katmic (Level 11)

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If the recent interview with Nakaba Suzuki is to be believed, then Nanatsu no Taizai has only completed about one third of its journey.

The gist of the interview was that, when developing his story, Suzuki, author of the Nanatsu no Taizai manga, had a total of three major arcs in mind, of which the first, The Holy Knights Arc, ended with chapter 100.

Which sort puts things into perspective, that everything we have read in the past 100 chapters, every single mini arc was purposed towards setting up the villainy of the Holly Knights with the aim of culminating in an all out battle in the capital.

IN that regard chapter 101 essentially marked the beginning of the manga’s second arc, essentially titled The Demon Clan arc by Suzuki; and if the mangaka chooses to follow the route of previous trends and this second major arc completes its run over a hundred chapters, then we can safely predict that chapter 300 will mark the finale of the Nanatsu no Taizai manga series.

Though Suzuki didn’t rule out pursuing one or two additional stories, depending on how his three arcs are received.

+Chapter 111- A Man’s Say
Set up chapters rarely entertain and that is because they are typically focused on setting up the pieces that will eventually become the meat of the story.

Chapter 111 was actually pretty entertaining as another set up chapter, mostly because it actually sought to execute some decent character development, some of which was more disturbing than expected.

+Ban and Jericho
It is difficult to decipher where Ban’s head is right now, and what his intentions might be; because, for all this talk of raising Elaine, we still have no idea how he intends to do it.

He left the Deadly Sins, which means he has no intention of taking the easy way out and killing Meliodas to achieve his goals; there is a reason Suzuki chose to approach his second arc in such a manner, basically casting Ban away from his comrades and sticking Jericho alongside him.

This has to be more than a play at a romance oriented story line; Ban’s story in 2015 is a mystery I cannot wait to decipher.

I was actually surprised at how well he took Jericho’s comments about Elaine; I expected a more explosive reaction.

+King and Diane
Pairings do not interest me, yet King and Diane’s relationship is somewhat intriguing to follow; and something tells me Suzuki is pushing these two towards some tragic circumstances.

Chapter 111 succeeded in doing what so many manga series pace so terribly. Where other series tend to draw this particular situation out, Suzuki chose to immediately put Diane and King on the same page, this eliminating numerous chapters and panels in the future wasted on plots that would drag as a result of misunderstandings and miscommunication.

+Merlin
Merlin is coming off as the unofficial father or mother figure of the crew, the way everyone runs to her to solve even their most basic problems; and I am not just talking about the way Diane was crying to Merlin about bringing King back.

More importantly, she reciprocates this perception of her, rarely dismissive of her friend’s problems and seemingly always ready to offer a solution to any and all ailments. This is drastically contrasting to the cold calculating woman that was referenced in earlier chapters of The Seven Deadly Sins, specifically with regards to her role in the banishment and imprisonment of the Deadly Sins.

+Gowther
I don’t want to say that Gowther is evil, but there is a disturbing aura about him; who is he exactly?

We know he is neither a demon nor a fairy (Meliodas and King would know). And it is highly unlikely that he is of the goddess clan, yet we know that he isn’t human.

Merlin offers him the solution to reacquiring his fabled armor and he seemingly and secretly rejects her assistance; and how can we not cast some doubt over his relationship with Guila?

What are the chances that he’s brainwashing her with his arrows of light? The man doesn’t understand emotions, as we were reminded in the most recent episode of Nanatsu no Taizai. So it is unlikely that he sought Guila.

And even if he did, then…I don’t know what to think of Gowther, besides the fact that he’s up to no good.

+The Ten Commandments
So we have a name for them, the hand selected disciples of the Demon King, and clearly Meliodas’ worst nightmare.

I don’t think any of us needs to take a guess at what exactly Meliodas lost, and what he is seeking to take back with Merlin’s help. If he’s preparing for battle then he needs his sacred treasure.

This new arc hasn’t quite picked up pace, but I don’t think I mind it taking its time.
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2014 was somewhat tame in terms of anime; sure, there were some decent releases, but nothing really exploded on screen like in previous years.

That isn't a bad thing, but sometimes, as an otaku, it is nice to have that one anime which is so thrilling to watch that you cannot wait to devour every last episode in your possession.

