JManga Needs Exposure

I recently had a conversation online about the industry-backed digital manga site JManga that went something like this:

Guy: Man, Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru has nine volumes out in Japan, but only three are scanlated!
Me: You know, most of those volumes are available on JManga.
Guy: What.

And then he went and bought all 8 volumes.

Sometimes you’ll hear people pushing for the manga industry who also like to draw lines in the sand between “REAL FANS” who do everything by the book and “filthy pirates who call themselves fans,” as if to say that this explains the industry’s woes. Here, on the other hand, is an example of someone who you can’t categorize as a leech, someone who is willing to pay money for the manga he likes, but simply had no idea that JManga (and its offshoot JManga 7) are actually quite up to date with the titles they carry, or that they even carried them at all. This is also a concern because Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is actually one of JManga’s flagship titles at this point, so it’s even more curious that the guy didn’t know about it.

What this basically reveals is an exposure problem for JManga and other similar sites, one that undoubtedly needs improvement because if the site can’t reach the people who are willing to use its services, what hope does it have for reaching the people who are more hesitant towards it? This is basically why I’m writing this post: I want to make more people aware of JManga as not only a legitimate way to read a lot of manga online and, and not simply as a way to “support the industry,” but as a convenient site which carries titles that readers of manga might very well be looking for.

Did you know that Fujoshi Rumi (aka Otaku-Type Delusion Girl a title I recommend by the way) is on Jmanga and only one volume away from finishing? How about the fact that they have yaoi and yuri sections in addition to shounen series both well-known and obscure? What if I told you that there are (for some reason) multiple titles about cougar detectives? And from the looks of their recent translation contestCoppelion, an interesting and timely work about three girls having to traverse a Tokyo devastated by a nuclear fallout from a natural disaster, is going to be available in the future as well.

The site has its flaws, such as the clunkiness of their reader or the fact that not all titles are available in all regions, but they’ve definitely been working on improving the site. In fact, the site used to be United States-only and worked to change that over time.  One “problem” I need to address in particular is the fact that I’ve heard people say before that the reason they never used JManga was because their old “pay us to give you an allowance” pricing structure was too much of a commitment, because that is no longer an issue with the site. Now you can pay volume by volume a la carte-style without commitment, but if you subscribe then you can get a little extra every month, which means there is likely a pricing structure more attuned to your needs.

My goal isn’t to push the site over other alternatives and to make you feel guilty about not using the site sooner, but mainly to say that a site like JManga is available, and that it offers some things the scanlation sites don’t. While my readership is a small fraction of the total manga readership and thus my influence limited in scope, I hope for those of you reading that you’ll at least give it a shot, whatever your reasons for being a fan of manga.

The Fujoshi Files 53: Aoi Haruka

Name: Aoi, Haruka (葵ハルカ)
Aliases: Vitamin Wonderful, (ビタミン・ワンダフル), Vita One (ビタワン)
Relationship Status: Engaged
Origin: Mousou Shoujo Otakukei

Aoi Haruka is the writing half of the famed doujinshi circle “Vitamin Wonderful” alongside its artist, Chiba Yuki. In the past, she was in a relationship with Yuki’s younger brother Shunsuke and was even his first love, but Haruka is currently engaged to someone else. Kind and gentle, she is beloved by her fans not only for her Fullmetal Prince yaoi parodies but also her personality as well.

Fujoshi Level:
As the writer for Vitamin Wonderful, Aoi shows a great ability to craft stories which affect many fujoshi deeply, and implies her own connection to yaoi as well.

The Fujoshi Files 52: Chiba Yuki

Name: Chiba, Yuki (千葉由紀)
Aliases: Hiiragi Yukihime (柊雪姫 ), Vitamin Wonderful, (ビタミン・ワンダフル), Vita One (ビタワン)
Relationship Status: N/A
Origin: Mousou Shoujo Otakukei

Chiba Yuki is an extremely popular doujinshi artist, acting as the artist half of the circle “Vitamin Wonderful” alongside her friend Aoi Haruka. Focusing mainly on the Fullemtal Prince (“Haga-Pri”) series, Chiba’s good looks, talent, generous personality, and fandom connections make her something of an idol among her fellow fujoshi. Not confined to working in yaoi, Chiba also has experience drawing male-oriented doujinshi.

