Last week Tania Del Rio wrote at Pop Culture Shock wondering if manga anthologies could possibly work here the way they do in Japan.
Rather than wait multiple months for the next volume of my favorite series (where I usually forget what happened in the story by the time the next volume does finally come out), with Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat I get small doses of story each month that I look forward to seeing in my mailbox. It keeps my interest fresh and I like the variety. And I find myself really enjoying titles like Crimson Hero, Baby & Me, and Shaman King which, quite honestly, I would never buy in book form otherwise.
But I want more manga anthologies like this! I want to be able to read more titles each month for less money. Of course I realize that it could never be as cheap to produce those phonebook style magazines here in the States as it is in Japan. For one, there are the costs of translating and preparing the material for an English-speaking audience. Printing costs are also higher in general. And most Americans are spoiled by glossy, superior paper stock and may not appreciate newsprint so cheap that the ink comes off on your fingers.
Manga Blog responds:
I agree with Tania. I’d like to see more manga in anthology form.
And I’ll add that the fact that we get Shojo Beat has not stopped us from buying the tanks when they come out; as I correctly predicted a year ago, Viz has found a way to sell us the same book twice. As Dave Carter demonstrated earlier this week, Tokyopop seems to be releasing more low-numbered volumes per month than Viz, and thus is perceived as flooding the market. But they don’t really promote the titles much, so they’re sinking under their own weight. A proper anthology would help build an audience for them.
I’ve been fairly consistent in my dislike for anthologies as a whole, but I can understand the sentiment (plus I know I’m in the minority about anthologies, right David?!).
If you just want to look at purely licensed works and whatever VIZ Media do then I just can’t see how an anthology would work. I know we have Shounen Jump and Shojo Beat but especially in the case of Shojo Beat I see these more as anthology magazines rather then just purely an anthology.
The idea that we could get say the phonebook tankobans is hugely appealing but fundamentally impractical, which is a great shame because even I would be tempted by them. The cost implication, let alone licensing issues does kind of put a nail in the coffin for that idea.
Much interesting discussion in the comments sections. of both posts. But these responses are crushed by an amazing post from Queenie Chan (THE DREAMING) who examines the ideas of comics on demand, the psychology of consumers who download, the viability of the iPod as a transport medium for comics and more. There is even a diagram.
Apparently quite difficult, because according to alot of people, anthologies have never been commercially viable outside Japan. The Japanese system has been around so long that it revolves around people buying anthologies printed on crappy paper, and then throwing it away to buy takoubans of their favourite stories. When other countries try the same model with Japanese manga, it sells because there is an inbuilt audience who knows they’re getting a tried-and-true Japanese product (with loads of merchandising). But what about trying it with original, untested work? The financial risk can be pretty great, and printing isn’t cheap either.
Which brings me around to the idea of e-anthologies. This is something that makes alot of people cringe, because they would rather hold a crappily printed book in their hands than shell out money for something “ephemereal” that comes attached to a computer. That’s a reasonable complaint, but one that’s a bit unfair, because personally, I believe that e-books are the way of the future. I just think that it won’t catch on with our current level of technology, though things may change in 5-10 year’s time.