Manga never disappoints; every new year has a star or two that shines above the rest, whether new or old. And in 2014 the Big Three were fairly popular talking points for different reasons- Naruto for its finale and Bleach for what some people viewed as a leap in quality, others as a continued slump in this final arc.

The One Piece conversation however didn't change much, with the same old issue arising no matter the forum you frequent: the decline of One Piece.

For most One Piece fans, discussions of One Piece declining are just bitterness and jealousy manifesting from manga fans that simply cannot help but whine about the popularity of a manga they cannot stand in light of poorer performances from their own favorite titles.

Yet, being a mild One Piece fan myself, I don’t think this issue should be dismissed so casually, especially in light of recent sales figures.

And I have chosen to use Naruto and Attack on Titan to answer this question.

So, Is One Piece Declining in Popularity?

Well, a better question is:

+DOES IT MATTER?
Whether or not we are willing to admit it, the simple answer is: yes. It is a naturally reaction of the typical individual; if you like something, you want everyone else to like it just as much, or at least so much more than what someone else likes and which you aren’t very keen on.

Practically it doesn’t matter; if One Piece suddenly dropped to the bottom of the sales list in 2015, I highly doubt that would compel any fan of the Manga to actually drop One Piece, not unless the only reason they read it was to keep up with popular trends in the industry.

Technically, people do care how well their favorite series are doing.

And that leads back to the primary question of this post: Is One Piece Declining in Popularity? Has this emperor of Manga began to witness its last days at the top?

The simple answer is YES and NO, and I will argue these two points briefly by contrasting One Piece against Naruto and SNK.

+ONE PIECE VS ATTACK ON TITAN
Let’s look at this practically; has One Piece began its decline? Take away all the bias and all the figures seem to be pointing towards a resounding YES.

Think about this; all the hullabaloo revolving around 2014’s Top 30 Manga List seemed to emanate from the fact that One Piece had somehow come out ahead and continued to reign even over Attack on Titan as the biggest manga in the world.

But let’s be realistic here; One Piece might have sold more copies in 2014 than any other manga but it isn’t reigning over Attack on Titan, not when both of them sold approximately 11 Million copies.

The 200,000 copies that One Piece sold more than AOT allowed the manga to maintain its top position, but One Piece hardly destroyed the competition.

In which case you could argue that both titles tied in the top place, more or less, right? Well, not quite.

An interesting point to note; Attack on Titan sold 13 Million copies in 2013, which means a drop of 2 Million between those two years.

A damning decline, right? Not really, not in comparison to One Piece which sold roughly 18 Million copies in 2013.Yes, 18 Million, that is a drop of 7 Million copies in sales. Yes, 7 BLOODY MILLION copies.

You might be wondering why this topic, all this talk about One Piece finally falling, will not die.

Well, no one would be talking about it if both AOT and One Piece were only separated by 200,000 copies but still managed to squeeze out 20 Million copies each; even 15 million copies would have been an acceptable drop.

7 MILLION! Say what you want about the fickle nature of otaku, you cannot ignore that drop in figures.

So, YES, One Piece is most definitely declining in popularity. And this is in comparison to Tokyo Ghoul which leaped forward by a whopping 5 Million copies, skipping from number 23 to 3 on the table.

When it comes to retaining its crown at the top, One Piece should be worried. If we are talking about the real winners of 2014, that would have to be Attack on Titan followed by Tokyo Ghoul and then One Piece.

+ONE PIECE VS. NARUTO
Study Naruto over the last few years and the first thing you notice is the manga rarely falls out of the top five ranked titles of each year; more important however are its figures.

Naruto is one of the more stable series on this list, sometimes hitting 6 Million and even 7 Million but mainly standing around the 5 Million mark. Its position on the list might change but that is largely due to series either rising or falling around it.

Naruto itself rarely undergoes drastic changes.

And why is that? After all, as so many otaku like to phrase it on the internet, Naruto has been ‘Shit’ for a very long time. So who buys the volumes?

Well, it’s simple really.

Kishimoto has, for several years now, been writing specifically for his fans, and those fans like what he’s been creating; it is odd that so many people would raise their voices to complain about the direction Naruto has taken over the last five years, only for Kishimoto to continue along his pre-determined story, with no attempt to make any major alterations (that we know of).

