Top Mangaka: “Manga is in Decline”

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Tamiki Wakaki, a top Shonen Sunday mangaka, has voiced his concerns that the Japanese manga industry is in long-term decline, and that authors not writing in the four staple genres of ero, parody, bishonen, and bishoujo can no longer expect to support themselves commercially.

The mangaka himself, 若木民喜 / Tamiki Wakaki, active for a decade and widely published in Shonen Sunday, is best known for his popular “Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai,” unsurprisingly a romantic comedy serialised in Shonen Sunday.

He is pessimistic about the manga industry he sees as being in long-term decline, with the future of the industry in doubt over the coming decades thanks to a limited influx of new talent:

“Manga magazines are boring, so they attract no fresh blood. Competition subsequently slackens. New artists are tried vigorously, but none are able to be serialised for long.

As a result experienced authors are called in out of necessity, but though their books may sell the magazines themselves become dull – this attracts even less new blood, and so the cycle continues.

In the past new artists were a dime a dozen, but now no matter how hard you search they are scarcer and must be nurtured carefully. Especially now in the era of lower birth rates, nobody can fail to notice this, the new artists are gradually decreasing in number. Both the mangaka who can sell a million copies and their fanbases are aging…

It’s going to be especially difficult to make a living for the kind of authors who can’t pen ero/parody/bishonen/bishoujo manga (in fact it is right now).”

It seems the four genres featured now cover the bulk of recent titles, not that they were lacking in popularity to begin with.

However, Mahoromatic creator Bow Ditama does hold out some hope for those poor wretches uninterested in endlessly drawing pantsu manga:

“Certainly, if you can’t draw cute girls it is going to be hard. But no mangaka are dying of starvation. Even if you can’t draw girls, you can still earn a living on subculture magazines and ‘deep’ manga magazines, and you can also work as an assistant to a pro.

It seems online assistants or whatever are quite in demand too [these are assistants who work remotely and submit manuscripts to their master electronically, rather than being physically present in the traditional manner].”

Their voices join the many others who have begun voicing their doubts as to the direction the Japanese visual culture industry is taking, with both anime and manga shying away from risky projects in favour of courting niche audiences or publishing staid works in highly rigid genres.

Is such an industry capable of producing the next Evangelion or Ghost in the Shell?


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    Comment by Y0k41
    03:38 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Uhh so if your planning on becoming a mangaka in the future, is this a good thing or bad? He says new artists are rare and needed, but he also says only "pantsu manga" are gonna do well. Hrrmm.....so maybe it's good if you're planning on being a mangaka, bad if you're a fan....Q.Q
    Well hopefully they're fine with Hanjin like me...

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:37 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    With every boom comes the fall.
    Eventually this moe crap that the industry is going through will fall through, and eventually they'll start making other anime and manga again. But until then, we'll just have to wait it out.

    Comment by cloudninja
    02:55 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I find this opinion shows Tamiki Wakaki's bias. Yes it's true "moe" is in and that if you aren't doing it you're not going to be very "successful" but it's not as bad as he makes it. Comments like this just get under my skin and it just hurts creativity, I think.

    I also find the idea of "new artists (I assume he is talking about "good" ones)" not being found, to be they same thing anyone says when you are riding on your coat tails of how successful THEY WERE/ARE. There could be a bit of a lack in talent, BUT if you're not giving people a chance, and don't pay them enough to support themselves, and discourage change, yeah the talent isn't going to appear as obvious. Most people that want to make something of themselves, they will go independent by, working for a company to get better at drawing then LEAVE and make their own. I would guess that's how a lot of today's "successful" artists and producers did it back when they were considered "useless and un-talented"

    Is moe going to go away? I think it's here to stay, it's becoming a "standard" in how you do anime, but it will decline and stop being the focus. Moe-ism will still be seen in a lot of anime, but it won't be as blatant as it is now nor the focus. This is it's time to shine before something new comes along and the anime market shifts, as it will regardless of what anyone thinks. That's what art does, it never stays the same. It's an interesting tug of war going on right now; stay tuned to see what happens next! Will they stay the same by standardizing anime or will it break out and change into something new? :3

    Ok enough talking ... I'm done ... >_>

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:22 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I agree with everything you said.

