Ethnographic Study Assignment

Ethnographic Travel Blog: Questions for a Manga Fan in Japan

1. I’ve seen negative connotations of being an otaku in Japan in anime, on how they are portrayed as friend-less and creepy recluses hunched over their computers trying to win the love of a 2D girl in a dating sim, and then settling down to  marry body-pillows. I’m kind of afraid that if I announce that I’m a manga fan, they’ll treat me like those stereotypes in anime. How are manga fans viewed and treated in Japan?

Manga fans are treated as normal as everyone else. It’s normal for non-manga fans to read it. It’s available in public bookstores. For example, you can see a lot of businessmen in the subway reading manga. Manga is much more sophisticated than anime, so it has a much broader audience range compared to anime which mostly has a child fan-base. If you want some shoujo manga to read, you can talk to a female college student, she’ll be able to list a lot, since a lot of shoujo manga is adapted into movies and TV dramas. There is also a connection between manga and its fandom’s age range. For example, anime is mainly shown on TV, however working adults wouldn’t have the time to watch TV, but like I said before they read manga on the commute to work because it’s easily available. A comparison would be like Americans reading magazines or newspapers on the way to work. Manga is also much cheaper and more varied. There are a wide variety of topics that manga covers. Generally, manga only costs between $3 to $5 USD. For example, there are manga on cooking, becoming artists, and even atypical things such as making sauces.

So, all in all, a manga fan is normal. If you say to a Japanese native that you like manga, they’ll even question you what kind you like. If you tell someone that you’re a manga fan, it won’t mark you as being anti-social unless that’s the only thing you ever talk about. And even so, as long as you’re polite about it and observe Japanese cultural etiquette and not act as the negative stereotypes portrayed, no one will be outwardly rude to you.

2. I can read Japanese and it would be faster as well as cheap to just buy the hard-copy of a series when it comes out instead of reading the scanlated versions. Where is the best place to purchase Japanese language manga?

You can buy manga at any modern bookstore.

But, I’m sure you all know about Akihabara in Tokyo which has the most variety and amount of manga, and related goods.

For those of you staying outside in another region in Japan, please take a look at the timetables of the Shinkansen and the options on how to book tickets using the two listed webpages.

If you live in Tokyo, you can get to Akihabara by taking the subway routes along the JR Yamanote Line. Here is a simplified map of the JR Yamanote Line. The following directions are not entirely in my own words. The Akihabara travel directions depicted below come from the website, japan-guide. I am simply using these directions.

According to Japan-guide:

Akihabara Station is a busy station served by the JR Yamanote LineJR Keihin-Tohoku LineJR Sobu Line, the Tsukuba Express and the Hibiya Subway Line. Suehirocho Station on the Ginza Subway Line is located around the northern end of the district.From Tokyo Station
Akihabara is two stations north of Tokyo Station by JR Yamanote or Keihin-Tohoku Line. The trip takes about three minutes and costs 130 yen. During weekday daytime, the Keihin-Tohoku Line skips the station between Tokyo and Akihabara, which shaves off a few more seconds from the travel time.From Shinjuku Station
Take the JR Chuo Line (orange colored rapid service) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station (10 minutes) and make a quick and easy transfer to the JR Sobu Line (yellow colored local service) for one more station to Akihabara (2 minutes). Alternatively, take a yellow colored train without transfer all the way from Shinjuku to Akihabara (17 minutes). The one way fare is 160 yen in either case.

Source: JR Yamanote Line Map (Tokyo Moob, 2012)

As well, please take a look at this simplified map of the “otaku” part of Akihabara.

(Source: japan-guide, 2013)

3. Out of curiosity, what are the best-selling manga in Japan right now?

These are the most popular selling manga from most to least:

01 – One Piece (7.,944,680 copies)
02 – Magi (4,787,519 copies)
03 – Kuroko no Basket (4,712,773 copies)
04 – Shingeki no Kyojin (4,292,208 copies)
05 – Hunter x Hunter (3,616,288 copies)
06 – Naruto (2,860,385 copies)
07 – Assassination Classroom (2,504,200 copies)
08 – Silver Spoon (1,926,298 copies)
09 – Fairy Tail (1,853,510 copies)
10 – Terra Formars (1,721,651 copies)

4. I’m more into alternative-style manga, where can I find that in Akihabara? 

Myself, I only read mainstream manga and since, I’ve arrived in Japan, I haven’t had much time to go out because of schoolwork. So, I don’t have much knowledge in that field. But after asking a friend of mine, I would recommend the store, Taco-che. It’s located outside Nakano Broadway.

5. It’s my first time in Akihabara, what are some stores you’d recommend that I should definitely visit?

I would recommend looking at theguardian’s guide, “10 of the best otaku shops in Tokyo”. They have a varied and comprehensive list of stores in Akiba that have left gaijin manga-fans satiated. Please visit their website.


Hopefully this has helped, if there is anything that you feel I screwed up on, needs taking down, or correcting, please comment. I’d appreciate the feedback or if somehow I’ve done well, then I’d appreciate the compliments too. 



2 thoughts on “Ethnographic Study Assignment

  1. Very informative and entertaining read! Though I thought we were supposed to make our “persona’s” more fictitious. Either way, it fit with the criteria. Keep up the good work!

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