And why would he? For all the complaints, Naruto is still pretty popular; Kishimoto has always known the Naruto story he’s always wanted to tell, and those people that have continued to purchase Naruto over the last four years, they like what Naruto has become.

They are what one would call true Naruto fans; they would have continued to purchase those Naruto volumes had the manga continued for another ten years. And that’s because that so called ‘shit’ is what they like. Kishimoto found his core fan base a few years ago and he hooked them, those few million people that were ready to stick with him till the end.

And how does that apply to One Piece? Naruto is the future that One Piece is eventually going to become.

Consider how One Piece came to reign over the manga industry. How exactly did that explosion of popularity happen? Someone is most likely going to say something about One Piece’s consistently quality story line.

And I would disagree. Here’s why One Piece became the best selling manga in history: Hype.

There was a point in time during the latter stages of the Sabody Archipelago arc when the One Piece hype train first began picking up; that point where One Piece became that hushed whisper no manga reader could avoid.

Then the story hit Impel Down and the Hype train picked up tremendous speed; by the time Marine Ford came around, One Piece was on fire; it was that manga trend you simply had to try your hand at if only to figure out what all the fuss was about.

And that is when a massive portion of new readers made the jump to One Piece; we are talking about otaku who had consistently refused to give Oda’s masterpiece a chance finally giving in, flicking through these massive arcs and becoming immediate converts to a manga that proved to be everything everyone said it would be and more.

You can follow this trend with Attack on Titan, a flea of a manga that became a giant simply because of hype; the difference here, though, is Attack on Titan can actually sustain its hype.

Fans jumped onboard because of the cool action complimented by the shocking gore and unpredictability of the story; and that is what we have been getting from Shingeki no Kyojin for the last few years.

That is what we can expect the manga to keep generating for the foreseeable future; Attack on Titan is here to stay, and who knows what will happen when the second anime season premiers in 2016.

You cannot say the same thing for One Piece; the Marineford crowd came bursting out of One Piece’s greatest arc expecting Oda to not only maintain that pace but possibly even build upon the scope.

What they instead got was a very mediocre fish man island; Punk Hazard picked up the pace but even the few highlights didn’t make the arc anything special, and the current Dressrossa arc might boast some really explosive moments, but it also had some of the slowest chapters in a while.

Observe this trend and a rational pattern emerges; you have a new horde of One Piece fans, largely enamored by three of One Piece’s greatest arcs, exiting the Marionford story, expecting Marioneford2.0 at the other end.

Oda doesn’t deliver in this regard, and they start to slip away one by one.

It might not make sense if you consider the fact that these three arcs, including Fishman Island, where largely decent during their run; why would a few dissatisfying chapters and some slow pacing alienate so many people?

And the answer is simple: it wouldn’t, if they were One Piece fans; except that this isn’t a crowd of One Piece fans that I am talking about, but Marineford fans.

So, the question: Is One Piece declining?

Well, technically, No. Rather the chaff is simply falling away, those persons for whom the highs of One Piece were Marineford and Impel down. It is these buyers for whom the current One Piece has become an unworthy investment. This same crowd is simply waiting for the next big One Piece arc to arrive to jump on board once more.

+CONCLUSION
Let me just say that the One Piece anime hasn't done any favors for the manga; as so many people have suggested, we need to get Madhouse on this project.

One Piece is just at its halfway point; and as it progresses, it is going to fluctuate, with different arcs attracting fans in the millions, while others might alienate an even bigger number.

Eventually it is bound to create that core fan base, for whom One Piece is perfect as it is and who will stick with the show for the next 10 to 20 years.

You cannot really predict where One Piece will eventually stabilize; it might be at 2 Million; it might be at 30 Million. One thing’s for sure.

Nothing lasts forever and no king can remain unchallenged.

One Piece will be dethroned, eventually; and that should be a good thing, because by the time a new manga takes that top spot, it will have proven its worth in terms of quality characters and storytelling, hopefully in a manner that blows One Piece out of the water.

