Are you anime only? Fans not reading originals as much

of manga and light novels

With the coming of the Fall 10 season and the large amount of titles being animated  I was reminded once again of the abysmal percentage of non-manga and light novel readers out there. You can ask a couple of fans you know whether they read manga or not and they’ll likely say they don’t and say or they “only watch anime”.  Actually, there really isn’t much talk about manga from bloggers or fans either which I found relatively understandable, albeit it didn’t click that right why of the “manga disinterest” is THAT great and why the medium doesn’t attract a bigger audience.

With an overall of 19.5 days,  currently reading status of 24 series, 60 plan to read and overall 142 entries I’m not about to completely removed myself from those groups. I should really read more manga is what i think. The thing is that reading AND following manga or light novels (if you have the chance) isn’t as easy as watching anime for several reasons.

was stuck at chapter 80/82 for over a year (recently translated)

Manga gets dropped – You know it was going to happen.. eventually.

Terrible, isn’t it? For every manga I’ve come across I don’t know how many times another group has to step in and pick it up. You go online and see that “A” group is no longer because they lost interest on the project or a member suddenly quit on them followed by “looking for more help”, which it doesn’t happen as usual. A similar process repeats again then again because manga is still ongoing.

Not always the case but the project might be put on hold until they regroup. Worst case scenario the project is ultimately dropped and forgotten. Well the same thing happens with anime, right? Right. However, another fansub group usually picks it up since a lot of people are interested in watching these new shows though we have to wait a couple of weeks or a few months for them to finish it. Better late than never I usually say. In this case, yeah, better than never. Even there is a huge chance this manga will never be animated like the one above.

Anime has a greater advantage over manga when it comes to this sort of thing.

No particular reason. I just loved the manga

Anime =/= Manga – Clearly, it can’t be the same as anime. Anime has all these flashy animation, cool effects, and the most famous VA all over the place. Anime is too difficult to pass up.

The non-moving and just ink on a paper appeal aren’t  for everyone and they appeal to some fans as much as an avocado ice-cream would if there was ever one. Manga uses drawings in addition to dialogues to keep the story going. Light novels are text after text and they can be tiring to some. After a dozen of pages the reader might had the enough and never got the more exciting parts. I personally like to believe that novels are better written and in a greatly engaging way. Manga, on the other hand, is very easy to read and the images help a lot to make the reading easier. That’s all nice but the fact that there might be an animated version in the future usually makes fans to wait for them and not pick up the manga versions. Example below.

Rare updates – Not as bad as rare blog updates.

All of these are ongoing projects. The author is working on them as he or she goes (I assume they already had a good idea of where they’re going) and plans out what will come next on top of coming up with new material for the next issues. Not everyone works at the same pace, some authors get their stuff out monthly, others once everything three months, and others twice a year.

For most part this is understandable. They’re people and not machines they need time to get their ideas and also to rest up so they don’t burn out. They’re constantly working and are given a schedule which either they make it or the companies they work for make them keep them. I remember Hellsing’s author not getting another book for another 6 long months IRCC back in the day. Those were some long months.

Not that greatest online – Manga wasn’t originally intended to be enjoyed this way.

I don’t often hear this one but not all fans enjoy reading manga online, do you? Personally, I don’t find it a painful task. When I started I was slightly put off by having to click next every time but you get used to many things. In general, reading manga on a computer monitor is something I can do but don’t find it very comfortable. The eyes get tired.  Your back may hurt too. Possibly it’s the fact that I’m still looking at a screen and  I’m looking at white and black. Having said that it’s usually worth it.

To me, nothing beats having the book and simply sit down and read it. I can read twice and much more that way. Probably I could finish a couple of volumes when I have the manga on my hands than compare to the online version where I usually do an hour or 2 max.

Problem with the setup – Iseeaproblemwiththis

Beside the fact that everyone has different tastes in anime and manga. I find a very common problem in manga. They simply aren’t that well made. I don’t mean the story but the set up, how the panels and dialogue (and boxes) aren’t made to be read easily sometimes like a cluster of things happening all at once. Everything on the page is so packed that we don’t know where to look making it look like the author really wanted to put everything in it no matter what. Some manga are slightly difficult to follow while others can be excruciating to no end. The problem with this is that I probably won’t read the manga because of it. I’m sure some of these stories are great but they can be drawn  in a veery unnecessary messy way that may turned off new readers.

