Square Enix On Why Manga Doesn't Sell As Big Overseas

Final Fantasy maker Square Enix doesn't only make Final Fantasy. The Japanese company also has an anime and manga division, responsible for titles like Saki and Full Metal Alchemist.

When division head Kouji Taguchi was asked why manga sales in the US were still considerably smaller than in Japan, he replied:

The best sellers in the US were Full Metal Alchemist and Naruto, but these only sold a tenth to a twentieth of what they sold in Japan. I think the main reasons are as follows: 1. Fewer copies are printed and those that are get sold at a much higher price, from $US8.99 to $US12.99. 2. Children don't get as much money, their allowances are just smaller. 3. The other reason is location. If you live in Tokyo there will be 3 bookshops nearby, which you can easily cycle to. In the US there aren't any, they can only buy on a weekly trip to the mall. Even if anime is highly popular, they just don't visit the stores to buy manga often.

As website Sankaku Complex points out, it's interesting that Taguchi focuses on distribution instead of simply stating that Japanese and Western tastes are different. Taguchi also went on to state that manga publishers are increasingly moving forward to digital distribution.

"Publishers such as Shueisha, Kodansha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa are setting up a digital platform on the PSP for distributing manga," said Taguchi. The Square Enix exec doesn't think this will catch on in Japan because prices are low and there are many shops selling manga. However, this form of distribution could very well catch on in the States.

誠:劇的3時間SHOW:『咲-Saki-』『鋼の錬金術師』の田口浩司プロデューサーが語る、儲かるアニメの作り方 (1/6) [Business Media via Sankaku Complex — Image NSFW][Pic]


    It's not that Japanese and Western tastes are different. If they were, why do all Japanese video game makers take the western market into consideration when they develop a game?

    The issue is not only distribution but also the popularity of manga in general in western countries. Not only is it rather small, the ones who are interested have access to sites which are not only free but are immediate; coming mere days after it is released in Japan. Compare this to the months or maybe even years that it takes for manga to be shipped to the US.

    Also, I own a lot of manga irl. But it's retarded when the only chain to sell it is borders and they only stock the 13 year old friendly titles.

    It's simple really. The Japanese were raised on anime and manga. The Western people were raised on cartoons and comic books. Our tastes are completely different because of our backgrounds.

    And to answer the video game theory, it's also simple: Japanese were raised on Japanese games, and the west were also raised on Japanese games (and western games to some extent.) When you were little did you even know that Sonic and Mario were from Japan? Even if you did, did your neighbor know? Or the kids down the street? As far as the masses were concerned, video games were just video games, but anime and manga are exotic japanese versions of 'our' cartoons and comic books.

    Before somebody sites the Wii as an example of the west embracing the east. The west didn't embrace it cause it was different, but because it was 'new.'

    Thats not really surprising - manga has a different status in Japan as it does in the west. In Japan, manga IS the medium, where as in the West, manga is simply a niche within the wider comic book landscape.

    An interesting comparison would be: how well do western comics fare in Japan? I'm guessing around the same as 1/10th to 1/20th ratio that manga gets in the west.

      Spot on with that last comment. Not just in Japan but Asia in general, there would be more translated manga than translated comic.

      I'd say that proximity and price play a part in that equation. Manga is cheaper to produce (ever seen the paper quality of a manga magazine??) and Japan is that much closer to other countries who do not have money but with a large population - Thailand, China, etc. Therefore it would win in value for money conversion :)

      Sadly Japanese manga is ONLY expensive when translated to English... I should just start importing >.<

    It's to do with culture. Many young people from Japan are fans of Japanese comics/anime because it's part of their culture. I'm sure if you made a comparison of sales of DC Comics (Batman/Superman etc) in America and Japan, you would find that they sell a higher percentage more in America, because they are part of their culture.

    I think you guys are getting a few things wrong. Lots of kids NOWDAYS are being brought up on manga/anime, just the kids from back in the day who are now older and were brought up on comic books.

    I notice at the big pop culture conventions here in austalia there's about 100 to 1 (if not even more) anime/manga fans to marvel/dc comic fans.

      While I agree that with the penetration of anime replacing childrens cartoons these days is making more of an impact on the acceptance of anime and manga, this article specifically addresses manga. Things may change in the future, but right now these kids have been growing up with 'Anime' and a cross fusion of comic books, video games and manga. The reason why manag STILL fares badly is still the same. Manga to a lot of these kids is just expensive, black and white, stop-motion versions of their favourite shows. I mean why buy it if you can watch it?

    Marvel/DC fans are very little now due to the huge pop culture from Japan, it's kind of annoying to be honest.

    Growing up with Marvel/DC was probably the best things, now we have guys dressing up as girls, guys reading yaoi (manga with dudes x dudes) and quite frankly, it freaks me out. Not to judge but it just does.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now