Weekly Shonen Jump Editor Talks Manga's Piracy Problem

It is hard to imagine what it’d be like running Weekly Shonen Jump, but that is what Hiroyuki Nakano does daily. The editor-in-chief has manned the magazine since 2017, and in a recent interview, Nakano opened up about the piracy issues plaguing manga today.

Speaking with Anime News Network, Nakano was asked about how rampant piracy has become overseas.

“I’m glad that people are reading our manga, but it's a big problem for the artists, and it doesn't pay for the cost of assistants, creating the manuscripts, and so on,” the editor explained.

“If left unchecked, it could destroy manga culture. I think it's important to encourage people who read pirated versions to support the official release and to make the official release accessible.”

Continuing, Nakano said the company’s choice to launch its new service MANGA Plus wasn’t done out of piracy concerns. Shueisha wanted to expand its audience first and foremost, but the editor will not complain if that free access curbs the need for piracy.

“Hopefully, but that wasn't the primary reason we came up with it. We just want our manga to be more accessible around the world. But perhaps it will reduce the demand for pirated versions,” Nakano shared.

As for how MANGA Plus will open accessibility to Weekly Shonen Jump's titles, its services speak for itself. The global service is available in all countries outside of Japan and South Korea which have their own dedicated readers. For a small fee, fans can read up on the backlog of dozens of Weekly Shonen Jump titles like One Piece, and on-going titles post their most recent chapters for free. The simulpublished model makes it easier than ever to read manga on time with Japan, but Nakano does say the country has more of a fondness for paper volumes even in this digital age.

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"That's why it's become a goal of ours to digitize so that more people can read our manga. I think one of the things that makes Japan different from overseas is that it's a smaller country with a dense population, so it's not so hard to distribute print magazines around the entire country at the same time," the editor said. "I also think people are used to the quality of the paper and how it's used to lower the cost."

So, do you think Shueisha's new service will help mitigate manga piracy? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!