An engaging story and interesting characters are highly important but if I can’t get past the first chapters because the manga is unreadable (exaggerating a bit there) There’s not much that can be done. This is a huge problem for ANY manga. I think all authors should always keep that in mind that everything on the pages should flow well.

They go on Hiatus – That word that no one likes.

After that 4-6 months that we have stopped reading their manga and in a few more we forget in what chapters we were in and what happened before those. With new anime airing and others manga coming out we tend to forget about *that* manga that was put on hold months ago and in some cases eventually lose interest.

Mangakas are people so they take breaks  (I believe mandatory) and in a few months (hopefully not years) they’ll be back to resume with their projects coming back fresh and with their batteries recharged. By that time hopefully, we’ll still be interested on what we were reading.

Manga takes too long to finish – I think the biggest reason why I don’t pick up certain manga or end up dropping some even though they can be simply awesome.

Patience is a virtue, manga sometimes really pushes it like is going out of style. Plenty of fans really like the manga but they only stick to it for a few months or a couple of years. There’s manga that has been going for years and still no end is at hand. This can be great for fans who wish to see more and more of their favorite mangakas and always have something to “look forward to each month”. However, times goes on and on and the manga still goes on and so do the years. Berserk and One Piece can be one of the most known examples of manga that has been going for years and no one knows when they’ll ever end. Plenty of fans follow them but also another number of them put them on hold for the same reason.

Manga can take its toll.  Speaking generally I usually read a few volumes of titles that interest me but because the manga continues on and on I eventually am forced to give it up and rather choose to pick it up once it ends.  For example, I recall picking up a seinen manga back in 2004 and it still hasn’t ended though the end it is certainly close. No idea when the author would finish it but I follow it whenever I find some a new updates after a couple of long months.

Just too daaamn long – They’re supposed to be that way I reckon.

This sounds like a really bad excuse to not pick up light novels. I’m in no way an avid reader but once something engages me  I see it to the end when the quality of the product is consistently top-notch.  A 200 pages for one volume isn’t scary. I think that in light novels you can appreciate even greater how well-organized the author’s thoughts are, the clarity of it, and his or her ability to keep you engage on the reading for the next couple of days until you finish it. I really don’t mind how lengthy something is as long as the produces is great.  If the book is interesting without a doubt I’d finish it.

Prefer to read the manga/other medium – Those who have the chance to do so.

Light novels hardly had any pictures because it focuses on the writing rather than on the visuals effects of the manga with its great drawings. Plenty of fans rather pick up the manga or anime instead. Reasonable for most part since novels hardly get translated and is not every day we get a volumes fully translated. Personally, if I was given the chance (and the original source was a light novel) I’d pick up the novels because they show what  neither the anime nor the manga had. These subtle themes and read between the lines stuff that can only be found in original final works.

Light Novels don’t usually get translated – And for the biggest reason.

Who hasn’t heard of Baka-tsuki? Also who hasn’t heard of (same as with manga) that “A” series was a lot better in the novels! I don’t disagree.  Not being able to have the chance of reading a novel because they aren’t translated is something that all of us non-(or hardly)speaking Japanese will have to deal with. Fans have a dependency on fansubbers/translators to put these amazing projects together and give us a fully translated version of these stories. A very few novels get translated and I say it with disappointed look, a lot of novels don’t get translated EVER.

Popular titles such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya are a few that have gotten translated. Bless them for that. It’ll be a lot easier if more  of these novels would get licensed and reach the rest of the world rather than waiting on groups to pick them up. Manga eventually reach us but novels not as much.

Mixed with why we don’t get the chance to do so there’s the many reasons we don’t read as much of them. Following them can be interesting and seeing them what new they bring to our hobbies. Manga requires a large amount of patience and dedication from the reader to stick them with for many years until they reach a definite conclusion.

