Sunday, September 12, 2004


It's no secret that the manga industry in Japan is a lot more successful than the American comics industry, which has prompted some suggestions that the American industry should imitate its Japanese counterpart. However, there's not that much actual information about the Japanese industry available in English, as far as I know. Frederick Schodt, and more recently Paul Gravett in his book Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics, provide generalized overviews, and Sharon Kinsella's Adult Manga provides a more scholarly examination; but the sort of detailed (even obsessive) coverage of the American industry one sees in The Comics Journal and online is unavailable for the Japanese industry in English.

I myself know little about the Japanese manga industry; however, I found a table of magazine circulation figures for 2003, including manga, from the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association online. Since this table is in Japanese, I've translated the sections dealing with manga below.

I have no idea whether these figures represent average circulation for the year, or the circulation of the latest issue, or whatever. Nor do I know how complete these tables are, or what the criteria were for inclusion: erotic manga seem to be absent, with one exception, and alternative magazines such as Garo and Ax are also absent. A table on p. 82 of Schodt's Dreamland Japan reports that there were 265 regularly published manga magazines in 1995. That table reports 23 boys' manga and 37 seinen manga, which corresponds approximately to the lists below (21 boys' and 44 seinen). It also reports 45 girls' manga, which would seem to correspond to the 28 shoujo and 19 josei titles listed below. But the table in Schodt also lists 52 "Ladies'," 21 "4-panel," and 69 "miscellaneous adult" magazines, as well as 18 magazines in three smaller categories; virtually all of these seem to have been omitted from the table below, though it appears from Gravett's book that they're still being published.

Each entry has the title, followed by the publisher in parentheses, followed by the circulation in tens of thousands. If the title is one for which Dreamland Japan gave the circulation, I've appended that in parentheses. For example, Weekly Shounen Jump is published by Shuueisha and has a circulation of 3,240,000, and in 1995 had a circulation of 5-6,000,000. I've tried to give the titles in the form you're most likely to see them referred to, so I've translated the words meaning "weekly" and "monthly," and words which are clearly Japanese transliterations of English words I've converted back into English. I've put translations of other Japanese words in brackets.


Weekly Shounen Jump (Shuueisha), 324.0 (500.0-600.0)
Weekly Shounen Magazine (Koudansha), 319.0
Weekly Shounen Sunday (Shogakukan), 131.1
Corocoro Comic (Shogakukan), 122.2 (75.0)
Monthly Shounen Magazine (Koudansha), 114.0
Weekly Shounen Champion (Akita Shoten), 80.0
Monthly Shounen Jump (Shuueisha), 51.0
V Jump (Shuueisha), 31.0
Monthly Shounen Gan Gan (Ekuwea Enikkusu) 30.0
Shounen Ace (Kadokawa Shouten), 30.0
Bessatsu [special volume] Corocoro Special (Shogakukan), 26.3
Ace Tokunoh [special thick] (Kadokawa Shoten), 20.0
Comic Bom Bom (Koudansha), 20.0
Dengeki Comic Gao! (Mediaworks) 20.0
Dragon Age (Kadokawa Shoten), 20.0
Magazine Special (Koudansha), 11.0
Monthly Gan Gan Wing (Ekuwea Enikkusu) 7.0
Monthly G Fantasy (Ekuwea Enikkusu) 7.0
Zoukan [Special edition] Shounen Sunday (Super) (Shogakukan), 6.5
Monthly Magazine Z (Koudansha), 5.0
Nintendo Keys (Futabasha), 5.0


Young Jump (Shuueisha), 127.5
Young Magazine (Koudansha), 122.0
Big Comic Original (Shogakukan), 118.4 (170.0)
Big Comic (Shogakukan), 74.1 (145.0)
Morning (Koudansha), 66.0 (110.0)
Big Comic Spirits (Shogakukan), 55.6 (147.0)
Weekly Manga Times (Houbunsha), 54.0
Weekly Manga Goraku [entertainment] (Nihonbungeisha), 50.0
Weekly Comic Punch (Shinchoosha), 45.0
Business Jump (Shuueisha), 44.0
Big Comic Superior (Shogakukan), 42.8 (70.0)
Super Jump (Shuueisha), 41.0
Manga Time (Houbunsha), 40.0
Mikosuri Han [half] Gekijou [theater] (Bunkasha), 40.0
Manga Time Original (Houbunsha), 38.0
Evening (Koudansha), 33.0
Gundam Ace (Kadokawa Shoten), 30.0
Manga Goraku Nekusutaa (Nihonbungeisha), 30.0
Manga Goraku Manga Pachinko Dairenshou [big winning streak] (Nihonbungeisha), 30.0
Manga Time Family (Houbunsha), 30.0
Weekly Manga Sunday (Jitsugyohnonihonsha), 30.0
Young King (Shounengahousha), 30.0
Young Sunday (Shogakukan), 28.5
Bessatsu Weekly Manga Times (Houbunsha), 25.0
Comic Dengeki Daioh (Mediaworks), 25.0
Bessatsu Manga Goraku (Nihonbungeisha), 24.0
Young Animal (Hakusensha), 24.0
Shuuman [abbreviation for "weekly manga"] Special (Houbunsha), 23.0
Manga Time Jump (Houbunsha), 22.0
Weekly Manga Action (Futabasha), 22.0
Young Champion (Akita Shoten), 22.0
Bessatsu Shuuman Special (Houbunsha), 20.0
Comic Ran [disorder, riot] (Riidosha), 20.0
Young Magazine Uppers (Koudansha), 18.0
Comic Ran Twins (Riidosha), 15.0
Kairakuten [Pleasure heaven] (Wanimagajinsha), 15.0
Young Comic (Shounengahousha), 14.5
Afternoon (Koudansha), 14.0 (20.0)
Young King Ours (Shounengahousha), 11.5
Bessatsu Young King Kingdom (Shounengahousha), 10.0
Zoukan Manga Asahi [rising sun] Geinou [entertainment] Erotica DX (Tokuma Shoten), 10.0
Ultra Jump (Shuueisha), 9.0
Ikki (Shogakukan), 7.5
Comic Beam (Entaaburein), 5.0


