Dragon Ball Super Manga Volume 17 containing chapters 73 – 76 released in Japan on Dec 3, 2021. Sure, the numbers were lower than the immediate preceding volumes but, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The constant back-and-forth on social media between Dragon Ball Super Manga enthusiasts and critics has resulted in a split of the community over the years when it came to manga sales.
However, the sales evolution of the Dragon Ball Super Manga that dropped on Jan 17, 2022 gave us a broader picture of things.
Before I start talking about the reasons why the sales are dipping, I’d like to put forth some fan opinions on the sales of Dragon Ball Super manga.
Some fans are not pleased with the sales figures
In the wake of Volume 17’s release, fans continued to have wildly divergent ideas on how to view the numbers.
Some fans were like “Toyotarou needs to up his game” whereas others were like “Dragon Ball fans aren’t supportive of Toyotarou when he’s giving his best” I personally feel the Granolah arc is giving us the best DBS has to offer and going by Victory Uchida’s words, it’ll only get better and better from here.
So fans need to at least encourage Toyotarou to do better as time goes rather than constantly criticize and harass him on Twitter. Just be a normal human being and be nice to people. Is that too hard to do?
Coming back to the sales, DBSChronicles at Twitter too reacted negatively by stating that Volume 17 numbers are not good compared to previous volumes.
That may be so, but it’s always better to look at the bigger picture. It has stabilized and remained above the 150,000 sales mark. Plus, ranking at #6 is good for a Manga that doesn’t have an ongoing Anime adaptation.
Analyzing the sales trend:
The 1st volume covers the God of Destruction Beerus and a portion of the Universe 6 Saga and both were already animated (2013 and 2015) before the Manga volume dropped (Apr 14, 2016). So that’s the reason why Volume 1 didn’t perform so well.
The numbers increased manyfold during the run of the Universe 6 saga until the end of the Future Trunks saga. Reason being, the Universe 6 Saga in the Manga (Oct 21, 2015 – 21 June 2016) was ahead of the Anime (Jan 24, 2016 – June 5, 2016).
The Manga saw the best sales figures in Volumes 4 and 5, but decreased dramatically in Volumes 6 and 7 (which covered the Universal Survival Saga) because the Anime (Feb 5, 2017 – Mar 25, 2018) was well ahead of the Manga (Aug 21, 2017 – Nov 21, 2018) at the time.
What’s more, the actual Tankōbon volumes were released much later than the V-Jump Magazines (June 4, 2018, Sept 4, 2018 & Dec 4, 2018).
The Manga version of the Universal Survival Saga was rushed to catch up with the anime and finish before the release of the Broly film. In fact, Toyotarou himself commented on Volume 9 that “there weren’t quite enough pages available in the magazine release to end the Universal Survival arc the way I wanted to, so I added a little bit here.”
This means that Toyotarou had plans to expand on the arc and weave out the story more slowly, but the higher-ups were like “Wrap it up. Wrap it up” So there’s nothing he could do but to oblige. I blame the heads of Shueisha for this one.
The dip in sales has a multitude of reasons that aren’t exclusive for Dragon Ball Super
Now, there are some reasons why sales have dipped for recent volumes and it’s a problem not exclusive to Dragon Ball Super.
- Shōnen Jump as a magazine is currently under pressure of recording the lowest sales since the 1970s. According to newly disclosed sales data from the Japan Magazine Publishers Association (JMPA), the average number of copies sold this year (2020-2021) is 1.4 million.
- While the number is huge, it is nothing like Shōnen Jump’s records, which peaked at 6.5 million in 1995.
- Shōnen Jump sold 2.8 million copies each year on average 10 years ago. However, this was at the time when popular series like Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, and Bleach were still in print.
- Sales in the ’70s ranged from 1.1 million in 1971 to 1.6 million in 1974. The magazine was in its early days so it’s understandable. However, despite the magazine’s current popularity, sales are now 0.2 million lower than that. Even WSJ’s competitors Weekly Shonen Magazine and Weekly Shonen Sunday showed the lowest numbers in the magazine’s history.
- Popular series like One Piece, Black Clover and Vinland Saga show a downward trend. So it’s not just Dragon Ball Super.
- One possible explanation for this reduction is a transition to digital viewership, notably with the publication ofShōnen Jump +
- It includes digital-only series not found in the print magazine, which some readers find intriguing. Although not all digital sales are registered and reported in the same way as JMPA’s indicators of print publication, manga readers have become more accustomed to reading digitally.
- Shueisha’s Shonen Jump brand already has a foothold in this industry with its 2.5 million regular weekly readers. Weekly Shonen Jump is also accessible digitally through Amazon, which however does not track sales or readership.