To me manga and light novel readers are like a small circle next  to or outside of the regular anime fandom. Like to one side, the side of the side to the point that I happen to be surprised whenever I found fans to be avid manga readers. Simply strolling around MAL and other places you can tell only few people actually read manga and when they do the amount they read is usually extremely low. I’ve seen from 20% to .05% to non-existing manga titles compared to the overall anime watched.

The popularity of anime, the great animation, music, among many things make anime still to be the most appealing medium to fans. Taking in consideration the many obstacles both of these medium can come across instead of a well-prepared just ready to go anime project is clear to see why fans prefer anime over everything else and prefer to wait for them to be animated. Though, it’s always important to remind everyone that anime versions take their own liberties in the adaption and there are wonders only the original versions can provide. It’s not like they burn on contact, y’know.

16 thoughts on “Are you anime only? Fans not reading originals as much

  1. I think the reason for the popularity of animes is that they’re fill a gap on western media. There isn’t much animation for adults on the western world, not even 3D animation, and even adult-targeted comics adaptations are marketed primarily towards children and teenagers, with some notable exceptions (90s MTV stuff).

    Such gap doesn’t exist for manga and light novels to enter. American comics are great, Italian and French comics kicks some serious ass, even latin america is catching up.

    When it comes to novels, there’s even more competition: they can’t compete with Twilight and Harry Potter, plus there’s lots of shorter, lighter novels for every kind of audience. It’s sort of a saturated market, really. And ttheres also uh… “traditional” literature. The average light novel just can’t compete with James Joyces and Dostoyevskys, and doesn’t matter where you live, there’s probably enough traditional literature for a lifetime of enjoyment.

    Also, there’s what I’ll call adaptation-redundancy. When mangas, light novels and animes are adapted, there isn’t much of a difference between adaptations when compared to say… a Harry Potter adaptation. I know fans will nitpick stuff and say “IN THE MANGA IT WAS SO MUCH BETTER”, but no. In comparison, western movie/cartoon adaptations are way more different (for better or for worse) than the original material. Some adaptations are nothing more than copy-pasta…

    Not to mention that some anime fans feel a bit alienated by manga fans, with spoilers and comparisons. I used to do, until I started reading manga and noticed I wasn’t missing as much as people professed…

    • Good point. I forgot about the already most popular novels in the market making difficult for Japanese light novels to compete in other parts of the world. Not many know of them and the people I can see buying light novels would be anime fans who were eagerly waiting for them to be licensed.

      There aren’t many licensed light novels as far as I know, even less of titles I’d be interested in reading. I’d like this to change if possible but as you mention it won’t be that easy.

  2. I don’t know many people who read, period (except the odd magazine). Most people I know watch TV religiously instead. That’s why I figure the problem exists in north america, anyway.

    As for my reasons, it’s simply because there aren’t any translations of what I’d like to read/view. I’ve gone through a lot of manga in my time, both official and unofficial, and these days it’s tough to find what I want.

    The worst is the wishy-washy official support. Manga and especially light novels are licensed, stopping fan translation, and then they’re left in limbo for a long time and eventually dropped before the series is completed (at least for the stuff I like). Having to wait 2+ years for them to catch up to fan translations is bad enough, since the fan translators usually jump ship upon licensing.

    • There is indeed a lack of translation out there I think more for light novels though. More than once I’ve come across manga that sounds interesting but the number of chapters translated are so little that puts you off and make you go “all check it out later” A few months (or years) later it’ll be possibly be translated but no one really knows.

      Personally, I’d like to finish most of my ongoing manga but currently can’t. They do have ended but they’re still being translated at a very slow pace.

      That reminds me of a manga I was following but after it got licensed they stopped translating the project altogether. As usual the anime version only covered some volumes and the rest is totally new. I bought a few volumes but they’re a total of 39 volumes! No way, I’d ever finish it without anyone translating it.

  3. Avid manga reader here.
    Unlike most, I actually find myself reluctant to watch anime adaptations or picking up any anime series overall (except for the must-watches and ones where I love the original so badly, of course), while being quite easy-going on my manga picks. Because I feel too lazy to download the episodes? Maybe. Another reason is that I can find myself following the series in my own pace when I read manga – I just like being able to pause and reread or marvel over the beauty of the art once in a while.

