Here’s a great article from Wired about decline of manga in Japan and the rise of manga all over the world. The article discusses the types of manga and the unspoken agreement between manga publishers and doujinshi artists. Doujinshi is like fan fiction, or manga featuring existing characters drawn by fans. What’s interesting is that the publishers have recognized that the presence of doujinshi does not negetively impact sales of the original manga, but rather fans buy both. It’s also interesting that the publishers see doujinshi as a means to cultivate new artists and encourage creativity.
On a side note, the buzz on the bittorrent distributions portals is that Japan has asked the US to crack down on the illegal distribution of copyrighted TV shows within the US. I find this strangely contradictory since this is the way anime series get introduced into the US. Since I’ve been watching, most of the popular shows (that don’t run too much afoul of an American sense of decency) get picked up by the cartoon network. “Bleach”, “Naruto”, and “Full Metal Alchemist” come to mind. All of these shows I watched at least 2-years prior to their US release. (Original versions are much better due to better voice acting in Japanese and, also, the stories tend to get dumbed down and censored for American audiences.)