And that can only work in the favor of us manga fans who only want to read great manga stories.
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Episode 13 of Nanatsu no Taizai felt rushed, and it also left a few things from the manga out, tidbits that would have made the story so much better.

I mean, Meliodas’ rampage felt so much more visceral in the manga; and the fact that Helbrum stood his ground in the face of such a demonic onslaught only made things better, as opposed to his absolute defeat in the anime.

An 8/10 episode none the less; though something tells me that this season of Nanatsu no Taizai might be the only one we will ever get; at the current pace, they should wrap up the first 100 chapters by episode 25, which is a shame.  

THE CHAPTERS:
Dreyfus’ plan is complete; demons arise and prepare to unleash holy hell upon Camelot; Elizabeth and Diane reminisce about their feelings for King and Meliodas.

MY THOUGHTS:
A recent review of Nanatsu no Taizai that I came across made a fairly solid defense for Elizabeth that I had never given much consideration.

I mean, it wouldn’t be fair to call Elizabeth a bad character, yet she is none the less irrelevant; granted, the fact that she doesn’t have special combat abilities makes her irrelevance work so much better than someone like Lucy (Fairy Tail).

However this particular reviewer made an important point about Elizabeth’s role in the story so far, specifically the fact that, where it not for her, the Seven Deadly Sins probably wouldn’t have reunited, at least no in time to face the current threat.

Which makes you wonder about her role in the future of the series, now that the Sins have all but found each other, and she doesn’t bring anything of particular use to the team.

-The Seven Deadly Sins
These two chapters seem to suggest that this new saga might be Nanatsu no Taizai’s own Tartaros arc, where the stakes suddenly ratchet up to levels higher than we have ever seen them and the destruction comes to encompass a vast portion of the Deadly Sins world.

Think about it; this might be the very first time that the sins have faced actual danger since the manga began. Nanatsu no Taizai began with a team of protagonists that was already too strong for their story, with the tension in each arc focusing upon handicapping each Sin so much so that their respective foes could pose an actual threat.

At their strongest, there isn’t a villain that has been introduced so far who could defeat the sins in a fair fight; not even against Hendricksen where the Sins fighting at their very best (those pesky weapons are still missing) and even then, when completely unrestrained for the very first time, they managed to satisfactorily school the demon, that is until he began cheating.

These demons, these villains, this is the threat we have been waiting for since the manga begun, with an enemy so strong that we might actually have to worry about the safety of our heroes.

-The Five Races
It is difficult to determine whether the author of Nanatsu no Taizai has the entirety of his story mapped out; if he does (because he could be making this stuff up as he goes), it is interesting to note that the ranks of the Seven Deadly Sins seem to include fighters from all the five major races mentioned by the raised demons.

And one has to wonder if the term ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ is more than a whimsical title created by the king, and whether these seven ladies and gentlemen might not actually exist to play a greater role in the Deadly Sins world, possibly as protectors. 

What are the chances that seven individuals so uniquely skilled and talented as these would come together within the same team, this including a giantess, a demon (possibly) and what might be a goddess. And who knows what Gowther is.

The Nanatsu no Taizai story is starting to come together into something of truly epic proportions.

-The Demon Clan
For once I want someone in manga and anime to cast a resurrection/unsealing spell that works to full effect; it isn’t just Fairy Tail, which promised us a return of dragons during the Daimatou Embou arc, only to restrict the plot to seven fairly tame lizards, that keeps using this plot.

Not that I am complaining about the state of things; this has to be the most threatening set of villains the series has ever created.

However the resurrection of an entire demon clan (and I mean demons in the hundreds and thousands) would have made for more dramatic story telling.

As things stands the whole ‘seven demons VS The Seven Deadly Sins’ seems a little two convenient; sort of like how the fairy tail team only had five or six dragon slayers on hand, so naturally the plot was manipulated so that only five or six dragons would escape from the gate.

-Hauser/Gilthunder/Griamore
I am really hoping that these three get their own arc in the coming months. It is always a joy reading manga that take the time to catapult their side characters into essential roles within the story.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the King’s prophecy was actually referring to Hauser, Gilthunder and Griamore as the three heroes who would stand between Camelot and its demonic enemy, and that one or all of them will strike the final blow.

