Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Who's Manga's Market?
Lately I've been a bit confused about the manga/anime market. We have a lot more girls and women that buy it from my store than men/boys. I do know that there is anime porn, geared towards men--that's not what I'm talking about here. Some of the more "mass market" manga and anime seems to send mixed messages.
The photo above is for DC Direct's new line of anime inspired super heroine figures. This is Catwoman. She is typical of the anime style - thin, innocent looking enough, yet obviously overly sexual.
Click here to see several other examples of manga/anime figures in this style. I have put the manga or anime title they come from above the large version of each picture. You get to that by clicking on the thumbnail. Some of these I'm not familar with at all, others I've heard of. I'll be up-front - I don't usually read manga or watch anime. I just don't have the time or interest. But we do sell it here and I know a lot of people that do read and watch it. Manga actually has higher sales numbers than American comics.
But WHO is the market for this? As I said, we've got a lot of girls and women that read it and watch it. From what I understand, the shujo manga in particular, is geared for women/girls. You will have to forgive me for my ignorance, but I believe that some of these manga have "strong" main female characters. Many are girls, not yet women, who fight or do battle. So, we have a product featuring girls, much of which is supposedly marketed to girls, that depicts girls as sex objects.
I just don't get HOW women or girls would want to be bombarded with these unrealistic, sexualized images. I don't care how "strong" she is in the stories, she does not need to be a sex object at the same time. It would seem that these products would be geared more towards men--men who don't mind seeing figures resembling innocent girls depicted as sex objects. I have had customers refer to the section of Previews where these are solicited as "porn." I had a male customer say his wife doesn't understand why these make him "hot" but the Victoria's Secret catalog doesn't. These figures are sexually provocative, designed to catch the attention of men who otherwise wouldn't pay much attention to the medium. Often people are quick to complain about how comic books objectify women - but most of them are ADULT characters, where many of the manga characters are children or teenagers. Should these figures be attached to products that are sold to adolescents? to teens who are often confused and easily convinced that this type of mass-market, objectified girl or woman is something they should resemble? to men who find the innocent, round-eyed female figures posed in this manner as sexually appealing? To me all of these choices seem bad. In all seriousness, WHO are these marketed to? How is it that even very popular manga like Fruits Basket have figures of girls in school-girl outfits with overly short skirts?
Now, let me say AGAIN that I don't read or follow these at all, I only know what I need to know to carry manga in my store. I welcome opinions on this subject.