Yuki is the older sister of Chiba Shunsuke, the boyfriend of fujoshi Matsui Youko, and it is through this connection that Youko and her best friend Asai Rumi are able to become friends with Yuki. She is also the reason why Shunsuke has an unusually high knowledge of fujoshi culture even prior to meeting Youko.

Fujoshi Level:
Though Chiba has her own preferences, the best indication of her love of yaoi may be the fact that her fans are so deeply moved by the work she produces. Among Fullmetal Prince fans, she is almost legendary in status.

Okay, Seriously, You Really Need to Stick to a Single Title Translation for Mousou Shoujo Otakukei!/JManga_official/status/139812494880419842
Mousou Shoujo Otakukei, the story of powerful fujoshi Asai Rumi and the man who loves her. I’ve been following it since 2007 and recently finished the series (expect a review, perhaps?), and in that time it’s become one of the more well-known fujoshi-themed manga, getting even a live action drama adaptation as well as an English-language release by Media Blasters.

In its original US release, Mousou Shoujo Otakukei was changed to Fujoshi Rumi. Let’s leave aside the question of whether or not they should have changed the title in the first place, other than to point out how interesting it is that Fujoshi Kanojo decided to go the other route and become My Girlfriend is a Geek.

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei then got a French release. There, its title is actually Otaku Girls.

But now, for the J-Manga release, they’ve decided to go back and change the title to a direct translation of the Japanese. Hence Otaku-Type Delusion Girl.

So that’s four different titles for the exact same manga, all of which are to some degree official (the only possible exception oddly being the actual romanization of the Japanese title).

I don’t think I need to explain why this is confusing.

The Fujoshi Files 26: Momose Tsugumi

Name: Momose, Tsugumi (百瀬つぐみ)
Alias: Momotsun (モモツン)
Relationship Status: Dating
Origin: Mousou Shoujo Otakukei

Momose Tsugumi is a student at North Haneda High often seen hanging around with other similarly fashionable students. Having a crush on fellow swim team member Abe Takehiro back in Junior High, she was shocked to find him getting increasingly close to his classmate Asai Rumi, and has taken great efforts to make her feelings known, including coming onto him strong.

Believing the term to carry particularly negative connotations, Momose refuses to call herself a fujoshi, citing her large amounts of “normal” friends, her manner of dress, as well as her ability to not come across as an otaku in public. However, she is often exasperated by how boring her non-otaku friends are, and will occasionally engage in some otaku-related activity, albeit at a subdued level. Like many, she is a fan of Fullmetal Prince.

Fujoshi Level:
Despite her denial, Momose exhibits all the signs of being a fujoshi, including a fondness for popular titles among BL enthusiasts and a familiarity with popular doujin artists.

The Fujoshi Files 25: Matsui Youko

Name: Matsui, Youko (松井曜子)
Aliases: Mattsun (まっつん), Asa Matsu (アサマツ), Miss Gomaki (ミスゴマキ)
Relationship Status: Dating
Origin: Mousou Shoujo Otakukei

An overweight and unattractive fujoshi in middle school, Matsui Youko spent the months after graduation undergoing a strict regimen of diet, exercise, and studying fashion. By the time Matsui entered North Haneda High, she quickly gained a reputation for having one of the most dynamite bodies in school, which she flaunts. Intending to bury her past as a fujoshi, Matsui saw Asai Rumi’s unabashed fandom and seeming popularity with men to be a slight on all of her efforts. Though initially Asai’s tormentor, the two quickly came to an understanding, becoming best friends and even fellow collaborators on doujinshi.

Matsui originally discovered BL in junior high thanks to a Shinji x Kaworu doujinshi, and is currently a fan of titles such as Gundam SEED and Fullmetal Prince. Her tastes are similar to Asai’s, though she occasionally prefers pairings in the opposite order. Matsui is also in a relationship with Chiba Shunsuke, a suave blonde whom she had a crush on since junior high, and whom she originally thought was gunning for Asai.

Fujoshi Level:
The first time that Matsui and Chiba engage in intercourse, Matsui bases her assumptions of how sex should proceed on her experience with BL material, believing her boyfriend’s capacity for and willingness to receive anal foreplay to be greater than in reality.

What’s In: Fujoshi, What’s Out: Fujoshi

So in adapting the manga series Mousou Shoujo Otakukei for English-speaking audiences, the title was changed to Fujoshi Rumi, with Rumi being the main character and fujoshi being what she is.

