AS109 – Shoujo & The Back Alley Part 1: Dōjinshi (同人誌, often transliterated doujinshi) is the Japanese term for self-published works, usually magazines, manga or novels. Dōjinshi are often the work of amateurs, though some professional artists participate as a way to publish material outside the regular industry. Dōjinshi are part of a wider category of dōjin including art collections, anime and games. Groups of dōjinshi artists refer to themselves as a sākuru (サークル, circle). A number of such groups actually consist of a single artist: they are sometimes called kojin sākuru (個人サークル, personal circles).
Since the 1980s, the main method of distribution has been through regular dōjinshi conventions, the largest of which is called Comiket (short for “Comic Market”) held in the summer and winter in Tokyo’s Big Sight. At the convention, over 20 acres (81,000 m2) of dōjinshi are bought, sold, and traded by attendees. Dōjinshi creators who base their materials on other creators’ works normally publish in small numbers to maintain a low profile so as to protect themselves against litigation. This makes a talented creator’s or circle’s dōjinshi a coveted commodity as only the fast or the lucky will be able to get them before they sell out.
AS109 – Shoujo & The Back Alley Part 1:
A major part of dōjinshi, whether based on mainstream publications or original, contains sexually explicit material, due to both the large demand for such publications and absence of restrictions official publishing houses have to follow. Indeed, often the main point of a given dōjinshi is to present an explicit version of a popular show’s characters. Such works may be known to English speakers as “H-dōjinshi”, in line with the former Japanese use of letter H to denote erotic material. The Japanese usage, however, has since moved towards the word ero, and so ero manga (エロ漫画) is the term almost exclusively used to mark dōjinshi with adult themes. Sometimes they will also be termed “for adults” (成人向け, seijin muke) or 18-kin (18禁) (an abbreviation of “forbidden to minors less than 18 years of age” (18歳未満禁止, 18-sai-miman kinshi)). To differentiate, ippan (一般, , “general”, from the general public it is suitable for) is the term used for publications absent of such content.
Most dōjinshi are commercially bound and published by dōjinshi-ka (dōjinshi authors) who self-publish through various printing services. Copybooks, however, are self-made using xerox machines or other copying methods. Few are copied by drawing by hand.
Not all category terms used by English-language fans of dōjinshi are derived from Japanese. For example, an AU dōjinshi is one set in an alternate universe.