Tag Archives: unlicensed

Top Manga Rankings 2014

OriconOver in Japan, the top-selling manga series for 2014 has been published by Oricon. The list includes the top 30 titles and their sales numbers covering the dates from November 18, 2013 to November 16, 2014. Looking the list over, it’s pretty amazing how many of them have been licensed and are currently being released. Seventeen titles are current available, with the eighteenth, Tokyo Ghoul having just been announced by Viz Media at New York Comic Con in October:

Rank Sales Title US Publisher
1 11,885,957 One Piece Viz
2 11,728,368 Attack on Titan Kodansha
4 6,946,203 Tokyo Ghoul Viz
6 5,505,179 Naruto Viz
8 4,657,971 Magi Viz
9 4,633,246 The Seven Deadly Sins Kodansha
10 4,622,108 Assassination Classroom Viz
12 4,295,257 Terra Formars Viz
16 3,816,372 Nisekoi Viz
17 3,275,885 Fairy Tail Kodansha
18 2,986,968 Bleach Viz
19 2,644,122 Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma Viz
23 2,397,887 Kimi ni Todoke Viz
24 2,394,263 Gintama Viz
25 2,380,774 Detective Conan Viz
26 2,289,738 Black Butler Yen Press
27 2,231,805 Noragami Kodansha
28 2,173,339 One-Punch Man Viz

AoT 1We will then have three of the top five titles and, and seven out of the top ten. That’s really not too bad. Should be surprising that Viz has most of the titles as well? Almost half of the top titles come from Shueisha/Shogakukan, that Viz gets first choice/exclusive rights to. Kodansha only have four, but they are all NYT Bestseller charts. And Viz and Kodansha are in a race for the top title with only ~157,000 between One Piece and Attack on Titan. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them switch places in 2015.

Yen Press has only one title, Black Butler, which is also one of its strongest sellers here. Gintama, continues to do well in Japan, but was dropped by Viz here. One-Punch Man continues to be a digital only title. It hasn’t converted like Nisekoi did, so it may not do well enough to warrant a print run, even though it usually ranks on Vizmanga.com‘s top ten with every new volume. Almost the entire licensed list is shonen, with only one shojo, Kimi ni Todoke, charting.

Rank Sales Title Publisher
3 8,283,709 Haikyu!! Shueisha
5 6,729,439 Kuroko’s Basketball Shueisha
7 4,681,031 Ace of Diamond Kodansha
11 4,385,701 Hozuki no Reitetsu Kodansha
13 4,166,875 Blue Spring Ride Shueisha
14 4,098,510 Yowamushi Pedal (Yowapeda) Akita Shoten
15 3,957,991 Silver Spoon Shogakukan
20 2,588,791 Yōkai Watch Shogakukan
21 2,516,278 Kingdom Shueisha
22 2,472,101 Kyō wa Kaisha Yasumimasu. Shueisha
29 1,967,675 Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun Square Enix
30 1,937,059 Chihayafuru Kodansha

Yokai WatchOf the titles that haven’t been licensed yet, there are several that make you wonder why. Silver Spoon, by the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Himoru Arakawa, remains unlicensed, leaving many fans scratching their heads. Yokai Watch, which has the potential to rival Pokèmon, hasn’t found a home in the west either. Sports titles Haikyu!!, Kuroko’s Basketball, Ace of Diamond and Yowamushi Pedal has the curse of not sports titles doing well in the west, despite Haikyu!! and Yowamushi Pedal having strong potential to attract female readers. Hozuki no Reitetsu should be a strong contender with a supernatural theme and bishonen lead, but it’s got the high volume count working against it.

Blue Spring Ride is by Io Sakisaka, the creator of Strobe Edge. Strobe Edge was an earlier work of  Sakisaka’s, and a really good on at that. Viz shouldn’t wait time on this one. It’s just over the 10-volume limit, but should be still close enough to warrant a lookover. Yen Press needs to get on Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun, and get that title licensed here! It’s a shojo that is also about creating manga. It’s anime was streamed here by Crunchyroll, and it was well received (at least it was in my Twitter TL). In fact, most of these titles have had anime that was streamed here. Popular anime does seem to play a role in manga being released. I do hope the streams will help some of  these.

ChihayafuruChihayafuru is the last title on the list, and one that I’ve seen fans ask for, but no one seems to want to touch. It’s a card game style manga, which shouldn’t be strike against it, except for its subject; Japanese poetry. I’m sure a lot of publishers look at that and think it would be a hard sell, but the same was probably thought about Hikaru no Go. Then again, that title probably only didi okay for Viz. Chihayafuru has an anime too, streaming on Crunchyroll, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to entice publishers. Add to the high volume count of 26, and it being a josei, and there’s the strikeout for this series. It sounds like a good candidate for a digital-only release, if only Kodansha did that.

Do you have a title on the list not licensed that you wish was? Drop me a note in the comments.