I am also not ruling out the possibility of one of these three dying.

-Diane/Elizabeth
Romance in shonen manga rarely works for me, and often does little more than distract from the primary story; not so with Nanatsu no Taizai which, I think, is progressing steadily and appropriately when it comes to developing the bonds and connections between its protagonists.

In comparison with a manga like Fairy Tail, whose protagonists continue to stagnate in an indefinite limbo with regards to the specifics of their relationships with female characters like Juvia and Lucy, Nanatsu no Taizai wasted no time in tackling this matter and in a very non-comedic manner, with Elizabeth finally admitting her feelings for Meliodas, feelings that, to an extent, are justifieds.

Strictly speaking though, I would be surprised if Meliodas were to reciprocate Elizabeth’s love, mostly because we have never observed anything romantic in the way he interacts with her. I am yet to be sold on any relationship that might blossom.

And truth be told, if I was to take an interest in these pairings, Diana and King are much more appealing than Meliodas and Elizabeth, especially taking into account the history of their friendship.

-Hawk
I am becoming more convinced with each new chapter that all those bits where Hawk is spoken of as the most powerful of the Sins are less comedic and more predictive. After all why the hell would Ban refer to the little pig as ‘master’.

It would be the sort of twist that would blow my mind.
RATING: 8/10
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Another Year of Manga has come and gone; I don’t think I have ever shown any particular interest in manga sales before 2014, mostly because I didn’t really see the point. After all, so long as I keep getting the manga I enjoy, what does it matter what other people choose to buy?

Even when I was first starting to read manga, back when finding good manga was complicated business, it was popular top ten lists that I relied upon rather than any statistics about sales.

Why? Well, let’s be honest. There are more people reading manga for free than those that actually purchase the volumes. Scrutinizing top ten manga lists will tell you so much more about what manga people are actually reading the most than any statistical information about sales.

Taking a closer look at manga sales in 2014 and comparing them to 2013, however, has proven very insightful, especially regarding current trends in anime and manga. Even outside the biggest titles, there were some series whose presence or absence I found to be both perturbing and surprising.

If you haven’t had a look at the list yet, then here it is.

TOP-SELLING MANGA IN JAPAN BY SERIES: 2014

Manga Sales by Series

*1. 11,885,957 One Piece
*2. 11,728,368 Shingeki no Kyojin
*3. *8,283,709 Haikyuu!!
*4. *6,946,203 Tokyo Ghoul
*5. *6,729,439 Kuroko no Basket
*6. *5,505,179 Naruto
*7. *4,681,031 Diamond no Ace
*8. *4,657,971 Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
*9. *4,633,246 Nanatsu no Taizai
10. *4,622,108 Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
11. *4,385,701 Hoozuki no Reitetsu
12. *4,295,257 Terra Formars
13. *4,166,875 Ao Haru Ride
14. *4,098,510 Yowamushi Pedal
15. *3,957,991 Gin no Saji
16. *3,816,372 Nisekoi
17. *3,275,885 Fairy Tail
18. *2,986,968 Bleach
19. *2,644,122 Shokugeki no Souma
20. *2,588,791 Youkai Watch
21. *2,516,278 Kingdom
22. *2,472,101 Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu.
23. *2,397,887 Kimi ni Todoke
24. *2,394,263 Gintama
25. *2,380,774 Detective Conan
26. *2,289,738 Kuroshitsuji
27. *2,231,805 Noragami
28. *2,173,339 One Punch-Man
29. *1,967,675 Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
30. *1,937,059 Chihayafuru
A couple of thoughts come to mind after taking a closer look at this list.

+One Punch-Man

During its earlier days, getting people to give One Piece a decent chance was no easy task; yet it could be done. You simply needed to make your case about the story and hilarious characters.

Not so with One Punch-man which, even now, I would struggle to explain to someone why they should bother with the series. It is that random a manga, and which I am surprised is receiving so much interest.

For a manga about a bald guy defeating over the top villains with one punch, 2 million copies is a powerful achievement, which makes you think that people are more or less ready to take a chance on anything today so long as they are appropriately entertained.

You could possibly blame that trend on One Piece.

