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 Apocalypse, How 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!!;
- Honey So Sweet;
- How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend;
- Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade;
- My Monster Secret;
- 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 Monster, Kiss of the Rose Princess, and Ani-Imo will soon finish their runs.
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.
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!
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