The Difference Between Things

January 3rd, 2010

Much of what goes on here at Okazu is me distilling long hours of thoughts about various things into semi-coherent posts. Today’s post is some more of that.

The Difference Between:

Service and Sexy

Service is, plain and simple, flashes of cheescake or beefcake that appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator in the audience. When the boys are ripped and the girls are busty, the majority of people who watch things for the images are “served” these to keep their attention.

Sexy is more complex. It may be as simple as secondary sexual characteristics prominently displayed, but it can be as sophisticated as personality, interests, pheromones and other less quantifiable qualities.

Let’s put it this way – if you’re talking about bust size of a fictional character then it’s service. Also kind of sad. :-)

Porn and Erotica

I’ve talked about this before. I have a working definition for the distinction. Porn is when there is an implicit recognition that there is a third party acting as voyeur. When the character in the doujinshi looks at you when s/he climaxes, it’s porn.

Erotica is when the characters are engaged in one another fully. The reader/watcher isn’t part of the story, either explicitly or implicitly. In this sense, erotica is more creepy than porn. lol

Engagement and Entitlement

Engagement is when a fan wants to be part of the series they love. They engage in the series enough to want to create work related to it, or cosplay the character, or even, yes, translate the story if it’s not licensed.

However, when that engagement turns negative, it turns into entitlement. Entitled fans would prefer legit companies go broke, so they can get their entertainment for “free,” since they aren’t the ones losing money. Entitlement often begins with the words, “There ought to be….” or “Why can’t they just…?”

Pretty Boys (Bishounen) and Pretty Girls (Bishoujo)

Pretty boys are cool and show it by being mean and uncaring. Pretty girls want to help and show it by putting up with pretty boys. Pretty boys are ambiguous, tortured and inconsistent to the point of having split personalities. Pretty girls are submissive and will never tell pretty boys to fuck off already.

Japanese Fans and American Fans

Japanese fans are used to being part of groups. They want to show their loyalty to the seiyuu, the studio, the writer, the series they love. They will stand in line for hours to get rare items, they will spend money to get stamps to get the limited edition giveaway. Japanese fans are more disciplined and polite, but since they keep quiet, they are kind of “creepy” creepy.

American fans are younger than Japanese fans, not particularly interested in showing loyalty, or caring about the larger group. They will cheerfully buy or download bootlegs if they don’t have money to buy the items legitimately – and will argue that because they wouldn’t have bought it anyway, then it’s not really stealing. American fans are loud, obnoxious, run around waving weapons in crowded hallways and are obviously having lots of fun buying junk.

Audience and Market

Audience is the number of people who say they like a thing. Market is the number of people who will buy that thing to actually support it.

In terms of Yuri, the audience may be thousands and thousands of people – but the market is a tiny percentage of that. If a company spends 10K to get a book out and makes 6K in sales, that’s just not sustainable. Publisher margins are *small* even in mass market publishing. In manga, they are ridiculously small. In Yuri, there’s still just not that many people buying the books. Sure, 10,000 people might be willing to download a scan – i.e., the audience, but maybe only 1500 of those will be the market and buy the book they say they like.

Objective and Subjective

There is no difference. Unless there are agreed upon universal measurements (say, temperature or weight) there is nothing truly objective.

Everyone’s perception is subjective. Objective is a word that is used by people who disagree with you to convince themselves that you are wrong. ;-)


What other differences between things can you think of?

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15 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    So that they are not left out:

    German & French fans

    Buy a considerable amount of manga and are a better market than the U.S. and U.K. The evidence I would put for this is the release of manga and light novels that have not come out in English speaking countries.

    Since I am one and have mentioned them:

    Fans from the U.K.

    Buy even less than their U.S. and Australian counterparts. Also they often import the American anime products for various reasons and thus do not buy as much anime from their own region, lowering already low sales.

  2. triskele says:

    Fans from Canada vs Fans from the US:

    A lot of us are at a disadvantage when purchasing the North American releases because we’re taxed more, have insane import fees, and an exchange rate that has unfortunately worked against us in many ways. We have an exceptionally loyal bunch up here, but I can say first hand that I see everyone *I* know with box sets, but I also know that the much of the audience is hesitant to purchase because it’s anywhere from 20% and up in a lot of cases which can, um, be outside someone’s budget. I still think we should be purchasing to support, but I think we probably support less from here because of the disparity in cost.

