On the occasion of the Netflix broadcast of the anime “High-Rise Invasion”, we met Timothée Guédon, editor at Kana, to discuss the impact of SVOD platforms on manga sales in France.
What is the Sky High Survival manga about, the anime adaptation of which is now available on Netflix?
Timothée Guédon (editor at Kana): What makes the originality and strength of the manga High-Rise Invasion (Sky High Survival) is his universe. When the characters have to escape from a “masked person” and to make themselves cross a footbridge over thirty meters high, one feels like them this sensation of vertigo. There’s an identification with what the characters are going through as we turn the pages, and the writers show real skill in grabbing our attention and making us devour the story. There may also be a philosophical reflection on death, the place of humans in the world, themes that we have also come across in Death Note for example.
There is also a sequel, a manga called Sky High Survival: Next Level…
It is a direct sequel, by the same authors, Takahiro Oba in the drawing and Miura Tsuina in the screenplay. The main series has ended, and without spoiling those new to the manga, let’s say that the heroine has managed to challenge the main rules that govern this world. Except that it upset the order of things, and a young boy makes his way into the universe. Fans of the manga will immediately notice the differences with the parent series. This new hero discovers the world, like a reader who has not read the first manga. There are still the masked ones, but they don’t work the same way as in the previous adventure.
Is the arrival on Netflix of an animated series High-Rise Invasion a guarantee of quality for a publisher like Kana?
This is always good news, and anyway the history of manga in France is closely linked to that of anime. Before arriving in paper format, manga arrived here through cartoons, on Récré A2 then at Club Dorothée. This always creates a virtuous circle, as fans of an anime will seek to learn more about the work by purchasing the manga, while those who read manga generally enjoy seeing their favorite heroes in an animated series. And indeed, there is generally a beneficial impact on manga sales when an animated adaptation is broadcast on television.
Exactly, what impact can Netflix have on the sales of a manga? Is the role of a publisher to anticipate a mass craze, as was recently the case with Alice in Borderland?
We wait to see, because it is always difficult to guess the impact that an anime or a film will have on a manga. Take the case of the movie Death Note on Netflix which had been taken down by critics and films, but surprisingly it put enough light on the series to make viewers want to check out the manga, and sales had been on the rise although ‘this was a manga that had been completed for several years already. So there is no rational explanation as to the links that exist between anime and manga. We have indeed seen a positive effect on sales, but the impact really depends on the series, whether or not it was a bestseller, the quality of the adaptation… All of these factors come into play of account, I have no counterexample.
We imagine that the confinement has also allowed certain series to come out of the shadows, or to experience an even more pronounced success, as seems to have been the case with Hunter x Hunter?
Our Hunter x Hunter sales increased 91% in 2020. With the lockdown, people have relied on programs available on DNA, Netflix and other platforms. Apparently, a lot of people watched the animated series first and then fell back on the manga which has unreleased chapters. This has also been observed with Death Note, Boruto and obviously Naruto. If the first volume of Naruto was the best-selling manga of the year in 2020, in addition to the indisputable qualities of the work, it is thanks to the exposure of the title on the platforms. In 2020, a Naruto manga was sold every 30 seconds! These staggering sales figures can be explained in large part by the presence of anime on the platforms.
How to explain the constant success of Naruto in France, while the international public is passionate about other series like Demon Slayer and One Piece?
Indeed, there is a really special story between the French public and the Naruto manga, I don’t know how to explain it! (laughs) It’s an excellent series, very well constructed, but why it speaks so much to the French readership, I have no idea. Is it for its main character, a young ninja rejected by his village who is a real dunce, but will succeed by dint of perseverance to become a Hokage? If there was a recipe for a bestseller, I think all publishers would jump on it. The success of series like this is a mystery. But it is a real pleasure for us to see Naruto being passed down through the generations, the big brothers have it read to their younger children, and the parents to their children. It’s amazing that he’s still number 1.
A success all the more astonishing as the continuation of the manga Boruto also works very well, but not as much as Naruto. How to explain this phenomenon ?
Boruto works better and better, to the point of gradually taking over from Naruto. There are only about ten Boruto tomes available, which is not much compared to the 72 tomes of Naruto! So obviously, if we read Boruto quickly, we will want to discover the whole story from before, especially since Naruto is still present in the series! So this is probably how things feed themselves. The other difference is that Boruto is released on a monthly basis, so the tomes are published less regularly than Naruto which was in its day offered in Japan on a weekly basis. So it’s obvious that Boruto will one day take over from Naruto, but it will surely take more time for it to fall into place.
The trailer for the High-Rise Invasion anime, available on Netflix: