Manga grows in the heart of Europe
The supernaturally focused manga "Kekkaishi" is one of the top manga titles in Germany.
January 26th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Manga grows in the heart of Europe

Editor's note: Danica Davidson is a writer whose articles have appeared on MTV.com, Publishers Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. She also writes English adaptions of Japanese graphic novels. She has recently finished her first young adult novel and is seeking a publisher. 

Anime and manga are gaining in popularity around the globe.  The realization of that first hit me when I was attending a fair at the German city of Wiesloch. There —  amidst the bratwurst and schnitzel stands, the arts and crafts and the homemade goods — were “Yu-Gi-Oh” tapes and cards.

I was lucky enough to be on an inexpensive (read: actually affordable for a writer) group trip to Germany and France, where we stayed with German host families at night and toured during the day.  I never stopped being amazed by the grandeur of the old buildings or the kindness of the locals, especially the host families, but seeing anime and manga became a regular occurrence.

Every bookstore I went into in both countries had manga sections. Anime and manga magazines were being sold like the ones you can get in America.

I flipped through “Peach Girl” at the bookstore in Wiesloch. I checked out “Bleach” at a bookshop in Heidelberg not far from Heidelberg Castle, which you can see in Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster.”  I could go into a mall, say, “anime,” and be pointed in the right direction.  I didn’t have much time for television watching, but I did see “One Piece” in German and “Naruto” in French.  And, yes, I bought myself “Yu-Gi-Oh Der Film” from the fair.

“In Europe, manga is most popular in France, then Italy and Spain,” said Hyoe Narita, president of VIZ Media Europe, which is headquartered in Paris. Annual manga sales in Japan are about $5 billion, he said, whereas American manga sales are $120 million and Europe and the Middle East combined make $250 million. This combined number given out is probably because VIZ Media Europe distributes to the Middle East as well. Japan is still the huge maker, but these numbers show that manga is moving well outside of Asia.

The popularity does vary by country, but France is by far the leader in European otaku interest, as it brings in 50% of European manga sales. Narita said it’s the same size or a bit bigger than the market in the United States.

The market for anime and manga isn’t new to Europe, either. According to Narita, it’s been going on for 40 years.

“The first huge hit animation was ‘Goldorak,’ broadcast on TV in 1978 in France, and the average rating was 75% in the younger generation category,” he said.

“Manga in Europe is expanding, exponentially,” said Yoko Tanigaki, sales manager of the California-based publishing company Digital Manga.

“Every quarter, it seems there is a new European publisher approaching us for new licenses. I constantly receive e-mails from European readers asking ‘Is (this title) going to be released? I plan to buy on Amazon USA and ship it to myself, no matter what the shipping cost is!’”

Although we don’t have all the same titles here as in Europe, and vice versa, it appears the main ones seem to sell wherever they go. Narita pointed to “One Piece,” “Naruto,” “Detective Conan,” “Fairy Tail,” “Dragon Ball” and “Ranma 1/2" as being top titles in Europe, just as they are in Japan and the U.S.

These are all labeled "shonen," or titles for boys. From my limited but fascinating experience in German and French bookstores, there were definitely a lot of shonen titles, but I noticed a lot of titles aimed for girls as well. This included a good number of girl-oriented "Boy’s Love" titles, some of which have not been licensed in the U.S.

As one might deduce from all this interest in anime and manga, anime conventions also are making themselves known in Europe.

“The biggest one is Japan Expo in Paris, with more than 200,000 visitors,” said Narita. “It is the most important convention in Europe. The others are Salon del Manga in Spain, Lucca Comics and Games in Italy, London MCM Expo in England, AnimagiC and Connichi in Germany… But even outside of these shows, there are a lot of events, conventions and festivals on Japanese pop culture and anime.”  They happen almost every week in France, he said.

Seeing “Yu-Gi-Oh” at a German fair might be small beans compared to that, but then again, seeing “Yu-Gi-Oh” at a German fair shows how immersed the medium has became in parts of Europe.

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Filed under: Otaku
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  70. AD

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    January 30, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  71. Pro

    I don't like it, but if someone else does, more power to them!

    January 28, 2012 at 3:26 am |
  72. jairo

    BERSERK freakin' pwns

    January 27, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  73. Chris

    Bleach baby!

