Wednesday, August 18, 2010


For my latest column in The Daily Yomiuri and 3:AM magazine, I interviewed Yukari Shiina of World Manga, an agency specializing in connecting international artists with the domestic manga publishing industry. The following insights and comments by Shiina-san, an agent and industry consultant, survived the final edit:

Shiina believes the depressed economy and exaggerated expectations (i.e., oversaturation of the market) are key factors behind collapsing sales. But she doesn't ignore the digital elephant in the room.

"I'm not sure exactly how much it is contributing to the declines, but scanlations are a problem," Shiina says, referring to the unauthorized posting and translation of manga titles on the Internet. "I don't buy scanlation groups' argument that they promote manga in general. It might be true with some obscure titles, but it can't be with hits such as Naruto."

What may not be clear to some readers is that in the passage above, Shiina-san is addressing conditions strictly in the North American manga market, not those in Japan. Declining sales in the latter are cited in a preceding paragraph, which may cause the confusion.

I aim to clarify this issue in all online versions of this column, on behalf of Shiina-san--and myself, of course.


Gen Kanai said...

The sad thing is that the scanlation community would not be the culture it is today had the Japanese manga producers and publishers acted sooner. There was demand for Japanese anime and manga content from the 1980s, (sure, it was very niche then) and the demand only grew from the days of Star Blazers and the like. Scanlations came into being only because the Japanese publishers either did not see or did not value markets beyond Japan until it was too late.

It's sort of an allegory for a lot of Japan these days, sadly.

Roland Kelts said...

'Did not see' *and* 'did not value,' I'm afraid. Plenty of both.
And a very sad allegory indeed.

Gen Kanai said...,0,7946983.story

"Hopefully, we can protect Japanese anime with more government initiatives to come," said Hamano, the University of Tokyo professor. "There is finally a consciousness by the government to protect and preserve this art form."

If the future of anime is based on government support, then it's already all over. That the industry can't make a profit when the products are globally popular- there's a clear disconnect.

Roland Kelts said...

Thanks for sharing the LA Times link. Sadly, apart from the government infusion in April, so much of what is reported could have been published three or even four years ago.