VIZ Media, a publisher specializing in manga and anime, will begin offering translated chapters of the popular manga to North American audiences on Tuesday, the same day it is released in Japan.
The simultaneous publication of titles via the company’s VIZ Manga app is part of an effort to get manga into the hands of fans more quickly at a time when readership is skyrocketing, the company said. It may also help fight widespread piracy.
“Manga has grown tremendously in the last few years,” said Ken Sasaki, chief executive of San Francisco-based VIZ Media, a subsidiary of Japanese publisher Hitotsubashi Group. “I think readers have finally realized that there are many other genres out there.”
2021 comic book sales will reach $550 million, said Milton Griepp, chief executive of pop culture online publication ICv2, at last year’s New York Comic-Con. Sales jumped 9% In 2022, ICv2 was reported in March.
Pre-pandemic manga action stories (known as shōnen manga and aimed at young male readers) were the dominant force. VIZ’s digital service “Shonen Jump”, which started in 2018, specializes in such stories.
However, VIZ Manga offers romance, fantasy, horror, and other stories, putting more female characters at the forefront. The library contains over 10,000 chapters of his existing 148 series from manga publisher Shogakukan, which is also part of Hitotsubashi. Additionally, the current 15-series installment will be available in English on the same day as the Japanese release. Some series deal with topics such as social anxiety in high school (SeeKomi cannot communicate“, Tomohito Oda), or an unexpected romance (“How do we build relationships?by Tamiflu).
The partnership with VIZ Media marks Shogakukan’s first time offering manga on demand. The subscription service costs $1.99 per month, but his three latest chapters in each series are available for free. Other titles have been added and VIZ Media plans to expand to other regions.
Simultaneous publishing can also help prevent piracy. Piracy is swift and widespread.Sasaki explained the short time to publication in Japan. New issues of manga magazines leave the printers on Thursdays and hit the newsstands on Mondays. But somehow, the pirates get their hands on a copy and immediately start scanning and translating it. Pirated copies may be available online before they hit newsstands.
“It’s a big lost opportunity for those who make money selling the original version,” Sasaki said.
For North American readers, simultaneous publication greatly reduces the waiting time (usually months) for the collection edition of each chapter to be available in English.
When VIZ started offering print and digital versions of Shonen Jump, company officials worried about cannibalism, Sasaki said. But they found that people who read digital stories were still buying print.
“Book sales have also increased significantly since Shonen Jump’s subscription service began.