Stop Complaining About Popular Series

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It’s an ordinary day on Twitter. You’re scrolling past your normal GIFs and dodging the spoilers from last night’s chapter drops. And then you see the dreaded retweet chain of toxic commentary about Black Clover. Or Fairy Tail. Or Spy x Family. It seems the anime and manga community can’t resist kicking someone else’s sandcastle, especially when it comes to popular franchises. Today on Honey’s Anime, we say that it’s time to stop. It’s time to Stop Complaining About Popular Series.

A Booming Market

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In April 2022, Publisher’s Weekly ran an article about the “explosive” growth of the manga industry. According to Masaaki Shimizu (general manager of Square Enix Manga), they’ve seen “2.5 times [the] sales peak in 2007.” The same success story repeats itself over at Viz, with a year-on-year increase of 25% for English editions of Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan), Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia), and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Manga has gotten so popular in the last few years that you can barely find it on shelves. The supply chain issues caused by the COVID pandemic have crippled many bookstores, with publishers unable to meet demand. All this to say—manga’s time to shine is now. But the community certainly doesn’t act like it.

Why You Gotta Be Like This?

We all enjoy some friendly banter. Could Goku beat Saitama? Maybe. Is Natsu-x-Lucy ever going to become canon? Probably not. But it definitely makes for interesting discussion amongst friends. What isn’t healthy discussion is attacking every popular series. Every season of anime, a debut will hit the top place on My Anime List, only to be 1-starred by Salty Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood fans. It happened to Fruits Basket: The Final, to Spy x Family, and it’s currently happening to Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Ultra Romantic (Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic). This toxicity creates a huge barrier for newcomers. New anime watchers with a Crunchyroll subscription open their Twitter to find their new fave series getting blasted by strangers. And for what purpose? What reason does this toxic discourse serve? We’re all for construction debates. Part of getting better content is making sure that producers know what consumers like and dislike. But Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling) fans tearing down Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san (Shikimori’s Not just a Cutie) before it even debuted is far from constructive.

Let People Learn and Enjoy

The anime and manga community is vast, so of course, we realize we’re not speaking about everybody here. But as is often the case, the minority of users can poison the whole well. So what if a newcomer wants to read Black Clover? For somebody starting out, every manga they read is their favorite. They’re building their own sandcastle, learning what they love or hate. New readers are taking their first steps into this big, wide world. Existing readers should act as custodians, offering a welcoming hand. Popular series like Demon Slayer and Attack on Titan are directly responsible for attracting new readers. In the same article by Publisher’s Weekly, Shimizu credited popular anime with driving manga sales. In his words, “major video streaming services [experienced] a surge in their subscriber numbers […] which led to consumers’ increased interest in the original manga series.” It’s common sense. The more new readers, the more money in the industry. The more money, the more series that will get adapted. We all win.

Let’s Build Together

To continue with our sandcastle analogy: isn’t the beach more fun together? Why would you want to create an environment that discourages newcomers? Even the most experienced manga readers were once rookies. We all started somewhere. And it’s our duty in the community to help new readers, to embrace them, and support them. If we don’t, we risk stagnating this explosive growth—we risk a return to the dark ages of dodgy pirate sites and awful scanlations. We have so much to celebrate these days. Simulpubbed manga releases via Shueisha’s Manga Plus; anime series of manga a year or so after their release. We have tie-in video games from AAA studios, and anime movies clearing hurdles at the box office. If we, as a community, want to see more growth, we need to tone down the toxicity. And that means supporting popular series that, in turn, generate more growth for the industry.


Final Thoughts

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This amazing industry is on the cusp of a cataclysmic boom. All this traction is being propelled by newcomers—and those newcomers are going to gravitate towards safe, “popular” series. And that’s okay! After newcomers have read their way through popular series, they’ll move on to newer, fresher things. Or they’ll seek out the niche series on their own. But they can’t do that if the community only seeks to tear down what’s popular for the sake of useless drama. What do you think about the state of the anime and manga community? Are we being too harsh, or do you think the space could be friendlier? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!

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