    January 27, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • kooldoode

      Hahahahahaha,are you kiding me???? That sucks so much!!!!! There's no backround,and the series is so lame,

      January 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  74. thestranger

    Why are we allowing them to do this? These comics are distributing evil j@p culture into our pure while children.

    it's time for us to ban these books once and for all

    January 27, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Angrywurm

      Spongebob is much more wholesome and educational than a manga that teaches morals and discipline. Or better yet, let them watch the old school racist WB cartoons full of kill plots and bumbling idiots. Thats why america blows. You grew up watching crap.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • BIrd

      Pure white children....Wow do you have a lot to learn about genetics. Plus manga is really fun to read.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Maty

      Actually, there are educational manga- like 'the Drops of God' (about wine), and Oishinbo (among many others, about food). There are historical manga, etc., all sorts.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  75. Emily

    Manga and anime are AWESOME. I've been following the Nauto series since i was in 2nd grade (5 years ago). The manga is as old as I am, and it has changed my perspective on the world and life. You can't say it's for little kids without reading (or watching) it first. There is a lot of philosophical value in both manga and anime.

    January 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Ocie

      I'm 19 going on 20 and still watch Naruto, and the newer Naruto Shippuden series. Both are great, and I wouldn't say either is exclusively for little kids as my 25 year old room mate watched and collected both herself. And you're right, they do have a lot of philosophical value. Look at the character studies just one season provides on each individual. It allows you to see the motivations different people have, even when they are not getting along. That is very important philosophical perspective.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  76. I Am Disappointed

    Wow, we can't take one bit of interesting, good, offbeat news without going into fandom wars, e-peening, and trolling. Still, it didn't happen for five comments this time so that's an improvement. Favorite manga: Mahou Sensei Negima.

    January 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Maty

      Death Note and Andromeda Stories here....for now!

      February 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Ocie

      My favorites are Full Metal Alchemist, FMA Brotherhood, Bleach, Naruto, and Kekkaishi. The Adult Swim lineup for the most part plus Naruto and the Naruto Shippuden series.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  77. outawork

    Aa! Megami-sama! (Ah! My Goddess) is the best. I just love Belldandy!!!

    January 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  78. Jenny

    Neon Genesis Evangelion!

    January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Ocie

      Haven't seen the series but the opening sequence music and animation is some of the best out there.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Daianitha

      faalarm, faalarm, faalarm e agora to baixando os episodeos, lembro de ter visto poucas coisas na antiga TV manchete .vcs poderiam fazer um cast sobre a manchete ne? lembro que la passava muito animes bons, como shurato, cavaleiros e um de uns 5 samurais bem legal, alem de um programa sobre video games que era muito fodaaa!!Otimo cast, parabens pelo trabalho de vcs!!Feliz ano novo natal e essas putarias todas =D

      November 16, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  79. MandoZink

    I would love to see Robert Crumb attempt to satirized manga. It might wake people up to developing taste for really cool individual style, not this slick cookie-cutter stuff. You might like what you've been exposed to, but you just haven't seen what really unique, individual comic artists can do. Nuff said. Those who understand probably skipped reading this article anyway.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Avery

      My comics are better than your comics, whine whine whine.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
      • MandoZink

        Hey, your name wouldn't be a tribute to Tex Avery, would it? Now that was a cartoonist with a truly outrageous style. I have been a follower of cartoonists and comic artists, and much of their history, for most of my 58 years. I have seen so much wonderful variety of talent and individual styles over the years. Good artists are unmistakeable. Could you look at a manga or anime and immediately know who the artist is? That's the first clue.

        January 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Lori

      ?? do you know ANYTHING about manga??

      January 26, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Actually many fans of manga can indeed take a single glance and recognize the work of artists such as Masamune Shirow, Hayao Miyazaki or Kōsuke Fujishima. Just because you are not as involved in the art of this style does not mean that others are not.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:28 am |
      • Vitalis

        I was considering not inluidcng mention of Anno (though he is referenced on the Wikipedia page about superflat) but thinking about Evangelion, in spite of its gigantic popularity, there is no doubting it's the work of an extremely eccentric auteur; lets consider Evangelion's withdrawn and cerebral conclusion, Shinji masturbating over the comatose body of Asuka it's not really what I'd describe as typical anime fluff (I'm looking at Kanon here). For me Evangelion stands tall as a unique and rightly celebrated work of art. I'd probably liken him to Kurt Cobain in this sense.***Generally people are perhaps now more than ever before able to submerge themselves in fantasy, they are falling in love with and obsessing over fictional characters. And so the character, rather than the story, becomes the focus of their attention. I just find this kind of thing completely vacant and utterly superficial."Ichigo Mashimaro" is a series about little girls animated for older men. Is there even a story to this show? Or are people just sitting back and watching a bunch of school kids DOING NOTHING? Is the story important anymore?

