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Women of the Manga and Anime Industry

Manga and Anime isn't the stereotyped boys club many believe. A discussion of the influence women have as creators and readers.

Women are a market of reader that publishers are always trying to court, but many struggle to really ever really find. Comics especially are always trying to figure out how to get more ladies into the fold. The discussion exploded this summer back when a lone young women stood up at the San Diego Comic-Con 2011 panel and asked the DC Comics all male creators, "Where are all the women?". What began from there is a deep look into the gender balances of the DC staff. With their coming September relaunch of their "DC New 52" reboot. They are going from 12% female staff to as low as 1%. This sparked both confusion and outrage. The issue was well covered by Sara 'Babs' Lima of Comic Vine in her article, "DC Responds to Concerns over Lack of Female Comic Creators". It was after seeing these numbers, I began to think about something. The women working for DC were mostly in writing, coloring, and editing. How many are actual original creators of the series they work on, and how does this differ from manga and anime? I went into research, and these were some of my findings.

The influence of women is huge in the manga/anime industry. They are a high readership, and they even have two specific genres directed to them, Shojo (少女) and Josei (女性). Shojo are mainly aimed to a young female reader. Josie are for more mature women. Best described as being close to the sort of "trashy romance" novels you may often see at the grocery store. Yaoi also has a large female following, and falls into the Josei series. Are there any genres in comics targeted specifically for women? DC has often been strong in targeting women readers with titles such as Birds of Prey, Catwoman, and Gotham City Sirens. Marvel has been more clunky in their "Sex in the City" parody title, Marvel Divas.

Fullmetal Alchemist - A serious action/drama created by Hiromu Arakawa.
Fullmetal Alchemist - A serious action/drama created by Hiromu Arakawa.

The shonen genre may not be specifically targeted to women. That certainly hasn't stopped female readers from being a factor. One of the series that's popular in Japan is Fullmetal Alchemist. The anime adaptations have often had good ratings even among the Adult Swim audience. This is a shonen action series with a deep story, rich characters, and an extremely wide appeal. What may be a surprise to many is that the original creator, author, and artist is one woman. Her name is Hiromu Arakawa. She's well known for being a bit reclusive and illustrates herself as a spotted-cow wearing glasses in each volume. She describes herself as not being able to walk into her favorite bookstore without walking out with a big stack of random books. She is also the writer and artist for the series Hero Tales and several other manga series.

Black Butler, created by Yana Toboso.
Black Butler, created by Yana Toboso.

You can't talk about women in this industry without mentioning CLAMP. This is a team of all women writers and artists. They are a powerhouse in manga and anime. They have created a number of series such as Cardcaptors Sakura, Chobits, Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, and XxxHOLiC. CLAMP also designed the characters of the 2006 hit Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. These ladies are a team you call when you want your characters designed. The incredibly popular Black Butler series was created by Yana Toboso. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Takeuchi to really popularize the magical girl concept, and Ranma 1/2 was created by Rumiko Takahashi. Rumiko is credited as one of the best selling female comics artist in history. Over 170 million copies of her works have been sold since February of 2010.

GOSICK by Kazuki Sakuraba and Hinata Takeda
GOSICK by Kazuki Sakuraba and Hinata Takeda

Many light-novel series can go on to inspire manga and anime adaptations. Light-novels are generally targeted to the junior high and high school readers, but main characters are quite frequently young girls. The Suzumiya Haruhi series is one of the more famous to the West. The writer is a man, Nagaru Tanigawa; but the character designer and artist is Noizi Ito, who also designed the characters for Shakugan no Shana. GOSICK is a period murder-mystery written by Kazuki Sakuraba and illustrated by Hinata Takeda. Both are women. Zero no Tsukaima, Spice and Wolf, and Okamisan are all romantic themed series targeted toward women with female leads, but each are written by men. This just reflects the influence of women in the light-novel market. They are very much sought after.

When talking about the industry, we can't forget to bring up voice actors. It's these people who are responsibly for giving life to the characters. Easily, the top five biggest Shonen series of heroes in the past ten years in Japan are Naruto Uzumaki, Edward Elric, Monkey D. Luffy, Ichigo Kurosaki, and Conan Edogawa. What all these characters have in common are that they're all young males, but out of all the voice actors behind these heroes. Only one of them is a man. In America, only Edward Elric and Ichigo Kurosaki are voiced by men. Mayumi Tanaka has voiced Luffy in nearly 500 episodes,11 movies, and the series is only just nearing the half way point.

Shonen Heroes and the actors who give them their voice.
Shonen Heroes and the actors who give them their voice.

