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Manga Plus Editor Explains Why Shonen Jump+ Handles Overseas Distribution In-House

posted on by Kim Morrissy
MANGA Plus data is used for determining which titles get anime adaptations

Shueisha editor Yūta Momiyama, who manages Weekly Shonen Jump's Shonen Jump+ and MANGA Plus online services, wrote a blog post to explain why the Shonen Jump+ editorial department manages overseas distribution through MANGA Plus in-house.

First, he explained that it is typical for publishers to sell the overseas publishing rights to foreign companies through the overseas licensing department, and that this system continues to deliver positive results. However, MANGA Plus is managed by Shueisha directly because Momiyama wants it to be a core part of Weekly Shonen Jump's editorial approach.

According to Momiyama, the role of a manga magazine is to "deliver new and interesting manga to the world." To achieve this, Weekly Shonen Jump makes extensive use of polls and reader feedback. With the data from MANGA Plus, the editorial department can now keep track of the international reception from a very early stage of serialization. Also, because the international market is so important for the anime industry, MANGA Plus data is already being used to help decide which titles get anime adaptations.

Momiyama also predicted that the overseas manga market will become even more important in the future. MANGA Plus currently has 5 million monthly active users. He also pointed to a Kodansha report stating that roughly 20% of manga sales currently come from overseas. At Shueisha, he has heard that overseas manga sales have apparently doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year. He highlighted the popularity of Kaiju No. 8 in particular, the first volume of which sold 250,000 copies in France alone despite the higher unit price for manga volumes compared to Japan. Momiyama predicted that the ratio of domestic-to-overseas sales will be equal in 10 years' time.

In an interview from September, Momiyama relayed many of the same points about the growth of the overseas market. Although the MANGA Plus service includes ads, he explained that the priority is making a manga's official version as easily accessible as possible rather than monetizing the platform. He said that the advantage of MANGA Plus as a simultaneous distribution service is that not only does it preempt piracy, it closes the time gap between domestic and overseas reception.

On the other hand, Momiyama said in the interview that translation costs are currently very high. He said that the quality of machine translation is still very low, but that "in 10 years it should improve," adding that "if we can produce high-quality translations in many different languages, it will be a game-changer all over again."

He also highlighted the company's lack of operational resources for each region and local censorship as problems, saying that the company still lacks knowledge in those areas. Thus, it is currently difficult to make swift changes and adjustments as necessary.

Shueisha launched the MANGA Plus service worldwide in January 2019. The service is Shueisha's first foray into direct service globally.

The service launched with 50 titles, including 13 completed series. The service publishes new chapters of currently serialized manga from Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, Jump Square magazine, and the Shonen Jump+ service at the same time they are released in Japan. While MANGA Plus is free to download and use, users can also purchase compiled book volumes for specific manga. The first chapter and the latest chapter of currently serialized manga are also free. A portion of the revenue from advertisements on the website go directly to the manga authors.

In August, the service removed its region restrictions for all languages. Readers can now select their choice of language for the service from English, Spanish, Thai, Brazilian Portuguese, Indonesian, and Russian. There are 67 series available in Spanish, six in Thai, four in Brazilian Portuguese, five in Indonesian, and six in Russian. The company also announced that it plans to add more content in new languages.

Shueisha's MANGA Plus service and Viz Media's Shonen Jump website both revealed last week that they are not publishing the 74th chapter of Kentarō Yabuki's Ayakashi Triangle manga. Neither service listed a reason for the skipped chapter. Both services will publish the manga's 75th chapter on January 16.

Source: Yūta Momiyama's note

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