Doujinshi are usually self-published works made by amateurs to the publishing scene, but published artists are also known to dabble in doujinshi as a way to release works that aren’t otherwise suitable for general publication. They can be divided into two main categories—originals and spin-offs of existing works in the market, though the latter seems more common in recent years.
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As in manga, there are several genres of doujinshi available in the market. A large amount of these works are based on “what if” scenarios, and frequently incorporate adult themes. Doujinshi for female audiences often focus on gay relationships and are more driven by character development and relationships, while doujinshi for male audiences tend to focus on lesbian relationships, and have more action and crises.
Types of Doujinshi
Type #1 – Boys Love / Shounen Ai
A genre that depicts romantic relationships between two boys. It focuses on the emotional aspect of relationships, with only brief suggestions of sex. Common ones are coming of age stories with the protagonists being pretty boys.
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Type #2 – Yaoi
While this genre also depicts relationships between two boys, it is considered more pornographic with little, if any, focus on the emotional relationships of the characters. The word yaoi itself is an abbreviation of “Yama nashi, Ochi nashi, Imi nashi,” loosely translated as “no meaning, no build up, no conclusion.”
Girls Love / Shoujo Ai and Yuri are female counterparts to the genres mentioned above.
Type #3 – Hentai
Hardcore porn between males and females. Absurd, fantastical elements are almost a staple in this genre. Hentai doujinshi are almost always more graphic than the original works.
Type #4 – Parody / Gag
This genre is usually comedic, and usually written to poke fun at the original stories and characters through humor.
Type #5 – “What If”
Explores alternate universe situations or alternate story lines from the original material. It allows fans to change situations or story arcs that they feel aren’t right, or to re-imagine the original works by altering events or the backgrounds of particular characters.
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Type #6 – Mecha / Military
This genre has gained popularity in recent years. It involves putting characters from original works into military uniforms and tanks, with frequent insertions of humanoid-like machines, or mecha.
How to Search for Doujinshi
If you want to avoid doujinshi with adult themes, they are often labelled with an R-18 warning on the cover. Terms such as “ero,” “hentai,” “yaoi,” “yuri,” and “seijin muke” should be avoided, while doujinshi labeled “ippan” are suitable for young and old alike. It’s best to check the genre of the doujinshi before buying, to ensure that it meets your tastes.
It may be hard to distinguish text Doujinshi and manga Doujinshi, as both include drawn covers. The best way to check before buying online is to send a message to the online shops’ customer service or by checking reader reviews.
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