The Differences Between Doujinshi And Manga: All YOU Need TO Know

This in-depth guide explores the differences between doujinshi and manga.

While both terms are commonly associated with Japanese comics, understanding their distinctions is crucial for avid fans and newcomers alike. 

In this guide, we will delve into the definitions, characteristics, cultural significance, and legal aspects of doujinshi and manga, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of these intertwined yet distinct forms of storytelling.


Doujinshi refers to fan-made, self-published magazines or books created by independent artists based on existing manga or anime series.

Manga refers to professionally created and published comics by manga authors, drawn by professional artists, and released by established publishing houses.

Doujinshi and manga both enjoy popularity within Japan and internationally.

Manga artists work with publishers, while doujinshi creators have more creative freedom and often focus on niche or alternative themes.

What is the difference between doujinshi and manga?

Definition of Doujinshi and Manga

Doujinshi and manga are both forms of Japanese comics that have gained immense popularity around the world. While they share certain similarities, there are also distinct differences between the two.

Doujinshi, a Japanese term meaning “fan-made,” refers to self-published magazines or books created by independent creators and artists. These doujinshi are often based on existing manga or anime series and may explore alternative storylines or focus on specific characters or relationships.

On the other hand, manga refers to professionally created and published comics by manga authors, drawn by professional artists, and released by established publishing houses. Manga encompasses a wide variety of genres and can range from shonen and shojo to seinen and josei, catering to both young readers and adult audiences.

The manga industry in Japan is a major part of the country’s publishing industry, with popular manga series often being adapted into anime and becoming cultural phenomena.

While doujinshi and manga may overlap in terms of themes and art styles, they operate within different spheres of the Japanese comics world.

Definition of doujinshi and manga

Origin and History

Doujinshi, a Japanese term meaning “self-published magazine,” has a rich history that dates back to the Meiji period (1868-1912). During this time, amateur artists began creating their own self-published works, often as a way to explore their own original stories or to pay homage to existing media. These early doujinshi were mainly produced by fan clubs and were distributed among a close-knit community of enthusiasts.

However, it was during the Shōwa period (1926-1989) that doujinshi started gaining widespread popularity. Technological advancements, such as the invention of photocopying machines, made it easier for doujinshi creators to reproduce their works and reach a larger audience.

Additionally, the influence of manga editors played a significant role in the increase of doujinshi publications. Many professional manga artists started their careers by creating doujinshi, which allowed them to showcase their skills and gain recognition.

Today, doujinshi has become a thriving industry, with thousands of independent creators and doujinshi conventions held yearly. While there is a wide variety of doujinshi genres, including original content and fan works based on popular manga and anime series, some doujinshi may also tackle adult themes and sexual relationships.

Despite its popularity, doujinshi production exists in a legal gray area due to copyright laws.

However, the Japanese publishing industry has recognized the cultural significance of doujinshi and has established a system to manage licensing and distribution. This acknowledgment has allowed doujinshi creators to continue producing their works and contribute to the vibrant and diverse manga culture in Japan.


Doujinshi and manga have both enjoyed immense popularity, both within Japan and internationally. As we have seen, while manga refers to Japanese comic books and graphic novels created by professional artists, doujinshi often refers to self-published works by amateur creators.

Despite their differences, both doujinshi and manga have gained widespread recognition.

One aspect that has contributed to the popularity of doujinshi is the mainstream success achieved by many doujinshi creators. Several doujinshi artists have gone on to establish careers with major manga publishers, thereby showcasing the immense talent present within the doujinshi industry.

Another factor that boosts the popularity of doujinshi is the phenomenon of special events such as Comic Market (Comiket). These events provide opportunities for doujinshi creators to showcase and sell their works. Limited print runs make these doujinshi coveted collector’s items, adding an allure of exclusivity to the already thriving market.

In terms of mainstream manga, genres like shonen have garnered a massive following. Manga magazines like Weekly Shōnen Jump have played an influential role in promoting popular titles, becoming a staple for manga enthusiasts worldwide.

In short, the popularity of doujinshi and manga can be attributed to various factors: the crossover success of doujinshi creators, the allure of limited print runs, and the prominence of genres like shonen. These phenomena have contributed to both the domestic and global appeal of Japanese comics.

Creative Process

The creative process is a fundamental part of any artistic endeavor, whether it be writing, painting, or creating music. It involves the unique and personal way in which an artist conceives, develops, and communicates their ideas or expressions.

In the world of manga and doujinshi, the creative process takes on a variety of forms and approaches.

