-specific One Piece goodies that will be on sale.

19:00 Drifters of the Dead and its various incarnations described as a “fan service perve-o-rama.” Jerome’s pitch for Baywatch Zombiewatch, unlikely to be coming to a TV near you.

23:00 Corrections from the last podcast, in the interests of editorial integrity, as if we ever had any, before moving on to your questions in Ask Manga UK.

27:30 Are there any plans to re-release old shows on Blu-ray? 1500 units as a notional break-even point for a Blu-ray release.

31:00 Any chance of Gosick? Are the boxes depicted on Amazon indicative of the final artwork? The problems of getting the artwork for all anime.

manga_uk_podcast_logo.jpg37:00 How are combo packs performing?

40:30 What are your thoughts on the upcoming site Daisuki? And a link here, as promised, to the blog review of Ramon Lobato’s book on informal media economies.

52:00 Is reverse importing a Blu-ray-only problem? And there goes the can of worms, wriggling all over the podcast like an earthquake in a noodle factory.

59:00 The issue of grey importing, and the pitfalls of countering it through a loophole for grey exporting. What are the chances of a discount for foreign licensors on Macross Plus or Ghost in the Shell: Arise?

71:00 When you release a series in parts, is that your decision or a request from the licensor themselves?

73:30 What are the chances of shojo or josei shows coming to the UK?

76:00 Whatever happened to the Manga Club, and will it ever come back? Tweeters to tweet #bringbackclubmanga

84:30 We’re out, and the bamboo was great.

The Podcast is available to download now HERE, or find it and an archive of previous shows at our iTunes page. For a detailed contents listing of previous podcasts, check out our Podcasts page.

Eurovision Shouty I-Spy 2013

montenegroAnd so we go from Baku in 2012, a city where being gay was illegal, to Malmerrr in 2013, where being gay is compulsory. We’ve already had to say goodbye to Montenegro’s rapping astronauts and their pop-up cyborg, as well as Slovenia’s press-up display team dressed as Iron Man, the stage-diving Latvia, Austria’s levitating stalactites, and Kim Newman on lead guitar for Albania. But there are still plenty of euronutters for your entertainment.

Step One: you will probably need to be quite drunk. Step Two: The following sights will be seen during this Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest. Can you see them first? Remember to shout it out. Party hosts will need to keep score of who gets what first, or otherwise dish out the forfeits to those that aren’t quick enough. As ever, there is more than one key change, and plenty of orbital cleavage. Keep your eyes (or ears) open for any of the following. And when you notice it, SHOUT IT OUT!

In no particular order, in Saturday’s final you should look out for:

Buddha Jazz Hands – a new category in which the dancers all pile behind the singer in a line and then fling their arms out, creating a multi-limbed oriental deity-look.


KEY CHANGE! (every time you hear one)


DUBSTEP! (two points to the FIRST PERSON to shout DUBSTEP whenever it kicks in; and an extra point to everyone who jumps up and dances to it. That means you, Dad.)



Fingers make a heart (Several times, but blink and you’ll miss them)

Men in skirts

The words: “His name is Jeremy”


Smallest bouzouki in the world

A sign that reads “FABULOUS DING DONG”



Wedding Dress

Mullet Dress (short at the front, long at the back)

Biggest mullet dress in the world

Rose petals in a perspex box

Teleporting bridesmaids

Snogging women

Ming the Merciless sings Il Divo

Me and my Shadow


Onstage drums

Giant, light-up balls

Chucking balls into the audience

Singer enters, carried by a giant.

Massive glitterball

Twenty-foot tall woman

Wolverine on Drums




5 points if the UK presenter refers to Bonnie Tyler by saying that we’re “holding out for a hero.”

5 points if the UK presenter refers to Bonnie Tyler’s inevitable defeat as a “total eclipse of the heart.”

1 point every time the UK presenter mispronounces Malmerrr as Malmo.

(*swaying one’s head from side to side in a snakey fashion.).
(**ostentatious cleavage sufficient to see from a satellite in orbit, which, according to Eurovision bra consultant Tom Clancy, requires a minimum of C-cup).

Apologies to American readers, who will have to just imagine what the world’s biggest, gayest song contest is like. Just imagine, for one day every year, Europe gets to behave the way that Japan does all the time.

[Not hard enough for you? This game is also available in Finnish.]


Re-AgitatorMy review of Tom Mes’s latest book, a collection of essays and articles on the director Takashi Miike, is now up on the Manga UK blog.

It makes for an interesting comparison with his earlier Agitator, in terms of the implied readership, and Mes’s assessment of what kind of book his subject needs — very different ten years ago, when he didn’t think anyone would actually see the films he discussed.

Piece on Earth

The news that Manga Entertainment have licensed One Piece for the UK brings one of the last unreleased anime greats to these shores. Its absence has been noticeable for the last decade – One Piece is often the tentpole and keystone of foreign anime fandoms. It’s also the real money-spinner, selling in its millions. Although it’s sure not to go quite as wide in Britain, it will certainly bring in some new fans.

I’m at the end of my four-month exile in China, where Japanese animation is largely absent from the mainstream. Effectively banned from broadcast or sales since 2006, the sole showings in legal Chinese stores are the Studio Ghibli catalogue, which sneaks in via Disney. But pirate shops are loaded with shelves of Japanese material, usually spun off legal releases in Hong Kong or Taiwan. And I keep jumping in surprise on the Beijing metro when adverts leap out of the dark to sell me One Piece… the games.

On the streets of Xi’an, the lower-rent hawkers have taken images from One Piece and Dragon Ball Z, mounted them on plywood and cut them into jigsaws. Manga, however, are largely invisible, since much of modern Chinese teenagers’ entertainment is sourced illegally and digitally – I would need to get into their bedrooms to see if they are reading scanlations, and the police won’t let me. But the widespread visibility of those titles in particular suggests a cultural affinity – Dragon Ball had its distant origins as a retelling of the Chinese legend of the Monkey King, and so, too, did One Piece. In other words, even though they are foreign, they don’t feel that way to the Chinese.

The catch-all Chinese title for this is dongman, literally ‘animation and comics’, although suggestively Japanese animation and comics. Dongman shops are all over China, but many concentrate not on anime and manga themselves, but on gaming spin-offs. It’s the games that seem to lead the way here, encouraging Chinese kids to seek out the originals. But when they find them, there is no way of paying for them legally. And so, the great tale of anime pirates gets pirated.

Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade. This article first appeared in NEO #109, 2013.