I’ve been over this before, but it bears repeating – print manga in the US is a lot more like anime in Japan than it is manga in Japan; it’s expensive, with a relatively small customer base. Manga in Japan only costs anywhere from 400-900yen, small enough that marketing to elementary school kids with their weekly allowances is a plausible strategy. In the US, the cheapest print manga start from $9, and can cost quite a bit more. This makes manga in the US a smaller, more exclusive market. At that price point, the proposition of just buying a $60 anime box set (there’s a pretty understandable overlap between the fanbases) starts to look a lot more appealing.
In more practical terms, manga was perpetually being walloped by anime in the US market. While the total gross of all manga tracked through bookscan in 2007 was just a hair under $109 million (all gross totals from that article unless otherwise linked), the total gross of anime DVDs in the US in that same year was over $300 million, a number surpassing not just the manga total, but the $183 million gross of the entire US comics market that same year. While more recent statistics regarding anime are hard to come by, that still speaks to a huge contrast in US sales potency for an industry where the 2013 annual gross of One Piece by itself (18,151,599*500~9 billion yen) tops the total of the top two averagers of the post-Evangelion era (Bakemonogatari and Madoka sold about 6.5 billion yen worth of disks between them).
It’s fairly frequent among people who have started to get interested in anime enough to start knowing things about the people who make it find themselves encountering the names of certain directors and studios over and over. Kasai Kenichi excels at college life stories. Hiroshi Nagahama was the bold visionary who directed Mushishi. Perhaps one of the more preeminent studios in that regard are Madhouse and Gonzo, the studios behind Death Note and Gankutsou, respectively. They can flash those series names on “from the studio that brought you” title cards of the trailer for anything else they make, despite the fact that Madhouse made the Marvel anime and Gonzo hasn’t been run by the people who made Gankutsuou since 2008. I’m here to make the case for why Madhouse’s reputation, along with a number of others, may be a bit overblown. It’s not that they’re not making awesome anime, but they are picking source material that gives them a lot of help.
This situation with directors can sometimes be a bit like that of the quarterback in American football; they get too much credit when things go well, and too much blame when things go wrong. In reality, lots of factors beyond the men at the top contribute to an anime’s success. I’m here today to take a look at one in particular; the pre-production choice of high-quality of source material. What follows is a look at anime adaptations of Shogakukan/Kodansha Award-Winning manga, including observations based on both their relative frequency over the years, their strength as a function of which studio makes them, and their performance in the marketplace.
This past year, viz media pulled off a first for the non-Japan manga industry. I’m referring to Shonen Jump Alpha, a digital “magazine” offering same-week release of the chapters of some 11 Weekly Shonen Jump manga. It’s pretty cool, and at 26$/year for 48 issues (and a buck per back issue), it’s not a totally unreasonable subscription fee. But that specific business model, one of same-week releases for official translations, is unfortunately not something that’s likely to be transferable to the majority of manga. Especially seinen and josei series with smaller fanbases. If you’ve ever wondered if the manga translation industry will catch up to where the anime industry is now with simulcasts, this article discusses the depressing reality of the situation and why such an outcome is relatively unlikely.
This post represents the second of three entries our blog is submitting to the Manga Olympics for Bloggers. Voting begins on June 16th, so just enjoy the article for now. Or checkout ourillustrious competition.
Maybe it’s because I have fewer female anime/manga fan friends than male ones, but there’s no demographic of manga I see misconstrued more often than shojo. The idea that it’s synonymous with sparkly, tween-appeal school-life romance seems to show up at least once a week in conversations I have. Fortunately, there’s one very easy way to dispel this misconception; look at some of the shojo manga that actually exist.
There are few things I treasure more in manga than the ability to surprise me on a page-by-page basis. I love Yuuji Terajima’s Ace of the Diamond, and this chapter did a pretty good job reminding me why, building tension around a straightforward confrontation using clever Eyeshield 21-style visual feints.
Courtesy of the super-discount section of Half-Price Books, I just picked up a bundle of fun for a little less than 25$. I bought a number of items; manga volumes of Land of the Blindfolded, Lone Wolf and Cub, and R2 (I usually buy some series I’ve never heard of before on principle), Final Fantasy X and X-2, and ten issues of Weekly Shonen Magazine. What am I going to do with that last lot? Well, first, I’m going to take advantage of my ability ot read Japanese and spoil myself the heck out of second-best baseball manga ever Ace of the Diamond, which is 4 years ahead of where scanlators are now. Second, I’m going to take a stab at every series running in that magazine and see if any is solid enough for a tankobon import, something I do occasionally. These two related ideas popped into my head immediately upon seeing the issues, and led me to some thoughts on the concept of a serial medium as it pertains to manga. I thought I’d share.
I’ve wanted for a while to do more with manga on this blog, but the manga I typically read are weekly things, and it’s hard to come up with something to say about every chapter of them. Instead, I’m going to borrow from my time at shonenbeam again and simply do manga entries abut the best chapter of manga I happened to read this week. This week’s main dish is a spectacular chapter from a delicious manga, Tetsuji Sekiya’s Bambino.