        November 16, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  80. Sonic10158

    My favorite is definitely Fullmetal Alchemist

    January 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Andrew

      Cowboy Bebop trumps FMA any day. (That said, FMA is still awesome)

      January 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
      • Austin

        Sorry but Death Note blows em both out of the water. But I will admit I do have a place in my heart for Cowboy Bebop.

        January 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Andi

      So, you finally wrote an entry on it after the big ttewtir conversation.You know, thinking about this more . . . there are several anime where this trope is subverted as well (the can of coffee fails.)

      November 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  81. Luffy

    One Piece is THE best series out there,everything sucks in camparison.And I read it all on line for free lols

    January 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Maty

      Thief.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  82. Doomsday

    GI Joe and Cobra are excellant forms of animation

    January 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  83. Momo_hime7

    I went on vacation to Spain in 2006, and InuYasha was airing there, which I thought was pretty cool. 🙂

    January 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  84. LiberalNN

    I freakin' love Cowboy Bebop. Best anime ever IMHO.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Guy_Patterson

      then you should like boku no pico

      January 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
      • Nooooo

        no. just no.

        January 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  85. kro

    Monster is great anime and far different than most animu.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  86. r

    The only time I could stand this "art" form was in Tarantino's movie.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Dr. Poop

      Manga and Anime are two different things.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • twistedpuppet

      Tarantino also sucks. Just sayin.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • outawork

      Just think of anime as manga that moves. ;>)

      January 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • BIrd

      The only reason he could use that "art" was because they wouldn't allow him to show some of the scenes using real people. With the anime he could get away with it.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  87. Christine

    I don't see why most of you are so surprised that this type of article is only being published now. News companies like CNN are always really slow for things relating to non-American cultures. I don't put much stock in their articles.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Joey Z

      In this case, they are about 20 years behind the times.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
      • chris millir

        more like 30 years

        January 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  88. heimda

    soo im guessing u had write some kinda article to get a expense report arthroized related to this trip?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Elzilene

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      August 3, 2012 at 5:40 am |
  89. Jason

    Manga and anime are ruining the Hell out of art. Look at Deviant Art for one. Remember what it consisted of the first year it was online? Yeaaahh...

    January 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Riyoko

      You can't say that another form of art is ruining the hell out of art cause if anime is ruining i cartoons like mickey mouse are doing the same why can't you just respect another countries form of art and the fact that others are participating in this culture is a good thing. Deviant art is just fine by the way its not like the worlds gonna explode because people found an art form that they are good at.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • MandoZink

      Jason, it's a matter of taste. Manga, and anime, are highly stylized art forms with their own merits. Unfortunately, both do lack soul. I currently can't think of a good metaphor to elucidate the hollowness of the style. One has to actually discover real art to understand they only ever knew bad art before. I won't bother to argue this with anyone who has not yet been awakened to the real thing. Although there are so many more than this, just look at R.Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, and most Disney artists. There are a massive number of amazing cartoonists out there. I guess you could start out by imitating manga over and over and over until your true awakening occurs – I hope.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  90. A.A

    This article is crap Anime and Manga have been popular for years.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  91. Mike C

    I can't wait for Otukon 2012. I wish Anime wasn't so fringe, I'd like to see more availability on Netflix.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  92. Jason

    Anime: the only place in the world where you can see skinny teenage boys and girls take down muscular adult men.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  93. Mayor_McCheese

    Manga and Anime are about the worst graphic art forms in existence. Cheap animation with terrible story lines.

    Grow up. that stuff is for 8 year olds.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • jazmine

      Couldn't agree more

      January 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • Svetka

        , the ability to descirn what is anime, to you, is intuitive. It's like picking out poisonous mushrooms, not exactly, but close. In response to what the hell anime is, I'd say it's style. It's the style, maybe not the big eyes and no nose cliched art style, but anime' definitely has a distinct style that sets it apart from, say, Courage the Cowardly Dog (nothing wrong with Courage, I adored that dog and that show.) For one thing, cartoons are supposed to be for kids, but anime breaks the stereotypical boundary. Anime encompasses so many things that it's so much more than just a subset of animation. Anime influenced animation is what shows like Samurai Jack should be called. I wouldn't consider it an anime, just because it didn't feel quite like an anime. As far as I'm concerned, as long as it feels right, I'm good. As long as it has that edge, as long as it still talks to me the same way, even if it is written by two Americans (and even if I hated Star Wars,) I'm good. Like kuromistu said, anime's cartoons with a certain feel'. No matter how convoluted and useless the term anime' may become, as long as there's still that feeling', anime will never die ..hopefully. O_o

        March 7, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Daniel

      Said Mayor McCheese lol

      January 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
      • Levi

        LOL That's what I was about to say.

