From the Great Ideas Dept:

John Thomas over at Mecha Mecha Media takes another look at Light Novels in the US and comes up with a GREAT new name for them:  J-Pulp.  I think this is a perfect name for them!  It describes them exactly as they are meant to be.  Short prose books meant to kill a few hours.  And it’s a term book retailers and publishers can understand.  They aren’t meant to be high literature, nor shoved into the foreign books section (is that really a category in bookstores?)  It’s all about the genre.  Get the light novels with the other novels they fit into best; Ghost in the Shell and Vampire Hunter D in the Sci Fi/Fantasy section.  Then at the end of the novel, mention that the manga series is available for more stories, etc.  If you’re not going to tell anyone about these book except the people who already know about them (don’t get me started on the incestuous relationship manga and anime keep cultivating), then at least get them into places where non-manga fans might stumble on them and decide to find out more.

Then there’s John Jakala of Sporatic Sequential and Simon “NSFW” Jones of Icarus Publishing who hit on another great idea; get genre manga where the fans will be.  Their example is sports manga.  Try selling it at the appropriate sporting events; Speed Racer at NASCAR, Eyeshield 21at Football Colliseums,  Whistle at Soccer events (this would be a BIG seller I think).  Wow…what a concept.  Get the books in front of people who would actually be interested in them.  What a concept!  Comics and manga aren’t seen as cool with the “jock types”, and you won’t seem them going into a bookstore to find ‘em.  But, put them next to jerseys and you might get some page turning.  At least with pictures they won’t have to read much. (No, I didn’t care for the jocks in High School.)

Manga being read as a genre:

Umm…well…yeah.  Isn’t that the way that all people read books?  I could go on about how that’s the way most people chose their books, but this commentor already did a terrific job.  This isn’t the problem.  The problem is that publishers keep catering to a teen and otaku market that outgrows the subjects of the shonen and shojo manga.  I think if a real survey of manga readers was done, you would find that most don’t read manga because there’s an anime of it.   Some may have discovered manga because of an anime showing on TV, but it would be silly to assume that that’s the only manga they buy.  And Anime Expo is hardly the place to go to judge the future of manga.  Anime Expo is for ANIME, and despite reports to the contrary, manga is not anime.  Anime can come from manga, and manga can be made from anime, but they are still two distinct mediums that can and should exist separate from each other.

If manga publishers keep trying to rely on the teen and otaku market for their sales, they are going to end up just like the anime market and Tokyopop; down the hole.  Otaku can only buy so much, and not all anime otaku read manga, and visa verse.  And teens outgrow things.  Ask the Comic Book Industry who feels the needs to keep catering to the teen market at the expense of their older fans (ex: Spiderman:Brand New Day).

Manga has the greatest potential for survival because it has the chance of appealing to audiences outside of a fandom.  Not all manga has to have an anime based on it.  There are plenty of titles out there that have the strength of story and characters to appeal to a more mainstream audience.  But, you can’t expect the mainstream to come looking for it.  You have to go to them, and show them why they should read it.

And one more thing, manga are COMIC BOOKS.  Anime Expo is not where everyone should go and expect to see new license announcements from manga publishers.  It’s for ANIME.  Sure, manga publishers will want to be there to push their tie-in books, and that’s fine.  But for all the people that keep whining about having to wait for the San Diego Comic Con…DEAL WITH IT! Manga are comics and comics are best marketed at a COMIC CON.  If you chose to go to AX and not SDCC, then that’s too bad for you.  Get. Over. It.

Tokyopop new licenses:

What are you thinking?!   You’re canceling titles left and right, many that have an established fanbase (even if it’s not as big as you’d like) and you’re announcing new titles?  While I’ll admit you will probably find an established audiences for Tsubasa and Peacemake Kurogane, don’t you think you should try getting your house back in order before pushing new titles out the door!  Finish your shake out AND TELL US WHAT’S GONE FOR SURE! What is the point of dragging this out?  You know what you’re going to drop.  You’ve probably have known for months.  You think you’re going to keep people hanging on just because you don’t tell anyone what’s going on?  Yeah, that worked so well for ADV’s reputation too.  Hope may spring eternal, but what we fans need most right now is closure.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • John T says:

    Thanks for the endorsement, Lori! Even though the term “light novel” (raito noberu) isn’t disagreeable in Japanese, it doesn’t sound like something that I would want to read. The reverse translation of the term into English I think was picked up without any active thought, but J-Pulp is a more accurate and attractive way to describe this new genre.

  • When I read your blog post about naming it j-pulp, it just clicked. I sounded perfect, and just had to be sure to spread the word! Maybe we can get this as well known a word as manga. :)

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