Four manga that are hits in Japan but relative flops in America


Manga has made its impact all over the globe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all that reads from right to left is gold. While "Dragon Ball," "Naruto" and "Attack on Titan" have all gone on to fame worldwide, it doesn’t mean every one of Japan’s hand-drawn treasures share the same love abroad.

Japan’s Da Vinchi News recently interviewed a publisher in New York whom they call “Mr. C” about four particular smash hit manga series in Japan that could hardly make a dent in the American market. What was it about these titles that made them perform completely differently in these two parts of the world?

"Slam Dunk" Mr. C cites "Slam Dunk" as the ultimate example of the divergence between American and Japanese tastes with regard to manga. From the start, sports comics were never big in the USA. In fact, most reality-based genres didn’t fare so well overall commercially.

On the other hand, in Japan sports-themed stories have often gone on to big success. Internationally sports manga like the "Captain Tsubasa" and "Prince of Tennis" series have done well around the world and averagely in the USA with their superpower-laden characters. But "Slam Dunk," with its slice-of-life antics and fallible players in-training just didn’t seem to grip American readers like it did the Japanese.

"Kitaro" Mr. C also mentions that the past half-decade has seen something of a resurgence of classic manga on Western shores. Legends like Osamu Tezuka and Keiko Takemiya getting have been getting lovingly bound reprints of their old works translated to English, and yet Shigeru Mizuki’s "Gegege No Kitaro" seems to be just collecting dust on the shelves by comparison.

The industry insider suggests that Japan’s trendsetter of the "emo" haircut has had an unfortunate lack of proper promotion. This meant that poor Kitaro just couldn’t get a foothold – even with those crazy wooden shoes of his.

"Wandering Son" This story of youngsters dealing with their gender identity has been well received both in Japan and in America. Although it’s a slow-moving work of subtle human emotions everyone who has read it seems to find a certain charm to the story.

However, according to Mr. C, in the publishing world there are few willing to take a chance on Wandering Son, fearing that it just wouldn’t sell well. That concern is partly to do with the subject matter but also had a lot to do with the incredibly staggered release schedule of the original series. In the time it took to print only 15 volumes of Wandering Son, other series would have released at least 30.

So, it would seem that this award-winning piece of writing just couldn’t fit into the commercial system to hit it as big as it probably should have.

"JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure" Although you might now call this series something of a success in North America, it was a long time coming since its debut nearly two decades ago. Mr. C credits this to heavy censorship slapped onto the initial American printings which changed many of the names and situations with controversially violent and/or religious imagery. As a result it kind of well sucked, which would explain why so few picked it up.

However, thanks to the advent of the Internet, the original stories were able to spread to America as they were meant to be. Combined with the release of ebook versions to replace out-of-print issues, a true renaissance of JoJo could be enjoyed by Americans.

And who knows? Perhaps with the changes in formats and taste "Kitaro," "Wandering Son" and "Slam Dunk" too might someday be top of the list, king of the hill, A-number-one in ol’ New York, New York just as they were in Japan. And if not, so be it. It doesn’t make them any less great.

Source: Da Vinchi News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The top five manga that should be published in America -- The Best of the Best of Manga: Shonen Jump’s 20 Best Sellers of All-Time -- Enter the dark world of anime and manga urban legends

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I loved reading slam dunk. The anime series was awesome too...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Slam Dunk was very great, sometimes a little bit ilogic (like having a love interest that looks completely japanese and her older brother as tall and ugly as a nba player, sometimes a little bit racist on the story i guess)...but it was one the best basketball stories ever

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think the problem with GeGeGe no Kitaro is that the manga series is TOO steeped in Japanese folklore and as such becomes difficult for non-Japanese audiences to understand, let alone done a decent translation to a Western language.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only manga I buy is "Yotsuba & !" by Kiyohiko Azuma, though I have a soft spot for the likes of "Patlabor" and some others from the 80s and 90s. Most of the ones on sale in the UK tend to be either romantic or gothic ones for the ladies.

Of the four above, the only one I've heard of is "Slam Dunk", but having no interest in sports (other than motor racing) I've never looked at it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Americans do not realize how beautiful and manga,I find them very beautiful and fun

0 ( +3 / -3 )

American comic industry want block manga import and americans are enough brainwashed to considers comics for teens only and boy teems of course.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sorry, I read books and I'm not brainwashed, simply zero interest in manga. I don't look down on them, just not my cup of tea. There are 330,000,000 million Americans with all sorts of interests & hobbies.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

however US Comic industries made horrible comics for 2/3. The worst manga is better that best US comic of last years.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Manga is pretty over-rated. Neither are the comic books lauded as some sort of beautiful art.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I liked manga when I was a kid/teenager. Now, not so much.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I've been reading manga for at least 24years since I was about 12 years old. I very rarely read US comics, and only if they story can grab me. Bone, Preacher, and precious few random well written American graphic novels I actually enjoy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I enjoy both manga and comics alike, don't read them as much anymore. I do tend to find comics a bit more enjoyable if only because it takes well establish characters and does crazy things with them. I think The Punisher killed off all the x-man by nuking them. People do tend to look down on comics when they are compared to manga but i find they each have their strong and weak point.

So just enjoy them, not all manga are gold and not all comics are crap.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The older I get, the more I appreciate the storytelling part of manga. Especially what Tezuka wrote for "Black Jack" and "Phoenix". I think that all of the greats, old and new--from Tezuka and Matsumoto to Rumiko Takahashi and Hiromu Arakawa and even titles like "Yakitate Ja-Pan"--are still popular because of the mix of art and story.

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