While both manga and doujinshi share similarities in terms of their Japanese origins and comic book format, the creative processes behind them differ significantly.

Understanding these distinctions in the creative process is key to appreciating the unique qualities and diverse range of stories found in both manga and doujinshi.

The Writing Process

In the manga industry, professional manga artists are responsible for creating and writing manga series. They typically work for publishing houses and follow a structured process, including coming up with original stories, character designs, and illustrations.

On the other hand, doujinshi creators have more freedom in developing their own stories. These artists create their original content based on popular anime series, manga, or other aspects of Japanese culture. They often focus on niche or alternative themes that may not be explored in mainstream manga.

The writing process in both doujinshi and manga is crucial as it establishes the foundation for the entire work.

Manga artists craft intricate storylines, character arcs, and world-building elements, paying attention to dialogue, pacing, and plot development.

Doujinshi creators also put effort into developing original stories that resonate with their audience. However, there may be differences in terms of planning and the level of adherence to copyright laws.

Both doujinshi and manga writers employ various techniques to capture the readers’ attention.

These include paneling, the use of visual storytelling, and pacing to create suspense or convey emotions effectively.

Moreover, the manga industry often utilizes professional editors who provide feedback and guidance to improve the work’s quality.

In summary, the writing process for doujinshi and manga involves creating original stories, developing characters, and crafting compelling narratives. While professional manga artists follow a structured approach in the manga industry, doujinshi creators have more freedom to explore alternative themes. Nonetheless, both forms of storytelling require skillful writing to engage readers and create captivating worlds.

Editing Process

The editing process for doujinshi and manga involves several steps to ensure the final product meets the creator’s vision and the expectations of their audience. Before publication, creators revise and refine their work to improve the storytelling, art, and overall quality.

One important aspect of editing is checking for consistency. This involves reviewing the story for any plot holes, continuity errors, or inconsistencies in character designs. Creators may go back and make adjustments to ensure a seamless reading experience.

Another crucial task in the editing process is reviewing dialogue. This involves checking for grammar and spelling errors, as well as making sure the dialogue flows naturally and effectively and conveys the intended message.

Creators may also consider input from editors or beta readers to refine the dialogue and make it more engaging.

Layout adjustments are also made during the editing process. Creators consider factors such as panel composition, pacing, and overall flow of the story. They may rearrange panels or make adjustments to the page layout to enhance the storytelling and visual impact.

Overall, the editing process for doujinshi and manga involves a careful review and refinement of various elements such as consistency, dialogue, and layout. Through this process, creators strive to deliver a polished and high-quality final product that captivates their audience.

Illustration Process

The illustration process for both doujinshi and manga involves similar techniques and tools used by artists.

Artists working on doujinshi and manga often start by sketching out their ideas on paper, creating the initial drafts of their characters and storylines. They then move on to refining these sketches, adding details, and bringing the characters to life.

In terms of techniques, artists use a combination of traditional and digital methods.

Traditional tools such as pencils, pens, and ink are used for sketching and inking the artwork. In the digital realm, artists utilize software programs like Photoshop or Clip Studio Paint for coloring, shading, and adding special effects to their illustrations.

Artwork plays a crucial role in both doujinshi and manga, as it is the visual representation of the story.

The influence of renowned artists like Osamu Tezuka , often referred to as the “God of Manga,” can be seen in the artwork of both genres.

Osamu Tezuka brought a unique art style to manga, combining elements from Western comics and traditional Japanese techniques. His distinctive style set a precedent for future manga artists and helped shape the aesthetic of the medium.

While manga, manhwa, and manhua (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese comics respectively) may share similarities, each has its own distinct art style.

Manga is known for its wide range of art styles, encompassing everything from simplistic to highly detailed visuals. Manhwa typically features more vibrant colors and expressive characters, drawing inspiration from Korean culture. Manhua often incorporates intricate linework and a more realistic approach to character design.

Overall, the illustration process in both doujinshi and manga involves the use of various techniques and tools to create captivating artwork. The contribution of artists like Osamu Tezuka and the diverse art styles within the manga industry have greatly influenced the medium’s popularity and enriched its visual storytelling.

Publishing Process

The publishing process for doujinshi and manga involves several steps, with the roles of different publishing companies and individuals playing a crucial role in bringing these works to the readers.

For doujinshi, the process often starts with independent creators, referred to as doujinshi artists or creators, who produce their works based on existing popular manga or anime series.