        January 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • Mickey

        Oh the irony

        January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
      • Dr. Poop

        +1

        January 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
      • Joey Z

        Mayor McCheese is telling me to grow up.

        January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Tobi

      Just because you do not like something does not give you the right to insult those who do. It's just a pass time. The only one who needs to "grow up" here is you, because that is how children behave.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Daenara

      It's always so refreshing when an eight year old is intelligent enough to comment about articles. Good for you, Mayor!

      January 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Laurel

      Your comment is ignorant. You don't even know what anime and manga are. Most anime is for adults. You know nothing.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • kid

      why don't you grow up? and while your at it listen to other peoples point of view? because in this situation you end up wrong. people like you need to shut up and actually SEE what anime really is before you judge it. why don't you go comment on an article you AGREE WITH. im a kid, and I even have more sense then you. if you dont like it say it in a NICE WAY instead of TROLLING, cuz thats what your doing. ch- grow up? oh please. anime is a sophisticated way of art. if u were smart u would appriciate ALL forms of art. im not one to mince words.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Joney

      let me break it down for you: there are manga/anime that are intended for 8 year olds, and cheaply made
      and then there are those that are beautifully drawn and well animated with mature story lines (FMA, shinkai makoto, etc etc etc)
      just like how there are great, deep hollywood movies, but also shallow, boring, rehash ones
      k? goooood

      January 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Ocie

      Well so are McDonalds burgers and I swallow those whole too. When you look at the alternatives, there is nothing any more childish about watching anime at 25 than there is about watching Star Wars at 32. Good art is good art no matter what age you are. P.S. IF you look at the price tags on anime you can see really clearly what age group is most likely to be buying it. Anime box sets and books are expensive.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  94. Levi

    This is just sugar coating what's really becoming popular. Yaoi~

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Tobi

      I agree... I can't believe how mainstream it's become. Especially in the U.S. I still remember when it started showing up at Borders all casually 6-7 years ago and my mind was just blown.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • Levi

        yeah my mind was blown then, now it blows my loads lol

        January 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
      • Ocie

        If your username tells me anything your referring to SasuNaru, ItaDei, etc. from the Naruto Shippuden francise fanfiction sect. Yeah, that stuff really has blown off the charts as well as the same for other series.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  95. Daryl

    What a stupid article. Manga and anime have been mainstream for YEARS.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Buck

      "The market for anime and manga isn’t new to Europe, either. According to Narita, it’s been going on for 40 years." Apparently you didn't fully read the article Daryl.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Ross

      I agree. I've been watching anime for well over 10 years. These guys are idiots. Anilinkz.com for life!

      January 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
      • nope

        Anilinkz – piracy. Not a dime goes to the manga/anime authors.

        January 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  96. Len

    I'm not really seeing the big deal here. My husband brought back manga in french for me and german for himself back when he went to Europe with his family....twelve years ago...

    January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Meeko

      Europe has had a better selection of anime and manga releases for decades. I asked my brother-in-law to pick up some German Sailor Moon merchandise and music CDs in the 90's. He was able to find it quite easily, considering his lack of anime knowledge. Even Canada has a better selection...........

      January 27, 2012 at 3:27 am |
      • Maty

        There are great manga shops here in the States. But not if you're looking for German Sailor Moon.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
      • Ocie

        And I was looking for the Detective Conan series in America, couldn't find it on any channel and found that the DVD was available on only one website. When I got to Korea, it was on cable TV–in Korean. The market for anime isn't big enough in comparison to the other media markets to justify advertising it in the mainstream as massively as other forms of entertainment, so, we get our little day in the sun here under the "Geek Out!" section of CNN.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Ocie

      Stuff that is popular overseas takes a good 5 to 10 years to make it big over here. That might be because no one wants to make the business investment in the States until it has proved lucrative in easier to enter markets in Europe and Asia that require less paperwork and have lower start up and maintenance cost associated with production such as translation, marketing, and distribution. Seeing if a product flies in those places and then starting shop here takes about 5 to 10 years so those of us who don't have overseas contacts or business connections don't find out about trends until that 5 to 10 year marketing delay is over.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
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