No, influencers didn’t make the manga “cool”

By sydney

– Posted on Mar 24, 2022 at 1:04 p.m.

A controversy has been animating social networks since yesterday. Some wonder if youtube influencers were really the ones who made manga “cool”. An assertion that led to an avalanche of reactions – justified, when we look a little closer at the history of manga in France!

Who can escape manga today? Japanese comics are available in mythical and hyper-popular series, the latest major trends of which are Shingeki no Kyojin, One Pieceor Jujutsu Kaisen. On Twitter, there are countless manga PPs, while scenes from these series have become common additions to youtube video montages. And speaking of Google’s video platform, we’ve been hearing a controversy for two days, opposing industry influencers and the public, the former arguing about their role in their democratization, the latter accusing them of surfing the wave, and of this give an importance that they would not have. So, who is right ?

In the beginning, there was the Club Dorothée

Many Internet users have thus recalled that the great history of manga in France begins with the Club Dorothée, at the end of the 80s. what are Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya or Captain Tsubasa (even if at the time we Frenchified everything with the Knights of the Zodiac, Olive and Tom…). The show was also the source of controversy with ministers like Ségolène Royal as actors, and at its peak, gathered 40 to 50% of viewers. The foundation of the manga hype in France is there, given the figures (and the memory of those in their thirties), the manga being already cool in the 90s. mainstream in our time the japanimation. A very quick statement.

Manga have always existed before the internet

Indeed, for some influencers, between the end of Club Dorothée and the beginning of the 2010s, the manga world would have been a no man’s land of geeks, nerves and frowned upon people. However, a few years after the end of the Dorothée et d’Ariane show, television again – successfully – played the manga card. We thus see appearing from the beginning of the 2000s GTO and Full Metal Alchemist on Canal +, while Midi les zouzous touched all soccer players with Olive and Tom when Nicky Larson or Cat’s Eyes had never left France 3.

At the same time, France, which for several decades has been the second manga country in the world after Japan, gave birth to the Japan Expo, the major international manga event, the concept of which was even exported to United States in recent years. The background of popularity has always been present in our country, and if the internet has had an impact, it has only been technical and impersonal.

The massification of manga, an autonomous phenomenon

Indeed, the oldest, who have experienced downloads in 56k, remember that it was TV that made them want to support a little more knowledge of our favorite manga on the internet, with the download of OSTs and episodes unpublished with more or less happiness on eMule, KaZaa or Limewire. The results were quite mediocre at first, but with the arrival of ADSL, more and more translation teams were able to develop – notably on mIRC – around 2005, always attracting a little more people. This is also the time when Japanese scans of manga chapters finally arrived regularly in France, allowing the development of scantrad.

No influencers didnt make the manga cool

The public who turned to the internet for manga then continued to grow, until the first big success, first due to the net in our country, which was… Naruto. Kishimoto’s saga is the first to have been a child of the web in France, with the chapters which for the first time were expected every week from the mid-2000s, while the DVDs of the adventures of the child-demon-fox passed through all hands. With the direct connection to Japan via the internet, and increased download power, the latent popularity of manga in our country then exploded, along with the ever-increasing part of the internet in our lives.

Social networks, consumer stage of the hype

When social networks appeared in the early 2010s, the work was already done. The huge fanbase, the growing cultural products, all that remained was to create a culture. And as often on the networks, it passed through GIFs (for the older ones), then memes, to which manga provided almost infinite material. In this very important field, no actor can claim to have provided decisive assistance, since these are eminently collective and anonymous achievements. Influencers are the last links in an already built chain, influencers who exist only through all the work previously done, and who only recover for their videos a world already known and appreciated by those who will watch. If there was to be any value given to their work, it would be more in maintaining the hype with regular videos, producing hypotheticals warming up the fans, than in any role of mass initiator.

So no, influencers haven’t made anything cool.