    Avatar of RopeXPantsu
    Comment by RopeXPantsu
    03:23 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I guess HE CAN ALREADY SEE THE ENDING (of anime and manga)

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:10 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Its only their fault, magazines are so desperate for the money they put pressure on the editors and the artists to keep doing their jobs and drag them on, make them longer.

    Then we get shit like Bleach.

    Novels are doing better as they don't support so much a system of constantly releasing shit and get more originality.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:06 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    wut. I don't want no next Evangelion

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:32 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    agreed. I don't want no next anything. I just want some plot that hasn't been done yet

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:10 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, it got to be something crazy that not even god would not touch lmfao!

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:11 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Crazy like pineapples!?!? XD

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:11 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I agree.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:34 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    i feel bad now, not only do i not buy these manga. i still read them for free. ;(

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:24 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    well good thing im going into this industry :D

    Avatar of Stiyl-Magnus19
    Comment by Stiyl-Magnus19
    02:49 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "fresh blood" may be true, but the otakus need mangas!!!!!!! need moe characters!!!!!! T_T

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:06 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think everyone should read "Bakuman" (if you haven't already done so..."

    Avatar of Charkan
    Comment by Charkan
    00:36 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Bakuman has shown these problems, well remembered.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:23 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    这不 只有神知道的世界(神之境界) 么

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:35 10/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    总算遇到看的懂得了

    Avatar of Manjix
    Comment by Manjix
    01:03 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Did he just seen the ending?

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:57 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If only we can harness the power to create a story that's never been thought about before. Maybe just maybe we can see the light in the dark & hollow tunnel.

    All genres have been played out.

    Let's talk serious here people. Entertainment-wise. The Economy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:33 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Here's a clue nobody is buying nothing, plain & simple. With the Internet around, there's no doubt in my mind that creative people will stop publishing stories all together. Fuck, even I'm scared to put my ideas out there for new stories or character development just to see get copy and used by somebody else. I'm all for the big ol' community thing that we got going now where you can access anything, but there comes a point where I draw the line.

    Plagiarism is at an all time high. It cost too much money to sue anyone that steals your ideas. *sighs*

    I ****ing give up. The Hell with it all. Screw entertainment. Screw pleasing the masses. You guys can copy to kingdom ****ing Hell.

    If you're trying to get into this business writing stories, making comic books, manga, or video games. Just ****ing forget it, you might as well be working on a fishing boat, catching fish in the high seas. That's the only thing that's not downloadable.

    I feel bad for my friends that work in the comic book industry. They're working for nothing, really. Same goes for my friends that work in the gaming industry, it's really sad. But you know, what's really sad. Every business that makes entertainment all around the world is going down the tube and it all comes down to not having money. Which is truer than fact. So many people have lost their jobs.

    My dad said that even when the economy used to be in the depression before. Comics were always a # 1 seller, regardless. But with the way technology is now, you don't need to buy it. Seriously, don't kid yourself. It's funny when a 8 year old read all the chapters to Naruto and they don't own one single manga or any merchandise. But they got all the downloads on their computer or small device. Seriously, I would say about 70-90% of people on earth don't buy stuff anymore. That's what I personally feel.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:28 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    As I see, it goes something like this:

    Much like what happened to the movies industry, anime and manga is going the same way.

    We have an increasing number of titles coming out.

    Lots of them will appeal to the greater crowd, as the idea is to profit from it.

    But in the same way Hollywood is today, we will always have directors, mangakas and a public for stuff that is not mainstream.

    If people are worrying with money not being given to non-mainstream projects, don't.

    Because that's how things always worked.
    People gets desperate because they don't see projects like Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion coming out every month, or at least with the same rhythm as light hearted comedies... but this was never a fact, and will never be.

    You see, it's the same with good deep movies. When something becomes mainstream, what happens is that lots of companies goes after the easiest path.

    In this case, could be appealing to moe, fanservice and ecchiness.
    But this also won't kill other themes. In fact, it'll probably make investors interested in the whole thing, even if only slightly.

    The problem is expectation. Since the market is growing, everyone keeps expecting that their favorite anime and manga genre also gets a boost, but it doesn't work that way.

