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?