Anime & Manga News

Focus: Shogakukan Promotes Manga and Local Creators in Southeast Asia

by arsonal
Jan 31, 2016 1:30 AM | 13 Comments

Bunsho Kajiya, managing director of Shogakukan Asia, at the publisher's booth at Anime Festival Asia

At Anime Festival Asia 2015 in Singapore, teenagers wrote congratulatory messages for the TV anime adaptation of Magi: Sinbad no Bouken (Magi: The Adventures of Sinbad) at Shogakukan Asia's booth. On the side, others filled out surveys on the publisher's titles and received a free manga volume for their feedback.

Shogakukan Asia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese publisher Shogakukan set up in 2013. To date, it has published English editions of 13 manga titles in more than 70 volumes. For a few titles, such as Kidou Senshi Gundam Thunderbolt (Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt) and Yuusha ga Shinda! (The Legendary Hero is Dead!), their English-language releases are only available from Shogakukan Asia.

Leveraging on its parent company's experience, the publisher looks to introduce children to manga. "In Japan, we educate our readers since they were kids through our titles and magazines," said managing director Bunsho Kajiya. Shogakukan is known as the publisher of Coro Coro Comic, a best-selling manga magazine with an approximate monthly circulation of a million copies.

Coro Coro Comic has been the flagship magazine of the popular children's title Doraemon since 1977, and it has also been publishing Pokémon Special (also known as Pokémon Adventures) since 1997. According to Kajiya, these titles educate young readers on how to read and enjoy manga in ways that are different from non-Japanese comics.

Shogakukan Asia distributes its titles to six countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Brunei. Singapore was chosen as the regional headquarters because the city state has the least barrier of entry for foreign publishers.

Celebrating local creators

As Shogakukan Asia expands its operations in the region, Kajiya said it is looking to work with local creators as a way to contribute back to the industry. The publisher will collaborate on projects that combine Japanese editorial know-how with the creative minds of local creators.

"I would say storyboard and storytelling is a weak point for local creators, but we have a lot of experience in creating stories in Japan," Kajiya explained. "We don't want to just push our story to them. While respecting the creators' ideas, we go through a lot of discussion and find a good way to attract readers or export their title."

In Indonesia, the publisher is helping develop Nusa V (pronounced "Nusa Five," pictured), a series about five youths who inherit superpowers from the spirits of Indonesia's major islands. With their guardian animals, the youths protect the Earth from the evil ancient being Kelana, who seeks to destroy it.

Shogakukan Asia unveiled Nusa V at Anime Festival Asia last November. At the time, discussions with its creators had been ongoing for almost one year. When they first began, the Nusa V team was already working on a prototype work called Nusantaranger, which was distributed online.

According to The Jakarta Post, Nusantaranger introduced Indonesia's traditional culture to readers in a pop-culture approach. The Jakarta Globe also noted that popularity of the series among Indonesian youth resulted in the distribution website reaching two million hits.

Nusa V is a reboot of Nusantaranger, building on the same concepts and taking the story in a new direction. Local regulations prevent Shogakukan Asia from publishing the series directly. Therefore, the series will be released through an independent publisher, Padma Pusaka Nusantara.

Establishing a foothold in Southeast Asia

Kajiya believes collaborations with local creators, such as the one in Indonesia, has potential in the Philippines, but he also notes that there is a lot of competition in that market. English-language manga from Shogakukan's American affiliate, Viz Media, are often imported into the country, and other imported comics are often sold with heavy discounts.

In countries where restrictions are in place in order to protect local publishers from foreign competitors, such as Thailand and Indonesia, Shogakukan Asia works with local partners to distribute its manga titles. The works are then translated into the local language by local publishers or companies.

Aside from manga, Shogakukan Asia also publishes children's educational books. Although the company has many opportunities to expose their titles to elementary school children in Japan, it faces a different type of market in Singapore. Rigorous classes in schools mean children more often focus on their studies instead of reading comics.

"It's a little bit tough to educate kids to read manga," Kajiya said about Singapore, "but teenagers and twenty-year-olds are still very much interested in reading them."

Original reporting by arsonal for MyAnimeList.

13 Comments Recent Comments

"has potential in the Philippines"
Nice! Maybe I will really try someday.

Feb 2, 2016 3:14 AM by Tengai

Kuma said:
Hoppy said:
I'd love to have 2 dollar manga in the states.
just checked my local book store, one piece Vol.75, Rp 20000 (1 US$ is around 13500 rupiah). seriously, everythings is cheap , but you also have income extreamly low.
Yep, around $2-5. Counting the income, it's equivalent to the $10-15 manga sold in NA. But, if you're from NA buying manga here in the east, you'll have thrice the amount than buying in NA. It's in English (mostly) too and has a good quality.

Jan 31, 2016 1:11 PM by sevenPocky

Hoppy said:
Kuma said:
the currency and piracy would kill this, seriously. the legal one piece volume is only 2$ in here, and it's already pricy considering you can get the piracy version just with less than 1$ phisicaly. yes, it's fucking printed!
I'd love to have 2 dollar manga in the states.
just checked my local book store, one piece Vol.75, Rp 20000 (1 US$ is around 13500 rupiah). seriously, everythings is cheap , but you also have income extreamly low.

Jan 31, 2016 9:52 AM by Kuma

Kuma said:
the currency and piracy would kill this, seriously. the legal one piece volume is only 2$ in here, and it's already pricy considering you can get the piracy version just with less than 1$ phisicaly. yes, it's fucking printed!


I'd love to have 2 dollar manga in the states.

Jan 31, 2016 9:36 AM by Hoppy

i wonder why this has been reported just now... the event was last year.

Jan 31, 2016 8:32 AM by sevenPocky

ichii_1 said:
Kuma said:
the currency and piracy would kill this, seriously. the legal one piece volume is only 2$ in here, and it's already pricy considering you can get the piracy version just with less than 1$ phisicaly. yes, it's fucking printed!
lol then they must be printing them in toilet paper if they're actually making money from that XD
well, cost of production also really cheap here.

Jan 31, 2016 7:36 AM by Kuma

Kuma said:
the currency and piracy would kill this, seriously. the legal one piece volume is only 2$ in here, and it's already pricy considering you can get the piracy version just with less than 1$ phisicaly. yes, it's fucking printed!

lol then they must be printing them in toilet paper if they're actually making money from that XD

Jan 31, 2016 7:30 AM by ichii_1

the currency and piracy would kill this, seriously. the legal one piece volume is only 2$ in here, and it's already pricy considering you can get the piracy version just with less than 1$ phisicaly. yes, it's fucking printed!

Jan 31, 2016 7:26 AM by Kuma

What a pleasant news we have here, Nusa V cool!

Jan 31, 2016 6:45 AM by Sorainnosia

This means... I HAVE A CHANCE!
... gotta get drawing :D

Jan 31, 2016 5:21 AM by JohnnyMcG

Has potential in Philippines, eh. Great! Kodansha also partners with some local publisher here for two of their manga. Sweet, now my guilt from reading scanlation will lessen after seeing this news. 2016 looks great so far to me :D

Jan 31, 2016 3:53 AM by Ahkrin

I didn't read it all but that's pretty cool

Jan 31, 2016 1:58 AM by vikki7783

Now, that was an interesting read especially with what they're doing in Southeast Asia. Glad to see Shogakukan Asia making certain series more popular as well.

Jan 31, 2016 1:36 AM by Stark700