By The Worm Brush
– Published on May 06, 2022 at 17:20
One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia or even Dragon Ball, titles that we no longer present, but which nevertheless crush the market. Indeed, in the top Japanese weekly sales, published on the site Oriconthe differences in sales that separate HITs from other licenses show that the manga market is facing a serious problem.
If you are a fan of manga, you most certainly know the top Oricon. Published weekly on the site of the same name, the Japanese statistics company publishes sales results for many sectors, including manga. And the least we can say is that the podium is very regularly occupied by the same licenses as One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia or even, before the last volume comes out, The attack of the Titans.
But when you look at the sales figures in addition to looking at the podium, you quickly realize that a real gulf separates these titles from the others, which are having difficulty even approaching the top of the rankings. The proof, when we look at the best manga sales over the past year, we notice the 10th manga in the ranking, Haikyu!! at the house of Kaze Manga, does not measure up with its 4.3 million copies sold. In front of him stands in particular Jujutsu Kaisenthe best-selling manga in 2021, and its 30.9 million volumes sold.
The giants of manga, those who democratized this art
At the time, the manga market was dominated by three extremely popular titles: One Piecewhich will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, Bleachwhich is coming back as an anime soon, and naruto, the sequel to which is still being published. These three titles alone are believed to be responsible for the meteoric rise of manga across the world. They are also greatly involved an unprecedented expansion in the early 2000s of complementary industries such as Japanese animation, merchandising, conventions, etc.
The three titles are also part of the best-selling manga in history with One Piece in the lead, making its author Eiichiro Oda the richest mangaka. naruto comes sixth in the standings and Bleach eleventh. Yet despite the impressive sales of these three licenses, sales of preprint magazines in Japan have seen steady declines over the past few years.
A sales gap between HITs and others
The Twitter account @WSJOriconwhich tracks the sales results of the Japanese publisher’s series Shueisha, shared an assessment of sales by volume for the month of April. This sharing could provide us with a first element of response. Indeed, in his tweet, we discover that volume 19 of Jujutsu Kaisen sold 1,485,960 copies, volume 102 of One Piece, released with us on Wednesday, has sold 1,325,680 copies. Behind these two mastodons follows volume 9 of Spy x Family with 1,004,695 copies and volume 27 of tokyo revenge with 719,730 copies. Figures that can be particularly impressive.
Oricon Monthly Rankings by Volume: April: pic.twitter.com/t17rDWmCJE
—Jump Oricon (@WSJOricon) May 6, 2022
However, when we look at the results of the other volumes, we quickly realize that a real gulf separates them. As an example, volume 32 of BlackClover, which is nevertheless a series that one would think popular, only sold 147,010 copies. In comparison with a Spy x Family, which is a much more recent series, TABATA Yûki’s series is struggling to get its head above water. Although these are not the official figures, the Twitter account @WSJOricon enjoys an excellent reputation among fans and the gap between the series remains large.
This is not a discovery for anyone: the publishing industry in Japan, as in France for that matter, has been in difficulty for several years. In 2021, sales of the famous Weekly Shōnen Jump dropped to a level not seen since the 1970s with 1.4 million copies sold per week on average, though it remains the most popular manga preprint magazine in the archipelago. By way of comparison, in 1995, 6.53 million copies of Weekly Shōnen Jump was sold on average each week.
We could explain this drop in sales by the end of several large licenses in 2020, such as Demon Slayer, and that no series has been able to take over. Nevertheless, we essentially see that the magazine is based on two huge series: One Piece and Jujutsu Kaisen. The pressure on the two mangakas proves that currently, the manga industry is struggling to find successful titles that hold up over the long term.
Moreover, the success of One Piece is particularly impressive. The series is not only the best-selling manga of all time, but also one of the best-selling works of literature in history, having surpassed sales of Harry Potter. However, with the end of One Piece approaching, the pressure may fall on dark fantasy manga Jujutsu Kaisen. And just like One Piece, Akutami Gege’s manga will also have an end one day. And currently, no title is able to take over from one or the other of the two series. The huge difference between the two titles and other licenses proves that the manga industry must manage to find a way to offer novelties that will convince fans.