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The Japanese Manga Situation – Manga and the Minister of Foreign Affairs


Last time I tried to explain how the three major boy’s manga magazines have created the manga culture in Japan we have today. In the very end of last edition I wrote that this time I’d write about the assistant system, but because I got some interesting news I decided to write about some manga except shonen manga.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many of those who know something about the Japanese manga culture and Internet culture already know about this, but the intriguing news that arrested me was about the “Face of Japan” Japanese Foreign Minister Aso Taro being witnessed reading Rozen Maiden – a shojo manga rather considered to be on the mania side – in the VIP room of Haneda Airport, and he later admitted the witness to be true in an interview for some magazine.

He, however, had announced his passion for manga publicly a while ago saying he reads (or used to read) 10-20 manga magazines a week and his list of favorites include Zipang, Sangokushi (Three Kingdom Saga: Yokoyama Mitsuteru ver.), Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, GOLGO 13, Kochira Kameari Koen-mae Hashutsujo, recently joined in by Nodame Cantabile.

Even then, the news of the Minister of a country being a fan of manga that are not always the most popular or well-known among common people, truly heated up many anonymous forums and blogs.

Setting aside the details of Rozen Maiden, I assume some of you are actually surprised to learn that a minister of a country, and not only that but also a 66-year-old man, is seriously reading such amount of manga.

Indeed, manga in Japan enjoys a much higher status than mere children’s entertainment.
Although I will have to say that our Minister belongs to the exception of his generation to be so hooked to manga (even I don’t think I can beat him in manga), there are many many grown-ups chiefly twenties to fifties happily read manga and manga magazines on trains and buses, as some of you who have traveled or live(d) in Japan know well. They are not always reading shonen magazines, but are most times purchasing manga magazines fit for there age generation as there are a variety of magazines published accordingly to target age besides gender. It seems that historical half-fiction samurai stories are the mainstream popular line for middle-aged men.

Of course, we cannot forget that women read manga as much as men do.
Nevertheless, manga magazines specially targeting women in their forties and fifties are very rare if not none. Perhaps women of that age feel more embarrassed to read manga, or maybe women’s preferences in manga are not as age distinctive as men.
Either way, the fact that women who read manga when they were little girls still continue to read manga does not change (although there is probably a change in frequency and numbers) so I wouldn’t be surprised if a manga magazine for middle-aged women appears in the near future. Considering the fact that women’s manga as a distinctive genre much later than men’s manga, now might be the right time to make business in women’s manga here. Who knows?

Also, it’s hardly likely that a man in his twenties today would suddenly switch his mind to historical fiction when he turns fifty, so I think that there will be many kinds of magazines coming out accordingly to age and gender.

As I have written in the previous essay, two of the three major manga magazines SUNDAY and MAGAZINE were established in 1959 soon followed by JUMP. It was the age when Oh, the manager who led Japan to the champion of World Baseball Classics was still playing as a homerun champion.


Made in Japan Contents
  • Green Tea 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
    Spirited Away (2001)
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Yasunari Kawabata
  • Banana Yoshimoto
  • Yukio Mishima
  • Inazo Nitobe
  • Japanese Tea
  • Bonsai
  • VAIO
  • Canon

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