The problem with the US manga industry
Posted On May 4, 2008
Well, obviously the industry isn’t having any problems, since it seems if you’re a manga publisher you’re also granted the right to print free money. This post is more about my personal problems with the US manga industry.
A quick glance at my MyAnimeList profile will tell you that I don’t read much manga at all. Upon closer inspection you will find that most of my completed manga titles are one-shots. It’s not that I hate manga or anything, it’s just that, for the most part, what’s available in English doesn’t interest me at all.
It’s no secret that the market skews towards shoujo and shounen, and very lately, as the manga section of Otaku USA will tell you, boys love. There are sprinklings of seinen, jousei and true blue otaku titles, but for the most part the manga industry seems to have their sights locked on teenagers, and your local bookstore’s manga section is an Itano Circus. I’m not going to ponder as to why this is the case, since I know– this stuff sells. Your Nartuos and Fruits Baskets always top the book listings, and when one takes a glance at what kids are reading in the stores, the pages are either filled with speedlines or flowery screen tone.
Ok. That’s great. You guys have capital. Use it. This is exactly what the anime industry wants but is not getting, and I think maybe, just maybe the manga industry is playing it too safe with what they keep licensing. I’m fascinated by manga due to the wide range of subject matters it covers, but what makes it over in English is very limited. I want to read stuff like this and this, but instead all I have available to me is… fuckin Bus Stop of Love. So, please, US manga publishers, expand your horizons. Viz putting out things like Phoenix and Golgo 13 and those smaller companies like (grumble grumble) Seven Seas putting out otaku-ish things He is My Master is a great start but… MORE.
Of course, I do have the whole wide world of scanslations at my disposal. That world is however big and scary, and once again the stuff I really care about gets neglected. I guess I could read some neverendingshounenromance (I have no problem with shounen romance) but then my aversion to manga never ending comes into play, but that’s another blog post all together.
I guess in the end what it really comes down to is me learning Japanese. I suspect the translators of the titles I care about really don’t see the point given the limited demand, and just read the stuff on their own. Kind of a pity, but them’s the breaks. I guess I’ll be hitting the books now, then.