It's been no secret to dedicated anime and manga fans that the last few years have seen a greater amount of franchises break into general pop culture and popularity outside of the usual circles. Breakout hits such as My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba have also provided a major boon to manga as well as fans continue to seek out the original works to experience their favorite new series in different ways. But with this rise of popularity also comes a rise in piracy, and manga publishers have taken major action against this in the last few years.
But a recent report from notable voice on the inner workings of the manga business, @OnTakahashi, revealed that even with these greater efforts to combat piracy, the manga industry in Japan is still being harmed by piracy a ton. Although it's been more legally available in the West, it isn't translating to hard numbers where it really counts.
As @OnTakahashi reveals, the Japanese digital comics industry grew by 29.5%, but the publishing industry grew by a paltry 0.2% in 2019. The 29.5 percent came after a boom with publishers shutting down the biggest piracy site in Japan, Manga Mura, with the owners even going to prison. Manga scans and the like are not having an impact at all, and the numbers show manga publishers in Japan that shutting down these sites will result in revenue.
@OnTakahashi's report notes that Japanese companies will respond to numbers. More series could potentially get localizations outside of Japan if the numbers support it. It's not just spending money, but using the official and legal reading services for each new manga release. Because while Japan is noticing a greater boom in manga and anime around the world, if the numbers don't rise, then the Western market won't seem like a good market to be in.
Fans in the United States do have a strange relationship with manga and anime piracy considering how little they were available before, but those aren't excuses to use anymore. Considering how many legal services exist that offer ways to freely experience new releases such as Viz Media's Shonen Jump app, reading scans just isn't a real choice anymore. Especially now that Viz Media is releasing new Shonen Jump chapters before they even hit in Japan.
This argument may change with each company, but the root of it all is that fans should support official and legal releases when they can. Supporting or purchasing official releases will only be great for those who work to bring each new series to our eyes. Niche titles will have a better chance of getting high quality legal releases (or even physical volumes), and many of them simply can't now because they're being devoured by piracy. But what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!