Yūta Momiyama predicts even split in 10 years between Japanese, overseas manga readership as machine translation technology improves
Shueisha editor Yūta Momiyama, who manages Weekly Shonen Jump‘s Shonen Jump+ and MANGA Plus online services, highlighted the current state of the MANGA Plus service in an interview with ITMedia earlier this month. He explained that the service currently has 5 million monthly active users, and that a new chapter for a popular series will get 1 million views.
As for comic sales, he said that his “gut” tells him that 10-20% of sales come from overseas. He predicts that in about 10 years, there will be an even split between overseas and domestic sales if a proper environment for selling manga digitally can be assembled.
Although the MANGA Plus service includes ads, he explained that the priority is making a manga’s official version as easily accessible as possible rather than monetizing the platform. He said that the advantage of MANGA Plus as a simultaneous distribution service is that not only does it preempt piracy, it closes the time gap between domestic and overseas reception. Because the overseas licenses for screen adaptations are currently very lucrative, the popularity of a manga on MANGA Plus is now a factor in determining whether the series gets an anime adaptation.
On the other hand, Momiyama said that translation costs are currently very high. He said that the quality of machine translation is still very low, but that “in 10 years it should improve,” adding that “if we can produce high-quality translations in many different languages, it will be a game changer all over again.”
He also highlighted the company’s lack of operational resources for each region and local censorship as problems, saying that the company still lacks knowledge in those areas. Thus, it is currently difficult to make swift changes and adjustments as necessary.
Shueisha launched the MANGA Plus service worldwide in January 2019. The service is Shueisha‘s first foray into direct service globally.
The service launched with 50 titles, including 13 completed series. The service publishes new chapters of currently serialized manga from Shueisha‘s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, Jump Square magazine, and the Shonen Jump+ service at the same time they are released in Japan. While MANGA Plus is free to download and use, users can also purchase compiled book volumes for specific manga. The first chapter and the latest chapter of currently serialized manga are also free. A portion of the revenue from advertisements on the website go directly to the manga authors.
Last month, the service removed its region restrictions for all languages. Readers can now select their choice of language for the service from English, Spanish, Thai, Brazilian Portuguese, Indonesian, and Russian. There are 67 series available in Spanish, six in Thai, four in Brazilian Portuguese, five in Indonesian, and six in Russian. The company also announced that it plans to add more content in new languages.