Article by Chet Royer
Usually before the conventions, a conference known as ICv2, is held for professionals to discuss the industry of anime, manga and comics. I have always wanted to attend one of these conferences, because I was always concerned with the current health of the industry. I, also, had a new question just for this year: will publishers start making e-books for their publications? It just so happens that this conference is specifically about embracing the digital age.
Well, I won't be keep y'all waiting or beat around the bush. The anime and manga industry, in America, has plummeted down and down over the pass 3 years. According to the statistic, it has gone down by 50%. How can that be possible? Hasn't the fandom for anime and manga been growing in the U.S.? I know I have definitely seen more fans making the same commute as me today than I saw 3 years ago. The answer is quite simple and obvious. ARRRRRRR ye guessed it! We be a pirating community!
It seems that most fans are either poor, too lazy to go out and buy, or are too stingy to go and buy, because they know they can get it for “free” right at home. It's kind of sad really. The anime and manga industries in America try so hard to provide us with quality stuff. Viz Media even took the time to make multiple volume releases of Naruto just so that America can be almost as up to date with Japan. But no, the fans don't want to pick it up: they rather read the scans or stream online. I can totally relate to that though. I love reading manga and being up-to-date. So, I do read the scans online, but I purchase the mangas that I like.
One major problem with the American industry is that many of the fans criticize the releases, like how bad the dub sounds or the translation is not correct. So they don't buy it. However, the thing is that having good voice acting and better translations cost money. It's like a B-movie, your not going to see Jackie Chan in one of those. You're gonna see Freddy Chin...I don't know who that is...but that's the point. High quality talent requires money. So by not buying the products, the fans are doing more damage to the industry. Thus by doing that damage, the industry can not spend the money on the high quality talents.
I always thought that now that manga is becoming a popular thing, that maybe American mangaka can start coming out of the wood work. However, after hearing the stats on the industry, I have gone back to how I use to think about becoming popular via manga: “you gotta go to Japan.” There was a Japanese representative at the conference. He confirmed that business is indeed booming in Japan. The female readership of manga has actually surpassed the males.
Anime and manga in america is almost as available to Americans as to those in Japan. I know some series that we read are not available to us in America (example: Wolf Guy), sometimes it is not available for a good reason (example: ...little girls...doing big women things). However, for the others, I believe that's why we still need to have scanlations and anime streams. These are very important to the industry. With out those sites, the industry might not know what is popular among Americans. The companies wouldn't know what to bring over and sell to us.
So the industry needs to know how to co-exist with new media, but at the same time become a stronger industry. Hello digital age! According to the conference, publishers and indy publishers are slowly embracing the digital age. Releasing e-books and downloadable content for a not too bad price is how these publishers are doing it. There are also comic book applications for mobile devices available. I think these are lovely ideas. I only pray that the anime and manga industry start doing the same thing.
Imagine being able to have every volume of Naruto already in your hand, not collecting dust and taking up a large amount of space in your room. Also, by not having to print and use resources to make actual books, the price of manga can become cheaper and more affordable. However, to accomplish this may take many years. Just making it more secure so that the industry won't lose more money.
Alrighty. I guess that's it from me on that. After reading this, you can probably see why I agree on having New York Anime Festival just be a feature of the New York Comic Con. ^___^
© 2010 Linda Thai
Enjoy some statistics from the conference:
Graphic Novel Releases By Category This includes manga
North America Manga Market 2002-2009
Third Bad Year For Manga
Sizing the Digital Comics Market
2010 Digital Treads
Looking Ahead to 2011