Japanese manga artist begs readers to buy his first volume, spurred by fears of cancellation

The manga’s low sales may be yet another symptom of the failing manga industry, though some netizens think otherwise.

Despite the still monstrous popularity of some manga like One Piece and Dragonball, the manga industry has been in decline for some time, thanks to a strong secondhand market, a persistent pirating community, a drop in overseas manga sales, and the manga industry’s failure to digitize. Unfortunately that means that for many manga artists, their works and their livelihoods are at stake.

Japanese manga artist Talow Okanishi is feeling the pressure. He is the author of a relatively new European-set fantasy manga, Desordre, which has been serialized in manga anthology Gekkan Morning two since last year, though it may not be for much longer.

In a tweet he posted last week, he announced that the sales for the first volume of Desordre were so low that it may face cancellation after the next chapter if they don’t improve. In a four-piece image of a surprisingly candid handwritten note, he pleaded with fans to go out and buy the first volume if they want to see the story continue (translation below).

I regret to announce that, due to the extremely low sales of the first volume of Desordre that was released last week, the manga, which is currently being serialized in Gekkan Morning two, will be cancelled after the next two chapters. [Okanishi amended in a follow-up tweet that it will be after the next chapter.]

However, if this first volume sells enough to require a second edition printing, it might possibly get a second chance at continuing. If there is anyone who wishes to see Desordre continue to be serialized, can I please ask you to share this tweet and advertise the manga for me?

I know that it is extremely shameful of me to do this, but I felt that if I didn’t try anything and Desordre is cancelled at this point, I would regret it for my whole life, so I wrote this letter.

If Volume 1 still doesn’t sell after this, I will know that it is because of the demerits of the manga and of myself, and I will accept its cancellation.

Thank you very much for your help,
Talow Okanishi

With only eleven chapters published, a single volume released, and only a week allotted to bring in sales for that single volume, Desordre hasn’t had much chance to prove itself in the world of manga, highlighting a way in which the manga publishing industry can be extremely cut-throat. Unfortunately, Desordre‘s serialization in a less-popular anthology magazine seems to have put it at somewhat of a disadvantage from the start, but that is the way of the manga world.

Predictably, the wolves of Twitter pounced on Okanishi’s vulnerability, and many netizens criticized the author for ignoring the way the manga industry works and trying to appeal to the kind hearts of netizens, when the problem could really be the quality of his work:

“So manga artists these days have resorted to begging…”

“I don’t think tweeting was a very good idea. I understand that you’re having a lot of trouble and that’s why you’re doing it, but manga artists in the past didn’t have social media to help them, and when their stories were cancelled they had to start from scratch again.”

“It can’t be helped that [Gekkan Morning two] is a minor magazine.”

“How disgraceful. If your manga is interesting people will buy it. You don’t have any real ability and that’s why this is happening. You should be ashamed for relying on others for your own gain. If you had the time to write this you should have worked harder on your manga.”

“It might be hard for you to hear that your story is getting cancelled, but when something is cut off after just 12 chapters, it’s probably because you need to do more to make your story appealing. A really interesting manga will sell itself, without you having to say anything about it.”

Others were a bit kinder. They didn’t find fault with the idea of asking for help, but thought the execution was wrong. Many said that, if he wanted to advertise his manga, he should have included more information about the manga, such as images, sketches, a summary, or even links. One netizen even stated that it seemed like he didn’t care if fans liked the story at all; their impression was that all he wanted was for people to buy it.

▼ The back cover

But many other netizens were supportive, and even purchased or said they would purchase the volume, both with and without reading the first two chapters, which are free to read here on the publisher’s website.

“I think your approach of doing everything you can up until the very end is great! I read the first chapter. It was interesting!”

“I ordered it on Amazon. I’ll be rooting for you!”

“I read the first chapter, it was very interesting, though I’m not very familiar with manga and I haven’t even read One Piece. Please take care of yourself, and keep doing good work! I’ll buy the manga.”

“I found out about it through the trial chapters! It was interesting, so I bought it.”

”I read the two free chapters. It thought it was good so I picked up a copy!”

“I bought it today! I hope it’s able to continue!”

Despite the harsh criticism Okanishi received from some netizens, his tweet has been retweeted and liked over 21,000 times in the course of a week, so at least it appears to have done what he intended it to do. Sure, it might have been better if his tweet had included actual content from the story or a link to the trial chapters, and his plea doesfeel more than a little desperate, but hopefully he will now sell enough copies of Desordre Volume 1 that the manga will continue to be serialized.

Sadly, though, the manga industry as a whole is in dire straits, and Okanishi is not the only author who has pleaded with fans to drop more cash on their works. Even Hiroya Oku, author of world-famous manga Gantz, has also asked manga readers to go out and buy new copies of his manga.

It’s easy to understand why when the sales of manga volumes not only determine a manga author’s pay, but also the existence of their art, the actualization of their dreams, and the fruition of their hard work. No matter who you are, when you’ve worked really hard to create something you’ve dreamed of, you’ll probably want to do everything in your power to keep it from being used as toilet paper.

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