Manga trending up in Canada

What do you know about Manga?

Did you know that...

  • all adult Comics & Graphic Novels are categorized under Non-Fiction in the BISAC subject classification scheme?

  • altogether, sales of manga graphic novels have increased by 31.8% between 2013 and 2017?

Additionally, you may not know that there are 20 BISAC sub-genres under Comics & Graphic Novels / Manga and two of those sub-genres are in Japanese (Yaoi, referring to a romance between male characters, and Erotica & Hentai, referring to sexually explicit images or plots). There have been large percent change increases between 2013 to 2017 for the sub-genres Erotica & Hentai (6,046%), Sports (229%), and Nonfiction (105%). The smallest Manga sub-genre, Yaoi, has experienced a percent change increase of 182% between 2016 and 2017. The Manga / Media Tie-In sub-genre experienced a 14% decrease between 2016 and 2017, but it also saw a very notable overall increase of 435% between 2013 and 2017. This was due to a large number of sales in 2016 likely caused by two series that sold many copies of multiple volumes: Nichijou by Keiichi Arawi and Kill la Kill by Kazuki Nakashima.

Sales for selected Manga sub-genres

When exploring growth and change in the Manga category, we found some notable sub-genres that are worth taking a closer look at: 

  • General

  • Fantasy

  • Romance

  • Horror

  • LGBT

A note on our methodology: The sales volumes included below do not represent all sales tracked by BNC SalesData, the national sales tracking service for the print English-language trade market in Canada; they are from our Comparable Stores panel, which refers to a static group of retailers that have been reporting since 2013. This way, we avoid tracking artificial growth resulting from new stores being added into the SalesData panel.

We found that units sold in the top-level Non-Fiction category — the dashed line on the secondary axis on the graph below — rebounded in 2015 after a dip the previous year, but then continued to decline until 2017. All of our selected Manga sub-genres bucked the overall Non-Fiction trend.

Manga / General and Manga / Romance both dipped in 2014, but have increased since then. General has risen steadily since 2014, with an 26% increase between 2013 and 2017. Romance has slowly declined, experiencing a decrease of 11% between 2016 and 2017. From 2013 to 2017, Romance experienced an increase of 23%.

From 2013 to 2017, Manga / Fantasy experienced an increase of 32%. It steadily increased from 2013 to 2015, peaking in 2015 before essentially flattening between 2016 and 2017. Interestingly, Manga / Horror increased sharply between 2013 and 2014, before steadily declining over the next couple of years with a 12% decrease between 2016 and 2017. Horror's 2014 peak may be a result of 10 volumes in the Attack on Titan series being published in 2014. Those books, along with three other Attack on Titan titles, were the top-selling Manga / Horror titles in 2014. 

While Manga / LGBT is a small sub-genre with relatively low sales compared to other Manga sub-genres, sales have continued to increase since 2013 — tripling between 2013 and 2017 with a percent change of 275%. Most of that increase happened between 2016 and 2017— a percent change of 156% between those years. 

Comparable store sales for Manga sub-genres

 Graph showing comparable store sales for Manga sub-genres.

Is the growth due to an increasing number of ISBNs in the category? Over the past two years, there has been an increase of ISBNs published in the overall Non-Fiction category, after a slight dip in 2015. This trend is exaggerated for ISBNs in the Manga / General sub-genre, with the other sub-genres following the same overall upward trend as Non-Fiction.

ISBNs published in the Manga sub-genres

 Graph showing the ISBNs published in the Manga sub-genres.

Sales for Manga overall

What is the turnover like for the overall Manga category? The majority of Manga titles that saw sales in 2017 were published that year, making it a fairly frontlist-heavy category, though we also find a healthy representation of titles published in 2016 and 2015. Interestingly, the top-selling titles in 2017 and 2018 (so far) don't follow the same pattern, as we'll expand on below. 

Print units sold in 2017 by publication date

 Graph showing print units sold in 2017 by publication date.

Who were the top-selling Manga authors in 2017? To compile this list, we included sales for all works by an author (and if they were listed individually and then co-authored a number of books, all sales were included). Each contributor is listed along with their top-selling title.

10 top-selling Manga authors in 2017, along with their top-selling titles

  1. Sui Ishida (Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1, 9781421580364)

  2. Akira Himekawa (The Legend of Zelda Vol. 1, 9781421593470)

  3. Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan 1, 9781612620244)

  4. Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (Death Note Black Edition, Vol. 2, 9781421539652)

  5. Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail 1, 9781612622767)

  6. Yusuke Murata (One-Punch Man, Vol. 1, 9781421585642)

  7. Yusei Matsui (Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1, 9781421576077)

  8. Kohei Horikoshi (My Hero Academia, Vol. 1, 9781421582696)

  9. Haruichi Furudate (Haikyu!!, Vol. 1, 9781421587660)

  10. Yana Toboso (Black Butler, 9780316080842)

All of the authors' top-selling titles are paperback and categorized as Manga / General. 

10 top-selling Manga titles in 2017

  1. The Legend of Zelda, Vol. 1 by Akira Himekawa (9781421593470)

  2. Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 by Sui Ishida (9781421580364)

  3. Death Note Black Edition, Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (9781421539645)

  4. The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (9780399580536)

  5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Vol. 2 by Akira Himekawa (9781421596563)

  6. Boruto, Vol. 1 by Mikio Ikemoto (9781421592114)

  7. Ocarina of Time by Akira Himekawa (9781421589596)

  8. Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 2 by Sui Ishida (9781421580371)

  9. One-Punch Man, Vol. 1 by Yusuke Murata (9781421585642)

  10. The Legend of Zelda by Akira Himekawa (9781421589619)

While more Manga titles were published in 2016 than in 2015, more top-selling titles were published in 2015 (three of the top 10) than in 2016 (one of the top 10). Half of the top-selling titles in 2017 were published in 2017. One was published in 2010 (Death Note Black Edition, Vol. 1, which was adapted by Netflix). All of the top-selling titles in 2017 are paperbacks. Four of the titles are by the same two-woman team who writes under the name Akira Himekawa, including three Legend of Zelda books. Two titles are the first two volumes of Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida.

Trends in 2018

The top 10 titles so far in 2018 are all categorized as Manga / General and, not surprisingly for Manga, all are paperback (although, yes, there are hardcovers in Manga). The first two volumes of The Legend of Zelda by Akira Himekawa continue to be among the 10 top-selling titles so far in 2018. Kohei Horikoshi has authored four of the 10 top-selling titles. Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 remains on the list as well. Half are frontlist titles, published in 2018. One was published in 2016 and one in 2017, with three published in 2015. 

The rise of Manga sales in the US (29% in 2016) has potentially trickled to Canada, thanks to increased access to streaming anime, simultaneous Japanese and English publications, digital-first publishing, live-action TV and film adaptations, new editions of older series (like The Legend of Zelda and Tokyo Ghoul), and more Romance Manga that appeals to wider demographics and that are LGTBQ-friendly.