What is Doujinshi?

Doujinshi is a term referring to Japanese amateur self-published works typically in the form of manga and novels targeting consumers outside of the professionally-published market. It should be a familiar term if you actively consume fandom-related media, as a lot of doujinshi works are also transformative fanworks of an already existing series.


“Doujinshi” is written in Japanese as 同人誌. The Japanese characters derive from 同人 (doujin), which literally means “the same person,” and 誌 (shi), meaning “magazine.” The word 同人usually refers to people with the same goals, interests, or hobbies. As such, the term “doujinshi” in itself simply means a magazine or publication for people with the same interests or hobbies.


Brief History

Doujinshi publications date back to the Meiji Era, where enthusiasts of novels, haiku, and tanka self-published their works as magazines. These publications played a considerable role in forming modern Japanese literature. Notable authors have created doujinshi, and many selections from doujinshi magazines received nominations for the Akutagawa Prize, a Japanese literary award.

Initially, all contents in doujinshi magazines were original works of the authors, now commonly referred as 一次創作 (ichiji sousaku) in Japanese, and not transformative works which are now widely known as 二次創作 (niji sousaku).

Transformative works (niji sousaku) published as doujinshi in the form of manga and novels that we are familiar with now began with the post-war rise of anime and manga culture since manga editors actively encouraged mangaka to appeal to the mass market.

Fans then began to produce transformative works of already existing series that then impacted the larger manga market. (For example, aniparo (anime parody) of series such as Captain Tsubasa featured a lot of male/male relationship stories were very popular. These transformative/parody works also contributed to the Boys Love (BL) genre as we know it today.)

The founding and popularity of Comic Market (Comiket) in 1975, which is a non-profit event dedicated to the sale of doujin works, also contributed to the popularity of writing transformative works and publishing them as doujinshi. Simultaneously, Comiket also opened new, direct ways of interactions between self-publishing authors and their readers, forming a separate doujin culture and community for both original and transformative works. Currently, it is relatively common to see doujinshi events dedicated only for transformative works such as Super Comic City and SPARK, as well as doujinshi events only for original works (ichiji sousaku) such as J-Garden and Comitia.


Doujinshi: Modern Usage

In English-speaking fandom, the term doujinshi is more commonly used in the same way as fanzines (used to refer to transformative works) and imply comics since other forms of doujin works were not as common. However, in Japan, the doujinshi community retains the separations of original (ichiji sousaku) works and transformative (niji sousaku) works, even though the participants themselves tend to create both and attend the same events.

Likewise, while the doujinshi community is relatively separate from the professional manga and novel publishing industry, they are still connected. Many BL manga authors began their careers by participating in doujinshi markets, and a good number of professionally-published BL manga authors still participate in both original and transformative doujinshi markets. Additionally, with the various platform offered with the internet nowadays, it is reasonably easy for original doujinshi authors to expand their market internationally, further opening their careers and chance to be professionally-published.


Further Readings:

Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan




Original Doujinshi (Ichiji Sousaku) Creators on futekiya


What’s your favorite original work on futekiya? Tell us on our Twitter account!


About futekiya: BL manga subscription

Boys' Love Manga Subscription Service futekiya promotional image

In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.

futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.

Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.

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