Top Mangaka: “Manga is in Decline”


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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  • 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.

  • Anonymous says:

    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?


  • 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.

  • 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.]

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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… 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…

  • 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.

  • 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 … >_>

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • “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.

  • “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.

  • This is just like Hollywood – “who cares what it’s about as long as it has car chases, explosions and gunfire”.

    Obviously in this case it’s – “who cares what it’s about as long as it has schoolgirls and pantsu”.


  • welll…it’s have been always like this
    visual novel> light novel> manga> anime
    even in bakemonogatari it’s thruth. But because people that don’t know japonese find it more hard to play a vn or read a ln, manga and anime is more popular outside japan.

  • mechwarrior says:

    They said the same thing in about the comic book industry back in the 90’s. In fact, both DC and Marvel have gone through bankruptcy.
    I assume everyone knows what happened next.

    Im sure manga can find a resurgence. Maybe when James Cameron’s Battle Angel movie comes out?

  • the problem is that after haruhi everyone wanted to BE HARUHI so now we’ve got abunch of shitty moe boom animes and manga that don’t really have any value beyond some transparent “moe factor” honestly i just want there to be regular anime again like there used to be 🙁

  • triniking1234 says:

    When I was younger, manga and anime series were a perfect blend of action and story, with series like Rurouni Kenshin, Tekkaman Blade and Sailor Moon.

    But now these series are being replaced with plain fighting series (like Bleach) and ecchi titles (take a pick).

    This is a result of Japanese audience and it causes difficulties for the mangaka community to adapt.

  • All these trends eventually reach their end and die, to make room for new innovations. Things may look bad now, and even get worse, but eventually the whole thing will collapse on itself, and new artists will have their day.

  • All this shitty moe mangas are ALL THE FUCKING SAME. Same staples, same stories, same twists, ALMOST SAME FUCKING CHARACTERS. I guess ppl are buying it because there’s always a flow of new young readers who’s only thought is “I wanna fuck, I wanna fuck *DROOL*” like a zombie, and they hasnt been sickened by all this shit yet. It’s sad that there IS a genres, stories, that hasn’t been chafed to death yet.

    “Shin Angyo Onshi”, “The World is Mine”, “Vinland Saga” are good examples. And draw me some fucking Berserk aready!!

  • Personally, I think most companies in this day and age are money whoring misers. It’s not like money wasn’t their main focus to begin with but it’s become more apparent as of late. Take the Wii for example, it’s been riding the initial hype for over three years. It’s just about dead and done for but at least for the anime industry someone is taking the initiative to try and fix it.

    There are still a few excellent animes coming out and the reason why they are so recognized is because they have a unique style. It’s not the same moe stuff that we see constantly. Bakemonogatari sold because it had an engrossing story and style. Sure the plot wasn’t that great but each individual episodic storyline was interesting to watch.

    The economy was chugging along and now it’s plummeted. Lets hope that authors or writers can keep the industry afloat. Though, I doubt that it’s going to completely die off… no other industry is faring much better except maybe games.

  • woooo geniuses…
    in the end they figured out that world is a piece of trash because it is fitted with retarded people who read dragonball in their 30ies..

    reading your comments, it may seems that you are all in the same group, that is to say, people who read “underground” things (at least considering the “four”) but i’m sure you will be not able to find out why a manga is better than another, in fact 90% of people lack totally critical sense and historical memory, and it is the lacking of critical sense and historical memory the big problem who generate the 30 years old dragonball reader.
    the fact that some people read good manga does not means they comprehend why they are good, so maybe you are only fortunate, appreciating good things for the wrong reasons.

  • He’s wrong.

    Berserk, Hajime no Ippo, Vagabond, and even Naruto and One Piece (and full metal alchemist on my side will continue to sell, simply because manga is the latest, newest version.

    Anime might (just might) come 3 or 4 years later. True fans have no choice but manga, for that is as close to the true story as you can will get.

    I love anime, but there are a lot of great stuff that is simply not anime material. Vagabond and Berserk could never make it entirely as anime. Too much would be lost.

  • What I think Japan needs is to bring on-board some western authors/writers to brainstorm some ideas, and then have the Japanese animate them.

    Japan has always been better at perfecting then creating.

    With the mix of ingenious Western ideas with the perfected skill of Japanese artists, there’s a very high chance we’d create something amazing that would once again be on par with shows like Eva, or Escaflowne, ect.

    • tokyopop fucked themselves over by getting cocky while kodansha was already looking for an excuse to pull content and jump directly into the us. besides, viz, delrey and dark horse are doing just fine with the market, and getting half-their library yanked might get them to focus on all the shit they still have but shelved midstream. i’d like some more suppli, thank you.

  • Pretty ignorant to blame it on moe, cause if you think about it moe isn’t a genre is a device. If you think about any anime that doesn’t aim to servce “ero, parody, bishonen, and bishoujo” like Full metal alchemist, it wouldn’t be suprising to find some elements that relate to those mention genres.

  • 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

  • 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.

    • 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)

      • @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.

        • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • Hopefully this might open the doors for foreigners to start submitting their work in the japanese market but with how negative they are towards foreigners it might hopefully start creating some competition.

    • Don’t give up, but shows like Eva aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. Of course, some people are very happy with that…

      Have you tried Rahxephon? Some people (though not sure if I agree) think it’s even better than Eva.

      • But in reality it is one of the many eva ripoffs.

