Viz “Speed Up” One Piece Releases, Libraries Attempt To Catch Up

By Ishaan . May 1, 2010 . 3:07pm


About a fortnight ago, an interesting discussion arose in the comments of our post touching upon the decline of the manga market through 2009, regarding the release schedules certain manga publishers adhere to, and how it affects fan interest in the series they follow.


One of our readers pointed out that setting releases too far apart meant publishers risked losing any sense of urgency or relevancy one might associate with a particular series. While more popular franchises like Naruto don’t have this problem, others — such as Slam Dunk, which was the example cited specifically — often see a 2-3 month gap between individual volume releases.


In a post on librarian site EarlyWord that comes via MangaBlog, Robin Brenner points out that VIZ have taken to releasing One Piece volumes five at a time, in order to catch up with its Japanese storyline, and, as a result, combat the increasing threat / appeal of scanlations. An interesting side-effect this has had on One Piece was that all five volumes recently appeared on the New York Times’ best-seller during the week VIZ published them. Traditionally, One Piece hasn’t enjoyed the popularity of licenses such as Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist. Despite whatever other effects it might have, a sudden rush of releases certainly helped put the series under the spotlight.


However, while this might work out positively for VIZ, it isn’t quite as convenient for libraries that stock manga, due to the need for a massive re-allocating of budgets. Libraries, too, are feeling the pinch from scanlated material, as their readers turn to the convenience of immediately-available, digitally-distributed media, and need to ensure their material keeps up with fan demand — the ultimate point being that it is now a question of the print industry having to collaborate as a whole to keep itself relevant.

Read more stories about & & & on Siliconera.

  • I’ve just got to say that I loved/am loving the speed up. As an avid fan of One Piece, I was ecstatic when they announced the speed up and am buying every volume. One thing to note, though, is that even in Japan there is a 2-3 month gap between volumes because the Mangaka is still writing the series so I’m not sure if that necessarily is the cause for decline of sales.
    I think it’s just the fact that scanlations are both free and right up-to-date with the chapters as soon as they come out. The English volumes are always going to be behind the Japanese volumes (although the high-popularity series are closing the gap) and many people just want the instant (free) gratification that the internet can provide. I won’t lie. I read the One Piece scanlations for that exact reason. I buy the english volumes, too, however. One could say that I am a collector, and collecting things (mainly comics) just isn’t something this new generation does as much as the previous generations.

    I also just wanted to say that it’s interesting how in the US Naruto is the top-seller while in Japan One Piece is the top-seller.

    • Hraesvelgr

      The reason the new generation doesn’t do it as much is this strange sense of entitlement that they have. They think that they have a right to play games, watch TV/movies, read comics, etc. for free. Oftentimes, it comes with some BS excuse, like how the Japanese are able to watch anime for “free” or how they have the patience of a kid with ADHD and refuse to wait longer than a week to watch/read something.

      • SeventhEvening

        That’s true. I don’t see anything wrong with downloading anime or reading scanlations for something that isn’t available in the US, but when it comes out here, you’ve gotta support it. I download the new episode of Doctor Who each week so I can see it before BBCA gets around to releasing it, but I’ll buy the DVD at the end of the season. Similarly, if Franken Fran is every officially released in the US, I’ll buy all of it.

    • thaKingRocka

      just to clarify, the point i made about the 2-3 month gap was focused on titles that have already completed. yu-yu hakusho and slam dunk have been done in japan for years, yet viz released them at very lengthy intervals. i think yu-yu hakusho took 7 years to finish with 19 volumes, and that is 2 or 3 years longer than it took when it was published on a weekly basis in its original run in japan. slam dunk has 31 volumes. figure out how long that will take. if there’s a gap for new material, the consumer will accept that. they understand that the material is being produced anew, but when the title is long since completed, it reeks of ridiculousness. if they can get 3 issues of naruto out the door and 5 of one piece, they can get 1 a month for completed titles like slam dunk.

      • (I love both YuYu and Slam Dunk) Are you the author of the article? The reason I ask is because you say “the point i made” and it would seem weird if the author posted his own standalone comment on his own article. Anyways, I see what you’re saying. I think VIZ’s mindset is, if we release one every month we may be needlessly shoving it down people’s throats (I say needlessly because with the speed-ups, there’s an actual purpose: catching up with Japan) and they won’t get as many sales, or if they do get as many sales, it’s sustained over a year or seven, which everyone knows is better for a business (unless they’re on the verge of bankruptcy).

        I personally never liked the system at all. It always boggled my mind when volumes would come out in Japan every two or three months and then would be coming out in US every four or five months. If I’m buying a series, it makes no difference to me if it’s spread out or comes out all at once. I’m still going to be buying the series. So if they have the resources, I think VIZ should be releasing volumes as quick as they can to get them out there for the people who want them instead of making everyone suffer through the antagonizing wait, which may make people lose interest in the long run which makes VIZ lose money.

        • thaKingRocka

          i’m not the author. i’m “one of [their] readers.”

          i don’t think releasing one volume a month would be anything approaching shoving content down our throats. one volume a month is what i think they need to do for completed titles, and i’m all for the speed-up for current titles. i just think people tend to shy away from larger purchases.

          • I don’t think so either. I was just trying to think from VIZ’s perspective because I can’t think of any other reason for them to wait so long to release already-completed series besides the fact that maybe they allocate their resources more towards the big name series so the other ones get left out to dry

  • thaKingRocka

    that must have been one astute reader to point out such a thing. and such impeccable taste citing slam dunk of all titles. i’d bet that reader enjoys inoue’s real as well and is confused as to why viz didn’t promote and release slam dunk first and allow its shonen readers to graduate to the more serious seinen series. :P

    anyhoo, i think i’d find myself a bit overwhelmed shelling out for five volumes at a time at 8 bucks a pop. now that they’ve increased the price to 10 for this series, i worry how they can keep young fans buying. there has to be some happy medium between 50 bucks a month for 5 bucks and 10 bucks every three months for one book. i respect what they’re doing, but i think it’s a bit much. viz has answered a drought with a flood in order to get to the point where the series can be timely and relevant. i think they’re really out of touch with just how much disposable income people have or are willing to part with. i hope it doesn’t come back to bite them in the butt. fortunately, one piece fans know that this is only temporary, but some may still find it hard to swallow that they will spend 150 bucks on this series in the next 3 months, not including tax.

    i really do think sometimes that manga publishers perceive the manga market as operating in some bubble that is immune to economic conditions and in no way competes with the graphic novel and comic book market. 50 bucks for one month’s worth of one piece installments or 27 bucks for the complete 1300 page epic tale of bone? even if you see these things as apples and oranges, the consumers often remain the same.

    enough from me. i talk about this stuff too much, but it’s only because i care. on a side note, i hope viz uses some of these profits to invest in a reprint of sanctuary’s 9 volumes.

    • mach

      The speed up is only temporary though, just like it was for Naruto a while back. I think it’s only supposed to last four months or so. Soon, they’ll return to a more normal publishing speed of about one volume a month until they’re completely caught up with Japan, at which point they’ll probably stick with one volume every three months.

      • thaKingRocka

        i don’t mean this to be rude; i only point this out to show that i am aware of that.
        “fortunately, one piece fans know that this is only temporary, but some may still find it hard to swallow that they will spend 150 bucks on this series in the next 3 months, not including tax.”

        • mach

          Sorry. I must have missed that in the giant wall of text you posted earlier.

    • Just wanted to point out that the people who are spending 150 bucks over the next three months for One Piece have probably already spent 150 bucks over the last three months for One Piece and are therefore most likely okay with it. I know I am

      • thaKingRocka

        i hear you. too rich for my blood, though.

    • My thoughts exactly. The catchup bothers me a bit in the sense that during this whole debacle, they not only raised the price by $2 a volume, they even stop putting that nice gold leafing on the covers. I understand that it’s more costly to do something like that, but if you’re going to raise the price, doesn’t that cover it?

      Basically, here’s a more cheaply made product, possibly with rushed and less careful translations, for more money, and released so quickly that one’s typical time/disposable income is not enough to make the act of catching up a reasonable thing. Some people probably don’t care, but I always liked collecting One Piece for the reason that our releases looked nicer and were affordable. They could have handled this catch up in a more sensible way than they did and Viz has sort of lost my loyalty in buying the physical copies now.

  • This really doesn’t help us fans of more esoteric or obscure titles. The few series I’d be willing to buy that many volumes a month, likely went out of print in english years ago.

    • SeventhEvening

      Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure ;<

      When they started publishing the series in the US they also just jumped to the 12th volume and renumbered as if it was the first one. I'd buy every volume of it, except it takes months for each volume to come out, and when they do, they're misnumbered.

  • Guest

    Anything that helps people realize how great One Piece is is a good thing.

  • urbanscholar

    Someone wake me up once I can go out & purchase the whole skypiea arc in print form.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos