As we all know, Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been the shock trooper in the recent manga bounce back here in the US and Japan. A story from the Japanese language Eiga.com reported at ANN reveals AoT has 50 million copies in print worldwide , a healthy number of which 2.5 million copies are in English. Attack on Titan has 16 volume available, with a new one due soon, as well as a live action film which just opened in Japan expected pull in ¥5 billion (about $40.3 million). A second film, Attack on Titan: End of the World, opens in September. It’s expected these films will boost sales even more.
As impressive as these numbers are, AoT has a ways to go to beat past Japanese hits according to this Wikipedia chart which shows One PIece the all time leader with a staggering 320 million copies in print. Of course there are 79 volumes of Eiichiro Oda’s masterpiece out — and more to come. But One Piece beats Attack on Titan on a per volume basis as well.
Actually it’s interesting to look at the top 10 chart as shown on Wikipedia — I’ve added a column showing sales per volume on the end for the statistiucally minded.
|Manga series||Author(s)||Publisher||Demographic||No. of collected||Serialized||Approximate sales||Sales per Volume|
|One Piece||Eiichiro Oda||Shueisha||Shōnen||79||1997–present||$320,000,000||$4,050,633|
|Dragon Ball||Akira Toriyama||Shueisha||Shōnen||42||1984–1995||230,000,000||$5,476,190|
|Golgo 13||Takao Saito||Shogakukan||Seinen||177||1969–present||200,000,000||$1,129,944|
|Black Jack||Osamu Tezuka||Akita Shoten||Shōnen||17||1973–1983||176,000,000||$10,352,941|
|Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo||Osamu Akimoto||Shueisha||Shōnen||195||1976–present||156,000,000||$800,000|
|Detective Conan||Gosho Aoyama||Shogakukan||Shōnen||86||1994–present||140,000,000||$1,627,907|
|Oishinbo||Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki||Shogakukan||Seinen||111||1983–present||130,000,000||$1,171,171|
|Slam Dunk||Takehiko Inoue||Shueisha||Shōnen||31||1990–1996||120,000,000||$3,870,968|
|Astro Boy||Osamu Tezuka||Kobunsha/Kodansha||Shōnen||23||1952–1968||100,000,000||$4,347,826|
No surprise that Dragonball and Naruto are #s 2 and 3. What may be more of a surprise is the presence of the food manga Oishinbo on list. The only property in the top 10 that isn’t in print in English is #6, Kochikame, as it’s known, a long running comedy manga about Japanese life that presumably wouldn’t translate very well.
None of which means to undermine the immense success of Attack on Titan, which has revitalized manga publishing both in Japan and the US. The story itself concerns a bunch of kids fighting an invasion of Earth by horrific monsters who are held in check by a giant wall. So yeah it’s got survival, teen angst and staggeringly visual violence, an unbeatable formula that hit it big in the US with the Hunger Games and the like, but which US comics have yet to discover. Pacific Rim 2?
The manga publishing industry in Japan has a lot of problems to work out, including a glacially paced and stubborn reaction to the rise of piracy, a recent lack of hits, and readers moving to mobile. It’s hard to draw any direct comparisons between the US and Japanese comics reading markets— the US market has pivoted far more quickly and successfully than the Japanese, but Japan has been doing it bigger for way longer. Anyway, none of this is a competition. It’s all about great storytelling.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.