But now with Fujoshi Kanojo, the title has been changed to My Girlfriend is a Geek.

Two different US distributors are behind each title, but I find it interesting that one would go as far as to insert this very otaku word, fujoshi, into the title when not even the Japanese version used it, while the series that prominently displays the term in its name is presented as being more of a general “geek” type of significant other.

Now It’s Partially for Consistency’s Sake

Back in 2007 when I first posted about  Mousou Shoujo Otakukei (aka Fujoshi Rumi), I complained about how the price difference between buying the Japanese language version from a Japanese bookstore was nearly at the point where it wasn’t actually worth it. At that point, it was about $8 or $9, very close to the typical $10 price of an English-translated manga.

Now it’s 2010 and six volumes in the problem is bigger than ever. Stopping by Kinokuniya the other day, the price for the current volume is about $10.50, compared to the English releases’ $12 per volume. What makes this sting extra hard is that the death of Asahiya last year means Kinokuniya basically has no competition and can sell its Japanese-language manga whatever price it wishes. Granted there’s Bookoff for low-price manga, but that consists entirely of used books, and I have this strange feeling I’m the only person in New York City buying Mousou Shoujo.

At this point you may be wondering why I’ve stuck with the series even after I said “meh” to its Volume 1, aside from keeping up with the Fujoshi Files. Well, after having read further, I realized that it’s not until Volume 2 that the series and its characters really begin to find their voices. It’s a fun series with nice developments, and I’m eager to see what happens next. Though out of all the fujoshi-themed manga I’ve read so far, I think I like Fujoshissu! best.

Ogiue: Definitive Fujoshi Icon

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei Volume 3 has been out in America for a number of months now (under the name Fujoshi Rumi), and in the back of the book the author Konjoh Natsumi describes her experience meeting the guys who played her manga’s characters in the live-action Mousou Shoujo adaptation. In one of the panels, she talks about the fact that her “Yaoi Antenna” went off as a result of seeing these guys together, and I think it’s quite telling just how she decided to portray this Yaoi Antenna.

Interesting, no? Konjoh could have chosen plenty of other icons to portray the tingling of her Yaoi Sense. Ohno’s mole, a pair of glasses, a wheeled suitcase, a furry ball of a creature emerging from the back of her skull are all valid choices, but it is the Ogiue fude which immediately brings to mind the image of the “fujoshi.”

Now, Konjoh is not against making obscure references because she does so pretty regularly, but I wouldn’t count this as among the “obscure.” This is a clear sign that in terms of fujoshi characters, Ogiue is pretty much #1 no matter how you slice it, even if a million pretenders to the throne should appear.

The Fujoshi Files 10: Asai Rumi

Name: Asai, Rumi (浅井留美)
Asa Matsu (アサマツ)
Relationship Status: Complicated
Origin: Mousou Shoujo Otakukei

The students of North Haneda High are baffled by how the unassuming Asai Rumi can attract some of the most interesting friends, not least of which are the hottest girl in school, a ladykiller heart-throb and his best friend, as well as the hulking captain of the Judo club. However, what few know is that Asai has made her friends through the power of being a fujoshi. While not quick to admit to the fact, Asai does not deny herself as a fujoshi, and that honesty attracts friends and breaks down the mental barriers, including those of her tormentor-turned-best-friend and fellow fujoshi, Matsui Youko.

Bedridden as a child, Asai Rumi discovered manga thanks to a kind neighbor, a discovery which eventually led to her world being impacted by an un-shrink-wrapped BL title in a bookstore. Since then, she’s worked hard as a fujoshi, attending the major event known as Comic Banquet and even co-creating doujinshi of her favorite series, Fullmetal Prince, with the help of Matsui. Her favorite character is the titular Prince, but only when he is the “uke” in the pairing.

Fujoshi Level:
Asai Rumi’s presence as a fujoshi is so strong that she is able to make fujoshi who are in denial confront their own feelings about the stories they love. However, this comes at somewhat of a price, as Asai is so steeped in the world of BL and yaoi that she has trouble understanding normal romantic relationships. It is to the point that while she finds herself mutually attracted to her good friend Abe Takahiro, she manifests her interest by pretending to be an aggressive guy putting the moves on her yaoi lover.