What Demographic is That Series For, Exactly?

Gender-based demographics are a strange thing…

I was looking at Houseki no Kuni information, only to find it was seinen.

You’d think gender-neutral gems would be shoujo from the artstyle or shonen from the fighting, but no. Its home magazine is a publication known as Afternoon, which is seinen, like almost every Cute Girls Doing Cute Things show ever and Bungou Stray Dogs.

This incident reminded me of a conversation I’d had with some other internet denizens about the target demographic of Boueibu, where we pretty much thought of it as shoujo.

Boueibu’s target audience is fujoshi and those who grew up with Sailor Moon, making its target audience more josei than anything…

This brings me to my post for today: Are there any shows which seem confusing because of the demographic going against the reputation the series has?

Generally, seinen and shonen get some confusion, as do shoujo and josei to a lesser degree. (That’s why I listed Bungou Stray Dogs as seinen earlier – Young Ace, which serialises Bungou Stray Dogs, is a seinen magazine.)

Kids’ shows in particular thrive on toy sales and multiple demographic appeal. PreCure has the little girl demographic (4 – 12 years old) and the older man demographic (16 – 35 years old) to buy the merchandise and keep themselves going.

Then again, even series like Black Butler get their management in a twist when suddenly the unintended demographic comes out of the woodwork and makes themselves known. You might have heard of what is known as “Bishonen Jump Syndrome” (warning: TV Tropes link) – when series like Yu Yu Hakusho used their male characters to attract large female audiences to keep their magazine circulation going, back in the days where print numbers were the big thing.

Demographics are a pliable thing, indeed.

Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the fujoshi/fudanshi crowd is causing the traditional demographic structure to crumble. The more Western culture becomes accepted in the Japanese sphere of things, the more fujoshi/fudanshi appear from all walks of life, from all genders and from all age demographics. Consequently, as same-sex marriage becomes accepted throughout the world as well, the more the gender barriers get broken and the more nebulous the idea of demographic “barriers” gets broken.

Online services specialising in multi-demographic series, like Comico – home to ReLIFE, Nanbaka and Recovery of an MMO Junkie, among other series – are also a threat to traditional manga magazines’ structure, even though online manga could be, and has already shown to be just as beneficial to the manga scene as it is problematic, judging by how many print magazines have online sections, apps and websites now. However, that’s all we can really talk about in this article without derailing from the topic entirely…

Therefore, in the future will we all be like the gems of Houseki no Kuni, with no or little concept of gender at all? Where will the traditional structure of manga magazines, the lifeblood of anime culture and its associated traditions, be then?

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