Speaking with pop culture site, ICv2, Viz Media founder, Seiji Horibuchi, recently discussed his vision of the U.S. manga market in the years to come. Horibuchi feels that Japanese pop culture in general has a healthy future in America, and that the primary challenge is finding ways to deliver content to buyers and fighting piracy.
In particular, Horibuchi feels that “light novels” will become more popular in the future. Light novels are a little longer than their U.S. counterpart, novella, and are targeted at the young adult audience that indulges in manga, anime and videogames.
In recent years, a number successful anime series have been based on light novels. A few examples of these are: Spice and Wolf, Bakemonogatari, Durarara!! and Fate/zero.
“Light novels have the essence of manga, animation, and video games combined,” Horibuchi tells ICv2. “It has been a tremendously popular genre in Japan for the past six or seven years and continues to grow both there and in the U.S. Viz Media’s Haikasoru imprint has published some good examples. Some popular anime films have been based on light novels and I think publishers here in the U.S. will begin to publish more of these titles as more readers become aware.”
With regard to manga itself, Horibuchi feels that the audience will grow as the transition to digital publishing becomes more stable and publishers get closer to a model where simultaneous worldwide releases are possible. He predicts this transition will have taken place by the time the year 2016 comes around.