Dōjinshi (同人誌?, often transliterated as doujinshi) are self-published Japanese works, usually magazines, manga or novels. They are often the work of amateurs, though some professional artists participate as a way to publish material outside the regular industry. The term dōjinshi is derived from dōjin (同人?, literally "same person", used to refer to a person or persons with whom one shares a common goal or interest) and shi (?, a suffix generally meaning "periodical publication"). Dōjinshi are part of a wider category of dōjin including, but not limited to, art collections, anime, hentai and games. Groups of dōjinshi artists refer to themselves as a sākuru (サークル?, circle). A number of such groups actually consist of a single artist: they are sometimes called kojin sākuru (個人サークル?, personal circles).

Dōjinshi are made by artists or writers who prefer to publish their own materials. Avid fans of dōjinshi attend regular dōjinshi conventions, the largest of which is called Comiket (short for "Comic Market") held in the summer and winter in Tokyo's Big Sight. At the Convention, over Script error: No such module "convert". of dōjinshi are bought, sold, and traded by attendees. Dōjinshi creators who based their materials on other creators' works normally publish in small numbers to maintain a low profile from litigation. This makes a talented creator's or circle's dōjinshi a coveted commodity as only the fast or the lucky will be able to get them before they sell out.

Over the last decade, the practice of creating dōjinshi has expanded significantly, attracting thousands of creators and fans alike. Advances in personal publishing technology have also fueled this expansion by making it easier for dōjinshi creators to write, draw, promote, publish, and distribute their works. For example, some dōjinshi are now published on digital media. Furthermore, many dōjinshi creators are moving to online download and print-on-demand services, while others are beginning to distribute their works through American channels such as anime shop websites and specialized online direct distribution sites.


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The pioneer among dōjinshi magazines was Morning Bell (明六雑志), published in the early Meiji period (since 1874). Not a literary magazine in fact, it nevertheless played a big role in spreading the idea of dōjinshi. First magazine to publish dōjinshi novels was Library of all sorts of things (我楽多文庫), founded in 1885 by writers Ozaki Koyo and Yamada Bimyo.[1] Dōjinshi's publication reached it's peak in the early Showa era, becoming a mouthpiece for the creative youth of that time. Created and distributed in small circles of authors or close friends, it contributed significantly to the emergence and development of shishosetsu genre. During the postwar years the publication of dōjinshi as representations different literary schools and new authors gradually decreased, substituted by literary journals Gunzo, Bungakukai and etc. One notable exception was Literary Capital (文芸首都), published in 1933-1969. Few dōjinshi magazines survived with the help of official literary journals. Haiku and tanka magazines remain active till nowadays.

During the 1980s, the content of dōjinshi shifted from being predominantly original content to being mostly parodic of existing series.[2]

In 2008, a white paper on the otaku industry was published, this estimated that gross revenue from sales of dōjinshi in 2007 were 277.3 billion yen, or 14.9% of total otaku expenditure on their hobby.[3]


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John Oppliger of AnimeNation stated that creating dōjinshi is largely popular with Japanese fans however not with Western fans. Oppliger claimed that because Japanese natives grow up with animation and manga "as a constant companion", Japanese fans "are more intuitively inclined" to create or expand on existing manga and anime in the form of dōjinshi .[4] Because Western fans experience a "more purely" visual experience as most Western fans cannot understand the Japanese language, the original language of most anime, and are "encouraged by social pressure to grow out of cartoons and comics during the onset of adolescence", most Western fans participate in utilizing and rearranging existing work into anime music videos.[5]

In Western cultures, dōjinshi is often perceived to be derivative of existing work, analogous to fan fiction and almost completely pornographic. This is partly true: dōjinshi are often, though not always, parodies or alternative storylines involving the worlds of popular manga, game or anime series, and can often feature overtly sexual material. However, there are also many non sexually explicit dōjinshi being created as well. The Touhou series for example, is notable for the large amount of dōjinshi being produced for it that are not pornographic in nature[6][7]. Groups releasing adults only themed materials during the annual Touhou only event Reitaisai in 2008 were estimated at roughly 10%[7].

Categories of dōjinshi

Like their mainstream counterparts, dōjinshi are published in a variety of genres and types. However, due to the target audience, certain themes are more prevalent, and there are a few major division points by which the publications can be classified. It can be broadly divided into original works and aniparo—works which parody existing anime and manga franchises.[8]

As in fanfics, a very popular theme to explore is non-canonical pairings of characters in a given show (for dōjinshi based on mainstream publications). Many such publications contain yaoi or yuri (that is, homosexual) motives, either as a part of non-canon pairings, or as a more direct statement of what can be hinted by the main show.

