Manga Sales in Japan – Does One Piece Rule them All?Posted: March 16, 2014
Besides watching anime, one of my other hobbies I spend quite an extensive time on is reading manga. I started doing that since primary school (with the likes of Conan and Jojo) and still keep up with quite a few series down the years. I still prefer the paperback version over reading any scanlation online personally. Recently, I came across oricon’s annual list of manga sales in Japan by series and volumes, so I just can’t help but try to put together some analysis on this to see what I might find. Maybe it will be some other cools series that I did not know before for me to get addicted on! Unfortunately, I can only find raw data that goes back to 2008 so I can’t analyze anything older. Anyway, 6 years of data is still relatively decent and I can still draw some substantial conclusion from it.
One Piece does rule them all.
In recent years in the West, we always talk about the holy trinity of Shounen series (series aimed towards young male demographic) to be One Piece, Naruto and Bleach, with more attention really on the latter two. In Japan, at least on the manga front, One Piece blows past everyone, including both Naruto and Bleach. Here are some interesting facts to emphasize One Piece’s dominance:
As shown below, Attack of the Titan came closest to One Piece in 2013. Previously, Naruto came relatively close in 2008 before One Piece pulled away from the competition in the next 4 years (2009-12), with its popularity peaking immensely in 2011 (selling nearly 5 times more than number 2 and 7 times more than the top 10 average (I use median instead of mean because mean is completely spoiled by how dominant One Piece is in its sales). It is on its decline though over the last 2 years so maybe another series will ovetake it in the next few years.
Table 2: Interesting ratios by year
|Top 10 sales median (mn)||3.1||4.2||5.2||4.5||4.1||5.2|
|Ratio of #1-to-#2||1.40||2.15||4.37||5.53||2.91||1.14|
|Ratio of #1-to-top 10 avg||1.90||3.49||6.24||8.37||5.75||3.49|
18 of 20 top selling volumes of manga over this time period are One Piece (the remaining two are Attack on Titan]. 23 of top 30
In this very top-heavy list, only 4 series are featured in the top 30 sales by volumes. Surprisingly (to me at least), the highest ranking volume sale for Naruto is all the way down to number 32 on the list
Table 3: Ranking of series volume by total sales
One Piece dominates the chart so much that each volume on average sold 40% more than number 2 on the list (NANA). And One Piece releases 30 volumes over these 6 years, more than any other series in the top 10, showing its lasting power.
Table 4: Top 10 series according to volume sales
|Rank||Name||Total volume sales (2008-13)||Volume|
|5||Attack on Titan||1,122,814||19|
|7||Hunter X Hunter||1,020,999||8|
|8||Kimi ni Todoke||1,014,380||15|
|9||I’m Sakamoto, you know.||896,968||1|
|10||Hana Yori Dango||815,648||1|
At the peak of its popularity in 2011, One Piece actually sold more copies than Number 2 to 8 in the list combined
Chart 1: Sales volume by series in 2011
Shounen series predictably dominates the chart
On demographics, unsurprisingly, Shounen dominates, though Shounen series make up half of the top ten. All four demographics actually are present in the top ten, though Josei’s Nodame Cantabile seems to be an outlier, considering that the next Josei manga on the list is Chihayafuru at #47 (436,084 sales per volume)Series ranking by sales per volume
Table 5: Top 20 volume sales with demographic information
Chart 2: Total volume sales by demographics
Attack of Titan may yet overthrow One Piece in the next few years
As dominant as One Piece has been, it is on the 30% decline over the last 2 years from 2011 to 2013 (38mn to 18mn). On the other and, Attack on Titan is on a very sharp trend upward and is the title most likely to dethrone One Piece on its 6-year supremacy. No other titles are coming close as seen below.
Table 6: 2013 sales and 2-year CAGR (2011-13) of selected manga series
|Title||2013 sales||2-year CAGR|
|Attack on Titan||15,933,801||106%|
|Kimi ni Todoke||3,428,352||-9%|
|Hunter X Hunter||4,231,475||20%|
|Saint Young Men (Saint O-nii-san)||2,487,751||-2%|
|Detective Conan (Case Closed)||1,966,206||-4%|
Other notes of interest:
- Only 6 series actually made appearances in the list throughout the 6 years period: One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Gintama, Hunter X Hunter and Conan
- Attack of the Titan kept improving over the last 3 years. We shall see if it may be able to dethrone One Piece next year finally.
- Out of this list of the top 20, I have read (or watched anime of) 11, including none of the three Shoujo series on the list. I probably should check out Blue Exorcist, Silver Spoon and Kuroko’s Basketball at some point though
I will be interested to see if Attack on Titan can sustain the meteoric rise and overtake One Piece. There are also a few series I will pick up to read next time I visit the manga shop nearby.