    … Since the topic for today is contrast and comparison.

    Unrelated: Erica, I found this:

    .. on Cobalt’s site and my Japanese is (getting better) not up to par to know if this is truly something Yuri-friendly. It looks like it is! Know anything about it?

  3. @triskele – it looks like a mix of the Torikaebaya and the Prince in the Pauper. Probably not Yuri even in the slightest, but it looks interesting for a Heian period light novel series

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don’t you discredit most of your article with the last Objective vs Subjective distinction? Your perception of the difference between these things is totally subjective.

    You might say something to the contrary, but that tactic would be used by you to convince yourself that I am wrong. ;-)

  5. @Anonymous – Well *duh*. Of course this is all subjective!

  6. Ayra says:

    Sorry in advance as this is mostly off-topic to the current post, but I’d like a tiny bit of help about something and I figure this might be a good place to ask.

    I’m trying to go from “Audience” to “Market” now. I still have to rely on scanslation for the Japanese stuff since my knowledge of the language is still pretty low (Kanji in particular), but I don’t mind buying a real copy so that the artists/business get the money they deserve. Things like Hanjuku Joshi are relatively easy to find so those are no problems…

    The issue is that I don’t have any idea what’s the name of my favorite story, or where it was printed; I actually got the story by e-mail from a friend who has no idea which website they got it from. There’s no ‘credit’ page like there is usually, no title page either.

    Considering it’s my favorite story (At least for a one chapter story), I definitively want want to buy a copy, but I first have to find out what book/magazine it is in. I’d really appreciate if anyone could point me in the right direction. Here’s a quick synopsis:

    It’s a 30 page story about Haruka (who is blind) and Keiko (who makes potpourri and who has a ‘mean’ appearance and feels forced to act accordingly). It’s mostly about Haruka getting an operation so she can see again, and Keiko who is torn in wanting the operation to succeed for her friend’s sake, yet wanting it to fail so she can keep acting like her real self instead of her usual “mean fake” persona.

    Anyone recall reading that story and where it comes from? Thank you in advance and sorry for the big off-topic post! :)

  7. @Ayra – It’s from the collection “Linkage” by Kurata Uso. Here’s the link to my review:

    Here’s the link to the book on Amazon JP:

    Buying on Amazon JP isn’t as hard as it looks – all the buttons are the same shape and color on every version of Amazon, so if you just click the big yellow button, you’ll be able to get to the checkout pages, which will have a link to view them in English.

    Good luck and on behalf of the Industry – thank you!

  8. Katherine says:

    My working definition of “sexy” vs. “service”:

    Sexy = what I like.
    Service = what everybody else likes. Unless they like the same thing.

  9. @Katherine – Yeah. That’s most people’s definition of it too.

  10. Pamela says:

    Thank you very much for this very entertaining article Erica! :)

    One thing I miss however, given that you regularly mention it (incl in the most recent “Yuri of the year”) would be:
    Yuri by men vs. Yuri by women

    I’d be very interested in your point of view about the key differences.
    Of course, that’s not to say that men write only trash or that women all make fantastic stories. But I guess this discussion itself could deserve an entire article…

  11. I dunno if it’s ok to use this post for this, but since we are talking about differences, I want your point of view in one stuff:

    Yuri x Shoujo-ai

    People in the West divide the genre in two (shoujo-ai for implict, Yuri for explict), but do the japanese people do that too? I always thought that in Japan there is no such thing as “this is shoujo-ai and this is Yuri”, I know they also use “girl’s love” there, but isn’t it there just exactly the same as Yuri? Or they divide in two aswell?

    Well, just to add something relevant to this post, eventho it wasn’t asked to me, in my eyes:

    Yuri for men = shounen (Kannazuki no Miko)

    Yuri for woman = shoujo (Maria-sama)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ah, my dear Erica, you’re missing out the important categories of “female bishonen” and “male bishoujo”. If you want the respective textbook cases of that, Jury and Miki from Utena.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “…Since I am one and have mentioned them:

    “Fans from the U.K.

    “Buy even less than their U.S. and Australian counterparts. Also they often import the American anime products for various reasons and thus do not buy as much anime from their own region, lowering already low sales.”

    OTOH, many Americans who can’t read Stieg Larsson in the original Swedish imported his _The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest_ from because the American edition of the English translation won’t be released until mid-2010, so we’re even. ;)

  14. jack says:

    why is this important again?

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