Despite being the dominant Shojo anime in comparable status of DBZ for Shonen esp internationally, Manga's Sales Does not match the Franchises's Rep

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Lapis Lunaris
Jun 17, 2020
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#1
A post I seen post in multiple subforums in reddit. You can simply google the thread title as it is (which I had to edit from the original reddit posts title to fit) and you can find it on a quick googling leading to the various reddit postings including the original post on reddit's Sailor Moon suboforum

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SaturnineSasuke said:
I am posting this because for all how much Sailor Moon is seen as the representative of Shojo (esp anime), I was pretty surprised to learn the manga while having impressive total sales in recent times, not dominate the demograph. It sold 35 million copies to date, an impressive number but it falls short compared to other big hitter Shojo.

However I was far more shocked to learn that while it was always a bestseller, before the 2010s Sailor Moon's total manga sales was just 12 million and plenty of relatively Shojo obscure to Westerners matched its sales or far surpass it (and this is not counting big hitters that dominate the demograph such as Boys Over Flower). To put that into perspective, Rose of Versailles which is almost 20 years old by the time Codename Sailor V was published had sold 10 million by the 90s.

The reason I write this is because not only did Sailor Moon anime dominate TV ratings of Shojo even in Japan (at times even competing with contemporary Shonen giants like Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho), but in the international scene Sailor Moon does not just dominate Shojo as its most famous anime/manga but is tied with DBZ and Naruto as the most popular anime/manga world wide in total. Even if we go into more specific regions, Sailor Moon is still often tied with Saint Seiya in Latin America and Europe (along with DBZ) as the monopoly franchise and in places DBZ and other classics don't dominate, SM often replaces it as the most popular series such as Russia (where it was the premier anime of the 90s) or at least is more known (common in Poland and Northern Europe where DBZ did not make as big an impact as elsewhere).

So I find it interesting the manga was nowhere as much as big in its impact back at home in Japan esp when other heavy hitters' manga version such as DBZ and Saint Seiya not only heavily influenced Shonen (and manga period) in Japan but also made a huge impact in manga's status elsewhere in the world (such as Saint Seiya often being the first fully translated manga across Latin America esp Mexico and Naruto singlehandedly creating a profitable manga industry in Northern Europe).

What are some reasons behind this? I mean Sailor Moon is such a face of anime outside of Japan that people often always imagine Usagi along with Goku, Naruto, and the Bronze Saints when anime discussion is brought up! Even non anime fans in America often recognize Sailor Moon!

In Japan today you still have adults who fondly remember DBZ, Saint Seiya, Hokuto No Ken, and other classics and reread them several times in life, if not annually. But practically the same can't be said the SM manga. Rather adult women in the land of the rising sun tend to instead fondly remember the anime instead in the same manner (with rewatches decades later and keeping old figurines, etc).

What is it with SM that makes the manga lack the impact its anime had in contrast to other dominant classics like Ranma 1/2 where its the manga that Japanese people fondly remember?
I myself am intrigued after looking at Wikipedia's bestselling manga article and also finding this article. It seems the original manga's popularity does not match the franchise's image of the epitome of Shojo in contrast to say how Dragon Ball and Naruto sold over 100 million and are the poster boys of Shonen for their respective eras. Before the Kodansha rerelease in 2012, its sales did not even surpass other lesser known Shojo bestsellers such as Fushigi Yugi and Cardcaptor Sakura as OP's points out in quote.

Historic Shoujo Manga Circulation Numbers | ComiPress

I am very interested in learning why this is so. Whats the reason despite SM being the poster child of Shojo, the manga sales doesn't match this reputation in the way DBZ literally did dominate 90s Shonen and Naruto was the face of Shonen outside of Japan during the 2000s and 2010s?
 

Neo Moonlight

Lumen Cinereum
Dec 7, 2009
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#2
Simple, the TV series was more popular.

For countries outside of Japan, the show was far more accessible, so the show is automatically going to be more successful as a result.

As for Japanese audiences, the show and the books have a ton of differences. One difference that's particularly noted is that since the show is longer, it has more time to develop both the main characters and the villains, so a ton of people prefer the show over the books because of that. The show was also more kid friendly since the books have a lot of things like faces being melted off the villains lol. Fine for older kids and teens, but parents probably weren't in a hurry to buy the books for the younger kids because of that. Death by twinkly lights is far more kid appropriate than melting faces.

The show also gave the rest of the cast more attention as opposed to almost exclusively following Usagi around like the books do. While I don't have the numbers to back me up on this -- nor do I have the interest to do the research -- I'm under the impression that the Tokyo Mew Mew TV series was far more popular than its source material too for pretty much the exact same reason. Everyone liked seeing more of the other characters instead of spending nearly all its time with Ichigo.

The show also upped the humor, and who doesn't enjoy a good laugh? :)

There's no big special reason or anything, the show was just more popular is all.
 
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Seira Hazuki

Aurorae Lunares
Jan 17, 2007
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#3
I am very interested in learning why this is so. Whats the reason despite SM being the poster child of Shojo, the manga sales doesn't match this reputation in the way DBZ literally did dominate 90s Shonen and Naruto was the face of Shonen outside of Japan during the 2000s and 2010s?
Because I can guarantee that its reputation as the poster child of the shoujo genre comes down to the original anime and not the manga itself. I can't speak to the other shounen properties, but DBZ's anime and manga do not have such a discrepancy in art and story the same way the '90s anime and Sailor Moon manga are almost completely different properties. Despite this discrepancy, the original anime completely eclipses the manga in popularity. That's not to take away from the manga's success, but it's clear that *separated from the anime* the manga is more of a popular hit vs. an iconic cultural cornerstone.
 
Nov 22, 2016
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#4
What's the shock?
Over the years, most of the "top 10 most watched anime of the week in Japan" list has been composed by franchises who aren't nobodies outside Japan, such as Chibi Maruko-san and Sazae-san. I don't feel surprised by the fact shojo manga as Cardcaptor Sakura and Candy Candy fared as well as Sailor Moon in book sales. I know this may sound really weird for people living in English-speaking countries, but both franchises were HUGE in Latin America and Europe, especially Candy Candy. And this applies for Japan as well. Why do you think Sakura got a revival? You guys should do a bit more of research.
 
Jun 17, 2017
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#6
it must be said that in the early 90s manga outside of Japan were not very well known, so it could not have had as much impact as it would have had in more recent times. In addition, a shoujo manga is mainly dedicated to a female audience, which excludes another slice of potential buyers.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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#7
I'm impressed at how its the same market that keeps buying the same product (despite its questionable quality with its previous releases) over and over again. Well if the previous release self destructs in a few years I guess you have to purchase one of superior quality. ^_^'
 
Jun 30, 2010
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#8
Aside from the obvious point that the anime is more popular, there's also the elephant in the corner that no one wants to address - that the original manga is a mediocre manga. It's not terrible or awful, but it is mediocre as a whole.

The art in the manga is good, no question, but if you have read the manga, there are plenty of times where Naoko Takeuchi's panel arrangements hinder understanding, and usually the sequence of panels communicates "enough" and no more. Given that nearly 30 years later, we are actually debating basic plot points means there is a lack of clarity in sequential storytelling. Some aspects need to be shown rather than told, and while Takeuchi can create great stills, she's just so-so at putting them all together on a page.

That the manga was developed to launch an anime shows, as the manga itself never feels like a self-contained work. If you gave someone the Sailor Moon manga and had them read it and only it, it's likely that they will think it's flat. Compare it to any other popular manga turned into an anime.

By contrast, a lot of those other franchises have actual good manga that tell a sequential story. Even when the plot writing is sub-par, the pages visually demonstrate what is happening. Between Takeuchi's style and a lack of panel flow, it's no wonder the manga, while doing well, never went gangbusters like the anime.

Edit: Clarity
 
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Slowpokeking

Lumen Cinereum
Apr 1, 2020
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#9
Aside from the obvious point that the anime is more popular, there's also the elephant in the corner that no one wants to address - that the original manga is a mediocre manga. It's not terrible or awful, but it is mediocre as a whole.

The art in the manga is good, no question, but if you have read the manga, there are plenty of times where Naoko Takeuchi's panel arrangements hinder understanding, and usually the sequence of panels communicates "enough" and no more. Given that nearly 30 years later, we are actually debating basic plot points means there is a lack of clarity in sequential storytelling. Some aspects need to be shown rather than told, and while Takeuchi can create great stills, she's just so-so at putting them all together on a page.

That the manga was developed to launch an anime shows, as the manga itself never feels like a self-contained work. If you gave someone the Sailor Moon manga and had them read it and only it, it's likely that they will think it's flat. Compare it to any other work

By contrast, a lot of those other franchises have actual good manga that tell a sequential story. Even when the plot writing is sub-par, the pages visually demonstrate what is happening. Between Takeuchi's style and a lack of panel flow, it's no wonder the manga, while doing well, never went gangbusters like the anime.
I think she got a lot of good concept, but didn't show it well enough, also due to the length of the manga. It has given the anime freedom to further expand the characters and relationship.
 

blondibear_17

Luna Crescens
Mar 3, 2017
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#10
It's interesting to me how divisive the fanbase kinda is about the manga. People either think the manga is incredibly superior in every way to the anime or they think it's kinda boring. I am in the latter camp I feel like the anime is more popular worldwide because the anime just has broader appeal than the manga does.
 
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Nov 8, 2018
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#11
I prefer the anime, but the manga handled some parts better. I would say, after Sailor Moon S/ Infinity the manga gets more interesting and epic storywise. Is it the strengh of the manga or is it the weakness of the anime?
 

Slowpokeking

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Apr 1, 2020
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#12
It's interesting to me how divisive the fanbase kinda is about the manga. People either think the manga is incredibly superior in every way to the anime or they think it's kinda boring. I am in the latter camp I feel like the anime is more popular worldwide because the anime just has broader appeal than the manga does the.
Both have advantages, the anime has better characterization and some plot. The manga has a quicker tempo and dark tone.
 