    The “keep having to click next” problem when reading online manga can be fixed with manga-reading browser extensions (like ‘Allmangareader’ for Chrome, I’m not sure if there’s a counterpart for it on FF though). A downside of it is probably when some pages just don’t load and you have to refresh the whole thing, however.

    On the other hand, I don’t pick up light novels as much as I’d like. Probably because of the overwhelming amount of texts that I’d have to read on-screen – manga has pictures that eases this problem. Wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say I don’t read them at all, I guess. Never really finish anything except Baccano! Drug and Dominoes. Meanwhile, 12 kingdoms, Trinity Blood, remaining volumes of Baccano!, Durarara!! and dozens of other light novel-based series keep piling up. I guess if they exist as tangible printed books, I’d be able to finish them in no time. Problem with that is finding translated light novels in my country is probably as hard as going to the moon and I can’t order things online.

    And won’t visual/sound novels count as another ‘original material’ that fewer reads? Well, maybe with the exception of Umineko when the anime’s sales is so horrible compared to sound novel counterpart. Not that I’m surprised, having watched/read both materials.

    P.S. Seconded for Hellsing’s mangaka – Kouta Hirano (yes, I do realize it’s the name of the guy from HoTD, and oh how I love they are both fat and wear glasses) being lazy. Still waiting for the next chapter of his new manga Drifters, latest chapter dates back in July :C

    • Technically, VN/SN might be included because they’re a form of reading. In these cases without a doubt the originals are superior.

      Reading manga at your own leisure is enjoyable. I could do it (I actually do it) when all the chapters are out. The part of waiting for new chapters is what gets me each time.

      I can partially related to feeling reluctant of picking up anime of a manga you have already read. A few times I haven’t watched an anime because I felt there was no reason to do so after reading the amazing manga. Also it can be disappointing to see the animation to not match up to the manga. The art of the manga can be much superior than anime counterpart. Some artists work are truly exceptional to the point that you feel the anime can’t compare to it when all the heavy and small details are gone.

  4. Anime =/= Manga is my reason. Print medium is seriously losing it’s appeal to me in every fiction form, even though I used to be such an avid book reader. Honestly, if I was going to start something else other than anime, I’d much rather become a movie nerd than get into manga or LNs. That’s where my interests lie.

    Which is kinda depressing actually. I can imagine many people thinking the world is getting dumber because nobody reads. I’m not getting dumber! I just happen to prefer my stories to be moving…

    • It’s interesting to hear this perspective.. because it’s been my experience that manga have moved me the most of all three mediums (light novels, manga, anime). I don’t understand why, but it might be explained by adaptation decay and a relative lack of anime-only series that I can call “profound” or “moving”. On the flip-side, I find light novels “too light” to usually hit me like a good solid book. Manga, to me, hit the right balance between “letting me consume it at my own pace” and being “visually appealing” (at least for the types of stories they usually convey).

      But then, I wouldn’t say you’re dumber just for not reading. If you feel you’ve exhausted print, then that’s fine. I find I’ve exhausted movies. I’d say people are dumber for not seeking worthwhile content, but merely wanting to be entertained. The hunt, in my opinion, should be for the best of all worlds, not just sticking blindly to one medium.

  5. I can’t read manga. I don’t care how many people say “the manga is better than the anime”. That may be true, but it doesn’t matter if I’m not motivated enough. The main reason I watch anime is because, as you said, “Anime has all these flashy animation, cool effects, and the most famous VA all over the place.” The only time I will read a manga is if it’s real popular and hasn’t been made into an anime yet (which is rare these days) OR if it’s an anime that I really liked (therfore, I care about the story enough to delve into it’s manga counterpart).

    • Not all uncommon. Anime is way more interactive than manga, not to mention that a large number of fans right away of any anime you mention than most manga. Anime is too appealing and most fans (myself included) usually wait for the animated version but every now and then I pick up a few titles to see what they’re about.

  6. IMO all of the reasons in the manga part are valid reasons for people who don’t have that much interest in manga to use as excuses. It’s nice as an analyst but I don’t see anything else besides that, I also don’t see anything wrong with people in your circle/knowledge don’t read manga, they are anime fans. If you want to find manga fans you should try somewhere else, I’m sure some of them must have thought of “why watching anime is so difficult?”

