If you appreciate the Japanese anime/manga aesthetic, or just want some kick-ass desktop wallpaper, the following information might be useful. In my youth, I was always awed by the awesome level of artistic prowess on display in publications such as NewType, and in manga comics, anime videos and videogames. So one day, over five years ago now, I started rooting around on the web for more. This document details the minor advances I have made against the language barrier that might help similarly adventurous souls. Apologies in advance for mis-spellings and mistranslations.

Thousands of Japanese publish comic-style art on the web. Out of these, a lot of people do so as a hobby, some have their work published independently (doujinshi comics), and there are of course a fair few professionals out there too. Of the stuff you'll find stumbling around illiterately, the majority will focus on CG (computer generated - usually in Photoshop, Illustrator and Painter) images, and the vast majority of those will be of attractive females (uh, with some giant robots thrown in on occasion). If I use the word 'homepage', it probably conjures up an image of a rushed, ugly page with a few scraps of info and some poorly scanned photos. Not so the homepage of the typical CGer. Likewise "fanart" probably fits in the same lowly bracket as fanfiction in many people's experience - but the "fanart" here is sometimes on par with the original. Here is the standard-issue menu that you'll be greeted with on arriving at a CG page :

  • News / Nikki / Update : A weblog, generally listing site updates. Sometimes there is a Diary section. Nearly always the first item on the menu.
  • Gallery / CG / Artworks : Usually leads to a further menu (e.g. CG1, CG2, Gift, Recieve), each item of which will lead to a collection of thumbnails, arranged by date. Clicking on a thumbnail will fetch a large .JPG of that image (often in a seperate window). (Look out for variations due to dodgy romanization : Garelly is a common one). The "Gift" sections contain pics traded with other sites (usually to commemorate an event, e.g. Congratulations on 200,000 visitors!). Note that pages of 'suspect' material will often be prefixed with a H or 18. In many cases you will be warned prior to entering such a page, but not always.
  • Rakugaki / Scribble / Rough : usually unfinished pics and/or pencil sketches.
  • Profile : A potted bio of the author, often with a description of their other hobbies and their PC hardware.
  • Works / Doujinshi : Similar to 'gallery', but each thumbnail is the cover of a (paper) comic. Clicking will sometimes yield a sample page from that volume. There is often a link to an online comic shop where the books can be purchased.
  • BBS : The majority of sites now host a message board (usually through a web service ... 'TeaCup' is a common one).
  • Links : A list (usually categorised) of other sites similar to this one. Note that practically every site has a small banner advertising its contents. The reason for this will become clear below.
(You'll be surprised, in fact, at how pervasive this "standardisation" is. It's caught on because it works.)

Some tips : bookmark often. Particularly when you hit a promising looking links page.

If you can't read the text (even with something like NJWin), use the URL display on your browser's status bar to aid your navigation.

Occasionally, you'll get an empty gallery page with a URL with japanese characters in it. You will probably find you can't cut & paste this URL. The reason? The artist in question is pissed off with Americans leaching his files and posting them on deplorable "Hentai" paysites.

Very occasionally, you might find a tutorial on reproducing specific techniques. Absorb.

The banners : a number of directory sites have sprung up, categorising and ranking artist's homepages. Tinami and Surfer's Paradise are big ones. Note that a number of these revolve around hentai... or at least copious nudity.

!! WARNING !! Also, be warned that even the most innocuous looking site can turn out to be rife with 'adult' material. Parental discretion is advised. When it's typical Fantasy Art chicks-in-chainmail cheesecake, it's OK, and sometimes pretty cool (like the iMac Girl). But if you're faced with black backgrounds and/or particularly dire warnings, back out man. There's some fscked up shit out there.

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