Ribbon (Shuueisha), 99.0
Ciao (Shogakukan), 91.0
Nakayoshi (Koudansha), 52.0 (180.0)
Bessatsu Margaret (Shuueisha), 46.5
Hana to Yume [flower and dream] (Hakusensha), 34.0
Deluxe Margaret (Shuueisha), 29.0
The Margaret (Shuueisha), 28.0
Shoujo Comic (Shogakukan), 26.5
Margaret (Shuueisha), 26.0
Dessert (Koudansha), 22.0
The Dessert (Koudansha), 21.0
Shoujo Comic Cheese! (Shogakukan), 20.8
Asuka (Kadokawa Shoten), 20.0
Bessatsu Friend (Koudansha), 20.0
Horaa M (Bunkasha), 20.0
LaLa (Hakusensha), 20.0
Cookie (Shuueisha), 19.0
Juliet (Koudansha), 17.0
Mystery DX (Kadokawa Shoten), 15.0
Princess (Akita Shoten), 15.0
Petit Comic (Shogakukan), 13.1
Bessatsu Hana to Yume (Hakusensha), 13.0
Ciel (Kadokawa Shoten), 12.0
Betsucomi (Shogakukan), 11.0
LaLa DX (Hakusensha), 8.0
Flowers (Shogakukan), 7.5
Erutiin [All Teen?] (Kindaieigasha), 7.0
Petit Momo [peach] (Kindaieigasha), 7.0

JOSEI (Young Women's) COMICS

Manga Home (Houbunsha), 28.0
Lady's Comic You (Shuueisha), 27.0
Manga Time Special (Houbunsha), 25.0
Be Love (Koudansha), 24.0
Kiss (Koudansha), 24.0
Elegance Eve (Akita Shoten), 20.0
Manga Grimm Douwa [fairy tale] (Bunkasha), 20.0
Manga Time Lovely (Houbunsha), 20.0
Manga Town (Futabasha), 20.0
Young You (Shuueisha), 19.0
Chorus (Shuueisha), 18.0
Judy (Shogakukan), 18.1
Katei [home, family] Mystery (Bunkasha), 15.0
Kyoofu no Kairaku [pleasure of terror] (Bunkasha), 15.0
Office You (Shuueisha), 14.0
One More Kiss (Koudansha), 13.0
May (Shounengahousha), 10.0
Melody (Hakusensha), 10.0
Feel Young (Shuueisha), 8.0


For Mrs. (Akita Shoten), 21.0
Jewel Suteki na Shufutachi [splendid housewives] (Futabasha), 20.0
Silky (Hakusensha), 10.0

On the one hand, it's evident that the comics are indeed far more popular in Japan than in the U.S. The top-selling books have circulations that Marvel and DC far beyond anything that Marvel and DC can hope for these days, and all but the worst-selling manga sell better than all but a few American comics. When you consider that Japan's population is less than half that of the U.S., the contrast is even more striking. On the other hand, things aren't quite as rosy for comics in Japan as the more starry-eyed accounts would suggest: circulations of three million are very much the exception. In fact, the circulation figures form a steep pyramid: at the top are Weekly Shounen Jump and Weekly Shounen Magazine, each with over twice the circulation of #3; then come less than a dozen magazines with circulations around one million; and all the rest have substantially lower circulations than this. Actually the manga industry has been in a slump for some time in Japan: Shounen Jump's circulation is way down from its one-time peak of six million, but other magazines and publishers are suffering too. (Note that all but one of the magazines for which Schodt's figures can be compared with the current figures have lost a substantial amount of circulation.) Publishers blame the prevalence of used manga stores, which enable readers to buy paperback collections of the series they want cheaply; others blame the lack of interesting series (sound familiar?).

A couple other points of interest: while manga do better than American comics at appealing to female readers, manga for male readers are still dominant, both in terms of number of titles and circulation. (Though it may be that some of the circulation of "male" magazines is made up of females: Kinsella (p. 49) reports that in 1994, housewives made up 18% of the circulation of Morning, which is listed as a seinen manga in the table above.) Both Schodt and Gravett describe Koudansha, Shogakukan and Shuueisha as the "Big Three" publishers, taking up the lion's share of circulation. I haven't added up the figures myself, but just looking at the table that seems about right. (Kinsella adds Hakusensha and Akita to this list (p. 40), but their inclusion seems more dubious.) At the same time, the Japanese industry doesn't seem to be quite so oligopolistic as the American direct sales market.

(Edited 6/25/06 to fix an error: "Deluxe Margaret" was mistakenly transcribed as "Deluxe Magazine")

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?