The Best Sellers We Won’t See

Dragon Ball 1When publishers started to seriously bring manga over from Japan, they started with the creme-of-the-crop. For a lot of people that meant titles from Weekly Shonen Jump. Just in the last thirty years, that has included a lot of manga. But if we look at this article from Rocket News, which looks at the top 20 Shonen Jump best sellers of all time, there are a lot of familiar titles to American readers. Death Note (20), Rurouni Kenshin (12), One Piece (2), and Dragon Ball (1) are among the titles featured on the list. In fact  of the 20 best-of-the-best sellers 14 have been released in the US, and have (mostly) been completed. Of the Viz Media releases, only Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure (7) did not get a full release. Only the third part of the story, “Stardust Crusaders”, which was 16 volumes on its own, was released. But at least the whole part was released.

City Hunter 1So that leaves 6 titles, but haven’t we see some of these non-Viz released titles? Sacrilege you say? How could anyone other than Viz have released Shonen Jump titles? Back when Shonen Jump was just starting, another manga magazine was starting as well; Raijin Comics. Backed by Sega Corp, this magazine was able to snag 3 Shonen Jump titles; City Hunter (17), Fist of the North Star (9), and Slam Dunk (5). City Hunter, a mid 80s title only got 5 volumes released. The same was released for Slam Dunk. Fist of the North Star fared better as wasn’t serialized in Raijin, so it could come out faster. Nine color “Master Editions” were released. Slam Dunk was able to find new life at Viz Media, with the company picking up the series, and is near completion in releasing it. But what about City Hunter and Fist of the North Star? Both have very dedicated fan bases in the US, though they are much smaller than say Naruto (4) or Bleach (6). It is probably highly unlikely that these titles will ever see print release, which I think is a real shame. Fist of the North Star is practically legendary for its blood and violence, while City Hunter combines fun and sexy comedy with action. I would so love to see both of these titles at least get digital releases. For more information about why I think these won’t be coming out, check out this ANNcast from 2011 with Jonathan Tarbox who worked at Raijin before moving to CMX. He’s got a lot of great insider information.

DragonquestTheAdventureOfDai_vol1_CoverSo that leaves 4 titles (technically) that we haven’t seen in US, and will most likely never see. Rokudenashi Blues (17) is a coming of age sports title. For some reason, in the US, sports title=no sales. This includes Prince of Tennis (15) as well as Slam Dunk, both popular sports in the US, but not on the bookshelf. Rokudensahi is also another mid 80s title, which gives it its second strike. No one, it seems, what to read “old” manga. This is a shame. Rokudensahi sounds like a fun title. It’s a comedy that uses famous musicians and athletes as character models and for many of the jokes in the stories. This probably makes the title “too Japanese” to market, giving it its third strike. Dragon Quest (11) is based on a popular series of video games of the same name in Japan, and to a lesser extent in the US. You’d think that would give it some traction here in the US, combined with the fact that Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame did the character designs for the game. But, again it’s a late 80s title and 37 volumes long, so no chance in print.

captain-tsubasaIf sports manga about basketball, football, baseball, or tennis doesn’t do well, you can well imagine a manga about a sport that isn’t very popular, like soccer, wouldn’t do well at all. Enter Captain Tsubasa (8). This title is a big hit all over world, even making into Arabic countries, where the main character can been seen on the side of delivery trucks. But, as another early 80s title and over 30 volumes long, you can bet it’s a no-go here. The last series, Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo (3), is not only the longest running series in Weekly Shonen Jump, it’s earned a Guinness Book of World Record for the longest running series in a youth magazine! And at 37 years and 184 volumes and counting, it certainly deserves such an honor. Kochikame is about a police office in stationed in downtown Tokyo. The series combines slapstick humor with pop culture references and a touch of drama. It also has a lot of strikes against licensing. Length and subject being the two biggest. Only a hardcore group of fans would be interested, or may even have heard of it before now. And then, at 184 volumes and counting, where do you start?

kochikameAll in all, that’s not too bad, to have only 4 titles total to have never been licensed in the US at some point. We’ve been lucky that Viz Media has been committed to publishing complete all the WSJ titles they license. With sometimes very different audiences on this side of the Pacific, some of Japan’s biggest hits haven’t fared as well here. Dr. Slump (16), Akira Toriyama’s title before Dragon Ball was never a popular title here. And One Piece, which is enjoying immense popularity in Japan, has only been a blip here in comparison. Yu-Gi-Oh! (19) and Yu Yu Hakusho (13) enjoyed some popularity here thanks to a boost from the anime showing on Cartoon Network first. Hunter x Hunter, by the same artist as Yu Yu Hakusho, Yoshihiro Togashi, might be more popular here is he could keep a consistent release schedule, and not disappear for months (or years) at a time. I’m really not too surprised that a title like Bastard (18) with its mix of dark fantasy and heavy metal music hasn’t been a big hit. It might have found greater appeal 15-20 years ago. But 21st century audiences aren’t going to get or appreciate it. But since it’s closer to a mature title for content, that would put it closer to the right audience, but it also a much smaller one.

With Shonen Jump here in the US going day and date with Japan, there will probably still be titles we won’t see here, either because of content or popularity. We’ve already see 2 titles in WSJA go down after a volume or two. But maybe we’ll at least get to see more than we would have before.