- Training the Next Generation of MangakaA Comparison of Award Announcements in Shūkan shōnen janpu and Hana to yume
Manga create fantasy spaces, delivering us from the plane of reality to portable and disposable worlds of fantasy and play. In their search for new fantasies, manga magazines employ a constant stream of new material, largely by mangaka (manga creators) they rear through award systems.1 For young fans dreaming of becoming professional mangaka, manga magazines are the objects of their admiration, as well as their teachers and the means for them to realize their dreams. This essay offers an initial analysis of the progress from fan to student to producer by examining awards announcements in 2015 issues of a shōnen (boys) manga magazine and a shōjo (girls): Shūkan shōnen janpu (Weekly Shonen Jump, hereafter Shōnen Jump) and Hana to yume (Flowers and dreams).2 This research is contextualized by a brief survey of competitions and advice on becoming a mangaka in issues of these prominent magazines going back to the their beginnings, as well as in 2015 issues of shōjo manga magazines Ciào and Bessatsu Maagaretto (Special edition Margret, hereafter Special Edition Margret), and of Shōnen magajin (Boys’ magazine, hereafter Shōnen Magazine).3 The aim of this comparison is to serve as an initial study of two of the most significant magazines in these genres and to provide insights into broader implications for further investigation.
This essay seeks to identify how manga magazines raise new generations of mangaka to carry on their magazine’s aesthetics and themes. From a magazine’s perspective, award sections function to showcase and reward the work of upcoming artists, to spark interest in winning artists’ manga, and to encourage and instruct future applicants. While the language, art, and themes of award announcements in shōjo and shōnen manga magazines differ, their greatest difference lies in how prescriptive they are.
All 2015 competitions I examined accepted entries regardless of gender. Although Shōnen Jump’s competitions overtly targeted boys at least through [End Page 124] the 1970s, this explicit emphasis on boys has decreased since then. In 2015 competitions, Shōnen Jump avoided excluding young, aspiring female artists or feminine elements. Manga with shōjo manga aesthetics won its gag manga competition; masculine language was limited; and its competitions minimized references to a male readership or submissions’ masculine traits.4 Similarly, award announcements and advice for aspiring mangaka focused on basic manga composition skills and originality, with a call for submissions stating, “We’re waiting for a creation filled with your individuality!!”5 This does not mean shōnen manga are not marked as masculine or are not distinguished from shōjo manga. Yet, by not training young mangaka in a specific style or emphasizing masculine traits in their advice, editors invite entries from any aspiring mangaka in any style, promoting artistic freedom and creativity. This is in line with a survey reporting that their readership is approximately 20 percent female, despite the magazine officially targeting boys.6 Still, almost all of Shōnen Jump’s most famous mangaka are men, and I saw no advice given by openly female mangaka.7 These trends are broadly consistent with 2015 issues of Shōnen Magazine, although Shōnen Magazine has more openly female mangaka.
In contrast, Hana to yume’s editors work to create a safe and exclusive community of girls for girls. They achieve this through having award announcements sections and writing and drawing advice sections that are long, detailed, prescriptive, and filled with feminine-marked words, stereotypically feminine themes and aesthetics, and specific advice on making comics for girls. Advice for aspiring mangaka takes the form of comics, which in 2015 focused on a young female mangaka and her female and male editors. Works focused on boys and masculine subjects may place in the competitions, but they are warned to be more feminine next time.8 These award announcements, along with surrounding readers’ pages and writing and drawing advice sections, present shōjo manga as a feminizing force. The trends in Hana to yume are broadly consistent with the award...