200609201151Last 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.

As does David at Love Manga:

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?!).

200609201152-1If 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.



  1. I liked RAIJIN COMICS. Sadly, not enough people did, because it switched from weekly to monthly to dead in the water within what, a year? So sad. I loved FIRST PRESIDENT OF JAPAN and REVENGE OF THE MOUFLON, though I couldn’t keep up with everything. Even in smaller weekly doses, it turned out to be a lot of reading.

    If an anthology of titles that appealed to me showed up, though, I’d subscribe in a heartbeat for both the entertainment and the support of the format.

    I think digital distribution would be a key to such a format’s future. But, then, I just reread REINVENTING COMICS and am almost done with MAKING COMICS. McCloud might just be poisoning my mind. ;-)

  2. While it’s nice to have manga anthologies like Shojo Beat and Shonen Jump from Viz out here in the states, and think it defeats the point of the phonebooks. To me, the point of the phonebooks in Japan is to release NEW chapters once every week, two weeks, or month or so. If the chapters already exist in Japan, fans have to wait longer for more of the series if it’s in the magazine. However, an anthology came out in the US, it’d have to release chapters from a new series that hasn’t had that certain chapter put into a tankouban for me to see a manga anthology in the US to be worthwhile. I used to subscribe to Shojo Beat, but I cancelled the subscription because I had rather just wait for the books and not waste my money (seeing as how expensive manga is in the US), plus because it comes out as a magazine, I think they had to censor some things, and I hate censoring. They also tend to try and make the dialogue hip to attract more readers, which I also hate. I’d prefer if they just released books faster than use anthologies.

  3. Personally, I use scanlation as my way of keeping up with the Japanese on new releases.

    It’s cheap (zero cost at my end), and allows me to cherry pick the best series.

    An example of this is the series Nana. I’m currently on Volume 17 via the internet and Vol 2 from Viz. As each volume comes out, I delete the scan. Simple.

    I’m currently waiting for several other manga to be released (that are currently licenced), so I can clear some more space on my Hard drive!

    BTW Monica, Manga is cheap now. 15 or so years ago, the average volume cost upwards of $20, now it’s less than $10.


  4. The nice thing about SHONEN JUMP is that the collections of their serials winds up being cheaper than most other manga — HIKARU NO GO and BLEACH, for two examples, only cost $8 a pop instead of $10.

  5. the american tanks are not much better quality than the “phone books” — tokyopop, in particular, often employs paper and printing quality only a grade or two above newsprint. i’m already peeved to be paying for something that trashy. i wouldn’t shell out twice for equally trashy product.

  6. Im all for anthologies as it is more convenient (for me), but for more anthologies in NA market I am not so sure i would get them. I agree with aaa that the quality of paper used (in this case, tokyopop) is not that good, but considering the costs for printing in NA (including the added cost of translating) what can we do? (but buck up a bit please, tokyopop)

    Speaking of costs, paperbacks for manga in NA do not come released with a jacket/cover sleeves found on japanese manga (as well as chinese, whose print + paper quality is higher from the titles I buy that are not available in NA yet). This is a pity as in one example the title Eyeshield21, the artist puts different illustrations in the book cover and cover sleeve, though I am unsure of how viz handled this in the NA release.

    In regards about size of the anthology, I definitely doubt we can expect a large phonebook-sized (roughly 350-400pages on avg? I dont notice the number of pages) anthology release. The publishers may not consider it due to the costs.

    If we were to see more releases of anthologies, they are more likely to be the size of Shojo Beat (which is doing good?) and seperated into a few different genre’s judging from the titles currently available (if at all possible, a sports only anthology may not come out from viz if the current selection is still whistle, Eyeshield21, etc). Hopefully there will be enough support to them now compared to a few years ago, its truly a shame to see Raijin comics go.. I really enjoyed their small Weekly Raijin Game & Anime supplement during its short run with its articles on gaming + anime news from japan + NA and the short manga entries by artists such as Qb.

    Thank you for reading my opinion,

  7. I know manga used to be more expensive Jack, I still remember buying those $17 Maison Ikkoku graphic novels, what I’m saying is, although it’s cheaper, it’s still expensive (to me at least). Candyman, I too would like to see jackets/cover sleeves for the manga.

  8. I personally would like to see more manga anthologies, ShojoBeat is a magazine I enjoy a lot. and as for e-anthologies I think it is a great idea. Netcomics has been releasing its stuff online for awhile now, and they are actually my #1 favorite company right now. This is because they are really nice to their readers/subscribers, and also because I love being able to get a new chapter to read every week or so. I also look forward to the hard copies and buy them as soon as they get into my comic shop. I do this as much to support Netcomics as I do for my own enjoyment. I am a pretty serious fan of e-manga. As for Tokyopop flooding the market, I agree. They used to be my favorite company, but I stopped buying their books recently. I had a few reasons for this, first of all I was very disappointed with their online exclusive decision – they could have at least allowed us to pre-order the books at our store of choice if they didn’t want to do a wide release, I can afford the shipping charge, but shouldn’t be forced to pay it. Second I have been very disappointed at the new release practices – I feel that 2-3 months is long enough to wait between releases, any longer and I lose interest in the story. Three, I have purchased a number of their books only to discover that the pages were out of order or text was cut off. $10 a book is not cheap, and there is no excuse for such poor quality books. It is very obvious that Tokyopop does not respect their readers, and so I no longer want to waste my money on their products.

  9. I don’t think we will see a Manga anthology because we don’t have as much time to just read as the Japanese do. They spend an hour a day on a train or bus gettting to work while most americans spend their days in a car. I have an hour during lunch to read, but I would rather read an anime magazine, graphic novel (reading Superman/Batman Supergirl) or the morning newspaper. That is all the time I usually have for reading for pleasure.

  10. Even though manga volumes are now $10 or less…that’s still a lot of money for something you finish in an hour. Especially if you’re a teenager and love manga but have pretty much no income. I’m tempted to learn Japanese just so I can get cheaper manga.

  11. Hmm. Egmont seems to be QUITE successful publishing Disney comics in a wide variety of languages and formats. (No phonebooks, but lots of thick paperbacks.) My understanding is that they keep the good stuff for their weekly (!) comicbooks, and fill the paperbacks with studio product. Later, the best is published in albums and deluxe hardcovers.
    My understanding is that publishers use comic magazines to 1)pay the costs of production, 2)guage reader response, 3)develope new talent and properties, and 4)maintain market share and shelf space.
    There are many large US magazines (Vogue, InStyle) which are able to make a profit, almost exclusively from advertising. That seems to be what is lacking from comic magazines: glossy paper stock which flatters advertising. With a square binding, a publisher can easily mix paper stock, alternating slick ads with newsprint content.
    Web browsing on a cell is what text messaging used to be. (written via Sprint)

  12. A few more comments… I can get this blog on my cell phone. Soon, people will use cell browsers the way they use text messaging now. South Korea already has a vibrant cell phone comicbook market. Here, it’s a matter of time… who wouldn’t love to get their favorite comic strip or Sudoku puzzle everyday on their cell?
    As a New Yorker and transit fan, I know there are A LOT of commuters in this country who are all looking for some reason to ignore their fellow passengers.
    I would love to see DC issue a pulp newsstand version of their Showcase titles. Take the week’s worth of titles currently produced, grayscale the color, print on newsprint and sell it for $10. Each week could have a different anchor, such as Superman, Batman, or Vertigo. Each title would then sell for a month. Later, collect it into the usual GN binding with color, nice paper, and a few extras.
    Or just wait a few years for the Apple iread so you can look at your scans from DC++ …