The dojin (self-published comics) scene is Japan is huge. With some artists selling multiple thousands of copies of their work it’s virtually a self-sustaining business within the world of manga. The lure of fame and fortune can be strong, particularly for protagonist Najimi who think it an way to sell out and make an easy living. Failing to take into account that drawing a comic is hard, let alone trying to actually sell your stuff, especially if your artwork stinks, we follow Najimi into a world populated with geeks and freaks.
A quick flick through a volume of this series won’t reveal a thing about this manga. The unglossy artwork does well to keep its hilariously jaded and mean sense of humour well under wraps from the passing eye, making the joy of reading this manga stronger as anyone seeing you read won’t have a clue to the filth being discussed within it. It’s no big secret that some dojin comics are porn, of which Dojin Work shows nothing. However the psychological impact on a creator making their first porn comic is hilarious (‘it’s like masturbating in public’ we’re told).
As time goes on Najimi’s sales steadily rise from single figures to double digits, against her friends who all regularly sell in the thousands. She gains a rival who issuitably awful and the two battle it out to get the best sales. Best character of all Tsuyuri who is comfortable with her status as a pervert and subtly manipulates her friends into making the worst and most embarrassing decisions on their creative journey. The whole thing is totally understated, but out of all the yon-koma available in English this is probably my favourite.
Of the six volumes, Anime Works only published up to the 4th one and exists as one of my biggest wants of unfinished manga. They did also release the 12 episode anime series which is worth checking out as an emergency backup. If you’re familiar with the Comiket scenes from the likes of Genshiken and Lucky Star, you might be tempted to take a cynical glimpse at this anti-Bakuman series.