These self-published magazines or books are sold at doujinshi conventions or through online stores. While doujinshi artists often create original content, they may also produce fan fiction or adult-themed works, which are not restricted by copyright laws.

On the other hand, manga follows a more structured process. Professional manga artists, commonly known as mangaka, work with publishers, such as Shonen Jump or Kodansha, to create original stories.

These publishers play a key role in nurturing and promoting manga creators, providing them with the necessary resources and support.

The publishing process for manga involves several stages, including storyboarding, drawing, inking, and lettering. Once a manga is completed, it is usually serialized in manga magazines, which are released on a regular basis. Eventually, the individual chapters are compiled into tankoubon, or graphic novels, for wider distribution.

In the Japanese publishing industry, a consignment selling system is often used.

Publishers distribute manga to physical stores, and if the copies are not sold within a certain period, the unsold copies are returned to the publisher. This system helps with the distribution of manga, ensuring that retailers have a constant supply and reducing financial risk for both publishers and retailers.

With the advent of technology, the manga industry has witnessed a shift in consumption patterns from print to digital formats. Online platforms and e-reading devices have become popular among manga readers, allowing for easy access to a wide variety of titles.

Overall, the publishing process for both doujinshi and manga involves a combination of independent creators, publishing companies, and distribution strategies. While doujinshi creators have the freedom to produce original or fan-based works, professional manga artists collaborate closely with publishers to bring their original stories to a wider audience.

Copyright Laws

Copyright laws are an important aspect of the manga industry, particularly when it comes to doujinshi.

Both doujinshi and manga creators are subject to these laws, which protect their original stories and content from unauthorized use. However, there is a unique legal status surrounding doujinshi.

Unlike professional manga artists who work for publishing houses, doujinshi authors are independent creators who self-publish their work.

Despite this difference, publishing houses in Japan have an informal agreement with doujinshi authors. This agreement allows doujinshi authors to create and distribute their self-published magazines without facing legal action from the publishing houses or manga authors.

The reasons behind this agreement are multifaceted. First and foremost, it recognizes the important role that doujinshi plays in the manga industry. It allows aspiring artists to hone their skills, gain recognition, and potentially enter the regular industry. Additionally, it helps foster a sense of community among manga creators and allows for a wide variety of original content to thrive.

This agreement between publishing houses and doujinshi authors highlights the unique nature of the doujinshi industry within the Japanese manga publishing industry.

While copyright laws are still in place to protect original creators, this informal understanding showcases the symbiotic relationship between the two groups and the respect given to independent creators.

Original Content vs. Adapted Material

There is a key difference when it comes to original content versus adapted material.

Manga, created by professional mangaka, often focuses on artistically original stories. These talented manga artists have the freedom to develop their own unique plots, characters, and settings. This originality allows manga to explore a wide variety of themes and genres, captivating readers with fresh and imaginative storytelling.

On the other hand, doujinshi often involves the adaptation of existing material, such as popular manga, anime series, or even video games. While doujinshi creators showcase their artistic abilities through their illustrations and storytelling, their work is built upon the foundation of pre-existing stories and characters.

This adaptation process provides doujinshi artists with the opportunity to reinterpret and expand upon already established worlds, creating alternative narratives and exploring different aspects of the source material.

Creating original content allows mangaka to fully unleash their creativity and pursue their artistic vision, resulting in works that are distinctly their own. However, adapting existing material can provide a unique challenge and allows doujinshi creators to connect with an established fan base.

In the end, choosing between original content and adapted material depends on the creator’s preferences and artistic goals. Manga often celebrates artistically original storytelling, while doujinshi showcases the creativity that can be found in reimagining beloved works. Both contribute to the diverse and dynamic world of Japanese comic culture.

FURTHER READING – Bara Anime: the genre and its significance. Discover the meaning and origins of bara anime, a genre of Japanese animation that focuses on gay male characters and themes.

Target Audience

Doujinshi and manga have different target audiences.

Manga is widely popular among various age groups in Japan and around the world. Its target audience can range from children to adults and includes both male and female readers. The demographics of manga readers vary depending on the genre and content.

Shonen manga, for example, is primarily targeted at tween and teen boys. It typically features action-packed storylines, adventure, and themes of friendship and coming of age. On the other hand, shoujo manga is targeted at tween and teen girls, often exploring themes of romance, drama, and self-discovery.

The distribution channels for manga cater to this diverse audience.

