Something that’s been on my mind a lot recently, what with my having just written up my top 30 shows and the upcoming release of josei shows Sakamichi no Appolon and Shirokuma Cafe, is why are there so few josei shows? For those of you readers less familiar with the various demographics of anime, that’s anime aimed towards the older female, and by older I mean, within the 18-30 bracket, a bracket I just squeeze into myself. Josei anime cover many of the same topics as shoujo, namely love and relationships but, in a manner that’s far less idealistic and sickening so is, therefore, a genre I hold close to my heart! To illustrate this difference I did a search on all anime fitting into the josei and seinen (josei’s parallel genre) genres on MAL and found that, whilst seinen had 83 TV shows, josei had but a pitiful 16, that’s more than five times more seinen than josei! So, to both answer the question ‘why there are so few josei anime’, and to make good on my promise to write more about the anime industry itself, I thought I’d do a little bit of digging about and write up a post about my, (fairly wishy-washy) theories, enjoy!
One of the reasons I could come up with for the lack of josei anime is that there is just not as much josei manga out there ready to be adapted compared to other genres. Shueisha manga magazines Chorus and You and Shogakukan manga magazines flowers and Petit Comic are some of the manga magazines solely dedicated to publishing josei manga but, when you compare this number to the countless number of manga magazines that publish manga aimed at boys, there’s just no contest! So, of course there’s going to be an imbalance in the production of josei-to-everything-else-ratio. This relatively small number of women-orientated manga magazines would also suggest there’s less demand for the stuff than for male-orientated ones but, why is this? Is it that the manga and anime fandom is male dominated, as supposed by countless numbers of individuals across the net or, is this idea largely inaccurate?
I am tempted to think that it is not so much that the manga/anime fandoms are male dominated but, that is merely the perception of the powers be. Anyone who’s been to a convention can also attest that there are plenty of female fans out there so; perhaps it’s more that we’re an invisible presence in the anime marketing industry. This idea is supported by the fact that, during one of their surveys, entertainment giant, Funimation found male fans almost completely dominate the DVD market, both for anime, and non-anime DVDs in general. Therefore, one can infer that we’re simply buying less DVDs of the shows aimed at us, giving the powers be less of a reason to keep producing similar shows. However, this idea is one that lacks falsifiability, in that it is near impossible to confirm or contradict. I mean, you always see plenty of female anime fans at conventions but, is that really an accurate reflection on the population most likely to enjoy josei shows? A survey investigating the male-to-female ratio of anime/manga fans and whether or not anything can be done to get more women to part with their precious pennies would be the most obvious method of measuring, and hopefully increasing, potential demand for josei shows but, if women aren’t buying DVDs in the first place how would companies go about contacting them? Sure, they could carry out an internet survey but, who ever pays them any attention?
All of this raises an interesting question, why are female anime fans less likely to buy merchandise for shows, not just aimed at us but, in general? Are we simply more self-conscious than our male counterparts, worrying what others may think of us for purchasing anime merchandise? Obviously this isn’t something which can be applied to everyone but, I certainly feel judged when rushing up to the counter of my DVD store, carrying a whole bunch of anime DVDs, sweating and panting profusely like if I don’t get my fix right now I may die.
But, then again, there’s no shortage of shoujo shows out there, suggesting there are plenty of younger, female anime fans prepared to purchase anime goods. Is it that younger views are less self-conscious when it comes to purchasing merchandise aimed at them, or do they simply have more money to fritter away on, (sorry!) less important things?
Or perhaps it’s not actually us ladies’ fault there are so few josei shows out there but those smelly men’s fault! Perhaps we are the more versatile sex, willing to dabble a bit more in genres aimed at boys whereas, boys are less inclined to watch and purchase josei anime on DVD meaning, whilst there’s support from both sexes for one kind of shows, there’s support from only one on others? OK, that’s a little silly, and sexist. I’ll retract that. But, it’s difficult to find reasons for the josei shortage backed up with concrete evidence. Whilst I don’t have the various producers on speed-dial it is impossible for me to ask why it is they chose to pick up so few josei shows, all I can do is make educated guesses. So, in order to help the cause, I guess I’m gonna have to keep buying josei anime on DVD, (something extremely difficult to do when so few series are released on DVD in England!) even if the cashiers serving me think me mad!