        Auteristic approaches in anime and manga have been in steady decline since the 90’s, this is because the producers pay too much attention to the whining otaku, Kyoani for example nearly had a heart attack when endless 8 was ill received. And the producers will continue to listen to the fans because they are the only ones who buy the DVDs/BDs and support the companies.

        Anime directors and mangaka need to start seeing themselves as artists again, creating their vision and not just what they think will sell. There is no room for exploration and experimentation in this cut throat greedy industry, and I believe the anime golden age is forever dead.

        There will never be another Eva.

        • I agree to this comment wholeheartedly. What started the industry isn’t some whining otaku wanting to see some pantsu or cleavages. Not fanservice nor moe. The industry was started with people who wanted to create an artpiece not some tool for making money. These were passionate people, and you can see why animes during the golden age were so much better than anime nowadays, story wise, quality wise, character’s that were actually ‘alive’ enough to be called a character. It’s because authors do not compromise with dumb editors who thought that fans should come first.

          Now we see every female anime characters bear the same subtype any anime has(tsundere, yandere… whatever you call them), every male has it’s own character templates, and every story that follows the same arc progression making it so predictable and boring…. all in the name of catering the fans.

          whining fans aren’t realizing that they’re only viewers to the artwork, overstepping the borders seeing as they ‘hold’ the power to want what they want, at the same time neglecting what truly matters in an artpiece, the passion of an artist. This is where all the experiments come in, this is where all the visions pieces together. This would probably save the industry.

          There will always be an audience for anything. As long as they can realize that it’s not only the 4 genres that can sell, the possibility is still limitless.

  • Much of this current stagnation is in part to the declining economic state as well. In these dire times, companies want to market something they know will sell. If they have a choice between a new series who's fate is unknown and a series that appeals to a large audience already, they're going to go with what's going to make them more money.

    A sad truth, but hopefully we'll see more refreshing content once the economy starts to liven up again.

    • I sure hope so, but I don’t know that it’ll turn out the way we want.

      It looks like the fail-mode Hollywood-ization / Sony-ization of the Japanese manga industry. It’s short-term thinking.

      The “What sold best so far? / Let’s do more of that” mentality destroys the market.

      On the plus side, there’s some good stuff coming out of Korea.

    • Somehow I doubt this is entirely the case. The video game industry has been like this too with the FPS genre (space marines, anyone?) for years before the economic collapse. The concentration of ideas in a genre is simply that: they make more money that way, so they’ll make more of it and neglect everything else possible.

    • While this is true, I do feel that we are in an age of “simulacrums”. It’s difficult to talk about, but the idea is common in futuristic manga; if you clone someone, the first copy will be fine, but if you keep making clones of the clones, the quality will degrade.

    • +1. I’m sure this has much more to do with the current economic situation than the slowing in population growth. When (if?) things improve then publishers will be willing to take more risks, and fresh, new talent will be able to thrive again.

      • True, there is very little originality to go around. Especially in this age, where almost everything has been done to death.

        The only way out is either to push the boundaries even further, stick to the usual flow (the four pillars above), or go against the flow and avoid all the normalcy and do minimalistic things like literature.

      • The declining economy likely causes producers to stick to these ‘genres’, therefore losing originality due to saturation of ‘tried & true’ formulae for TV shows and so forth, which leads to stagnation and lack of originality, which leads back to declining economy with a constantly weakening population consisting of people who can only whine and complain.

        In short: It’s trouble for Japan.

    • So basically, a working solution to survive in the declining economy is actually harming the culture itself via saturation of a genre/theme (in this case, “the four staple genres of ero, parody, bishonen, and bishoujo”).

      It’s one hell of a paradox, and while hypocritical, fansubs and scanlations are likely partially responsible for this despite rare cases of them being made available overseas.

  • It is due in part to the general decline of the economy as well. As the economy worsens, fewer and fewer original ideas are being created because companies want things they know will sell. If a company has a choice between marketing a new series over something that already has major popularity, they’re going to choose the one that they know will make them money.
    While it does seem like it’s the culture that is changing, economic influences affect the industry as well. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more refreshing shows and series once this economic stagnation passes on by.

  • Always Room For Jello says:

    Well, are there any recent mangas/anime that would be considered a timeless classic?

    Stuff from Miyazaki, Evangelion, GitS, DBZ… those are all considered classics. There was plenty of crappy anime back then too, but those stood out because they dared to challenge the audience and put them in a world that was hard to conceive.

    Nowadays, everything is about schoolgirls and/or magical girls. It’s a fantasy world, but just one to fulfill desires… not to push the limits of imagination.

    They’re screwed if this continues.

    • nowadays manga is lacking one the most important element that is originality.

      nowadays you rarely find original manga. it seem every mangaka decide to use the same plot but difference fanservice to sell.

    • Then let’s they screwed then, I would love to see that happen. Doing business these days need a lot of flexibility, if they continue fail to realize that people already getting bored with over doze using elements then they aren’t up to the task.
      But doing this kind of business doesn’t not need just a cool head to see what’s people most desired, you need to put you heart and passion into it too, otherwise you won’t be able to reach people heart which is also critical here.
      Don’t know what you people think but a lot of anime I see recently feel so dull, same style of character, same style of story line, hardly have any deep or messenger, I couldn’t sense any of their love or passion to their work, it’s almost like an empty shell. Somewhat “Chinese quantify” to me, vast in number but hardly have any value.
      If most of their industries crumble, it’s also a good thing. The last few best will stand and I’ll have easier time to find a good anime.

  • I am hoping that this “Moe Boom” over the recent years is but a stage/era which the industry and even the culture itself has to go through but will eventually die off in favor of something next.