Marketing Japan: Manga as Japan’s New Ambassador


If one is rolling through any major bookstore in the U.S. today one will encounter a prominently placed set of shelves labeled “Graphic Novels.” This is a relatively recent phenomenon. Fifteen years ago, most comic books were sold in specialty stores in the U.S.. but since the turn of the century, comics have made a resurgence. This trend has been fueled by new marketing tactics such as the use of the term “graphic novel” in order to combat the connotations of geeky adolescent boys, and by the promotion of a succession of Hollywood blockbusters based on traditional American comics—X Men, Batman, Spiderman, Iron man, the Hulk, the Shadow, Watchmen, etc, and the end is not yet in sight. However, as you start to peruse the “Graphic Novel” section of your local bookstore you will notice that roughly three quarters of the shelf space is devoted to manga (Japanese comics). Manga sales in the US have escalated in the past decade, from $60 million in 2002 to $200 million in 2007. In fact, the explosive popularity of manga along with the cross-promotion of American comics through Hollywood are the driving forces behind the increasing prominence of graphic novels in the United States overall.

How to Cite

Prough, J., 2010. Marketing Japan: Manga as Japan’s New Ambassador. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 17(2), pp.54–68. DOI:


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Jennifer Prough (Valparaiso University)



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