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Thousands of pages of manga are printed in phonebook-sized weekly magazines, many of them with circulations of over a million copies. Unlike the U.S., where comic books are collectibles, the sheer volume makes Manga collection unrealistic at best. Walk through the residential neighborhoods of Japan and you'll see piles of Manga being thrown out. The initial temptation for an American comic book collector is to take some, but there are so many, and they're so thick, that eventually, you end up keeping just a few and throwing most of them out. The best stories, which might be a thousand pages long, are reprinted in books, for those who want to re-read their favorites.

Astroboy
from Manga! Manga! the world
of Japanese comics

by Frederick L. Schodt (176K)

Although manga were originally aimed at children, adults have always been a large part of the audience. With this large market, many genres and niches have developed. Sports-oriented comics are probably the most popular, especially besuboru: baseball. Work, or "salary-man," comics, which revolve around mundane office and factory jobs, are also common. Warrior robots are the Japanese equivalent to super-heroes, and Samurai manga are the equivalent to Western sword-and-sorcery stories.

Office
from Manga! Manga! the world of Japanese comics
by Frederick L. Schodt (99K)

All of these genres have erotic counterparts. Fully one-quarter of manga is erotic. Since in Japan, comic books are regarded as simply another way of telling a story, manga reflect wider tastes than mainstream U.S. comics. Manga reflect the tastes of the entire population. People who buy erotic books and photo magazines naturally buy erotic comics.

There were initial protestations to the use of sex, violence, gore, cannibalism and scatology in comics, but by now all are commonplace. Despite the recent launch of American-style political correctness on Japanese shores, most societal taboos have been broken. It's worth noting that although Japan has violent comics, it has a remarkably non-violent society; this has been acknowledged and debated in Japan as well as the U.S.

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