AirGear © Oh! Great/Kodansha
Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge © Hayakawa Tomoko/Kodansha
f Elex Media has three consistently top-seeded players, its more "mature" sibling Level Comics has two: Oh! Great's AirGear and Hayakawa Tomoko's Perfect Girl Evolution or Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. AirGear ranked first during the first and third trimesters of 2008 but had to give up that coveted position to Yamanade in the second trimester.
(The rest of the Level bestsellers are here; what follows is my attempt to make sense of stuff.)
Shounen manga apparently does well in the Indonesian market...
Al Ries and Jack Trout's marketing law #8 (every market boils down to a two-horse race in the long run) still holds immutable in this Top 20. That's not just in terms of either AirGear or Perfect Girl Evolution (AKA The Wallflower) rising, but also in original publisher's share of the Top 20 (Kodansha and Shogakukan; see Table 2).
I do have to note, though, that Level's Top 3 manga—in any trimester surveyed—are not seinen, the genre that makes up most of the imprint's titles, if not the basis for its existence. AirGear, Love & Collage or Ai Kora (placed third in Trimester 1), Fight!! Ippo (Hajime no Ippo; T2 #3), and Magister Negi Magi (Mahou Sensei Negima!; T3 #3) are shounen manga, while the Betsufure-serialized Yamanade is shoujo. (See Table 3 for shounen/shoujo/seinen mapping.) Shounen manga apparently does well in the Indonesian market: Naruto, Meitantei Conan, and One Piece likewise reign supreme for Elex Media.
Beyond the continued surprising shounen domination and the observed law of duality in the upper echelons, however, one more direction is evident: the frequency with which a series releases new volumes doesn't seem to effect its ranking (yes, I mean "effect" and not "affect"). If that were the case, AirGear wouldn't be #1, Hajime no Ippo would be. During the period researched (and if I'm correct in the new manga volume numbers), AirGear released only three new tankou to Ippo's 15. That five-fold edge from Ippo's regular, twice-monthly release schedule doesn't appear to have helped Morikawa Joji ("George")-sensei's boxing manga that much.
Extending the same argument, Yamaguchi Katsumi-sensei's My Favorite Bike wouldn't even make it into the list. MFB volume 3 came out in December 2007, and I'm pretty darn sure volume 4 hasn't even released yet. Someone correct me if I'm mistaken.
So overall, there doesn't seem to be any such thing as an "unfair advantage" gained from releasing more frequently, or having more sales opportunities. Granted I think that incidence did boost the standings of Akamatsu Ken-sensei's Negima! (four new releases; ended up ranked third), Abe George- and Kakizaki Masasumi-sensei's Rainbow (five new releases; finished #4), Suenobu Keiko-sensei's LIFE (one new release in the second trimester, three new volumes in the third; rebounded in the third quarter to climb to #18), and Nogizaka Taro- & Nagai Akira-sensei's Team Medical Dragon (volume 1 towards the end of the second quarter, two follow-ups in the third; debuted at 20 in the third trimester). The exceptions, however, remain fewer.
Table 1: Rankings, changes in succeeding periods, comparison with original TI position, and new volumes released
|Manga||TI||TII||C/ TI||TIII||C/ TI||New releases||Total|
|Perfect Girl Evolution||2||1||↑||2||UNC||V15-17||3|
|Love & Collage||3||11||↓||17||↓||V1-3||3|
|Blade of the Immortal||7||9||↓||12||↓||V1-3||3|
|The Black Swindler||9||17||↓||13||↓||V1-3||3|
|20th Century Boys||13||4||↑||—||V20-22/22||3|
|Yugo The Negotiator||14||13||↑||16||↓||V11-15||5|
|Shin Angyo Onshi||15||12||↑||—||V13-16||4|
|Magister Negi Magi||16||6||↑||3||↑||V11-14||4|
|My Favorite Bike||17||—||8||↑||—||0 in 2008|
|For You in Full Blossom||—||5||NEW||10||N/A; C/TII ↓||V13-17||5|
|Homunculus||—||14||NEW||9||N/A; C/TII ↑||V7||1|
|Hellsing||—||15||NEW||11||N/A; C/TII ↑||V1||1|
|Red Eyes||—||16||NEW||14||N/A; C/TII ↑||V8||1|
|If You Were Here||—||20||NEW||—||N/A||V4-6||3|
|Team Medical Dragon||—||—||20||N/A||V1-3||3|
Of the first Top 20 bestsellers, 11 were Kodansha assets, while the rest were Shogakukan's. In the second trimester, both Kodansha and Shogakukan claimed nine titles, with Hakusensha (For You in Full Blossom or Hana-Kimi debuted at #5 in the second trimester) and Shonen Gahosha (Hellsing placed 15th) nabbing the other two spots. By the third trimester, Kodansha titles climbed back to 11, Shogakukan's dropped to seven, and Hakusensha and Shonen Gahosha's share from Hana-Kimi and Hellsing remained unchanged.
Table 2: Share by original publisher, changes in succeeding periods, and comparison with initial share
|Original publisher||TI share (%)||TII share (%)||TIII share (%)|
|Kodansha||55||45 ↓||55 UNC|
|Shogakukan||45||45 UNC||35 ↓|
|Hakusensha||0||5 ↑||5 ↑|
|Shonen Gahosha||0||5 ↑||5 ↑|
But only two seinen titles made it into the Top 5, and only in the second and third trimesters. Josei titles (in the first period, #11 Hotaru's Light (Hotaru no Hikari) and #18 Babysitter Gin; in the second, #20 If You Were Here or Anata ga Ireba) disappear by the third trimester, although Hotaru's Light still released volume 5 during this period (IYWH didn't and Babysitter Gin had already finished its Indonesian run by end-July.)
|Rank||Trimester I||Trimester II||Trimester III|
My babblings could be just that—babbling, especially as the 2008 figures on which I based sed talking out of my *rse are still incomplete.
So believe (if you're inclined) at your peril.
Is Level rethinking its position and going for The Long Tail? Does it want to sell
a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities? I think that's a little extreme, and anyway, one or two manga a week's not going to cut it. From what I saw of Level's 2009 plan, there seems to be a large enough pool of choice, but are the imprint's inventory and distribution costs nugatory enough to allow pursuit of this niche strategy?
From my own experience of the Indonesian retail market, the first way out is volume; the second way out is volume; the third way out is volume, with most everything sold on consignment. While I would welcome a more munificent manga smorgasbord that a Long Tail would afford, I also don't want the Level imprint to fold, should the market remain lopsided in favor of popular manga.
I think the release diminution hints at some consolidation going on, and whatever changes ensue, I assume that Level's going to end up publishing its promised 24 titles a month (a 50% increase over its 2008 average). What would constitute this golden 24? Likely the continuing series from among the Top 20 manga of 2008. I really doubt it would be Bye-bye, Pareto and hello, some other strategy scenario; after all, bookstores 'n such still have limited shelf and floor space.
~niki DBA huamulan03 (花木蘭03) via Elex Media
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