‘Batman’ title a dubious pick for manga list
"Batman" is a top-selling manga property.
Those of you who lean more toward hard-core manga fandom are probably rubbing your eyes in disbelief at that statement. "Naruto," sure, that's a big-time best-selling manga series in the U.S. But "Batman"?
Yet there it is in black and white on a list of the top 50 manga properties according to pop culture news/analysis Web site ICv2.com: "Batman: Gotham Knight" by Louise Simonson, published by Penguin Books, sitting at No. 25.
I noted last week in my look at ICv2's top 25 anime properties that the "Batman: Gotham Knight" animated feature sat atop that list. Its presence on that list could be justified by the fact that four anime studios -- Studio 4C, Madhouse, Bee Train and Production I.G -- worked on the project.
The print adaptation, though, would appear to have a much shakier reason for existing on the manga list: The book is called "Batman: Gotham Knight," like the anime, and thus it automatically became manga. I have my doubts, though, and am waiting for a copy of the book to arrive to make a final call on that.
For now, there are a few other interesting trends worth noting from the ICv2 list, which the analyst assembled after interviews with retailers, distributors and manufacturers.
A troubling trend is that in spite of the large number of manga publishers in today's market (and putting Penguin Books aside for a moment), the list is dominated by four publishers: Viz (showing a Funimation-like dominance with 29 out of 50 titles on the list), Tokyopop (nine titles), Del Rey (seven titles) and Dark Horse (four titles). That leaves quite a few publishers out in the cold -- Broccoli Books, CMX, Yen Press, Go!Comi, Seven Seas and Vertical are several that come to mind.
As for what people are buying, it's an almost even split between boys, or shounen, manga (22 titles) and girls, or shoujo, manga (20 titles), most targeted toward the teen market. (The remaining seven, "Batman" not included, were either more mature titles or titles for children.) Viz's "Naruto" tops the list, followed by Tokyopop's "Fruits Basket" and three more Viz titles: "Death Note," "Bleach" and "Vampire Knight."
Forget about any "classic" manga, too; the list is dominated by series that began Japanese serializations within this decade. The longest-running title, Dark Horse's "Oh My Goddess!" at No. 47, began serialization in Japan in 1988.
And that global/original English language manga revolution that Tokyopop actively pushed? It seems to have settled into a short-term phenomenon that relies primarily on what a particular company is promoting. The only global manga to make the list was Del Rey's "In Odd We Trust," the Dean Koontz/Queenie Chan collaboration based on Koontz's "Odd Thomas" series of novels, at No. 11.
For the complete list, visit tinyurl.com/5wrdr9 ...
Coming up Sunday
"Drawn & Quartered" goes to the dogs as I woof it up about a pair of manga centered around canines, "Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs" and "Guru Guru Pon Chan."
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao