If you have some time, feel free to answer the 16 questions Life With Mii creator Kotoyo Noguchi has.

(So I ended up getting the tables turned on me when it came to questions as Kotoyo Noguchi, the author of Life With Mii involving her experiences with cats, sent me some questions that she wanted to know from me and manga enthusiasts. If you have some time, please feel free to answer the questions in the comments section below, email contact at theoasg dot com, or even feel free to write a blog post about it and reach out to TheOASG Twitter account or email us.

Here’s my conversation with her and Mariko Hihara. Below is Kotoyo’s questions and why she’s asking them. – Justin)

I’m making dōjinshi books from my work during my student years, but they’re written in Japanese so I think that most US and UK readers won’t be interested. I want to find out whether they would buy dōjinshi if they were in English, and how I could sell them.

1) In Japan, even adults read manga. Do many people read manga in your country?

Justin: I would say a decent amount of people in the US do read manga. From the many different publishers releasing manga in print and digital, and seeing the growth of the industry since it slumped around 2008-09, there’s a good amount of readers today.

2) Japanese bookstores sell plenty of manga; how are things in your country? You can include American comics and bandes dessinées (drawn strips).

It’s gotten better, though I think it’s been more recent than anything. It used to be pretty bad because one of the bookstore chains, Borders, went out of business, and between certain chain stores not putting manga on their shelves and Barnes & Noble having a limited selection, it wasn’t good. I mostly had to rely on buying online or going to specialty stores like Kinokuniya or Midtown Comics.

Now, Barnes & Noble’s that I’ve been to have a pretty sizable manga collection. Even places like Walmart are stocking some titles. Overall, it’s a bit healthier to purchase manga.

That said, it’s still very very small compared to Japanese bookstores!

3) 
Western countries say that Japanese manga has issues with excessive sexualization (of women, in particular). What do you think about it?

It can be a big issue, especially when a publisher is not honest about what they are bringing over. The obvious problem is reading in public — you wouldn’t want to sit in a public park and read Monster Musume there. That said, different people have wildly different takes on what is oversexualized and what is not, but the common thing is that some female characters in manga are handled poorly across all demographics. This may or may not be a culture thing or just an author being poor with his characters.

4) Would you be interested in buying and reading dōjinshi that isn’t commercial manga?

Probably, if it’s translated.

5) Have you ever been to a dōjinshi fair like Comic Market? Did you buy anything?

I wish. Maybe whenever I can learn some Japanese and have the money (and find a good time) to go.


6) Some people come to Japan to buy dōjinshi. Even though they’re in Japanese, would you still want to read them? How about if they were in English?

I might buy a few if it was from a series I like, and maybe eventually if I learned Japanese I’d buy it more often. But probably not.

If they were in English, the chances go up though.

7) What is the charm of dōjinshi (e.g. fan fiction, adult comic books)?

To me, we’ll simply read a story that satisfies what we wanted as fans. I think it’s probably different for those who buy/read hentai though.

8) There are some comic conventions for otaku fans overseas. How are they? Are dōjinshi sold there?

It can be as small as a local college and fan run convention to a massive event. Basically, search something like Liberty City Anime Con then check out San Diego Comic Con, and yeah, you’ll find one for all different ages and sizes. Also, we have a lot of conventions.

I do believe some sell doujinshi, but it depends on the retailer.

9) How many Japanese e-book stores and manga fan sites (such as Pixiv) do you know about? Do you use them? If so, what kind of problems have you experienced? For example, no English explanations or credit card support.

I think the only one I used has been BookWalker, though they have an English site. So yeah, I can’t help you here.


10) If you were buying dōjinshi as e-books, which e-book stores would you prefer to buy from? Perhaps you’re already buying them?

I guess places like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc?


11) Japanese manga and American comic books differ in reading direction and the placement of text in the speech balloons. Do you think this makes manga more difficult to read?

Not really. You just get used to it. Also, some publishers use the back of the book to explain how to read a manga.

12) Do you use Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited?

Nope.

13) Do you use Wattpad or DeviantArt? Are they good for creators? I only know these two sites for authors and fans; are there any others you would recommend?

Neither. This is probably more for artists to answer.

14) 
Do you read light novels such as Sword Art Online? Are they popular in your country?

I do read LNs! LNs have had two histories here — the history where they were brought over too soon, and now today’s history where publishers are starting to bring more LNs over because of the rise of anime adaptations of LNs in Japan. So it’s not crazy popular like it is in Japan, but there’s certainly a growing audience for LNs here.

15) Light novels contain illustrations while most American books have none. Are illustrations important in novels?

Depends, probably. Maybe some could use illustrations, but it’s not a deal breaker to me.

16) What do you think would be required in order to sell more Japanese manga (including dōjinshi) in the English-speaking world? For example, lower prices, more advertising, colorizing, adapting the reading direction and speech balloons to be more like American comics, changing characters to be non-Japanese, relocating the story away from Japan, having the creator travel overseas, holding more fan events.
  1. Bring over good manga
  2. Bring over great manga
  3. Bring over amazing manga

Ok, it’s too simple, but it’s kind of true — you have to bring over titles that can appeal and manage to be good. From there, it’s hoping you have good translators, letterers, etc taking care of the manga, and then fans buying it.

I think the only specific thing to sell more manga would be to manage digital prices more for certain companies, but otherwise, it’s been perfectly fine right now.

Now it’s your turn! Feel free to answer any of the questions you want!

  1. 
In Japan, even adults read manga. Do many people read manga in your country?
  2. Japanese bookstores sell plenty of manga; how are things in your country? You can include American comics and bandes dessinées.
  3. 
Western countries say that Japanese manga has issues with excessive sexualization (of women, in particular). What do you think about it?
  4. Would you be interested in buying and reading dōjinshi that isn’t commercial manga?
  5. Have you ever been to a dōjinshi fair like Comic Market? Did you buy anything?
  6. 
Some people come to Japan to buy dōjinshi. Even though they’re in Japanese, would you still want to read them? How about if they were in English?
  7. What is the charm of dōjinshi (e.g. fan fiction, adult comic books)?
  8. 
There are some comic conventions for otaku fans overseas. How are they? Are dōjinshi sold there?
  9. How many Japanese e-book stores and manga fan sites (such as Pixiv) do you know about? Do you use them? If so, what kind of problems have you experienced? For example, no English explanations or credit card support.
  10. 
If you were buying dōjinshi as e-books, which e-book stores would you prefer to buy from? Perhaps you’re already buying them?
  11. 
Japanese manga and American comic books differ in reading direction and the placement of text in the speech balloons. Do you think this makes manga more difficult to read?
  12. Do you use Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited?
  13. 
Do you use Wattpad or DeviantArt? Are they good for creators? I only know these two sites for authors and fans; are there any others you would recommend?
  14. 
Do you read light novels such as Sword Art Online? Are they popular in your country?
  15. Light novels contain illustrations while most American books have none. Are illustrations important in novels?
  16. What do you think would be required in order to sell more Japanese manga (including dōjinshi) in the English-speaking world? For example, lower prices, more advertising, colorizing, adapting the reading direction and speech balloons to be more like American comics, changing characters to be non-Japanese, relocating the story away from Japan, having the creator travel overseas, holding more fan events.