Manga Answerman - How Many Manga Magazines Are There In Japan?

by Deb Aoki,

So how many different manga magazines are there in Japan, anyway? Is there one aimed at pretty much every demographic? Which ones generally produce the most anime adaptations?

Hoooh. This one is a tough one to answer, because the amount of manga magazines in print is declining on an almost monthly basis. While those “telephone book”-sized magazines are still being published, their circulation numbers have been on a steady decline for the past decade.

Over the past few years, several manga magazines have either ceased publication (notably, seinen magazines like IKKI and Hibana from Shogakukan, shojo magazine Bessatsu Hana to Yume, and josei manga magazine You from Shueisha), and/or have transitioned to online-only content. It's not at the point where digital comics will replace print magazines entirely (which is pretty much what has happened in Korea), but trends are pointing toward a time when digital manga publishing will overtake print in Japan, if that hasn't already happened.

So getting an exact number of how many different manga magazines are published in Japan today is a difficult to gauge exactly. The big guns like Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump, home of My Hero Academia (1.7 million), Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine, home of Fairy Tail and now Eden's Zero (790,000) and kids' comics stalwart CoroCoro from Shogakukan, which features Doraemon and Pokémon comics (726,000) are still going strong. But from there, the circulation list drops to an average that's more like 50,000 - 100,00 copies.

If I had to estimate, I'd say that there's roughly 125-150 different manga magazines published weekly or monthly in Japan. There are magazines primarily aimed at pre-teen/teen readers (shojo, shonen) and adults (josei, seinen), as well as different genres, such as yon-koma (4 panel gag comics), boys love/BL, girls love/yuri, gay manga, and magazines focused on different story themes, such as Monthly Hero's (which is geared toward superhero stories such as Ultraman), Kindai Mahjong from Takeshobo, which features only mahjong manga stories, and Neko-Panchi / Neko Punch from Shonengahosha, which is all cat comics!

It's true that there are manga magazines for almost every age group in Japan. Corocoro is for elementary school kids, for example. But as far as I know, there aren't any manga magazines expressly created for elderly readers (e.g. past retirement age), other than nostalgic re-releases of classic manga like Lupin III or Golgo 13. Feel free to correct me if you know otherwise!

I don't have a detailed list of anime adaptions by magazine source, but if I had to guess, I'd say that the vast majority are from shonen manga magazines, like Kodansha's Weekly and Monthly Shonen Magazines, Shueisha's family of Jump magazines (Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ., Young Jump, etc.), Shonen Sunday from Shogakukan, and Square Enix's Gangan manga magazines (Young Gangan, Monthly Gangan, GFantasy). These magazines are where Attack on Titan, Blue Exorcist, Detective Conan, Soul Eater were first introduced to fans. There's also Kadokawa's Shōnen Ace, which does a lot of anime tie-ins, like the Evangelion and Fate/stay night manga.

There aren't as many anime adaptations of shojo or josei manga, but they aren't uncommon either. Many come from Nakayoshi (home of Card Captor Sakura and Sailor Moon,) Bessatsu Margaret (Kimi ni Todoke, Ao Haru Ride), and Ribon (Chibi Maruko-chan, Marmalade Boy). Princess Jellyfish and Nodame Cantabile were originally published in Kiss from Kodansha.

Manga magazines are still a popular way to discover new stories and new creators, but as a source for anime content, it's not the only game in town. Webcomics are also an up-and-coming source of content to adapt into anime. ReLIFE and One-Punch Man were originally webcomics.

Another thing to note is that a lot of anime nowadays are not adapted from manga, but from light novels! In several cases, the light novel gets popular first, then the anime adaptation follows, along with the manga. When new chapters of a series are released monthly, it takes longer for it to accumulate enough content to warrant an anime series. This happens faster with weekly manga series, but new chapters of light novels can generate more story content faster still, so that's partly why light novels are a rich source of anime content now.

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Deb Aoki was the founding editor for Manga, and now writes about manga for Anime News Network and Publishers Weekly. She is also a comics creator/illustrator, and has been a life-long reader of manga (even before it was readily available in English). You can follow her on Twitter at @debaoki.

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