By Roland Kelts.
For my latest column in The Daily Yomiuri and 3:AM magazine, I interviewed Yukari Shiina of World Manga, an agency specializing in connecting international artists with the domestic manga publishing industry. The following insights and comments by Shiina-san, an agent and industry consultant, survived the final edit:
Shiina believes the depressed economy and exaggerated expectations (i.e., oversaturation of the market) are key factors behind collapsing sales. But she doesn’t ignore the digital elephant in the room.
“I’m not sure exactly how much it is contributing to the declines, but scanlations are a problem,” Shiina says, referring to the unauthorized posting and translation of manga titles on the Internet. “I don’t buy scanlation groups’ argument that they promote manga in general. It might be true with some obscure titles, but it can’t be with hits such as Naruto.”
What may not be clear to some readers is that in the passage above, Shiina-san is addressing conditions strictly in the US manga market, not those in Japan. Declining sales in the latter are cited in a preceding paragraph, which may cause the confusion.
I aim to clarify this issue in all online versions of this column, on behalf of Shiina-san–and myself, of course.