The longtime Editor-in-Chief of Japan's WSJ, now Global VP of SJ takes time to share how he got in this business, and what fandom can do to help the industry continue its success.
To kickoff 2017, it’s time to get a sense of what we can do to help the anime and manga industry succeed. While the signs have trended up for both anime and manga success in the West over the past few years, piracy still exists, titles you’d think would get licensed still are unlicensed, and companies continue to navigate uncharted territories in a streaming future. So the best question is: how can we help?
Well, let’s ask industry people!
From a long-time editor of a weekly Japanese magazine to a brand new shoujo and josei publisher, a few industry members took time to explain how fans can support the industry and help it continue to grow. So expect during the month of January you’ll get to find out why these people decided they wanted to work in the industry, and share what fans can to do to help them out.
Super fortunate that for this series, The Vice President of Global Shonen Jump was able to share how he got into this business, and what fans can do to help it grow. That VP also happened to be the former Editor-in-Chief of Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan. That would be Hisashi Sasaki. Hope you all enjoy what he has to say.
The system of job-hunting in Japan is quite different from the US. So when I joined Shueisha back in the 80s, I was not sure which magazine or editorial department I was going to be assigned. Being one of the largest publishers in Japan, Shueisha had more than 30 magazine and editorial departments made up of just about every kind of book or magazine. From women’s fashion magazines to dictionaries, not to mention numerous manga magazines for both shounen and shoujo content. For reasons I’ll never know, HR assigned me Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. And I have been working for Shonen Jump ever since.
Truthfully, I always wanted to be an editor, but not particularly a manga editor. Manga was my serious hobby at the time, so I wanted to keep it as my hobby, not my occupation. However, now I cannot imagine myself being anything but a manga editor. The job suited me very well.
Of course I wanted to be a creator myself at first, but it was too obvious that I lacked both talent and consistency (which I believe are the two most invaluable assets needed for any kind of creators). So I chose to be an editor instead. Editors cannot create anything, but can produce any number of manga with so many mangaka.
In the 80s, manga was already a mainstream form of entertainment in Japan and a lot of super talented creators were flowing into the industry. There was fierce, but healthy competition both among mangaka and among manga magazines. Until I was promoted to the deputy editor of Shonen Jump in 2000, I had been working as a frontline manga editor with so many established and aspiring mangaka. Those were the most exciting days of my life.
Technology has brought huge changes to all industries, and the manga industry is no exception. To publish Shonen Jump in English simultaneously with Japan and distribute it to the world was nothing but a dream in 80s, but that is what we are doing now. I am really happy I can be part of it.
Also, other than the conventional print editions of manga, we now have various versions of digital manga. The ways mangaka develop manga and the devices readers enjoy manga on are vast. Different areas of expertise are required for both mangaka and manga editors in the 21st century.
But at least one thing remains the same. The manga industry is driven only by readers. No manga is meaningful if it cannot entertain readers, and no manga can survive without readers. The support of readers is what motivates mangaka the most. I think the industry does not have enough English speaking readers yet. So, whenever you encounter a manga you love, say so. Recommend it to your friends and family, look for more manga to love. Only readers can keep the industry alive and growing.