Update 2 (July 15, 2014): New, more accurate data is here.
Update (Jul 1, 2014): This post doesn’t measure releases in 2-week totals, which turns out to be a huge deal in many, many cases. I’m currently working on an updated version of both this and the 2011 data. Just be aware of that before citing the data from here regarding any one show.
By all rights, a 30-series sample like the one I had for 2011 was enough to get most of the relevant information regarding how anime boosted manga sales. However, during that analysis, I bumped into an incidental correlation, myanimelist ranking versus gain in manga sales, that was far too juicy to ignore. If that correlation is real, it points to a very tangible link between the Japanese mainstream community (who have enough disposable income for manga but not for anime) and the English-speaking online community (who generally pay a comparable pittance, if anything, for the anime they watch). But I couldn’t be sure from just the 2011 data, since that was the sample that gave rise to the theory. So I did what any good researcher would do, and pulled another year worth of data to see how things would match up. The results can be found on this spreadsheet, and are sorted in order of descending myanimelist rank below.
I’ve had a bunch of stuff I’d like to write about on the back burner for a while now; Yozakura Quartet’s new OAD-bundled volume selling about 17,000 copies when the maximum cost of the OVA would have been covered by 9000, a return to the issue of sales boosts that manga get from anime, and the slow-but-ongoing attempt to accurately set odds for the sequel of any given anime series. All of those are important questions, and I’ll address them in due time.
But right now, manga giant Kodansha and popular legal stream platform crunchyroll rolled out a bombshell: Crunchyroll Manga. Current to Japan digital releases of 12 manga (headlined by Fairy Tail and Attack on Titan, ones I pegged months ago as potential headliners for a Kodansha USA service) that are fairly big in the U.S, for 5 bucks a month.* This isn’t as big of a deal as some of the other things I’ve observed, but it certainly has the potential to make a big impact. I don’t want to be premature, but the combination of the CR brand and the solid rollout slate (similar to how CR packaged big names in anime when they first decided to go legal) has me optimistic about the prospects of the service.
This is very much a first-response column, looking at the statistical profiles of the rollout and comparing it to Jmanga and Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, two other big names in digital manga.** How does this compare with other digital rollouts?
There is no one distinct flavor to the enjoyment of manga. It’s one of the main reasons I kept coming back to it despite getting burned out on various genres of series at various times. Sometimes Manga blows you away with script, sometimes with storyboard, sometimes with sweeping artstyle. Each manga has its own individual approach, and, though there may not be a right occasion for every manga, there’s a right manga for every occasion.
In some ways, it might seem harder to talk about more episodic series as candidates for being the best at anything. But that thought process gets lost in the fact that there are stories that work better told as little anecdotes rather than massive epic sagas. Sometimes a nice story about a couple sneaking into a school to watch some fireworks is all a guy needs. I’m picking Mysterious Girlfriend X this week because a chapter came out, because it was cute, and because I liked it.
I’ve been writing about shonen for the past 2 weeks of this competition, and Keima only knows if I’ll make it out of the first round, so I might as well use the freedom I’ve got to coin a term that’s been percolating in my head for a while and talk about seinen (and some shonen, as well) while people are listening. I’ve taken to calling some manga Mid-Major because they’re great in a way that screams “improbable” and “unsustainable”, but because of that are even more fun to watch than consistently great ones. Clearly not top-tier, but clearly blessed with enough potential to make a little legend, like Dunk City FGCU demolishing Georgetown in this year’s NCAA Tourney.* There’s an appeal to watching the little engine that could suddenly transform into a giant robot and dropkick a galaxy, and nowhere (other than sports) does this phenomenon happen more often than in the world of monthly manga.
Full disclosure: Mysterious Girlfriend X is a show about a couple that swaps spit on a daily basis. If you’re the type of person who rejects shows on premise, you probably won’t give this one any more of a chance than reading the plot summary. Once you get past that one hurdle, though, the show is a decent romance which gets a lot of extra punch from an ominous, quirky soundtrack and an approach that treats the characters with dignity.
There’s no way getting around this, so I’m just going to lay it out straight; I’m a huge devotee of old Studio Gonzo. So even if the brand is basically meaningless now, I always get excited when I hear they have a project.
One more bit of full-disclosure regarding me before I get to the show itself, since it is to hair as Mysterious Girlfriend X is to drool – I enjoyed Mysterious Girlfriend X. The superior direction and creativity behind that show was enough to offset its fundamental weirdness. I guess that also qualifies as a warning for the faint of heart, as DBnCE is also quite weird.