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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



This thesis addresses the phenomenon of the recent success of foreign-born mangaka in the Japanese comic industry. One in a long line of foreigners who have written about Japan, Swedish mangaka Åsa Ekström is a representative example whose success has been facilitated by a set of circumstances brought on by the influence of the international manga market, socio-economic policies stemming from the unique challenges presented by Japan’s declining birthrate and rapidly aging population, and changes in the landscape of the Japanese publishing industry. Drawing upon themes and excerpts from Ekström’s popular comic essay series, Nordic Girl Åsa discovers the Mysteries of Japan (Hokuō joshi Ōsa ga mitsuketa Nihon no fushigi 北欧女子オーサが見つけた日本の不思議), this thesis explores those facets of her skilled background in conjunction with the aforementioned circumstances that have contributed to her success, including the influence of internationalization, effects of an increasingly digitized publishing industry, and proliferation of vocational manga schools encouraging overseas student enrollment. By doing so, this thesis attempts to answer the question of whether foreign participation in what has been traditionally considered a closed market is reflective of a globalizing Japan, and determine the future of the market for comic essays by foreign-born mangaka.


First Advisor

Amanda C. Seaman

Second Advisor

Sharon Domier