I'm not trying to give some impression that the manga and anime industry is more gender friendly in Japan than it is in U.S. comics. At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, a panel was held to discuss this very issue of women in manga. During the discussion, Layla Aker, a senior editor with VIZ Media, talked about how opportunities are much slimmer in the publishing fields in Japan, and pointed to a gender bias when it comes to genres. She said, "People assume you work with shojo manga.". She described women as being more open minded as readers, and went on to cite data that showed VIZ's Shonen Jump magazine has a 40% female readership.

Sailor Moon has gone on to spawn many clones
Sailor Moon has gone on to spawn many clones

Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, a then senior editor with Tokyopop, attributed the growing female audience of manga to it being brought out of dark and often unwelcoming atmospheres of comic book stores and into the average bookstores. Robin Brenner, a graphic novel reporter and author, found in her research that more women are asking about manga as they have spread in the library system. What all the panelists seemed to agree on is that manga and anime needs more female fans. The fans of today, can go on to create the series of the future. Much in the same way that Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball went on to inspire Eiichiro Oda to create One Piece. One Piece having some of the widest appeal across every gender and age group that Japan has seen. Women and men, Girls and boys read this series openly. Isn't that what we all really want? Something everyone can relate to despite our genders, share, and talk about.

I know I'm dancing in a minefield being a man talking about women's influence in any industry, but I want to try and begin a conversation. Show the readers and those just curious how important women are to the series we enjoy and spend so much time with. It wouldn't be nearly the same without them. This is NOT a boys only club. Women are just as welcome. These are my thoughts. What are yours?

Source: SDCC 2009 - Women in Manga Panel (ANN) - HERE

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ animevice / @ FoxxFireArt

Lurkeroon Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.
I never assumed women were not well represented in the anime/manga industry. Is there really a concern there?
sotyfan16on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
I know women are a big part. I just wish I saw more (fans) in person. But that's to be expected in the Midwest. I have a couple manga done by women and they are quite enjoyable.

But sex doesn't matter when it comes to works of entertainment/art. It's all about merit, effort, and opportunity.

*Anyone who readsBakuman will know what I'm talking about.
takashichea moderator on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.

It's ironic that the industries has less women in their work force, but their comics and manga has so influences from women.

It's not just the comic books and the manga industry.

Whiskey Media has a dominant male presence. I still believe Anime Vice has a better balance in its population despite its female population is smaller than Comic Vine and Giant Bomb.

For the top wiki editors, Anime Vice and Comic Vine has a better balance. Back then, Anime Vice has the top females ranking in 3rd and 4th place for wiki editing. Now, I'm going to displace Juuhachi as the third person. I can't stop wiki editing, and I'm hoping Anna will surpass me.

Sorry to confuse you on the gender pattern for the top users. I added some images. Basically, in June 15, it was male, male, female, and female. Now, it is male, male, female, and male. I displaced Gia. I shouldn't be worried about it because Anime Vice has more of a balance.
From June 15, 2011 to July 28, 2011.
Looking at the other sites' top wiki editors' gender.
I believe Comic Vine and Tested have more female and other in their top 12.

My comment from FoxxFireArt's blog.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:55 p.m.

@Lurkero:

This isn't about women not being represented. It's about spotlighting the influence women have in manga and anime. Showing readers that women play a huge role in creating series that appeal to all genders. I would like female comic readers to go through this and see that this isn't a boys club. Show them that they are both welcome and wanted.

I bet many comic readers might not realize that FMA was created by a woman, or that the creator of Ranma 1/2 is one of the highest selling female comic artists in history. It's women who are trusted with voicing some of the largest characters in the industry.

If I can get even one woman who is a frequent comic reader to go through this list of names and series, and they are interested enough to want to see what it's about. I'll consider it a success.

Halberdierv2on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.
the thing is, a lot of these mangas that appeal to women, that aren't shojou or Josei have excellent stories.  in general, there aren't that many manga with outstanding writing to pull peoples of both genders very easily. i'd like to see more of what female writers have to offer, some have already written some of my favourite series.
Lurkeroon Aug. 17, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt: Okay, that's kind of the feeling I was getting from your article. Usually articles about women are about the concern for representation rather than just highlighting the influence they've already had.
 
Also, you should have included a picture comparison of the Japanese voice of Goku from DBZ, Masako Nozawa. That's a real shocker for anyone that doesn't know. I find it odd that teenage boys are represented by women so frequently. Maybe it has something to do with employment age.
Om1kronon Aug. 17, 2011 at 4:49 p.m.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn was created and drawn by Akira Amano also a female, just thought I would throw that out there.

=)

FoxxFireArt moderator on Aug. 17, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.

@Halberdierv2:

That is the interesting thing about many manga. Series such as One Piece has such a high appeal that it branches across gender. Many manga do that.

@Lurkero:

It could be possible that if more women comic readers learn what a influence women have in the creation of many series. They may feel more open into trying something out.

@Om1kron:

Thanks for adding that.

takashichea moderator on Aug. 17, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.

