As I was writing down my favourite reads of last year, I sat back and wondered, how much attention did I give to josei that year? I remember writing last year about the silence on josei but did I even make an effort to tackle josei, let alone understand this genre which I have claimed to have personally appreciated?
I kinda did but I kinda didn’t. I didn’t walk the talk on josei. At the very least, I read a number of josei works but I didn’t, in any way, give some thoughts on josei. I hardly even talked about the titles I read! And I keep mumbling about josei this and josei that but what do I even mean when I say josei? Am I referring to the genre? The writers? The audience?
In the last year, I’ve struggled to find answers for this because I didn’t know where to stand or even where to start. Am I raising some kind of orientalist feminist banner that demands attention for josei writers and the genre because they epitomise feminist cool? More so, on whose feminist lens am I reading josei? More so, is it just josei? Can I neglect the contributions of Yoshinaga Fumi with What did You Eat Yesterday or even Nakamura Hikaru with Saint Young Men simply because these titles run in a seinen magazine? What about the likes of Cuvie who write eromanga? And the countless of artists who draw the likes of TL and Ladies comics which has been conveniently identified by people as meaningless and senseless smut. Are these josei also meaningless? Will I read only those that are meaningful? How do I even define what is meaningful in josei?
I’ve given myself a headache over these questions until I’ve lost track on what was really clear about the entire thing: I don’t really know so much about josei. To be precise, I don’t fully comprehend the extent of what female Japanese comic artists write.
The truth is, as readers, we’ve been educated by countless of books on manga on which female artists mattered. Think Takemiya Keiko, Hagio Moto, or Ikeda Riyoko. I am not saying they don’t matter. All these ladies have contributed amazing things to manga but the problem lies in how attention to these women trapped us non-Japanese readers to think that these authors, and works similar to theirs, are the only ones that matter. It ticks me when people say “I only buy the manga classics like Tezuka because it’s only the good manga.” This attitude narrows the whole world of manga because there’s still a lot of manga out there, many of them vibrant, many of which are written by women.
Hence, this year, for this blog, I will make an effort to discover more about the world of women’s manga. I will read more manga written by women, from genres spanning from shoujo, to actual josei, to BL, TL, and even doujinshi and eromanga. I’ll also do my best to share some of the awesome texts written about women writers I’ve crossed in my research.
It’s all about the women in manga in 2015! I can’t help but feel excited! From time to time, I’ll still be sharing some things about other genres but yeah, I’m refocusing my fujoshi lenses by adding a josei grade. It should be fun and if you’re interested, let’s josei up this year and read as many titles written by women!