Opinion – Manga in 2015: A Look Back, a Look Forward

So 2015 is gone. (Whoa.) So let’s take another quick look back and look forward!

A Look Back

Well, to the surprise of no one, shounen manga dominates. One-Punch Man, Tokyo Ghoul, My Hero Academia, the end and next-gen of Naruto, plus Attack on Titan…I doubt any manga fan avoided all of these. Obviously, with Viz Media publishing four out of five of these titles, they’ve been having a very good year. And even though one of their biggest hits ever has come to an end, the Naruto fanbase has plenty to look forward to in the new Boruto series. To me, this is the least surprising news of the year. I had no doubt Kishimoto and/or Weekly Shonen Jump would easily let Naruto go.

Shoujo fans, on the other hand, were finally granted a major long-running title in the form of Yona of the Dawn. However, shoujo manga itself has been lacking here in the U.S. If you take a look at New York Times‘ Manga Bestsellers List, you can go back months and months and not see a single shoujo title. It’s a combination of shoujo manga’s longer release schedules, lots of major titles catching up to the Japanese release, and lots of popular shounen garnering all the attention. Even well-received shoujo anime like My Love Story!! has not seemed to pass off its reception to the manga.

License-wise, Seven Seas went on a blitz in December, announcing the acquisition of NTR: Netsuzou Trap, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Land of the Rising Dead: A Tokyo School Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie ApocalypseHow to Build a Dungeon: Book of the Demon King, Monster Girl Encyclopedia, Please Tell Me! Galko-chan, Magia the Ninth, and still more!  Besides Viz Media also picked up two significant sports series: Haikyuu!! and Kuroko’s Basketball. There’s no doubt they really stole the attention at New York Comic-Con.

As I mentioned in my mid-year recap, I still think the most surprising news of the year has been the license of The Rose of Versailles. In addition, while I enjoyed many of the most popular series, the best new series of the year were The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto from Seven Seas.

A Look Forward

The new year will bring in a lot of new manga. Titles debuting in the first half of 2016 include:

  • Behind the Scenes!!;
  • Handa-kun;
  • Honey So Sweet;
  • How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend;
  • Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade;
  • Magatsuki;
  • My Monster Secret;
  • Nichijou;
  • Persona 4;
  • Shuriken and Pleats;
  • Taboo Tattoo; and
  • The Testament of Sister New Devil.

The print versions of Orange, Princess Jellyfish, and Servant x Service will also finally be released. Manga like My Neighbor Seki, First Love Monster, and Monster Musume will just about catch up to the Japanese releases. Noragami will continue its monthly release until July in order to do so. Meanwhile, several shoujo titles such as My Little MonsterKiss of the Rose Princess, and Ani-Imo will soon finish their runs.

Predictions

I already discussed shoujo manga being MIA on the bestseller’s list. Even with new series by the authors of Ouran High School Host Club and Vampire Knight debuting, shoujo manga still has an uphill battle. Perhaps those two or the latest volumes of My Love Story!! or the final volume of Kiss of the Rose Princess can crack the list. However, if fans of Yona of the Dawn keep their vows to support their series, perhaps more major shoujo titles (especially ones like Blue Spring Ride and The World is Still Beautiful that have an anime adaptation) will be considered. I really am afraid Yona of the Dawn will go the route of Gakuen Alice though: high scanlation views that don’t translate into high sales.

After Tokyopop’s attempt at Comic-Con to try to get back into OEL game, they’ve been largely silent. Will they edge closer to a full-scale comeback? I still think they could, but it will be very difficult. Seven Seas and Yen Press are both rapidly expanding, so Tokyopop would probably have to start off more like Dark Horse or Vertical with select quality titles. There’s no way they could make it with releases like in the early 2000s.

But back to Seven Seas and Yen Press. Both publishers have been challenging Kodansha Comics and Viz Media, and I feel like the Big Two — especially Viz Media — have stepped up to the challenge. I mentioned over the months how disappointing Viz Media has been with their licenses, but they saved their bombshells for New York Comic-Con. I expect more announcements from all the publishers closer to the summertime, giving time for them to gauge sales in their new series as well as finish up the old ones.

There has been questions for a while about whether the U.S. is in the middle of a manga bubble. From my own experience, it does seem like I’m scrambling to catch up on all these latest-and-greatest hits. Sports manga fans, for instance, will have Yowamushi Pedal, Kuroko’s Basketball, and Haikyuu!! all available to purchase. That’s three major titles that weren’t available just a year ago in a genre that was pretty much empty. I’d hate for any of these manga to flop and either a) be cancelled mid-publication and/or b) prevent similar manga from being picked up.

Final Comments

The manga boom has continued in 2015, and there’s been some great series of all genres released this year. However, I think the shoujo slide will continue into 2016, and Yona of the Dawn is still a ways off…and a bit of a risk.

What new series are you looking forward to reading? Do you have any hopes or predictions for 2016?

And now that it’s officially 2016, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

19 Comments

  1. insightblue

    I am ridiculously excited for Yona! Kamisama Kiss is a long-running series, and it’s still being translated (thank God), even with scanlations, so hopefully Yona won’t be stopped in the middle.

    And even though I like a lot of the shounen titles, it makes me sad there is never shoujo on the Bestseller’s List!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      You make a good point with Kamisama Kiss, as it’s one of Shojo Beat’s biggest titles. But when Viz Media picked it up, it was only on like volume 4 in Japan. Yona was up to 19 when licensed. So there’s a big difference in the timeline. Plus KK has been tossed around since it was licensed fairly quickly, while all of Yona (until just recently) wasn’t. So that’s why there’s a fear that Viz Media might be “too late”…and doom more shoujo in the process. But hopefully not, as titles like Noragami are being sped up because it’s so successful.

      And more shoujo does need to make the list!

      Reply
  2. honya

    Whoa, I hadn’t heard that Nichijou was getting an official translation. Happy! 😀

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Yep, end of March from Vertical, Inc.!

      Reply
      1. honya

        Yay! 🙂

        Reply
  3. Rocco B

    Since I’ve got a kindle, log horizon looks like a must for me, since I enjoyed the anime series. Not too sure if you’ve checked out The case study of Vanitas from the author of pandora hearts. It’s pretty good.

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      I’ve heard some people talk about it, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll be sure to keep it in mind!

      Reply
  4. Arria Cross

    Yonaaaaaaaaaaa! I hope it gets better this new year!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      LOL, I read your Yona in Fred Flinstone’s “WILLLLMAA” voice. XD

      Reply
      1. Arria Cross

        Aw. That makes me so nostalgic. Flintstones used to be so big when I was a kid.

        Reply
  5. Takuto's Anime Cafe

    I. Need. More. Yona. *collapses*
    I need to finish the titles I’ve already started, like SAO, Pandora Hearts, Railgun, and Seraph, but I can’t wait to see what’s in store like you said. Happy New Year!!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Happy New Year to you, Takuto!

      Reply
  6. Matthew

    I can’t wait for 2016. Get ready for new Viz and YenPress manga. Happy New Years!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Happy New Year to you, Matt!

      Reply
      1. Matthew

        Thank you and Happy New Years to you also krystallina 🙂

        Reply
  7. The Otaku Judge

    I love the Persona 4 game and anime. Hopefully the manga will be equally good.

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      It went on for a decent number of volumes, so hopefully it is!

      Reply
  8. james

    I am a Hero is my anticipation. My wish list is Eden, MPD-psycho, Kurosagi, all lost causes.

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      It’s awful when a series you like isn’t getting the sale numbers to make a publisher want to continue it. 🙁

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: