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The Diffusion of Foreign Cultural Products: The Case Analysis of Japanese Comics (Manga) Market in the US

  • Takeshi Matsui

    (Hitotsubashi University and Princeton University)

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    This paper outlines the historical development of the US manga (Japanese comics) industry from the 1980s through the present in order to address the question why foreign cultural products become popular in offshore markets in spite of cultural difference. This paper focuses on local publishers as “gatekeepers” in the introduction of foreign culture. Using complete data on manga titles published in the US market from 1980 to 2006 (n=1,058), this paper shows what kinds of manga have been translated, published, and distributed for over twenty years and how the competition between the two market leaders, Viz and Tokyopop, created the rapid market growth. This case analysis finds two main reasons for the growth of the manga market in the US. First is the path dependency of market growth: without Viz’s pioneering effort in the localization of manga in the 1980s, Tokyo pop’s standardization in the 2000s would not have boosted the market expansion, and vice versa. The second is stigma management by publishers. By selecting proper titles, censoring them, and establishing age rating systems, publishers sought to avoid the stigma attached to American mainstream comics and establish the legitimacy of manga as acceptable entertainment.

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    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 1138.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:cpanda:wp37-matsui
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