While Western comic books continue to court creators looking to use the medium to push propaganda to the masses and lose sales as a results, the manga industry is moving in the opposite direction. Manga is expanding and making money, according to a recent Project Anime panel at this year’s Anime Expo 2019.
Anime and manga producer, Dallas Middaugh, spoke about the financial and growth impact that manga is having internationally, and some of the reasons behind that.
Content editor Debbie Aoki posted a thread about the panel on July 2nd, 2019, detailing Middaugh’s data.
Dallas Middaugh @dallasmiddaugh ‘s opening remarks at Project Anime in LA described anime & manga as “going through a period of radical change” – as overseas interest & availability of content from Japan has grown + increased investment fr. overseas #ProjectAnime19 #AX2019 pic.twitter.com/FsuvwKcBay
— Deb Aoki (@debaoki) July 2, 2019
The thread is rather lengthy, but Middaugh was quoted as saying…
“When I started in this biz, JP rights holders weren’t interested in markets outside of Japan – at most, int’l licensing was only 5-15% of their revenue. To them it was like sofa change.
“In 2015, I moved to manga publishing to anime. I was used to US book publishing, where bks usually need 1-2 years in advance for licensing, marketing, production/translation. When I moved to Crunchyroll, we were lucky if [Japanese] anime production companies gave us a week lead time. At Crunchyroll, sometime[s] we got less than 24 hours notice before finding out we had the rights to an anime. This gave us barely any time to translate, & almost no time to properly promote the show. Why did JP rights holders wait so long? [because] it’s sofa change to them.
“In 2019, things have changed — the lead time has increased from 1 week to 1 month. Sometimes, we get 3, maybe 6 months lead time after hearing that we have rights to air an anime series. This gives us a better chance to sell and market anime.”
Aoki notes that the panel discussed part of the reason for the radical change in recent times is that manga and anime have become a lot more popular in recent times, internationally, and Japan has a shrinking domestic consumer base due to declining birthrates.
Why did JP anime/manga rights holders’ attitudes to int’l markets change? 3 factors: 1. Anime/manga is getting more popular worldwide. 2. Population decline in JP = decline in domestic sales. 3. As market has grown, larger companies are getting involved/investing $$ #ProjectAnime
— Deb Aoki (@debaoki) July 2, 2019
The compensation of sales from the Western and international markets have helped buffer Japan’s shrinking youth population.
Middaugh also went on to say that manga now makes up for a large portion of sales in the U.S., and even in places like France, mentioning…
“In US, graphic novels are 2-5% of total publishing sales, of which 25% is manga. If you take kids comics out of the mix (Dog Boy, etc.), then manga = 50% of graphic novels sold in US.
“Meanwhile, in France, 25% of all books published are graphic novels/BD/manga, of which 50% is manga. This indicates potential for growth in the overseas market. […]”
“[Crunchyroll] now has 2 million paid subscribers & 60 million registered users. It took 10 years to get to 1 million subscribers, and only 2 years to double that number.”
These numbers were actually made public recently when Comic Book reported back in late May of 2019 that the SPJA revealed that manga actually had a booming 2018 and was up compared to the previous year. In fact, annual year-over-year revenue for manga was up 7.24%.
Compare that to the Western comic book retail and digital market, which was down by 1% in 2018 in year-over-year revenue compared to 2017, as reported by Comichron.
What’s more is that the current sales slide in the West comes after Marvel’s attempt to clean house back in 2017, which included the cancellation of various propaganda-laced comic books that sold rather poorly. The attempted rebound to recapture the interest of the core demographic throughout 2017 and 2018 in the West has been lethargic, at best. Manga, on the other hand, is all the rage right now.
Part of the reason for this growth is that Middaugh believes there’s a hunger for the kind of stories that Japanese artists and storytellers are producing, he explained…
“This happened with Star Wars – it told Hollywood that there was a hunger for sci-fi stories. It happened with Iron Man too. This led to more superhero movies. The players in anime are radically different than it was 5 years ago. The rivalry for licensing anime content used to be Crunchyroll vs. Funimation. Now Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Netflix and Amazon have entered the fray.
“The results are mixed, but the interest is there, and there’s hope for more good adaptations in the future. While people ‘hate-watched’ Death Note on Netflix, there’s some big names attached to anime adaptation projects in the works: JJ Abrams has optioned Your Name. Taika Waititi is working on Akira. Legendary is working on movie adaptations of My Hero Academia and Gundam. […]”
“It will be done right eventually, and success will breed imitation. There are risks here, but optimism is a choice.”
Most fans want Western studios to stay far away from Japanese media. There has been nothing good interbreeding creative juices between the East and the West; mostly because Western creators in the mainstream at the moment lack creativity and are only using the medium to push agitprop.
When you look at a lot of Western-style adaptations of Japanese media, it’s oftentimes washed over with the “diversity” agenda, which usually includes hiring based on the exclusion of straight whites, or Americanized storytelling, usually at he expense of the erasure of Japanese culture, like the live-action versions of Dragon Ball Evolution or Death Note.
Unfortunately certain Japanese creators have fallen victim to Western influence, like Reki Kawahara, whose Sword Art Online series will have “reduced sexual content” due to the “current times”. But hopefully that’s the minority, and Japanese creators will continue to move in their current direction, which includes making what they want and completely ignoring all feedback from Western audiences, just like Kadokawa’s production of The Rising of the Shield Hero, where the Japanese producers weren’t even aware (nor did they care) about the feminists screeching and howling about the anime on social media.
(Thanks for the news tip Feitan)