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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Another Manga Bites the Dust:

Kimi ni Todoke ends this November.  Bring on the apocalypse.

No but seriously, this is one of the best selling, most famous, and most popular manga left in the industry.  And away it goes, like all the others.  2017 has been a watershed moment for the industry.  Just so people are keeping track, that's the tenth ranked manga to end this year, alongside Fairy Tail, Akame ga Kill!, Hayate no Gotoku, Nanoha Vivid, Btooom!, To Love-ru, Sakura Trick, Sore ga Seiyuu and Mujaki no Rakuen.  There are only 99 manga series in my rankings, and many of those finished ages ago or are usually on hiatus.

Out of the series that regularly come out with important new content, 2017 featured a 25% reduction.  There used to be 40 good manga coming out, now there are only 30.  (The number is much smaller if you start looking at only what's regularly translated into English.  But I'm not even whining about the lack of translated manga right now, I'm saying that Japan itself is at risk of losing all of its remaining good content.)  And we're not talking about unpopular, low ranked no names anymore.  This is Kimi ni Todoke.  Fairy Tail.  Hayate no Gotoku.  To Love-ru.  It doesn't get any bigger than this.  Bleach, Naruto and Dragon Ball have already ended.  The series that were bigger than this are no longer with us either, except for One Piece, and these days it's on hiatus half the time.

Just like I halfway jokingly predicted we wouldn't make it to the World Cup this January, I halfway jokingly said this was the end of manga when Fairy Tail announced it was reaching its conclusion.  Like the World Cup prophecy, this is no joke anymore.  It's all coming true.  Everything is coming to an end.  And during all the time, not a single new good manga was discovered to replace any of them.

The translators are still working on chapters from volume 28, and it seems they're planning 30 volumes in all, so Kimi ni Todoke won't end just yet for us Americans.  But the principal is what counts.  The well is going dry.  Sooner or later it will catch up to even us English speakers.  Just because it takes eight minutes for light to reach the Earth from the sun doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned when the sun goes out.

Losing manga as a hobby isn't just a problem in and of itself.  It was the largest source for good anime.  When the manga pipeline cuts off, the anime pipeline soon follows.  We're looking at half as many good anime series in the future as the past, if manga can no longer inspire anything of worth.  Perhaps the dismal record of 2017 is already a symptom of this dynamic?  If we lose both manga and anime as hobbies, there won't be much left to live for.

Nanoha Reflection, No Game No Life Zero and Fate/Kaleid Liner Sekka no Chikai don't look like they'll be appearing subtitled in blu-ray any time this year.  They may have all aired this summer, but they'll count towards 2018's glory in the end (alongside the Heaven's Feel movie airing in Japan this fall).  Luckily that is not the destiny of Fairy Tail's second movie, Dragon Cry.  It's slated for blu-ray release November 17th, and fansubbers should easily be able to translate it from there well before the New Year.

Dragon Cry will be a welcome addition to this year's woeful lineup, but it won't increase the number of ranked anime franchises in 2017.  Fairy Tail's 9th ova also came out subtitled this year so Fairy Tail was already represented in my chronology.

Spiderman: Homecoming's blu-ray comes out in just five days.  Arrow Season 6 debuts today, and Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 already debuted on Tuesday.  So there's finally some western products to cheer about coming online as well.

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