Last year, One Punch-Man was no where near the top 30; come January 2016 I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the top ten. It is worth mentioning that One Punch-Man actually comes out ahead of Nanatsu No Taizai and even Fairy Tail when it comes to Sales by Volume.

+Detective Conan

There is an overwhelming number of people today who are always complaining about popular shonen manga like Naruto and One Piece running too long, but who have never really made any mention of Detective Conan. Seriously, Detective Conan has been in serialization since 1994; how the hell does a manga like that still manage to sell over 2 million copies today.

Having never read it, I am hardly qualified to complain about the quality of the manga; yet if common comments about anime and manga are to be believed, the longer a series runs, the worse it gets, often losing readers rather than gaining in popularity.

Berserk has been around even longer than Detective Conan and it stands almost no chance of entering the top 30, at least with regards to sales.

You have to wonder what Detective Conan offers that other longer running series do not.

Whatever the case anyone that has spent 2014 preaching about how the trend of long running manga series is coming to a definite end is being proved wrong by the strength of Detective Conan.

+Gintama/Kingdom

A pair of manga that couldn’t be more different from another and which I didn’t think would be so closely matched; more or less neck to neck in 2013, Kingdom seems to have come out head by 200,00 copies in 2014 in comparison to Gintama.

Yet both series are not fairing particularly well on a whole, not just regarding the 12 or so steps they have fallen in less than 15 months, but their declining dominance over 2014. Keep in mind that titles like Tokyo Ghoul and Haikyuu, near the bottom and barely keeping up not so long ago, now stand at the very top of 2014’s top selling manga list, even as Kingdom and Gintama continue to slip further down.

Hell, 15 months ago Kingdom and Gintama were both starting to pull away from Bleach, Kubo’s manga following behind even as the pair approached the top 10. Even taking into account differences in tastes, that a manga as celebrated as Kingdom would fall below Bleach during one of its worst years in terms of ranking, is surprising.

It makes you wonder exactly what people like.

Kingdom’s fame comes from the fact that it doesn’t exactly follow the typical formula; and yet, when you look at many of the titles ranked higher than Kingdom, one might argue that the key to success in Japan in terms of manga sales comes down to attaching the same old formula to new plots and faces.

+Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma

It might have been my lack of attention but I don’t think I have ever seen so many non-action oriented manga series littering the top 20; sure, there is always that odd slice of life manga that somehow manages to break through the barrier, but even those exceptions are rarely as strong and popular as the food based Shokugeki no Soma.

Along with Blue Spring Ride and Hozuki no Reitetsu, it is possible that we have reached that age of manga where a story doesn’t have to create super-powered heroes fighting to save the day in order to appeal to the masses.

You couldn’t easily dismiss Shokugeki no Soma as a fluke; while making no appearance on the 2013 list, the manga currently enjoys strong support among manga readers, so much so that it might actually survive in the top 20 for several years to come, possibly even rise higher, even with so many action fueled series emerging every year.

+Hozuki no Reitetsu

Urgh, No. Simply No. How the hell did a manga that was barely a bleep on the map in 2013 manage to sell 4.3 million copies? Four episodes in and this story of a serious minded demon ogre working to manage the demon king’s realm in the underworld has to be one of the worst anime i watched in 2014.

And that might be the key to the manga’s success; the anime adaptation is clearly working wonders for the manga. Yet considering what I encountered in the anime, it will take a hell of a lot to convince me that the manga is actually better.

Seriously though, how the hell did this mediocre series come out so far ahead of Bleach, Yowamushi Pedal or even Terra Formars? My brain just can’t make sense of that logic.

+Bleach

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Sure it’s position wasn’t all that unexpected, and the series hasn’t been in the top 10 for quite a while now. Yet, even with all the complaints I am always ready to launch towards the manga, 18th was a shockingly lower rank than I expected.

At this rate, we have to wonder if Bleach can even maintain its place in the top 20; which won’t actually mean much. It might have dropped three positions down but Bleach actually sold 200,000 copies more in 2014 than it did in the previous year. And even if it disappeared from the top 30, it’s unlikely that the manga would be any less popular among fans.

Simply put, if this was a matter of the number of people actually reading the manga, then Bleach would probably find a position in the Top 5; as things stand, manga readers are still reading Bleach, however I don’t think they believe it to be worthy of actually spending money to purchase the volumes.