    We only have to remember how long it took, how much money was put into, and how the directors described the process of making classics such as Ghost in the Shell and Eva.

    They are unique. It wasn't easy. They didn't have that much money. It was not a mainstream thing and never will be.

    I myself like some moe and an occasional more deep and complex story. The thing is: we tend to label things according to expectations.

    You see, we grow accostumed to quality, and then we tend to demand more and more.

    Take for instance K-on. I have no doubt in my mind that if K-on was released some 5 to 10 years ago, it would be revolutionary and receive God-like status... much like Haruhi.

    But only because we already have Haruhi and tons of other moe animes, by comparison some people label it as "just another moe anime" and let it go, frequently without even watching it.

    Now, about serious themes, there were a few good ones (as there always was) in recent years.
    Of course it won't get as much attention from the mainstream market, but they're there.

    Avatar of Hyra911
    Comment by Hyra911
    03:42 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Now, about serious themes, there were a few good ones (as there always was) in recent years.
    Of course it won't get as much attention from the mainstream market, but they're there." You can hardly wrong about that one. The thing is it's not simple to find em in that tons of trash floating around, that's why some people (like me) feel a bit desperate when they try to find a few one. And it's nature of human to demand more and more, if we aren't like that perhaps we still living in caves right now.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:23 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I just wish moe dies out soon. I've gotten over stuff that has all moe and no storyline, or in fact use moe to cover up the lack of storyline.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:42 10/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The fresh blood have no interest in the manga magazines because they walready know what kind of series they show.
    For example, WSJ: generic shonens like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc. And Medaka was good in the begining but now have come more shonenlike thanks to the magazine.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:52 11/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    needs more anime like casshern sins, skullman or maybe hellsing

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:06 12/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    1. Japanese consumers are changing their preferences to something more interactive.

    2. There's always manhwa (Korean version of manga) as alternatives. They tend to be drawn 'darker' and more focus on the story. Before people say manhwa is a copy of Japanese manga, manhwa is a product of Japanese colonialism.

    [I'm not a Korean. Just happens to love Korean stuffs.]

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:42 02/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I honestly have to agree that we have a problem on our hands, people don't really recognize anymore that something doesn't need to be ecchi or pervy to work. just havinga rich story and strong plot points should get the job done and be a more rewarding read, what's wrong with intellectual, philosophical and deep meaning behind a manga or show? why flood it with fan service if it flushes out the substance?

    QuirkZ

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:46 04/12/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There are plenty of american artists that can draw cool looking males, I understand its an issue for mangakas of modern day but if they do like for example Masakazu Katsura, he's an avid fan of batman, if you have read Zetman its basically his answer to a Batman Superman story. Its very good too btw talks about helping the needy and the differences in social heirarchy and at the same time a fight against man made monsters that want to live how they want.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:44 07/04/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    "unsuprisingly a romatic comedy"

    TWGOK is not just another romantic comedy.

    There is a reason why Wakaki is a "Top Magaka"

    Avatar of spandexninja
    Comment by spandexninja
    08:25 24/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    the manga industry will be revamped by me in 2 years

    Avatar of Overt
    Comment by Overt
    09:38 14/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Manga and anime industry is famous for not giving sure profits. The creation of these rigid categories is just an attempt of the industry to pursue sure earnings by giving the public more of what they are *sure* to like: ero, parody humor, moe, etc.

    I don't see how this flow could be changed other than with a drastic shift in economy, capable to give fuel to the dreams and hopes of both the authors and the investors...or perhaps with the appearance of a genial author capable to awaken the authors to the highest possibilities of manga and anime....

    ah, daydreams.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:29 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    this makes me think of bakuman x]

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:35 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Death of manga sounds terrible. Maybe state sponsored Manga? A stable of 10 to a 100 artists could be maintained/regularly identified by the government to maintain for 3 to 30 year periods (depending on their popularity) so they can continue churning out manga?

    Avatar of Soljashy
    Comment by Soljashy
    15:50 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Funny you should mention Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell. I didn't particularly enjoy either of those.

