Manga in the Library: PN 6790 .J34


Our library is especially interested in collecting manga because, as an art school, a large portion of the students at our school are visual learners. Also the manga version of a story can often be read much quicker than the full text version allowing our students to absorb the information with less of a time commitment.

We use LOC numbers so most of our manga collection (all except the non-fiction which are shelved in the proper subject areas) begins with PN6790 .J34 “Language and Literature àGeneral Literature àcomic books, strips, etc. à Japan

This leads to the PN 6790 .J34 section taking up about 75 linear feet of our shelving which makes a nightmare for our shelving assistants!

As our collection has grown we have had to adapt our usual process of assigning call numbers to meet new challenges. While normally, if required, we add a second Cutter number based on the authors name then the year of publication we found this to cause problems with our manga collection because one author might be writing several series simultaneously which would result in them being inter-shelved or a series might be written by different manga-ka over the years it is published causing the series to be spread out over a large area and not all shelved together. For this reason we chose to use the title of the series (or monograph) as the basis for the second Cutter number. We follow that second Cutter by the volume number because there are often numerous volumes published in a given year. On occasion the titles have been so similar as to require us to add a third Cutter number based on the authors name as well to avoid having two books with identical call numbers. This leads to some very long call numbers! We have been considering shelving our manga in a separate section of the library so that we could drop the PN 6790 .J34 from the local call numbers and use a local call number that begins with the word “Manga” followed by numbers representing the title.

long call

Another logistical issue we are facing with our collection is some of our students who are very familiar with manga expect to see them shelved from right to left the way they would be in Japan. However, this does not seem to cause more than a moment of confusion and all the libraries I have seen with browsing collections of manga have them shelved left to right as would be fitting with the rest of their collections. I think that if we do move them to their own section we might try to organize them right to left but I feel this may cause problems for our shelvers.


To Import or Not to Import??

Which of the massive number of titles released in Japan will have a large enough following in the U.S. to make it worth the publishers’ time and money to obtain rights and translate?!


One way is through “Scanlation” pages.

“Scanlation” pages have arisen, often run by groups of fans, as a place to not only discuss and recommend their favorite titles but also as a way of providing access to those titles, in English, to their fellow fans. These fan driven sites allow individuals to work together scanning and translating their favorite manga so that it can be enjoyed by other people who would not be able to read it in the original Japanese. Individual issues are usually available for download for a very small fee or even for free.

These sites are beneficial for fans because:

They provide access to the newest manga, in English, for a very small fee or even for free

Fan run sites lead to a sense of community and authenticity in the reviews and suggestions


Instead of being persecuted for breaking copyright laws, many of these sites have developed a symbiotic relationship with both the Japanese and U.S. publishers. It helps the Japanese publishers because it increases the number of readers who can become fans of their series and it works well for the American publishers because it helps them to determine which series have the potential fan base to make it worth their efforts to translate and publish series in the U.S.

“Scanlation” pages can help publishers to determine which of the massive number of titles released in Japan they should obtain rights for and translate.

They can also be considered helpful by the manga-ka themselves as a way to get insight into the minds of their fans and see what aspects are working or not working so they can (if they want to) cater more to the desires of their fan base.


In order to continue the amicable relationship they have with publishers “scanlation” sites usually remove issues once a series has been licensed by an English publisher.



Manga is a Medium, Not a Genre

In the course of my study of manga I learned many new terms. In my previous post I gave definitions for some of the Japanese words and manga terms which I encountered at the beginning of my research but here I would like to add the terms I encountered later to make a complete list of all the genres I learned about within the medium of manga.

Because of the focus on the audience and the characters in manga it is most useful to organize titles this way as well instead of focusing on the content of the story as we tend to do in Western literature.

In my annotated bibliography you will see that the first level of organization is the audience. The four most common categories for speaking about the intended audience are:

Shonen – Boy’s Manga

Shojo – Girl’s Manga

Sienen – Men’s Manga

Josei – Women’s Manga

There is also a category for young children where their youth not their gender is the focus; the term used for that is “Kodomomuke”.

The category of sexually explicit material for adults only is called “Seijin”. Within the Seijin category is “Hentai” which refers to materials which are not only explicit but also include specialized or bizarre fetishes.

genres of Manga

Popular Genres in Manga

Within the main audience groupings, manga is then divided by the topic. Of course, some topics tend to be more popular with certain reader groups than others but there does not seem to be much stigma resulting from reading manga “intended” for an audience other than that which the reader is a part.

Some of the most popular topics are:

Mecha –Robots: Robots, cyborgs, or machines play a large role in these stories.

Komono – Animals: The characters in these stories are anthropomorphized animals.

Kaito – Gentleman Thief: Stories about a well-breed thief, one who steals for the thrill or just to take away from the undeserving. Maurice LeBlanc’s Arsene Lupin is a model for many of these stories.

Haremumono – Harem: These aren’t always a sexual or even a romantic storyline, it just indicates that the central character is male surrounded by multiple, less important female characters.

Gyakuharemu – Reverse harem: Like Haremumono, only the main character is female and the subordinate characters are males.

Ecchi – Naughty: Stories involve a bit more sexualization then strictly needed for the plot line, but not so much as to be deemed inappropriate for kids. Think PG-13.

Ansatsuken or Satsujinken – Assassination Fist or Murder Fist: These are martial art manga, in which the main characters have (or learn) superior martial art skills to defeat their opponents.

Science Fiction


Fantasy and Adventure


Ryori – Food

Mahou Shojo – Magical girl


Sararimman – Salaryman: Stories about the lives of men who work in offices outside their homes.

Bara – homosexual men: These stories are also called “Men’s Love”, “ML”, “Shonen-ai”, or “Gei Comi”. They range from slice-of-life stories, to romances but sometimes includes blatant depictions of sexual acts.

Historical Fiction


Kyariauman – Career Woman: Stories depict the lives of women who have careers outside of their homes.

OLOffice Lady Manga: is about the lives of young women who work outside their homes, but plan to do so only until they have their own family.

Yaoi – Men who love other men: Usually these are romantic stories written by women, for women.

Yuri – Girl Love: Also termed “Shojo-ai”. These stories are about girls who have strong feelings for other girls. Usually these are more romantic than overtly sexual stories.

Mystery, Horror, Suspense