Manga’s Popularity in France Soars

There was an unusual sight at the National Library of France, earlier this October. A giant manga cover is seen on display at the front of the building where many centuries-old manuscripts and other classic literary works are kept,

The library has agreed to host the first chapter of the highly anticipated new manga, “Kaiju No. 8”, published by French manga publisher Kaze, and is expected to sell well.

Kaze has already printed 250,000 copies for this launch, with an additional 70,000 planned to be offered in December.

The ambitious target is not without reason. Jerome Manceau, Marketing Director of Kaze, said that the interest of French people, especially young people, in manga is enormous.

Manga Promotion in France.  (Twitter/@KazeFrance)

Manga Promotion in France. (Twitter/@KazeFrance)

“The manga market today is huge. Compared to last year, there was an increase of 135 percent. Anyway doubled every year in the last two years. So the market is incredible, there are no other words to describe it.”

According to research institute GfK Market Intelligence, manga sales in France have doubled every year since 2019. For 2021 alone, the country has purchased 51 million comic books of which half are manga.

Manceau, said there are several reasons for the success of the manga in France, other than because it is affordable, which is an average of 7 euros per copy. He said French people enjoy not only comic books but also films or television series and animated Japanese cartoons.

Manga was first introduced in France in the 1990s with available titles such as “Akira” and “Dragon Ball”. Now the choices are more diverse, and meet many people’s tastes.

According to Manceau, France is the second largest market for manga literature behind Asia, ahead of the United States and the rest of Europe.

Manga (Japanese comics) books are sold at the Paris annual book fair, March 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

Manga (Japanese comics) books are sold at the Paris annual book fair, March 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

Mickael Brun-Arnaud, owner of a bookstore in Paris that offers a lot of manga, said the increasing popularity of manga could not be separated from the pandemic. He said the amount of time available due to various activity restrictions prompted many people to take time to read.

“I think that despite the tragedy, the COVID crisis has had a very important impact on culture in France because it has prompted people to turn their attention to literature, and especially to manga. People now have time to sit down and read. And thanks to the principle of sequels, manga offers not only quantity but also quality. The editors saw the opportunity and capitalized on people’s need to read,” says Brun-Arnaud.

A visitor looks at illustrations of Japanese TV characters and cartoonist Akihiro Nishino's bestseller "Poupelle and the skyless city" during an exhibition at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, October 25, 2019. (BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

A visitor looks at an illustration of Japanese TV character and cartoonist Akihiro Nishino’s best-selling book “Poupelle et la ville sans ciel” during an exhibition at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, October 25, 2019. (BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

Kaiju are principally Japanese animated monsters that are often featured in Hollywood films such as “Pacific Rim”. The most famous kaiju is Godzilla.

A success in Japan where a million copies have been printed, “Kaiju No. 8” is the story of a half-human-half-monster hero whose job it is to get rid of another evil giant monster.

Jean-Baptiste Navarette, a manga fan, said she fell in love with manga during the lockdown. He says fantasy stories from some of his manga collections allow him to travel beyond the walls of his apartment. [ab/uh]

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