Manga is a giant business, both in Japan and abroad. In the US, we regularly hear about how volumes of One Piece or Naruto outsell homegrown American comics by a wide margin, and new players are getting into the manga publishing game all the time.
But those days may not last forever, especially in Asia. That’s according to Yohei Sadoshima, the founder of Cork, a literary agency that represents manga artists like Chuya Koyama (Space Brothers) and Moyoco Anno (Sugar Sugar Rune).
Sadoshima was recently interviewed on radio station TOKYO FM, where he made the bold statement that “Japanese manga is fading out on the world stage.”
He pointed primarily to China, where the market for web-based comics is booming, and where the top-read Chinese comics are downloaded about 150 million times. Compare that to Japan, he said, where the scale for success is more like 10 million.
Sadoshima also said due to the explosion of original Chinese comics, there is no longer interest in licensing manga in that country. Three or four years ago, he tried to sell licenses for Japanese manga in China, but was told that “it would be a waste of money to translate them.”
He went on to note that Chinese and Korean comics once had the tendency to copy Japanese manga, but are now full of originality. He specifically mentioned the fact that web comics are written to be read as a constant vertical scroll suited to smartphone screens.
“It’s not just a case of taking comics and making them vertical,” he added, “the entire method of expression is different.”
Sadoshima ended by saying that both China and Korea will continue to improve their comic-creating talents, and that Japanese manga creators need to think about new methods, like adding color, to keep the world’s attention.
Have you read any comics from China or Korea? Do you think manga will be overtaken in the west, too?