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  • Implicating Readers:Tezuka's Early Seinen Manga
  • Fujiki Hideaki (bio)

Tezuka's manga developed and transformed in conjunction with the growth of manga magazines targeted to distinct demographics or age groups in postwar Japan. When Tezuka published his first manga in the late 1940s, they appeared in book form for the rental market. In the 1950s he began to serialize manga in magazines targeted at kodomo (or kids), that is, elementary school students. Kids' magazines such as Shōnen, Shōnen Club, and Shōjo Club included manga among a variety of formats and genres. In 1959, two weekly shōnen (or boys) magazines dedicated to manga began publication, Shūkan Shōnen Magazine and Shūkan Shōnen Sunday, and Tezuka began to contribute to them. These weekly manga magazines addressed not only elementary school pupils but also junior high school students. Nineteen sixty-eight saw the emergence of seinen (or youth) manga magazines such as Big Comic and Play Comic. Even as Tezuka became a major contributor to seinen magazines, he was also contributing to otona (or adults) manga magazines such as the monthly Manga Dokuhon (which ran 1955-70). In addition, in 1968 and 1969, with Shōnen Champion and Shōnen Magazine, a new type of shōnen magazine appeared, whose range of address extended to senior high school students and even people older.1 In sum, Tezuka published manga series in venues [End Page 195] addressing distinct age groups or generational demographics—children, boys, youth or adolescents, and adults.

This historical trajectory makes visible three aspects of the emerging manga industry. First, by the late 1960s, manga had become accepted not only by children but also by youth. Both demographics had sufficiently developed to constitute an industry. Needless to say, this industry also developed through the diffusion of manga in the animated form and a larger transmedia network, including television, cinema, and merchandising.2 Second, the publishers inaugurated manga magazines targeting a somewhat older demographic due to the aging of the so-called dankai (the clump) generation or baby boomers, who were born in the late 1940s and reached the age of twenty in the late 1960s. In other words, the emergence of new magazines paralleled the aging of baby boomers. Lastly, manga published in such magazines tended to address the readers formally targeted by the specific magazine. As such, the mode of address of most manga is framed by its magazine. Manga are in this sense not an autonomous art, and the creativity of mangaka (manga artists) cannot be considered apart from such restrictions. Tezuka was no exception to this rule.

How, then, did Tezuka address readers organized by demographic? Did his manga change in stylistic and narrative terms in accordance with different magazines? I propose here to discuss how the visual and narrative characteristics of Tezuka's seinen manga specifically address baby boomers growing up in postwar Japan. Usually, his seinen manga are deemed to be more realistic and erotic than his other manga, especially his shōnen manga.3 Yet his shōnen manga, notably Yaketpachi's Maria (1970) and Apollo's Song (1970, Apollo no uta), also contain sexually explicit materials. Moreover, Tezuka's seinen manga are frequently unrealistic, as with Swallowing the Earth (1968-69, Chikyū o nomu) and I.L. (1969-70). The distinctions between shōnen, seinen, and otona are not essential divisions. The mode of address does not necessarily conform to the mode of reception. A mode of address does not prescribe a readership. It constructs an implied readership. A boy may read seinen manga rather than shōnen manga.4 Modes of address are more fluid than categories, demographically and historically.

Indeed, the boundaries of shōnen, seinen, and otona have transformed over time. What is now called "adolescence"—and is usually translated as seinen in Japanese—emerged with the formation of industrial society in which schooling became a requisite for getting a job.5 Baby boomers in Japan reached "adolescence" in the early 1960s, as the high economic growth began in earnest. Prosperity allowed many of them to extend their schooling and [End Page 196] thus to enjoy a longer period of education before entering...


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