A Faster Delivery for Fans of Manga

VIZ Media, a publisher devoted to manga and anime, on Tuesday will begin offering translated chapters of popular manga to audiences in North America on the same day they are released in Japan.

The simultaneous publication of titles through the company’s VIZ Manga app is part of an effort to get manga more quickly into the hands of fans at a time of booming readership, the company said. And it may also help fight pervasive piracy.

“In the last few years, manga became so much bigger,” said Ken Sasaki, the chief executive of VIZ Media, which is based in San Francisco and is a subsidiary of the Japanese publisher Hitotsubashi Group. “I think readers are finally aware that there are so many other genres.”

Manga sales hit $550 million in 2021, said Milton Griepp, the chief executive of ICv2, an ​​online pop culture trade publication, last year at New York Comic Con. Sales jumped 9 percent in 2022, ICv2 reported in March.

Prepandemic, manga action stories (known as shonen manga, and geared toward young male readers) were the dominant force. VIZ’s digital service, Shonen Jump, which began in 2018, specializes in those types of stories.

But VIZ Manga will offer romance, fantasy, horror and other stories, and put more female characters at the forefront. The library includes more than 10,000 chapters of 148 existing series from the manga publisher Shogakukan, which is also part of Hitotsubashi. In addition, installments of 15 current series will be available in English on the same day they are released in Japan. Some of the series deal with topics like social anxiety in high school (“Komi Can’t Communicate” by Tomohito Oda), or unexpected romance (“How Do We Relationship?” by Tamifull).

The arrangement with VIZ Media is the first time that Shogakukan has offered its manga on-demand. The subscription service costs $1.99 a month, but the three most recent chapters of each series will be available without cost. Others titles will be added, and VIZ Media plans to expand to other regions.

The simultaneous publication may also help prevent piracy, which is speedy and widespread. Mr. Sasaki described the narrow window for publication in Japan: New issues of manga magazines leave the printers on Thursdays and hit newsstands on Mondays. But somehow, pirates get their hands on copies and immediately start scanning and translating. Sometimes the bootleg version will be available online ahead of the newsstands.

“That’s a huge opportunity lost for people who are making money selling the original version,” Mr. Sasaki said.

For readers in North America, the simultaneous publication will greatly reduce the wait time — usually months — for collected editions of the chapters to be available in English.

When VIZ started offering print and digital editions of Shonen Jump, company officials worried about cannibalization, Mr. Sasaki said. But they found that users who read the digital stories were still buying them in print.

“After the Shonen Jump subscription service started, we also saw a big jump in our book sales,” he said. “It was very synergistic.”

Source: Read Full Article