Japanese Manga is usually serialized in anthology magazines before being collected into book format. By convention, manga magazines are divided into roughly a dozen official publishing categories, mostly based on the age and gender of the intended audience. These categories are inherited by the works when published in book format and are considered the primary divisions in manga publishing; they are used, for example, to shelve manga in bookstores (rather than by genre or by author).
Most publishers clearly identify their magazines according to their category; alternately, one may consult the classification used by the Japan Magazine Publishers Association in their sales and industry reports. Thus, for most manga, the category can be easily and unequivocally determined. Some magazines, however, either do not declare a category or are officially positioned as cross-demographic. Manga that were not previously serialized may also be difficult to categorize.
The most common manga categories are:
- Kodomomuke or Kodomo - young children, under about 8
- Shōnen - boys, roughly 8-18
- Shoujo - girls, roughly 8-18
- Josei - younger women, roughly 18-40
- Ladies Comics - The female equavelent to Ero manga
- Seinen - younger men, roughly 18-40
- Seijin (Adult) or Ero - men's pornographic (see Hentai)
- Mina - or "Multiple Demographic Appeal" in troper
- Alternative or Uncategorized - includes Gekiga
The following categories are rare in English translation:
- Yonkoma - 4-panel strips note
- "Silver" and "Golden" manga - for older readers
- Hobby manga, such as Golf manga, Pachinko manga, Fishing manga, etc.
- Educational and Information manga
Shounen, shoujo, josei and seinen are also used to describe demographic groups as well as publishing categories; for example, most hobby manga are aimed at the seinen demographic. Despite this, the publishing categories do not necessarily align perfectly with the actual readership; for example, many shounen magazines have large female and adult readerships.
Many of the categories (especially shounen and shoujo) have widespread stylistic or narrative trends, and are often functionally treated as genres. Nonetheless, stories from most genres can be published in nearly any category; for example, Girls' Love can be published in shounen, shoujo, josei, seinen, ero or alternative magazines (which is why it's not listed as a demographic above).