Manga sales are still going strong, according to recently released sales figures covering the first half of 2011. What's surprising are how the popularity of certain manga in the USA differs markedly from fave manga titles and properties in Japan.
The ICv2 ranking only covers Q1 and Q2 but it's likely that unless some blockbuster arrives out of nowhere (which is unlikely), this list should look much the same by the end of the year. Without further ado, let's start the countdown to number one:
10. SOUL EATER
Soul Eater is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Atsushi Okubo. The title is a spin-off of Okubo's first manga series entitled B.Ichi. Originally intended to be a “one-shot” story, Soul Eater received rave reviews that prompted the publisher, Gangan Comics, to ask Okubo to continue the story arc as a stand-alone series.
Nineteen volumes of Soul Eater have been released since June 24 of 2003. Soul Eater is available on Amazon here.
(Soul Eater image via Dancing Silhouettes)
9. DRAGON BALL & DRAGON BALL Z
Dragon Ball got its start as a Japanese manga series serialized in the Weekly Sh?nen Jump magazine from 1984 to 1995. Akira Toriyama wrote and illustrated the original Dragon Ball, which fills 42 separate volumes and has sold over 200 million copies worldwide (152 million in Japan alone).
Both Dragon Ball and the related anime Dragon Ball Z have been cited as extremely influential on today's manga and anime design. Both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are available on Amazon here.
(Dragon Ball image via Pablo Costa)
8. FULL METAL ALCHEMIST
Though some fans despise any mention of Steampunk, there's no denying Full Metal Alchemist, a manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa, evokes comparisons to retro-futurism and alternative history fantasies.
Full Metal Alchemist's original run in Monthly Sh?nen Gangan began in August 2001 and finished in June 2010 with 25 volumes released in the USA; 27 volumes in all. You can find Full Metal Alchemist on Amazon.
(Full Metal Alchemist image via Otaku Ako)
7. ROSARIO + VAMPIRE
Rosario + Vampire (RosaVam for short) began its run in the fall of 2007 and is still going strong both in Japan, the USA and other parts of the world.
We won't even mention Twilight (oops!) except to state that manga fans looking for their fix of occult gothic romance and adolescent schooldays adventurism need look no further than this complex tale of friendly bloodlust. Rosario + Vampire is available on Amazon here.
(Rosario + Vampire image via Manga-Market.com)
6. BLACK BIRD
Black Bird, written and illustrated by Kanoko Sakurakoji, has been serialized in Japan's Betsucomi magazine since 2007. The plot revolves around a high school girl who can see supernatural beings and all the problems (and advantages) this ability brings her.
Viz Media, a pioneer and power in the field of English-language manga, licensed Black Bird for release in North America with the first chapter debuting on August 4, 2009. It is available here.
(Black Bird image via Glitter-Graphics.com)
5. DEATH NOTE
Death Note is a manga series created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and manga artist Takeshi Obata. Originally published in Japan from May of 2004 through October of 2006, the twelve volume series has had a second life in the USA with all twelve volumes plus a 13th "reader's guide" achieving wide popularity.
In January of 2011, the rights to Death Note were acquired with the intention of filming a live-action movie based on the original manga.
(Death Note image via Diversion)
4. BLACK BUTLER
A relative newcomer to the manga scene, Black Butler (written and illustrated by Yana Toboso) made its debut in September of 2006 and is going strong with twelve volumes to date in Japan. In the summer of 2009, Yen Press licensed the series for English language release with the first volume hitting store shelves about six months later. The English volumes are available here.
Black Butler has seemed to have found its niche among manga readers as the initial post-release buzz has hardly faded.
(Black Butler image via North Star Anime)
3. VAMPIRE KNIGHT
Matsuri Hino's Vampire Knight is another manga (and later, anime) title that has found success mining the goth/occult vein, pun intended. Eleven volumes of the series' collected chapters have been released in Japan since Vampire Knight first debuted in the January 2005 issue of LaLa magazine.
Viz Media, who hold the English-language license, have been releasing volumes on a quarterly basis since the series premiere in the July 2006 issue of Shojo Beat. All of these volumes can be found here on Amazon.
(Vampire Knight image via I Read Manga)
Bleach has had an incredible run of success in both Japan, the USA and worldwide since it debuted in 2001. Written and illustrated by Noriaki "Tite" Kubo, Bleach was warmly received by both American manga readers and fans of the Adult Swim Network following its dual print/video debut in 2006. The Bleach vloumes are available here.
Bleach achieved a rare level of notoriety more recently when Gene Simmons' son Nick was accused of plagiarizing Bleach and other popular manga titles for his own comic, Incarnate.
(Bleach image via Cartoon Picture Collection)
Naruto, written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, debuted in Japan in 1999 and made the jump across the pond early in 2003 via Viz Media's Shonen Jump magazine. Viz had been releasing volumes of the English-language Naruto manga at an accelerated rate in order to catch up with the Japanese version but finally, after 45 volumes, releases have been slowed down to quarterly.
Naruto is available in just about every format imaginable – it's even been given the Box Set treatment. So deeply has Naruto engrained itself into pop culture it's likely we'll see it hovering near the top of the sales charts for a long time to come. (Naruto image via DesktopXP)
Manga maniacs will note a few well-known titles are AWOL from the above list. You can find One Piece (11), Yu-Gi-Oh! (15) and K-On! (24) further down ICv2's top 25 ranking... if you haven't already found 'em at your fave manga shop. (via ICv2, top image via US Forces in Japan)