The manga in the United States has gained visibility in the average bookstore over the years. In the early 2000s, Barnes and Noble had a single shelf with manga titles that weren’t very current. Today, entire sections are devoted to manga, with multiple shelves. This has increased the number of titles, there are hundreds of mainstream titles available, in addition to the major publishers.
Anime is one of the driving forces behind the manga that has really taken off over the past decade. Previously, customers had to order DVD discs from specialist resellers or sometimes from Amazon. Now there is a plethora of streaming services, like Crunchyroll. It offers people a legal way to watch anime the day after it arrives in Japan and has English subtitles. The company just announced that it currently has five million subscribers and more than 120 million registered users. The streaming service announced in December that Sony’s Funimation Global group would buy Crunchyroll from AT&T. Sony said the purchase price is $ 1.175 billion, payable in cash. Netflix and Amazon have also dubbed the animes and even produce their own original content.
“Anime and online fan communities are still the primary drivers of manga sales,” said Yae Sahashi, vice president of sales for Kodansha USA Publishing. “We think there has been a renewed and enthusiastic interest in the anime, with new audiences brought in with each new season. Anime is now easier to watch anywhere and anytime via platforms like Netflix, Crunchyroll, and Funimation. Many animes featured right now have been delayed from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic, which may be part of the reason why spring manga sales exceeded holiday sales for the first time. Sentar adds that “anime is driving much of this business, and it will continue to grow as countries – Japan and other countries – tap into the hungry international animation market for adults “.
How are manga sales in the United States doing? According to ICv2, the North American manga market was just under US $ 250 million in 2020. According to NPD BookScan, the manga buying frenzy continues into 2021. Sales of printed manga titles in the United States increased by 3.6 million units in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The manga is also starting to capture the adult market. NDP Bookscan’s best-selling adult graphic novel list for April 2021 is dominated by manga, with the medium occupying every spot in the top 20. Even more impressive, 19 of the top 20 are titles from Viz Media. My Hero Academia Volume 27 takes the top spot, and previous volumes take up two more places on the list. The other big players are Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Chainsaw Man, holding nine slots, three slots, and two slots.
“Last year was our biggest year ever, despite the pandemic, and the numbers for 2021 are off the charts,” said Lianne Sentar, sales and marketing manager at Seven Seas Entertainment. “Based on what we’re seeing in these first few months, 2021 will be the biggest year yet – we’ve really never seen such numbers. “
Kurt Hassler, editor and managing director of Yen Press, a manga and graphic novel joint venture between Hachette and Japanese publisher Kadokawa, also noticed the buying trends. “For the first quarter of 2021, we saw our sales functionally double, which is way beyond anything we expected,” he says.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post, and The New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.