Volume Count: 6
Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 02 Feb 2010
As of February 2010, only four volumes have been released in North America.
An amusing look at the world of independent Japanese manga, one 4-koma at a time.
When Najimi Osana discovers that her friends Tsuyuri and Justice are doujin artists who create their own independent manga and sell them at the local doujin marketplace, she decides that she wants in on the action too. Najimi dreams of making piles of cash selling her own doujin. There’s just one problem: Najimi can’t draw.
4-koma titles are deceptively simple. There may be a story to them, as there is in Doujin Work, but they are primarily creatures that excel in character based comedy. A cast of characters is devised, and it is the job of the four-panel comic strip to deliver punchline after punchline of witty exchanges between the characters in the context of a theme. Doujin Work does this quite well. When you consider that this is a manga about drawing manga, it becomes interesting indeed.
Doujin Work deals with the world of independent Japanese manga, called doujin. One of the sides of this world is that of – shall we say – “adult manga”. This is the world that Najimi inadvertently finds herself in. Her friends Tsuyuri and Justice draw doujin, and more often than not, their works carry an 18+ rating. When Najimi decided to jump into the world of drawing doujin, that was not what she had in mind. Though the story is about writing H-manga, Doujin Work itself is not adult in nature. Many of the jokes are about being dirty, but are not dirty jokes in and of themselves. We also never actually see the manga that Najimi, Tsuyuri, or Justice draw. In all, it’s a very interesting sideways approach that works surprisingly well.
Of course, Doujin Work is primarily a character comedy, so it helps to know who the players are. First is our lead, Najimi Osana. She has big dreams of success in the doujin world, despite not being able to draw to save her life. She doesn’t want to draw H-manga, but gets pulled into it anyway. There’s Najimi’s classmate and friend Tsuyuri, who introduces Najimi to the world of doujin. Tsuyuri is a bit of a sadist, both when it comes to the subject matter of her own H-manga and how she treats Najimi. Tsuyuri seems to derive pleasure from constantly reminding Najimi of how badly she draws. Justice is Najimi’s childhood friend, but she only learned of his being a doujin artist after Tsuyuri brought her to the local doujin market, and he came to make a purchase at Tsuyuri’s booth. Justice is famous in the doujin world, and his manga always sells thousands of copies per issue. Then there’s Sora Kitano, an elementary school girl doujin artist (she doesn’t draw the adult variety, obviously) who meets Justice at the doujin market through a chance encounter. Despite her age, she’s surprisingly good. This is the primary cast as Doujin Work begins, though as the story progresses, new characters are added to the mix, including Najimi’s first fan as well as a rival.
Doujin Work is a fun manga about drawing manga. It’s a peek into the world of doujin, and a bit of a surprise in the way that it handles the fact that while it is about people who draw adult manga, aside from the sideways references, is itself completely non-adult in nature. It touches on the process of creating manga, but is more about the people involved. If you’re interested in the world of independent manga, Doujin Work is worth a look.