Ah, doujinshi. Those delightfully naughty comics from Japan that usually take our favorite anime characters and put them into bold sexual situations, revealing the secret steamy behind the scenes relationships that fans had suspected all along. They rose to prominence in the 1990s along with anime itself, and eventually become so popular that not finding parody fan comics of your favorite anime would be surprising. Let’s take a look at the history of this amazing art form, and ask J-List customers what their first naughty doujinshi was!
The Comiket website defines doujinshi as “magazines published as a cooperative effort by a group of individuals who share a common ideology or goals.” The kanji 同人誌 literally translates as “same-person magazine” and is analogous to the self-published fanzines made in the U.S. in various decades…. but usually with hentai content.
Doujinshi aren’t a new thing. In fact, they first appeared in 1873! For a century the term referred to small-circulation literary magazines published by groups of writers who were trying to bring attention to their work. In the 1960s, the rise of offset printing allowed higher quality comics to be published cheaply, and manga-based doujinshi started to appear, getting even bigger as the first Comic Market event was held in 1975.
Most Doujinshi Aren’t Hentai
It’s true. If you’ve visited the great Mecca of the doujin world, the Comiket event held at the massive Tokyo Big Sight convention center every August and December you’ll know that only a portion of the sprawling halls are dedicated to 18+ works, and only the final day of the show is considered the main day for hentai materials. There are sections designated for dansei-muki or hentai books for guys, and josei-muki or BL doujinshi are generally read by girls, but the vast majority of doujinshi are not adult. Naturally, we have less awareness of these works, because they’re harder to enjoy if you don’t read Japanese.
In addition to what we’d consider doujinshi, there are “doujin” (self-published) novels and “doujin” musicians who are perfecting their craft in the hopes of going pro someday. The musical group I’ve Sound, which made the music for many of the visual novels JAST USA has published, started out as an amateur “doujin” BGM-making circle.
The BL Doujinshi Boom is Responsible for Female Anime Fandom Today
Back in the 80s, going to an anime convention was a real sausage fest, but happily, the rise of boy’s love doujins for girls in the early and mid-1990s changed all that. While boys of the era were reading doujins starring their favorite Sailor Scouts, girls were getting hot-and-bothered by manga featuring Heero x Duo, or exploring the special relationship between Shinji and Kaworu. These days, around 50% of attendees at anime conventions are female, which is great because sometimes they do Misty cosplay for us.
Here’s a blog post documenting the long history of J-List at Anime Expo over the past 30 years!
Parody Doujins Aren’t Strictly Legal…But Are Permitted by the Industry
Under Japanese law, if I want to publish a photo of a cosplayer in a magazine I’m supposed to get the written permission of the person doing the cosplay, the person who made the costume as well as the copyright holder of the character. But if I want to create a naughty doujin comic based on my favorite copyrighted characters, it’s fine, right? Well, sort of…
Copyright law in Japan is the same as it is in any other country, and when a company creates characters it owns them. But given the popularity of parody doujin works, and given that virtually all of Japan’s famous artists start out as amateur artists, it becomes convenient for companies to look the other way when their characters are being sexualized. And they actually do more than that: companies like Nitroplus actually post blanket permission on their websites allowing creators to use their works for legitimate fan-made works to be sold directly to other fans at events, as long as they’re not widely distributed. A few series, like Pokemon and Love Live, have gotten cease-and-desist orders from copyright holders, but these don’t change anything in the end.
The best doujinshi on J-List are the 100% uncensored hentai doujins from J18 Publishing. See our newest offerings here!
What Was Your First Doujin or Ero Manga? J-List Readers Reply!
I think I first found out about the existence of doujinshi from watching Genshiken.
The Bondage Fairies manga helped shape my sexuality and I’m very grateful for it. ^-^
Some good ol’ incest hentai is the first one I can remember.
We also asked J-List customers what their introduction to hentai was. Read that blog post here!
There was a rule on a forum I visited when I was 10 that said “no porn or hentai” and I didn’t know what either was. I found out very quickly.
It was when I was in my horny phase and started searching for hot vids of anime girl with big tiddies after watching some ecchi anime.
Early/mid 90s. Comic bookstores didn’t really know what they had back then.
2002. It was Capcom vs. SNK doujin. At first, I prayed for my soul but then changed my prayer for my mother not to find where I hid it.
First doujin… was about Sakura Card Captors.
Kamehasutra. Definitely the first encounter.
I plead the Fifth.
Thanks for reading this post exploring the joy of doujinshi culture from Japan? What was the first parody comic you came across? Tell us below, or on Twitter!
Speaking of doujinshi, we’ve got a ton of new and restocked books on the site for you to browse and discover, with something for every type of fan. Browse our new doujins here!