Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jump to Digital

The remarkable leaps Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime) made in popularity in the U.S. in the past decade is, depending on how you look at it, either waning or entering a new phase. Already several of the anime and manga U.S. licensors that dominated the market in the last few years have slid off the board. Now Viz, the licensor that has plugged away for longer than any other company (it started putting manga onto the U.S. market in the mid-eighties, with licensed anime following a few years after) has announced that next year its periodical publication, the U.S. edition of Shonen Jump, will cease print publication. It will continue life as a digital magazine.

This is a particularly surprising development considering that Viz has arguably the most popular licensed properties in the U.S. and Japan. Bleach and Naruto have been tremendously popular on both sides of the Pacific. And Viz has other titles that have followings, such as One Piece, Tiger & Bunny, Deathnote, Rosario Vampire, Blue Exorcist, etc.

For such a juggernaut to opt to discontinue its flagship publication showcases not only the burst of the manga/anime bubble, but the general decline of the magazine market in America.

The American Shonen Jump is not dead (for now), but the end of its life as a paper publication is likely a harbinger for larger changes in the print world as a whole.

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