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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Let the jury rest: Manga and anime are not the same thing. 
12th-Nov-2008 07:45 am
By any definition, formal or socially-situated, that you might choose. I've been telling people for years that manga and anime--and their respective fan/consumer demographics--are not the same. Now I have search data, courtesy of Google Trends, to prove distinctions in the realms of society and practice. Below is a graph of relative search volume of "manga" and "anime" in the United States, from the beginning of 2004 to the present:

Some things to notice:

1) Overall trend lines. Search volume for "anime," though on average 2.5x greater, is trending downward, while search volume for "manga" is trending upward. By 2008, search volume for "anime" in the U.S. is only about 1.7x greater than that of "manga." Although "anime" appears to be leveling off in 2007 and 2008, you'll notice that the summer high of 2007 exceeds that of 2008--we may not have hit bottom yet. Search volume for "manga" is, by comparison, flat. However, it starts increasing noticeably in 2007 and again quite dramatically in 2008.

2) Season-specific spikes. Volume spikes are visible in the summer months and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. These are, however, far more prominent in the "anime" trend line than in the "manga" one. How should we interpret this? First of all, it should be obvious to anyone that those season-specific spikes are primarily associated with students, probably mostly secondary and higher education students. Looking at the graph above, I would argue that students, broadly speaking, are a much bigger factor in the audience for anime than for manga...and continue to be so. For manga, you only see significant season-specific spikes in 2007. In 2008, comparatively, search volume has been pretty level throughout the year. The audience for manga in the United States, then, is likely older than that for anime.

3) Manga bubble? There wasn't any. Note that there is a subtle dip in "manga" search volume from about mid-2005 to the end of 2006. This, interestingly, corresponds to rumblings in the field about a "manga bubble." Given the trend data, these rumblings likely had some basis in reality but were grossly overstated.

By the way, as always:
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Reading Lessig's book Free Culture made me a believer. ^_~
12th-Nov-2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
Fascinating. Wouldn't that make a paper (expectations and realities of the business in recent years) if you maybe compared it with direct search terms like shoujo, etc.

Gives me hope for slow releasing manga series.
12th-Nov-2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Liked the huge spike on both 3rd quarter of last year.
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