@Lurkero said:

@FoxxFireArt: Okay, that's kind of the feeling I was getting from your article. Usually articles about women are about the concern for representation rather than just highlighting the influence they've already had. Also, you should have included a picture comparison of the Japanese voice of Goku from DBZ, Masako Nozawa. That's a real shocker for anyone that doesn't know. I find it odd that teenage boys are represented by women so frequently. Maybe it has something to do with employment age.

It's the young voices for young boys who are in puberty that women are good at.

Oh yes, Ash Ketchum is voiced by Veronica Taylor and Rica Matsumoto.

@Om1kron:

I definitely agree!

Edit:

Here Lurkero.

MrASSH0LEon Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:27 p.m.
The irony is that Goku,Naruto,Luffy,Ichigo and even Edward are heroes for young men/boys and are/will be looked at as models of manliness later on lol.
rubberluffyon Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:47 p.m.
Kekkaishi and D.Gray-man are both series by women (Yellow Tanabe and Katsura Hoshino, respectively), and are fairly popular shonen series, Kekkaishi having won the 2007 Shogakukan manga award for shonen series.
Gerhabioon Aug. 17, 2011 at 8:30 p.m.

I usually measure the gender friendliness of comics, manga, anime, games, etc by how my gf, a feminist, perceives them. I notice that what mostly deters her from enjoying them is the sexual objectification and infantilization of women that tend to plague the media. Japanese manga, anime and games in particular seem to be the worse in this category with scantily clad women everywhere with supernaturally sizable breasts and women who act like 5 year old in spite of being teenagers or adults. Even if women do contribute to these stories many are participating in their own deprication. Many see the female characters through a "male gaze".

ninjadude853on Aug. 17, 2011 at 9:26 p.m.
in the relatively few encounters I've had with the anime fandom in real life, i haven't found women and girls to be underrepresented at all. If anything i'd say it's pretty much split down the middle. Hell, it was a female classmate that first introduced me to Fullmetal Alchemist. Kitsune Kon, the first and only convention I've been too, had a roughly even split between the male and female demographic. I just got into a 15 minute conversation with two people about anime and manga in general at Barnes and Noble, one was a guy and one was a girl. 
 
This is literally the first time I've ever seen gender issues brought up in regards to anime. I have never even considered the possibility one gender may or may not have outnumbered the other. Anime and manga are broad mediums with a number of genres that can appeal to pretty much anyone. And that's why the gender demographics are roughly even.
Dunchadon Aug. 18, 2011 at 1:08 a.m.

Sort of unexpected article for sure. I guess I've never really thought anyone considered anime/manga to be a "boys club". I mean, just by looking at all the different genres out there you can see there is something for everyone. And it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that women can be successful creators, now should it?

So no - I'm definitely not one of the "many" who'd be surprised to know that a successful manga like FMA was created by a woman (might want to take a look at how you phrased that - at least it jumped out at me).

In Finland, manga and anime popularity is still pretty new - I'm not up to date on the current situation, but to me it seems it's mostly female fans out here these days. I've seen a lot of shoujo manga being sold and the few Finnish mangas I've seen have always had female authors.

AlexanderSheenon Aug. 18, 2011 at 2:17 a.m.
"Women and men, Girls and boys read this series openly. Isn't that what we all really want? Something everyone can relate to despite our genders, share, and talk about."
 
I want to see this happening with more mangas, not just with the freakin' One Piece manga. I wish I know more about how Gintama doing at this.
 
P.S.: Great Article, keep up the good work.
coates32on Aug. 18, 2011 at 7:09 a.m.
Well, the creator of Sekirei is a woman, who also known for creating some yaoi titles.
animebookworm7on Aug. 18, 2011 at 7:16 a.m.
omg this story has inspired me so much 
i wish i could read it all the time
Mezmeroon Aug. 18, 2011 at 9 a.m.

I liked Rose of Versailles for what it was but I've never been particularly impressed with the role most female characters take in their respective series. It could be that I'm a filthy sexist but I've yet to be particularly blown away by female characters from any shows other than my absolute favorites.

Vichyssoiseon Aug. 18, 2011 at 9:49 a.m.
Funny, among my (female) friends anime and manga has always been far more mainstream and acceptable than American comics.  The reasons mentioned in the article, easily found at bookstores and libraries, are major contributors to that, and I always got the impression that women had a large and almost dominating force at anime cons.  Maybe my perspective is warped on that.  Is there really an issue/need to bring more ladies into the genre?  Interesting.
earthwormjimon Aug. 19, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
young Icihigo is voiced by a woman- Yuki Matsuoka
Kenshin is also voiced by a woman in japan as well Mayo Suzukaze
 
 
Yeah there are a lot of women in the manga industry so much so that you'd be surprised to find out which authors are women.
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