Robot 6

Harem manga creator says harem and moe manga are so over

Ken Akamatsu, the creator of the harem manga Love Hina and Negima, has looked at the research and declares that both moe and harem manga have had their day. Sankaku Complex (warning: NSFW) translates his comments from his blog:

Certainly, the moe boom is finished, and from last year on I think we’re seeing the following phenomena:

1. Male protagonists are absent

Many anime are now nothing but girls, and the role of the “male character being excited by female characters for viewers to empathise with” has disappeared.

2. Male buying power has reduced

Now women buyers of both anime and manga are predominant. Oricon comic rankings show most of the top titles are women-oriented.

3. Male viewers can now empathise with female characters

The number of male fans who simply don’t view female characters as objects of sexual desire at all is increasing, even in titles like “K-ON!”. No more are they just thinking “I want to be part of that circle,” now they are getting into the characters themselves.

Akamatsu speculates briefly that yuri (romances between two women) will be the Next Big Thing (which would be excellent news for Erica Friedman) but dismisses that notion. On the other hand, it could be that the more mainstream shonen publications are acknowledging that they have a lot of female readers and are tailoring their content accordingly. (Shonen Jump was accused of making its characters more slashable a few years ago for just this reason.) The real question is whether there is still a demand for moe and harem manga; if there is (and I suspect the answer is yes) then most likely some magazine will spring up to serve that market, even if the more mainstream magazines shy away.

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4 Comments

As long as Akamatsu keeps working on harem manga I won’t worry too much about the market for that stuff. His are the only ones I read of that genre anyway.

As a fan of this stuff since Tenchi Muyo and especially as a big fan Love Hina, I’d say that Ken Akamatsu is right. It may not be for the reasons he’s listing, though. I’d say that part of it has been the steady degeneration of the male lead from a normal everyday guy with a heart of gold into a creepy little weirdo with few redeemable attributes beyond, “Hey, he’s an ugly nerd like us!”

Plus, a lot of the new creators forget that part of the appeal are the strong characterizations of the female characters. Nowadays, it seems like they’ve delineated into a standard 6 types and don’t ever deviate from their stock descriptors.

The system, though (when it’s handle right and not devolving into “every girl gets married to the hero” like in Tenchi GXP), isn’t all that crazy from what makes comics work in the US. Part of what made Spider-Man fun in the early days were all the romantic entanglements surrounding Peter Parker. I’m sure a lot of us remember what a soap opera the X-Men can be at times.

Still, I’m not sad to see it go. Harem manga has been getting kinda creepy lately (not unlike this post!). It’s just a shame that male manga readers, though, are paring the market down to Dragonball Z clones.

He’s right and he’s wrong.

Right because….The harem/moe genre is (and has been) terrible and unoriginal. The best they can come up with is making a new setting or theme for each work (this one takes place in an alternate version of WWII, this one uses Lovecraft characters).

Wrong because….There’s still so damn much of it because it continues to sell.

Hahah. Thanks for the shoutout.

Yuri is a slow-growth category in Japan, but it is growing. No Next Big Thing for the exact reason Akamatsu says – there’s simply not a big enough buying audience. But we’re seeing slow, steady slightly spiky growth in the category. If we call the actual birth of the category 2003 (when Yuri Shimai launched in Japan) then maybe by 2013-8, we’ll see as much of a peak as we’re going to get. It’s not going to be crazy popular like BL for about a zillion reasons.

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