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Manga: Japan’s Cultural and Economic Powerhouse

Mount Fuji, Macha T, and Manga – this is not a futile exercise in alliteration but a near conclusive list of the three great loves of Japan. Today, we’ll delve into the last bit, Manga. It refers to comics originating in Japan and has been a huge hit in its home country for decades. Last year, sales topped over $5 billion, indicating that at this point, manga is spearheading Japan’s economic growth. But that’s not all, now it is also part of their government. In a Japanese prefecture, a manga character has turned Vice Governor.

The Appeal of Manga Characters

In Japan, nothing beats the appeal of a youthful, successful businessman, someone who represents the new generation and controls the reins of a corporation. If Japan had a James Bond, his Walther PPK would be swapped with an MBA degree. No one represents this better than Kosaku Shima. He rose from a lowly salaryman to a lofty conglomerate president. He’s handsome, loyal, modest, and hardworking. Sounds like the perfect catch, right? Well, that’s because he is a fictional character, a hugely popular manga or Japanese comic book character written by Keni Hirokane since 1983.

Manga: Japan’s Cultural and Economic Powerhouse

Manga in Politics

But now, Shima is so much more. He’s the new Vice governor of a Japanese prefecture. Well, we’re only half kidding. The manga character is now a mock Vice governor of Japan’s Saga prefecture. The Saga government is using the popular character to draw attention to its policies with animations of Shima talking about the prefecture’s policies on Sports and the semiconductor industry.

Manga: Japan’s Cultural and Economic Powerhouse

Manga is often used by governments to put a point across, though not all points make it through unharmed. In the 2016, G7 Summit in Japan, the meeting’s official mascot was a manga character, Aoshima Meg. It depicted pearl-diving women. This drew global intrigue, but locals were offended. They deemed the mascot sexist. So, the reaction can go either way, but this only proves that manga is one of Japan’s greatest love affairs. Manga: Japan’s Cultural and Economic Powerhouse

Manga’s Global Success

Manga has been huge in the country for decades, but in the past few years, manga sales have also been exploding the world over. In 2012, about 430,000 copies of manga titles were sold. By 2019, this had more than doubled to over 980,000 copies. But last year, close to 2 million manga was sold. In 2022, global sales topped $5.05 billion.

Manga: Japan’s Cultural and Economic Powerhouse

This has been made possible due to two reasons. First, manga has exploded the world over, especially in the US, where between 2020 and 2021, sales grew by 171%. Secondly, manga has been quick to adapt. Its print format is shrinking. In 1995, sales of print manga accounted for $2.2 billon. Last year, they fell to $1.6 billion. But over time, manga has delivered e-comics, which people can read on mobile phones or laptops, and sales of digital manga have risen steadily with a solid 8.9% growth in 2022 compared to the year before.


The numbers are staggering. Even with diverse content at the world’s fingertips, the ghouls and Demon Slayers of mangas are here to stay. That’s the power of Manga, a cultural and economic powerhouse that continues to shape Japan and the world.

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