    Also this :”Problem with the setup” – either you’re reading it wrong or you didn’t read enough. I’ve read over 200 series and hardly have this problem.

    p/s: excuse me if my tone is annoying, I’m not familiar with this community.

    • I found some shoujo (very) manga for example to be made in a way that is difficult to read. I mean the drawings, the alignments, the way how the panels are separated and mixed. They can be random in a strange way. I say in general that in some cases it could’ve been possible to make them “easier to read”. Well, it’s one of those personal things as they call them.

      • Oh I see lol. But in that case, I think it was made that way to be dreamy/unreal/emotional/something along that line to attract young girls, to satisfy their need, so you just have to be really careful when choosing a shoujo manga to read. On that note, it’s true that there are also some amateur-ish mangaka so if you think a manga is hard to read, skip it. There are better ones out there and I doubt you miss much by dropping a bad one.

  7. Get a decent image reader and downloading the files makes the process much more natural. No clicking needed. Comicrack, honeyview, cdisplay, etc. Manga offers much better pacing and variety. One can cover an entire volume in the time it takes to watch an episode. Some manga just can’t be made into anime, whether it be explicit content, style or length/brevity. “Quality” moments are much rarer as art tends to be more consistent. I deal with the time gap between chapters by having completed series that I haven’t read or just having enough series on my list that I have a new chapter to read everyday. I’ll end by linking to a great recommendation list by a great scanlator:

  8. Mannd light novels question are difficult to understand sometimes. Yeah they are anime fans that just can’t stand but there are people that simply can’t get it. (Not for me luckily 5 minutes walk for manga shop and 10 for public library with mangas section) but there are people who don’t have shop on their cities or towns, even on their countries. they just can’t get it.
    Yes. scans and fansubs are a good idea for those people bur reading in a screen so many time hurt your eyes so badly. Also I usually end lost while reading manga online. I check my own library or the jacket of the public ones to know what was the last I was reading but that does not work on chapter fansub releases. And having my manga mal without update for a while does not help.

    Another thing are licences. I have lost time ago my hope on it really. Occidental editorials are companies that sell manga as a business and can’t release something not too much profitable so we always end with those almost equal shonen mangas that people like. I’m already bored of shonen manga really so having no alternative is quite bad.

    Also about those U.S licenses. I’m glad that norteamerican people can get a lot of mangas to read but Usa is not the only country in the world where English subs are follow. English is spoken probably for more people (mostly as 2nd language) outside that country that inside. So what about all those fans who follows English subs but does not live in that country, we don’t exist or something?

    The only thing I can do now is keep on going with Japanese and hope to get it someday somehow in their original language.

  9. I prefer anime for some series and manga for others. However, the percentage of anime shows that I actually watch versus the shows I read is too low. Out of the shows that have been aired, I’m currently “up to date” with 2 of the 5 I was supposedly watching (Fairy Tail & Shiki). Talking about weekly mangas, I read 5 (Naruto, Reborn, Bakuman, Fairy Tail and The World God Only Knows) and I’m up to date with everyone. Not to mention monthly mangas (Claymore, Soul Eater) and mangas who don’t have any release pattern at all (Shiki, One Outs, Liar Game, Gamble Fish). While for shonen, I prefer animated battles and everything, I go to read the manga as I spend less time per show. There are times where I can’t really afford 110 minutes to watch these mangas, provided they all were 22-long shows. My schedule distributes FT at the beginning of the week and Shiki at the end, and I manage to keep up with the latest episode. Manga is easier for me. Taking around 10 minutes per chapter, I can easily divide it into: FT 10 minutes around Wednesday, 30 minutes on Friday (Reborn, Naruto, Bakuman), and 10 minutes of TWGOK whenever it is being released.

    Of course, I can only rely on online scans as finding all the mangas I’m currently reading is ridiculously impossible. If only a few mangas out there are being officially translated into English, there’s even fewer mangas that are being sold in Spanish. I’m sort of used to reading online right now. Of course, I don’t reject the idea of being able to read my manga in something printed, but it’s something that I can’t do all the time. Therefore, I consider it a bit of a “luxury”.

    If I had more time, I’d read more manga and watch more anime.

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