+Fairy Tail

Wow. Two years ago Fairy Tail was hanging out in the top 10; two years ago Fairy Tail was laughing its head off while Bleach continued to fall further down the list. Hell, three years ago, when it was at its best, Fairy Tail was preparing to take its place among the big three.

I am not particularly happy about its descent, yet I do feel somewhat vindicated in my thoughts about the dropping quality of Fairy Tail. It wouldn’t be an over exaggeration to say that Fairy Tail might have reached the peak of its fame a while back, and now it can only look forward to a slow steady fall. 500,000 copies isn’t that drastic a decline, yet the considerable drop in rank suggests that the manga’s quality simply isn’t on par with new stars in the industry.

And this was in a year when the Fairy Tail Manga should have been complimented by the return of its anime.

+Terra Formers

The power of anime adaptations; how else can you explain this manga’s sudden leap above veterans like Bleach and even Kingdom. When it first emerged, terra formers was hailed as Attack on Titan 2.0, the same sentiment almost immediately applied to Tokyo Ghoul.

Which makes you wonder whether blood, gore and the death of major characters hasn’t become the secret ticket to stardom. We want to see people die; not just die, but perish terribly.

+Yowamushi Pedal/Haikyuu/Kuroko no Basket

‘YES!’ is all I can say every time sports manga receive the recognition they deserve. It’s almost like there are a select few people out there that have always known and understood the secret that was sports manga, specifically the fact that they were superior to almost every other title on the market today, and only now is that secret finally coming out.

Yowamushi’s current success is an even bigger surprise that Haikyuu! Granted Haikyuu’s leap to number 3, bounding completely over Kuroko, Magi, Fairy Tail and even Kingdom might seem almost unnatural.

But think about it; Kuroko’s Basket is ending, and Haikyuu is the only manga (and anime) on the market today that seems to share the spirit of Kuroko. It is hardly surprising that Kuroko fans would immediately jump to the next best thing- and I most definitely believe Haikyuu to be the better series.

Yowamushi Pedal, a manga about cycling came almost out of nowhere; the idea that manga readers would be willing to throw their weight behind a concept such as that says volumes about the changes in trends in the manga industry. Forget ninjas, pirates and samurai, a time is coming when it will be the soccer players, cycling champions and baseball stars that rule the Top 10.

+Nanatsu no Taizai/Magi/Assassination Classroom

Nanatsu no Taizai is the only winner among these three; considering its rapidly rising fame last year, Magi took a beating in 2014. Forget Bleach, Kingdom or even Fairy Tail. Those manga didn’t as much drop in sales as they did simply lose out to drastically more successful series. We are talking about declines of a few hundred thousand.

Magi declined by a whopping 3 million copies; which is odd, considering the fact that the manga is only getting better. This as opposed to assassination classroom which barely shifted in number of copies sold, despite the change in rank.

Nanatsu no Taizai is milking the popularity of an anime of fairly acceptable quality, jumping into the top 10 at a time where many previous manga stars are experiencing noteworthy declines.

You could also blame the quality of the Deadly Sins manga, whose first 100 chapters maintained a surprisingly rapid pace, with each arc raising the stakes and produced even more thrills. And it is because it is still so young and yet performs so well that it is difficult to believe those voices suggesting that shonen, specifically long running shonen manga, might have lost its market.

The end of Naruto and Bleach, even One Piece isn’t something to be feared, not in the manner of those people who suggested that the end of the Big Three would end the domination of shonen manga told in that particular formula. Along with Magi and Tokyo Ghoul, we have every reason to expect the shonen formula to maintain its strength for years to come.

+Tokyo Ghoul

Two Years ago, Tokyo ghoul was averaging one million copies every year, this as opposed to SIX MILLION COPIES this year; that is an increment of 5 million. How the hell does a manga do that?

Are we really going to say that the Tokyo Ghoul anime is solely responsible for the success of its manga counterpart? Because, personally, while entertained, my mind wasn’t exactly blown by the anime-and the mediocre finale didn’t help.