Coming to DBS’s exclusive reason, fans have to keep in mind that the Manga was initially made as a promo for the Anime and that affected the way fans perceived the Manga. The Anime was frequently ahead of the Manga. “If the Anime had already covered a specific scenario, there is no need to read it again in the Manga,” the fans thought.
Toriyama would give plot points to both Toei and Toyotarou and both would interpret them in different ways. Hence the difference between the two mediums occurred. This is very different from the Original Dragon Ball days where the show was entirely based on the Manga and the Anime was seen as the promo for the Manga.
However, the DBS Animators too used Toyotarou’s Manga as a reference so that’s why there are similarities as well. But you won’t see a situation like this except in Anime exclusive series like Code Geass or Evangelion. The Anime is definitely more popular than the Manga in those cases and so too for Dragon Ball Super.
Scaling with the competition
Another way to see that the figures aren’t all that bad is to compare it to its competitors, such as Boruto and Vinland Saga.
The Boruto sales evolution chart shows a constant decline with the last 7 volumes figures being stable but below 150,000. The last 7 volumes of Dragon Ball Super, however, too showed sales stabilizing but well above the 150,000 mark. This is despite DBS not having an Anime currently airing whereas the Boruto Anime is running.
Vinland Saga is another Monthly Manga with declining sales. Its last 7 volumes had sales below 150,000 with its latest volume crossing the 100,000 mark and dipping further. Dragon Ball Super has an edge over its numbers too.
While the Anime did come first, I feel there are a lot of issues with how the Manga was advertised.
The Manga needs better promotional activities
Toei Animation is doing a decent job in hyping up the upcoming movie Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, which will hit Japanese theatres on April 22, 2022. However, I can’t say the same for the Manga.
Shueisha and Bird Studio aren’t pushing the Manga agenda even when it has gone past where the Anime left off. In fact, there are a lot of overseas fans who have no idea that the Manga exists and is an ongoing one!
Victory Uchida, the Manga’s editor only had a few minutes to talk about the Manga during the NYCC. The movie hype train overshadowed the excitement for the Manga.
That’s why I feel there needs to be better marketing for the product that will make fans aware. This wasn’t the case for the original Dragon Ball series as the Manga was immensely popular back in the day. In fact, Dragon Ball carried Shonen Jump during the 80s and 90s. Editors were shaking in their boots whenever Toriyama threatened to stop drawing if he didn’t get his way.
The thing I felt was the biggest crisis for serialization was when he told me that Goku would grow up. Toriyama-sensei threatened that if Goku did not grow up, then he could not continue with serialization. (laughs) It was terrible, breaching the subject like that. “You can have the protagonist grow up, just do not scare me like that,” I said.Kazuhiko Torishima (Toriyama’s first editor), Daizenshuu 2, 1995
Another idea that fans have is to convert the Monthly format to a bi-weekly (once every two weeks). While this might improve interest in the Manga, thereby boosting sales, it has insider issues.
Dragon Ball Super has to be moved from V-Jump to another magazine. This would lead to a significant drop in V-Jump magazine sales because Boruto and DBS are its biggest series.
It all depends on the higher-ups and what they think but I personally feel it’ll be better for the series to have a bi-weekly schedule. Fans wouldn’t have to wait too long to satisfy their urge to find out “what happens next?!”
The Dragon Ball Super Manga sales figures aren’t as bad as some people make out to be. It’s actually performing rather decently for a monthly spin-off Manga with no Anime airing. Sure there has been a drop in sales post-Broly movie release but it has stabilized and maintained the “above 150,000 mark” which its key competitors failed to do.
Apart from the negative comments, there are some positive ones too. Twitter user @ultraegoshane commented as follows:
1. Vol. sales were down for most series
2. I keep seeing that Bardock should have sold copies but his chapter is not in 17.
3. Maybe UE on the cover would have helped but like I said, all sales were down
4. ~70,000 in Japan alone still bought the vol. in a 3 day span lol
I agree with all points except for the 3rd. I don’t think the cover art would have changed much because the general Manga sales were down anyway.
Also, I feel that sales will rise up again when DBS: Super Hero hits the theatres. It’ll remind Anime-onlys that Dragon Ball is very much alive and kicking. Furthermore, the sales would mostly likely skyrocket when the Anime comes back. Executive Producer Akio Iyoku recently hinted at the Anime’s return so we can expect the announcement anytime this year.
And when that happens, the Manga sales will reach a new peak, mark my words.
So what do you think of our thoughts on the Dragon Ball Super Manga sales numbers? Are we too optimizing and biased about the series? Let us know in the comments below!