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Comics Pros Ken Akamatsu, Kentaro Takekuma Debate Manga's Future

By April 18, 2011

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Negima Vol. 23From the 2chan.us blog: Translator/blogger @kransomwastaken has posted the first and second parts of a five part translation/ transcription of a seven-hour discussion/debate between manga artist Ken Akamatsu (Negima!, Love Hina) and manga editor/creator Kentaro Takekuma (Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga) about the future of manga in the age of online / electronic publishing.

Their discussion started on Twitter, then continued offline as the two met and discussed a wide range of issues about the current state of the manga industry in Japan, and throughout the world in the age of digital publishing and online piracy. The talk was originally published in mid-February 2011 on the eBook USER segment of the Japanese IT portal site ITmedia, and was translated and posted with the permission of the author and editors of the original article.

And what is the verdict from these two pros? Well, it's quite similar to what their counterparts in North America and Europe are saying: things are changing and changing fast. While on one hand, it could mean the "collapse " of the manga industry in a few years, it could also portend a period of accelerated evolution, when artists take control of their own destiny, where top-notch freelance editors will be in high demand, but newcomers might find it harder to get their work seen by readers in a world where printed manga magazine anthologies are replaced by online publications.

Even a Monkey Can Draw MangaAkamatsu has chips in the game, with his J-Comi website, a website that is offering online manga for free, on an ad-supported business model. Akamatsu has already made his series Love Hina available for download, and has gotten the cooperation of major Japanese publishing houses Kodansha and Shueisha to get some other high profile titles added to the site beta phase, including Houkago Wedding, a 50-page story by Mayu Shinjo (Sensual Phrase, Ai Ore).

While Akamatsu spoke out from a manga artist's point of view, Takekuma countered from the perspective of a longtime manga editor, and pondered what would happen to manga magazines and manga editors in the new, ever-growing digital publishing world.

Check out this first part, second part, and third part, and bookmark the site to read the other two parts of what looks to be a fascinating and frank discussion about the state of the manga biz in Japan.

Image credits: Ken Akamatsu / KODANSHA LTD., Kentaro Takekuma and Koji Aihara, SHOGAKUKAN

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