Physical copies of manga can be found in traditional bookstores, convenience stores, and online retailers. Additionally, digital manga is accessible through various digital platforms, such as dedicated manga reader apps and online manga websites. This allows readers to conveniently access their favorite manga titles on their devices.

Financing and Distribution

In the manga industry, professional artists, also known as manga creators, write and illustrate comic books that are published by established publishers. Manga is widely popular in Japan and has expanded its global reach due to the popularity of anime series.

However, doujinshi creators operate outside the traditional manga publishing industry. They often create original stories or content based on existing manga or anime series and self-publish their works. Doujinshi allows fans to create their own interpretations or explore different themes and narratives.

Unlike manga, doujinshi artists may include adult content or focus on sexual relationships.

While manga creators must follow copyright laws and publishing standards, doujinshi offers a more flexible and diverse range of content. Some doujinshi artists also participate in doujinshi conventions to showcase and sell their works.

Financing Sources for Doujinshi Creators

Doujinshi creators, unlike professional manga artists, often rely on different financing sources to fund their projects.

With limited access to the resources of the manga industry, they employ various methods to support their work.

One common approach is merchandise sales, where creators produce and sell related items like posters, keychains, and art prints. These sales help generate income that can be invested back into their doujinshi projects.

Another popular method is crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or Patreon.

By pitching their projects to fans and supporters, doujinshi creators can receive financial contributions that aid in covering expenses like printing, distribution, or hiring additional artists. Fan donations are also common, with supporters offering monetary assistance as a way to back the creators they admire.

Doujinshi creators often dip into personal savings to finance their work. Many creators have day jobs and dedicate their free time, and personal funds, towards producing their doujinshi.

To generate more income, doujinshi creators promote their works through conventions and online marketplaces. These venues allow them to reach a wider audience and increase sales potential. Selling at conventions also allows doujinshi creators to engage with fans directly and build a loyal following.

In summary, doujinshi creators use a combination of merchandise sales, crowdfunding platforms, fan donations, and personal savings to finance their projects. These financing sources, along with strategic promotion through conventions and online marketplaces, help support and sustain the doujinshi industry.

Recap: Main Differences Between Doujinshi and Manga

Let’s put together the most important points discussed so far to summarize the differences between Doujinshi and Manga

1. Origin and Creatorship: Manga refers to professionally published comics created by professional artists and released by established publishers. On the other hand, doujinshi, a Japanese term meaning “self-published magazines,” are comic books created by independent creators or fans within the doujinshi industry. These self-published works often feature original stories or content based on existing popular manga or anime series.

2. Content and Themes: Manga covers a wide variety of genres and themes, catering to a diverse range of readers. It includes everything from shonen and shojo manga to seinen and josei manga. On the contrary, doujinshi often explores more niche or adult-oriented themes, including explicit sexual relationships or adult content, which are not typically found in mainstream manga.

3. Copyright and Publishing: Manga creators work under the copyright laws of the Japanese publishing industry, and their works are published by recognized publishing houses. In contrast, doujinshi artists largely operate in a gray area of copyright law, as their self-published works may infringe upon intellectual property rights. Doujinshi are predominantly distributed through doujinshi conventions, online stores, or physical shops specializing in these self-published comics.


What’s the difference between doujinshi and manga?

The difference between doujinshi and manga is that doujinshi refers to self-published fan-made comics, often based on existing manga or anime, while manga refers to professionally published comics in Japan.

Is there a difference between a doujin and a doujinshi?

Yes, there is a difference between a doujin and a doujinshi. Doujin refers to self-published work, which can include various forms of creative expression, while doujinshi specifically refers to self-published fan-made comics.

What does the Japanese word doujinshi mean?

The Japanese word doujinshi means “self-published work” or “fan-made comic.”

Why do people read doujinshi?

People read doujinshi because they enjoy exploring alternative or fan-created stories based on their favorite manga or anime series, or because they appreciate the unique art styles and interpretations offered by doujin artists.

Is doujinshi legal in Japan?

While doujinshi is generally considered a gray area, the act of creating and distributing doujinshi is generally accepted in Japan as long as it doesn’t infringe on copyrighted material or contain explicit adult content that violates obscenity laws.


More resources

What’s next

Spill your thoughts in the comment section below like it’s hot tea!

If we rocked your world, hit that share button like a guitar solo!

Spot a mistake? Be our superhero editor and set us straight!

For all the behind-the-scenes action and spicy tidbits you won’t find anywhere else, give us a follow on Twitter. We’re like the secret menu of the internet!

Leave a Comment