After the number of volumes of manga finally stabilized in 2005, it appears that the total number of manga releases will trend upward once again in 2006, according to the recently released ICv2 Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga #13.  The big two manga publishers, Viz and Tokyopop, which accounted for 880 manga releases in 2006, told ICv2 that they plan only modest increases for 2006, but there are other increases coming from other quarters.  Central Park Media, after suspending publication (except for its yaoi Be Beautiful imprint) during 2005, will be back in full force in 2006.  Del Rey, which has been extremely successful thanks to its relationship with the Japanese manga powerhouse Kodansha, will steadily increase its number of releases for 2006.  And new publishers such as Netcomics, which will field a full line featuring some of the top manhwa series from Korean creators, and Bandai Entertainment, which is launching a line of anime-related manga titles, will enter the fray.


Issue #13 of the ICv2 Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga also looks back at 2005 and notes a number of trends and events including the surprising popularity of anime & manga related novels, the increasing number of OEL (original English Language) and shonen ai/yaoi releases, and the spectacular debut of the Naruto anime in September, which actually stimulated more graphic novel sales in the bookstores than the incredibly successful Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller film of Miller's Sin City graphic novels.


With manga dominating bookstore graphic novel sales and more than 1,000 new volumes hitting the shelves each year it is extremely important to be able to identify the top titles (and wherever possible indicate a book's target audience).  In the Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga #13 ICv2 screens a bumper crop of new manga series set for release into the U.S. market during April, May and June, and based on hard sales figures (and retailer interviews) we also identify the Top 50 Manga Properties in the U.S. market at the end of 2005.  The first ten titles on that list (as judged by ICv2) are:


              1.  Naruto

              2.  Full Metal Alchemist

              3.  Fruits Basket

              4.  Rurouni Kenshin

              5.  DN Angel

              6.  Tsubasa

              7.  Inuyasha

              8.  .hack//

              9.  Negima

            10.  Bleach


In our analysis of the anime market in 2005 we note how the lack of growth in unit sales parallels the overall DVD market, which plateaued in 2005 for the first time in the history of the DVD medium.  We also examine some of the factors, including a major wave of returns in the early months of 2005 and the closing of the Media Play stores at the end of the year, that made 2005 an especially tough year for many American anime companies.  But there are some positive signs including continuing strong sales performances by anime movies, an increase in the availability and merchandising of tie-in goods, strong ratings for anime series on American TV, the release of a large number of videogames and collectible card games based on anime properties, and the TV debut of a potential superstar property, Naruto.


Anime movie properties dominated our Top 25 Anime properties list, but we also managed to identify the top anime TV series.  The Top Ten Anime Properties in the U.S. at the end of 2005 as judged by ICv2 are;


              1.  Inuyasha (3 Movies and a TV series)

              2.  Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind (Movie)

              3.  Full Metal Alchemist (TV)

              4.  Dragon Ball Z (Movie)

              5.  Appleseed (Movie)

              6.  Samurai Champloo (TV)

              7.  Steamboy (Movie)

              8.  Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV)

              9.  Gantz  (TV)

            10.  Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (Movie)


For the full list of top anime and manga properties along with in-depth market analysis, and previews of all the top anime and manga launches see the magazine (for information on how to obtain your copy, see 'ICv2 Releases Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga #13').