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SDCC ’20: The Past, Present and Future of Manga Publishing

Manga industry experts shared their insights on both print and digital manga, anime adaptations and the future of next generation demands.

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All announcements from the manga publishing panel at SDCC ‘20 were already up for grabs a few months ago. Publishers from Yen Press, VIZ Media, Denpa Books, Penguin Random House, Kodansha, Mangamo and Udon Entertainment shared their top new titles.

YEN PRESS

Toilet-bound Hanako-kun
I Don’t Know How to Give Birth (August 2020)

SQUARE ENIX BOOKS

Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina (Anime releasing in October 2020)
Final Fantasy XIV Shadow Bringers: The Art of Reflection- Histories Forsaken (Print includes an exclusive bonus code for an in-game item)

VIZ MEDIA

Fangirl (October 2020)
Remina (December 2020)

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Heaven’s Design Team (Print available in September 2020; digital available now)
WAVE: Listen to Me

DENPA BOOKS

Heavenly Delusion
The Girl With The Sanpaku Eyes

UDON ENTERTAINMENT

Otherworldly Izakaya NOBU
Anne of Green Gables (September 2020)

KODANSHA

Weathering With You (September 2020)
With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun (September 2020)

MANGAMO

Japan Sinks 2020 (Anime available on Netflix)
Loving Yamada at lv999

ALTJAPAN

Doraemon Vol 197
Dorohedoro
Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World

Matt Alt, co-founder of altJapan, wrote and published Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World this June. While having worked in the Japanese content field for years, Alt found the whole process of anonymous translation wasn’t easily welcomed. Around 2010, fans started demanding Japanese-to-English translation to be authentic and as ‘Japanese’ as it could be. “America has finally caught up with manga,” he said. “We understand the symbology of manga, and this whole Japan-ization of the global fantasy-scape has had profound effects not only on our pop-cultural businesses, but culture in general.”

A recent report by BookScan revealed VIZ to be the #1 publisher. Kevin Hamric, vice president of marketing sales at VIZ, said the types of genres in manga are ever-expanding but horror is still the most desired.

Traditionally, paperbacks and hardcovers have been favored but with the digital age kicking in faster for the next generation of readers, it’s impossible to predict where the sales will be headed in the near future. Masaaki Shimizu, publisher at Square Enix, said the team faced a 40% downfall in April last year. “We are still suffering,” he added. “I don’t know what’s going on.” Although he wasn’t sure if this trend will be consistent for backlist, frontlist or new releases.

His statistics were limited to print sales, as Dallas Middaugh, co-founder of the Mangamo app, shared a different story. His app seems to be garnering more users, and he claims people are always looking for new apps on their phones. “The difficulty is in acquiring [copyright] from Japan,” he said. “We don’t have to think about the cost of printing books.”

Different genres in manga besides horror are also rising in the ranks. Ben Applegate, director of publisher services at Penguin Random House, revealed manga centered around LGBTQ and multiracial characters has been doing great recently. “Every publisher is picking up [boys-love manga],” he said. Erik Ko, chief of operations at Udon Entertainment, is waiting for sports manga to take off. The anime Haikyu!! Has been receiving positive reviews lately, which is a good indication of sports manga becoming mainstream soon. According to Ko, digital sales from March to May had a ten times surge in manga classics, but predicts it will not be the same for June because of the pandemic. Applegate suggests backlists and top rated manga will always do better than new releases, especially those that have an anime tie-in.

Mark de Vera, sales and marketing director at Yen Press, predicts digital manga will bloom, and companies like WEBTOON doing so well is a great example of how extensive the manga industry really is. Despite print suffering this year, Vera anticipates it will sustain through his lifetime and beyond as long as there are passionate fans to support it.

Miss any of our other SDCC 2020 coverage? Click here for much more!

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