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    Comment by zenkai
    Comment by Anonymous
    11:25 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The only one whining louder than this "top" mangaka are all the goobers who are seriously bemoaning the "moe boom".

    Get off my underanimated, tsundere-flattened lawn, you darn whippersnappers!

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:56 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Nothing is better than MOE

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:41 10/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Funny... this is how like Americans switched from Books to Television. :D

    Avatar of metatron
    Comment by metatron
    01:57 10/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I still believe that the industry can still produce the next Evangelion but that would be a difficult task especially with the Moe Boom and not to also mention the Fanservice era that the industry is in...

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:52 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Is such an industry capable of producing the next Evangelion or Ghost in the Shell?"

    well i'd rather see more average rated animes per years than waiting for an excellent anime to appear once every few years.

    Comment by SnooSnoo
    17:41 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If we drew a cause of problem chain, the one thing at the root of all problems would be Japanese women demanding too much.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:45 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe manga would be liked a little more if it weren't in black and white, sure some are coloured in but the majority are black and white, it turns me off a lot IMO.

    I'm surprised they aren't blaming the decline on scanlators.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:46 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Globalizatiion is killing the japanese pop culture, no doubt, the remanent time for manga and anime as we know not exceed forty years, in the most optimistic case. As the art movements (romanticism, realism, modernism, et all....) the age of manga and anime had counted days. In the decadences, the study of this art form its very necesary for the next generaton.

    At this time, fewer and fewer people read, watch movies, hear new music. Going to be really an uncertain future.

    (Pardon my English, I am self-taught).

    Balam Mandos, Comunication & Visual Design. UNAM. MX.

    Avatar of Hyra911
    Comment by Hyra911
    03:24 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Future is alway uncertain anyway, it's why life worth living. And if it's uncertain why are you said "no doubt, the remain time for manga and anime as we know not exceed forty years, in the most optimistic case". Some will fall, some will raise, every thing keep evolve to a better form, and the manga-anime industry isn't an exception. Don't you found it's quite amusing watching things's changing, even if it seem to get worsen each passing day ??? (it isn't seem that worse to me though)

    Avatar of Sylar
    Comment by Sylar
    17:54 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    And also we are all going to die in 2012. Really who told you that people don't read or watch movies?

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:00 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    @Sylar. In a high social and cultural level, yes, they do it, but now, so many people only see the big media, the best seller, the media things. Editors not publish new autors, I don't say people don't read or watch movies, i only say the total of this people (who search, don't only watch) its decreasing. Thanks for the reply.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:08 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Reading classic literature is a waste of time.
    Does not make you smarter.It is better to read DIY-books that contain practical advices trainings, and allow you to improve your skills.
    And you right, people who making money dont have time to read a fiction.

    Avatar of Sylar
    Comment by Sylar
    00:43 09/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    High social and cultural level my ass. Those with social level are too busy meeting people and go to social events to read books and watch movies.
    Seriously though. My social level is close to 0. Am leaving alone in a small apartment and i get paid a medium-small salary that's only enough to pay the pills and food with very little left.
    And i certainly didn't study in any major university or go to the opera(couldn't afford it even i wanted to.Not that i know any opera house in close proximity).
    I usually talk with people about usual staff. Still no one knows that i read classic novelist(i have read more than 100 books by now), that i spend time on the internet reading about history or studying great artist(no am not talking about manga artist although obviously i am interest in there works also) and many more things.
    Heck most people don't even know i can speak and write in English. (Yeah, i don't have a degree on them, i learn them by watching movies and writing on the internet).
    Now if you saw me in the street i would be another of those normal people that don't pick up a book anymore.You can't know what i do at my time alone.
    So how many like me could be out there? I think quite a lot. People who do lot's of other staff except watching reality TV but no one knows about it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:52 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    what they need in manga's is exploration into the new. You might say "what is the new?". Manga's and their stories to me follow a simple template if you deconstruct it the frame of the story; they are either romance, action, comedy, tragedy or a combination. it's all been played out

    Avatar of motaku96
    Comment by motaku96
    17:55 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    This article feels particularly intelligent. I hear only wise words being said.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:01 08/11/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    that is because people like you and me are going to be the leaders in mangaka






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