In a recent blog post on Jan 9, 2022, Shueisha editor Yūta Momiyama, who manages Weekly Shonen Jump‘s Shonen Jump+ and MANGA Plus online services, revealed that many companies look forward to the service’s reviews to see if a manga will become popular overseas when it is animated.
Momiyama explained in his note that the editorial department can now maintain track of international reception from the very beginning of serialization thanks to data from MANGA Plus.
Furthermore, they were asked by many companies about the result of the questionnaires because the overseas market is so vital to the anime business. He revealed that MANGA Plus data is already being used to assist to determine which titles will be adapted into anime.
“Recently, there have been a lot of opportunities from companies in the anime business who came to ask about the popularity of “MANGA Plus” and about the manga that has been given most stars,” said the editor.
He attached a report from NHK which shows the sharp dip in the domestic anime market in 2020 in the history of 11 years of the anime industry. However, it also shows an exponential increase in the anime market overseas.
This shows that “overseas popularity is important for achieving animation and continuing animation broadcasting and distribution. It goes without saying that you need money to continue making anime. If the market for that business is larger overseas, it’s only natural that works that are likely to sell overseas will be animated,” said Momiyama.
Additionally, he went on to explain that MANGA Plus is managed by Shueisha directly because Momiyama wants it to be a core part of Weekly Shonen Jump‘s editorial approach; which is why they avoided licensing titles and then distribute overseas.
Momiyama also predicted that the overseas manga market will become even more important in the future. MANGA Plus currently has 5 million monthly active users. He also pointed to a Kodansha report stating that roughly 20% of manga sales currently come from overseas.
Through rumors, he has heard that Shueisha’s overseas manga sales have apparently doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year.
The first volume of Naoya Matsumoto‘s Kaiju No. 8 in particular, published a whopping 250,000 copies in France alone despite the higher unit price for manga volumes compared to Japan.
Again in France, Tatsu Yukinobu‘s Dandadan, on the other hand, was licensed to a local publisher under exceptional conditions in the history of Shueisha.
In an interview with Crunchyroll, Momiyama claimed that “if the climate for the delivery of digital manga overseas is improved, in about 10 years time, overseas and domestic sales may be split evenly 50-50.”
Although the MANGA Plus service includes ads, he explained that the priority is making a manga’s official version as easily accessible as possible rather than monetizing the platform.
He said that the advantage of MANGA Plus as a simultaneous distribution service is that, not only does it preempt piracy, it closes the time gap between domestic and overseas reception.
Despite the pros, the editor admits there are some negative sides to international expansion. This includes the “lack of resources for running the service in each country” and that each region has its own “form of censorship,” which they still need to be aware of.
Other issues include the process of going from pen and paper to digital. He addressed that when “we think about what is most desirable for readers, works, and writers in the digital age, we need to make adjustments to existing business models, which makes it difficult to speed up the process of creating new services.”
Shueisha launched the MANGA Plus service worldwide in January 2019. The service is Shueisha’s first foray into direct service globally.
Source: Yuta Momiyama’s note