A major part of dōjinshi, whether based on mainstream publications or original, contains sexually explicit material, due to both the large demand for such publications and absence of restrictions official publishing houses have to follow. Indeed, often the main point of a given dōjinshi is to present an explicit version of a popular show's characters. Such works may be known to English speakers as "H-dōjinshi", in line with the former Japanese use of letter H to denote erotic material. The Japanese usage, however, has since moved towards the word ero [9], and so ero manga (エロ漫画?) is the term almost exclusively used to mark dōjinshi with adult themes. Sometimes they will also be termed "for adults" (成人向け seijin muke?) or 18-kin (18禁?) (an abbreviation of 18歳未満禁止 "forbidden to minors less than 18 years of age"). To differentiate, ippan (一般?, , "general", from the general public it is suitable for) is the term used for publications absent of such content.


Comiket is the world's largest comic convention. It is held twice a year in Tokyo, Japan. The first CM was held in December 1975, with only about 32 participating circles and an estimated 600 attendees. About 80% of these were female, but male participation in Comiket increased later.[2] Attendance has since swelled to over half a million people. Many attendants come to exchange and/or sell their dōjinshi.

In 2009, Meiji University opened a dōjin manga library, named “Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library” to honour its alumni in its Surugadai campus. It contains Yonezawa's own dōjinshi collection, comprising 4137 boxes, and the collection of Tsuguo Iwata, another famous person in the sphere of dōjinshi.[10]


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Despite being in direct conflict with the Japanese copyright law as many dōjinshi are derivative works and dōjinshi artists rarely secure the permission of the original creator, Comiket is still permitted to be held twice year and holds over half-a-million people attending each time it convenes.[11] However, the practice of doujinshi can be beneficial to the commercial manga market by creating an avenue for aspiring mangaka to practice,[12] and talented doujinshi creators are contacted by publishers.[13] This practice has existed since the 1980s.[14] Many Japanese publishing companies sponsor annual manga competitions in which the winner is awarded the publication of their winning story.[15] Salil Mehra, a law professor at Temple University, hypothesizes that because dōjinshi market actually causes the manga market to be more productive, the law does not ban dōjinshi as the industry would suffer as a result. Lawrence Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford Law School, wrote in his book "Free Culture" that although authors are still to entitled to sue for copyright infringement, Japanese law firms do not have enough lawyers and resources to prosecute such cases.[11]


  • Comic Party - a video game, manga and an anime based on being a dōjinshi artist
  • The manga and anime Dōjin Work created by Hiroyuki is based on creating and selling dōjinshi.
  • In the manga and anime Genshiken the second season's storyline focuses on the group's production of a dōjinshi.

Notable dōjinshi artists

See also

Related concepts


  1. An article "同人志" from encyclopedia 世界百科辞典.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wilson, Brent; Toku, Masami. "Boys' Love," Yaoi, and Art Education: Issues of Power and Pedagogy 2003
  3. http://www.inside-games.jp/news/258/25855.html
  4. Oppliger, John (2005-06-23). "Ask John: Why Hasn’t Doujinshi Caught on Outside of Japan?". AnimeNation. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  5. Oppliger, John (2003-09-08). "Ask John: Why Are Anime Music Videos so Popular?". AnimeNation. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  6. 第七回博麗神社例大祭サークルリスト
  7. 7.0 7.1 Why is there not much demand for adult touhou dōjinshi? (Japanese)
  8. Sabucco, Veruska "Guided Fan Fiction: Western "Readings" of Japanese Homosexual-Themed Texts" in Berry, Chris, Fran Martin, and Audrey Yue (editors) (2003). Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia. Durham, North Carolina; London: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3087-3. pp.70-72
  9. Article on the term "hentai" explains the differences between Japanese and English usage.
  10. "Dojin Manga Library “Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library” opening this Summer". en.gigazine.net. April 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lessig, Lawrence (March 25, 2004). "Chapter One: Creators". [[Free Culture (book)|Free Culture]]. Authorama.com. Retrieved 2009-09-08.  URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  12. http://www.corneredangel.com/amwess/papers/copyright_comics_japan.pdf
  13. Brient, Hervé, ed. (2008). "Entretien avec Hisako Miyoshi". Homosexualité et manga : le yaoi. Manga: 10000 images (in French). Editions H. pp. 17–19. ISBN 978-2-9531781-0-4. 
  14. McLelland, Mark. Why are Japanese Girls' Comics full of Boys Bonking? Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media Vol.10, 2006/2007
  15. Oppliger, John (2001-04-03). "Ask John: How Do You Get Mangas Published?". AnimeNation. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  16. Cha, Kai-Ming (2007) Sex & Silliness: Maki Murakami’s Gravitation Publishers Weekly

External links

  • Doujinshi Online: Reference site with circle/artist listings
  • Passion: Popular dōjinshi fanlisting site
  • Doujinshi DB: Huge user-submitted database of dōjinshi artists, circles, and books, including name translations
  • Ultimate Anime Doujinshi: U.S. dōjinshi site with search page listing information on several thousands dōjinshi and large
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