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"Why yes, I love the smell of freshly printed manga in the morning."
While buying the latest English volumes of Blue Exorcist and Attack on Titan recently, some thoughts resurfaced on why I still prefer print manga. With JManga biting the dust, people are wondering about the future of manga digitally. To tell you the truth, print is still the primary focus for the manga market overall and a preference that I still love for reasons I’m about to get into below.
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To all you folks who want to draw manga, I found an interesting post on a MangaHelpers sub-forum on Weekly Shonen Jump about how new manga should try to appeal to readers. There’s one snippet I would like to highlight and it’s this:
"I guess the main question a mangaka needs to ask themselves in order to write a successful manga is ‘Why?’. Why should we care about your manga? Why should we bother to read it beyond the first chapter? And with such a selective magazine (Weekly Shonen Jump), the mangaka better have that question answered before chapter 1 gets published. I think that’s what separates the exceptional mangaka, like (Yuusei) Matsui and (Eiichiro) Oda, from the mediocre. I guess it’s also what defines the expression ‘doing your homework’."
Which leads to another lesson regarding the importance of asking “why”: never stop learning. There’s always something deeper beneath the surface.
You can read the rest of the post as it is pretty in-depth. Makes you think about when the next worldwide smash hit manga will come.
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Originally, this was supposed to be an article about self-awareness and how it could be the key to help saving the manga industry. And then out of the blue, the big digital manga initiative that was considered to be a “savior of manga”, JManga goes kaput. So what now and does Japan even care?
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Yes, this is the only title. Look how pretty Masakazu Katsura’s art is!
On all seriousness, Matt Blind of Rocket Bomber recently asked manga bloggers to give thanks to the manga industry for all their hard work. He also asked folks to highlight what manga titles we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving 2012. I decided to join in on this feast since hey, creators and publishers really do look out for their fans. With a bit of Jimmy Fallon quirkiness, here are some notable manga series (both licensed and a few unlicensed titles) that make me go, "Arigato, Soushite, ARIGATO!"
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Pop Quiz: What will happen when two of these iconic characters are eventually gone from the spotlight?
Wow, VIZ Media. They’ve been getting a lot of attention lately, huh? After reading Zach Logan’s editorial "The War On Manga", I decided to browse the many comments on the entry. One excerpt from a comment stood out to me, especially given with how sales in the U.S. manga industry haven’t been looking so grand for quite some time. This is the excerpt:
Viz is now jointly owned by Shueisha, so the real strings are being pulled straight from the top. Naruto and Bleach will be ending within 2 years tops. What is their business plan when 2 of the Big 3 are no longer propping up house?
Given the fact that Naruto and BLEACH are ranked as the top 2 manga properties in the U.S. at the moment, are both appearing to finish up in the future, and have EXTREMELY huge fan communities, is Shueisha really doing anything to make sure that there will be a new holy trinity alongside One Piece? Yes, scanlations are a big issue, but another key issue is how to get a new generation of fans (and potential buyers) in the West to be interested in reading manga going forward, given that Shonen Jump material is still the starting point for a majority of new fans.
Once Naruto and BLEACH are done, what can VIZ turn to as their main titles (besides One Piece) for promoting Shonen Jump Alpha when it really takes off? The other Shonen Jump Alpha titles they have (Bakuman, Toriko, and Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan) look to be hitting it off with fans, but are they as special as those two titles? Do these titles really relate to teenagers and young adults as well as Naruto and BLEACH have? The closest popular title that can take a spot in the trinity is Hunter x Hunter, but the title is published irregularly and that just won’t do when it comes to generating sales.
As of right now, it feels like Shueisha will just keep on riding One Piece’s popularity going forward since it’s become a cultural symbol in Japan. That doesn’t seem to help VIZ at all, as One Piece isn’t super-popular in North America when compared to Japan. Perhaps a Shonen Jump Advanced online magazine featuring Blue Exorcist, Rosario + Vampire, and D.Gray Man could be in the makings.
I’m sure there has to be some aspiring artists who will rise and be inspired by the likes of Eiichiro Oda, Masashi Kishimoto, and Tite Kubo, like how Akira Toriyama was an inspiration to them. Though as Bakuman has hinted with the low birth rate these days in Japan (which decreases the chances of a super-popular mainstream manga), the hopes of that happening are dim.
Manga in the U.S. isn’t going to die immediately if Naruto and BLEACH end. However, it feels that there has to be some simple Shonen Jump battle manga (no disrespect to One Piece) that appeals to teenagers/young adults to get the ball rolling and spark interest in the wide world of manga itself. While some fans may find them boring, the success of extremely popular titles (i.e. “typical Shonen Jump” titles) helps to give non-popular titles a chance to breathe life. Back when I was a teen, Dragon Ball Z, one of the most popular Jump series of all-time, was the reason why I got into manga. I started buying many manga volumes and developed a taste for other series that have better stories as I got older. The U.S. manga industry NEEDS popular, teen-friendly Shonen Jump titles to sell, no matter how cliche or overrated they may be, in order to stay afloat since Shonen Jump is still the top manga imprint in America. For now, Blue Exorcist appears to be a good successor to Naruto/BLEACH for VIZ, even though it’s a JUMP Square title.
Then again, I wonder if Japanese publishers truly care about the West at all when it comes to promoting manga internationally. Here’s a tweet for thought.
Such is the life of one being involved with manga in the U.S. or west of Asia, is it not?
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