Neo Moonlight

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Dec 7, 2009
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#13
What I would like is another anime like the 90s one with all the expansion with the characters and filler, but still keep the key plot things from the manga.
For instance with R vs the manga, I really wish all the time stop stuff with Pluto had been in the anime. She was a very incidental character who just sorta vaguely existed and didn't matter much. And while Chibi Moon's introduction in S was quite humorous how it played out, I liked the emotional impact of her finally being able to transform at the end of the Black Moon arc, and would've liked that in the anime too.

They tried to kind of reclaim the stuff with Pluto later by making her stop time to save Neptune and Uranus, but it had nowhere near the same effect.

In SuperS I LOVED the Amazon Trio, but it is a shame how I think only 10 episodes had a plot lol. It's too bad it didn't adopt more of the storyline from the Dream arc. I actually do like SuperS, but it doesn't surprise me in the least that it's the least popular season.
 

Slowpokeking

Lumen Cinereum
Apr 1, 2020
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#14
What I would like is another anime like the 90s one with all the expansion with the characters and filler, but still keep the key plot things from the manga.
For instance with R vs the manga, I really wish all the time stop stuff with Pluto had been in the anime. She was a very incidental character who just sorta vaguely existed and didn't matter much. And while Chibi Moon's introduction in S was quite humorous how it played out, I liked the emotional impact of her finally being able to transform at the end of the Black Moon arc, and would've liked that in the anime too.

They tried to kind of reclaim the stuff with Pluto later by making her stop time to save Neptune and Uranus, but it had nowhere near the same effect.

In SuperS I LOVED the Amazon Trio, but it is a shame how I think only 10 episodes had a plot lol. It's too bad it didn't adopt more of the storyline from the Dream arc. I actually do like SuperS, but it doesn't surprise me in the least that it's the least popular season.
Yeah the problem is there, I think it's because Demande was completely changed in the anime so it would be odd for him to destroy everyone all together.
 
Jan 16, 2018
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i disagree i know the 90s anime was popular like some people said it was more accessible than the manga
in that time we didn't have much anime focus on girls like sailor moon it was a new concept i know with action etc
but i differ that is was superior
re-watching the series i notice
more screen time dosent mean development
like example some people said somethings bad because in the manga usagi was jealous to chibi usa XD but she progress and overcome it
than in the 90s all the time we have that jealousy toward chibi usa DX she never overcome it so usagi dosent develop
and the other thing the characters they put much of the bad things about them
i know some people think usagi in the manga is a mari sue XD but she have flaws in the manga like the jealousy
 

sapphire91

Solaris Luna
Jul 6, 2018
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#16
i disagree i know the 90s anime was popular like some people said it was more accessible than the manga
in that time we didn't have much anime focus on girls like sailor moon it was a new concept i know with action etc
but i differ that is was superior
re-watching the series i notice
more screen time dosent mean development
like example some people said somethings bad because in the manga usagi was jealous to chibi usa XD but she progress and overcome it
than in the 90s all the time we have that jealousy toward chibi usa DX she never overcome it so usagi dosent develop
and the other thing the characters they put much of the bad things about them
i know some people think usagi in the manga is a mari sue XD but she have flaws in the manga like the jealousy
I ageee with you on that the old show is great giving the characters personalities and had a lot of episodes to work with, but development. Yes, Usagi a bit, but inconsistenly, Ami to the sme amount she has progressed in thr manga and that is. There is no progression, they have personalities that got explored, but there is no actual character development as they are the same from begining to the end.
 
Jun 30, 2010
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#18
Another overlooked factor in the relative lack of manga popularity at the time is the fact that Sailor Moon, unlike most manga that were adapted into anime, actually came into being around the same time as its anime adaptation. This meant that the manga never really had a chance to build its own fanbase independently of the anime. Even if it had been the best manga in the world and had been a carbon copy of the 90's anime, it still would never attained the same level of success.
 

Slowpokeking

Lumen Cinereum
Apr 1, 2020
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#19
I ageee with you on that the old show is great giving the characters personalities and had a lot of episodes to work with, but development. Yes, Usagi a bit, but inconsistenly, Ami to the sme amount she has progressed in thr manga and that is. There is no progression, they have personalities that got explored, but there is no actual character development as they are the same from begining to the end.
Disagree, they all got development through the friendship built up. Chibiusa was changed a lot throughout the series. Hotaru was shown to open her heart as well.

Villains like Nephrite, Four Sisters, Demande and Nehelenia all got fine development arc.
 

Neo Moonlight

Lumen Cinereum
Dec 7, 2009
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#20
Disagree, they all got development through the friendship built up. Chibiusa was changed a lot throughout the series. Hotaru was shown to open her heart as well.

Villains like Nephrite, Four Sisters, Demande and Nehelenia all got fine development arc.
Fisheye too. One of my favorite arcs in the series.
The Peter Pan angle with the quartet was well done too. Though I wanted to tell them not to listen and stay kids if possible haha. Adulthood sucks XD haha.
 
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