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LGBTQ+: Diversity in Manga

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LGBTQ+: Diversity in Manga display in Library 

Hugely popular in Japan since the 1950s, manga makes up over 20% of all publications sold in the country. With its broad range of genres, complex storylines and diversity of characters, manga comics are loved by readers of all ages and genders.

Within its genre range manga features characters from a range of sexual orientations and genders, helping to normalise the way those in the LGBTQ+ community are viewed in conservative Japanese society.  

Since the post-war period two categories of manga have come to dominate the industry: shōnen manga (manga aimed at boys) and shōjo manga (manga aimed at girls). Prominent mangaka (manga artists) such as Hagio Moto and her peers are credited with developing innovative subgenres within these categories, such as shōnen-ai (also known as ‘Boys Love’ or ‘BL’) which feature romantic relationships between male characters. Such subgenres, alongside storylines including Tezuka Osamu’s 'Princess Knight' (Ribon no kishi), which depicts a cross-dressing female knight, and Tagame Gengoroh’s ‘My Brother’s Husband’ (Otōto no otto), which reflects the struggle for gay acceptance in Japan, have helped to foster awareness and increase acceptance toward a diverse representation of sexual and gender identities.

Between 22 May – 31 October 2019 Japan House London displayed a range of LGBTQ+ manga in the Library on the Ground Floor, coinciding with the This is MANGA - the Art of URASAWA NAOKI exhibition in the Japan House Gallery. The display featured works reflecting LGBTQ+ storylines spanning several eras, and allowed visitors to appreciate how manga culture has influenced the perceptions of those in the Japanese LGBTQ+ community. Alongside this display Japan House featured a series of talks from celebrated manga artists and editors such as Furkawa Asako, Hagio Moto and Tagame Gengoroh which are available to view in the Videos section of the website.