Jeff Asks: Hey, Is Manga Dying?

Don't get me wrong--I'm not asking if, y'know, manga manga, that whole ginormous industry over in Japan is dying? Nor am I asking if, like, collections of Naruto or Bleach are sitting there rotting on the shelves.

But is the manga industry in America dying? I'm totally reluctant to ask such a question--not least because I'm totally in the dark about how something like, say, publication schedules in Japan can allow American publications to catch up (like with Sgt. Frog, I think) and all sorts of other mitigating factors.

It was one thing when the sixth volume of Yotsuba&! never shipped from ADV. And it was another thing when DMP announced it was cutting eleven publications from its monthly publication list and the fourth volume of Flower of Life would be coming out in May, 2009. Although frustrating, these events made a certain amount of sense to me because these were smaller fish in the manga pond, and maybe their ambitions had outstripped their ability.

Similarly, although incredibly pissed and frustrated that volume 13 of Beck Mongolian Chop Squad, originally promised for September 2008, is not listed for June 2009 on Amazon's website, I can similarly see how Tokyopop has been over-extended for some time now, and any number of short-sighted strategies are coming back to haunt it.

But, you know, where's that second hardcover of Tezuka's Black Jack? (For that matter, why did the first hardcover volume have an exclusive story but a non-updated table of contents?) Where's volumes 11 and 12 of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure from Viz, while Amazon still lists Vol. 13 as scheduled for release in April of 2009? Why are major publishers cutting huge corners, dropping titles from their publication schedule unannounced, if not because, you know, they have to?

I don't know. I guess I'm just pissed because if I had hopped on the scanlation train, I'd be long since finished with Beck by now.

So, what's the scoop? Is the great manga implosion happening? Or am I just pulling a big Chicken Little about the whole thing? As Hibbs would say: What do YOU think?