The Tokyo Ghoul anime gets points for gorgeous animation but that is hardly enough to make it a masterpiece; which means Tokyo Ghoul is one of those few manga that seem to succeed using hype, where the idea of the anime is so appealing that it forces readers towards the manga immediately after the anime ends just so they can continue the progress of their favorite story.

The question is whether Tokyo Ghoul is worth all the Hype afforded to it. That is a question that will be answered at the end of 2015. If the manga is as good as they say, then Tokyo Ghoul’s numbers could even double next time. Otherwise, there is a chance that it might drop out of the top 20.

+Toriko

I thought this manga was on the way to the top. It is curious that Toriko would fall out of the top 30, even considering the number of people out there that cannot stop singing its praises.

+Conclusion:

There is so much to be said about Naruto, One Piece and Attack on Titan that it will require it’s own separate post.

Taking this list into account, some undeniable factors emerge.

- Sports manga are the future, and it makes sense.

There is simply no shortage of thrill inducing moments, or even episodes; after all every arc is just a new tournament or match, and just as sports fans still flood into stadiums every week for sports they have been watching for decades, there is no end to the level of entertainment one can elicit from sports manga.

-Shonen action manga are not the dying breed people keep saying they are; people still want to see unwavering heroes with special powers fight to protect their friends from evil; yet the shonen action formula isn’t exactly a necessity for success in this regard either.

Maybe tastes among manga readers have always been this diversified, yet the numbers of manga readers willing to venture beyond the action arena is growing to a point where it can begin impacting sales.

-It all comes down to anime; if you do not have an anime in the works, then do not expect your manga make any headway, especially within the top ten.

Magi rose to its peak at a time where its second anime season was attracting attention and converting anime fans into Magi Manga readers; following the end of The Kingdom of Magic, one need only look at Magi’s decline to appreciate the impact of the absence of its anime.

The same thing goes for Tokyo Ghoul, Nanatsu no Taizai and Terra Formars, whose anime adaptations have had a clear impact upon their success.

| |

A very ‘meh’ chapter of Magi , I think; I am no mangaka but I imagine there are so many more ways Shinobu Ohtaka could have portrayed the events of chapter 251 than what she ultimately chose to do.

THE CHAPTER:
Kouen and his siblings react to Hakuryuu’s rebellion. Aladdin and Alibaba ride out to meet an old friend.

MY THOUGHTS:

What was wrong with this chapter? Well, nothing too egregious, yet one might argue that it simply didn’t get enough done.

And if there is one thing you have to say about Magi , it’s the fact that most chapters are often packed full of so much content that the events of the manga can sometimes feel rushed.

After a few weeks delving into the minds of Hakuryuu and Judar, it was inevitable that returning to the less interesting duo of Aladdin and Alibaba would prove a little difficult.

None the less I don’t know if we needed so many pages of the pair basically travelling to Rakushou and talking about what they would eventually have to do.

Actually, that is another thing; a lot of talking was done and yet I don’t know if anything was really said. Who didn’t already know that Aladdin and Alibaba would do everything in their power to stop and save Hakuryuu from himself?

Aladdin said as much back at the summit. And who actually expected Kouen to step aside as his brother ascended to the throne?

  Magi has always had a tendency of glossing over certain events and occurrences with the aim of getting to the bigger picture. It should have done just that in chapter 251.

There was no real reason for using the meeting between Alibaba and Hakuryuu as the cliffhanger for the chapter; in fact we should have gotten to the meeting immediately.

Why? Well, it’s not like anyone is expecting anything particularly intriguing to come out of these four characters finally talking with one another. As with Aladdin and Alibaba, we already know what Hakuryuu thinks of his former friends.

He has either implied or told us directly exactly what he intends to do and the lines he is ready to cross over and over again over the last few chapters. If the purpose of these four characters meeting was to allow Aladdin and Alibaba to understand exactly where Hakuryuu’s head is right now, the mangaka really should have done that immediately. 

RATING: 4/10, not a bad chapter per say, but somewhat bland. I really want to get excited about Alibaba and Hakuryuu meeting, but really; we have heard the opinions held by both sides. Essentially, there can’t be anything new or unexpected out of the next chapter, which hopefully deals with Alibaba and Hakuryuu’s conversation quickly.
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