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Superhero Manga Shows Super Sales in 2019

Diamond Comic Distributors recently announced their 50 top selling manga of 2019. It shouldn’t be too surprising that shonen manga held a lot of those spots. But when you take a closer look, there is one title that shows up over and over; My Hero Academia. The manga started in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 2014, and Viz Media brought it over in 2015. It’s been four years and the manga hasn’t slowed down a bit in terms of sales. My Hero Academia holds a whopping 21 spots in the top 50, almost half of the entire list! It has six volumes in the top ten, three of those are in the top five, and volume 1 is the top selling volume of 2019. Looking at the main series as a whole, the first eight volumes are on the list, with the first three in the top ten, and the last eight volumes, 17-21, spread out through the rest of the list. This manga also has two spin-offs that made the list. My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is a sort of prequel to the series, following a group of vigilantes with events in this series tying back the main series. It has a more serious tone. It has four volumes on the list, volume 1 and volumes 3-5. My Hero Academia Smash is a gag manga that just starting its release in the US this last summer, with just 1 volume making the list, coming in at #34.

This is pretty impressive for a series that has been going for four years. Normally you might see an early volume or two of a popular series chart, but to see eight of the early volumes in the top 50 and the first three in the top ten is amazing. The story must really resonate with readers that it can constantly be picking up new ones. The manga does have an anime, but it hasn’t been ongoing. It has had at least a year between seasons, so there must be something else not only keeping readers hooked but also drawing in new readers. I’ve read the first five volumes of the series and reviewed them here.

Another superhero-themed manga that made the top 50, though not in the numbers that My Hero Academia did, is One-Punch Man. Five volumes of this series were in the top 50, with volume 1 making the top ten, reaching number 7, in between volumes 3 and 18 of My Hero Academia. The other volumes to chart are volume 2 at #29, and latest volumes 15, 16, and 17 at #16, #17, and #25 respectively. One-Punch Man is more of a comedy than a straight up shonen series, and it saw a lot of acclaim when it first came out. It was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2015 and a Harvey Award in 2016, as well as making the ALA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list in 2016. Here, we see the usual pattern for a popular shonen manga, with the first two volumes charting with three of the more recent volumes.

Following this same pattern is Dragon Ball Super. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z were incredibly popular, running for a total of 42 volumes. Super sees the characters returning under the direction of the original creator Akira Toriyama. It started serialization around the same time as My Hero Academia and One-Punch Man. It also had five total volumes in the top 50, but none that made the top 10. It first shows up at #18 with volume 5, and volume 1 doesn’t show up until #21. The other two most recent volumes, 4 and 6 show up at #44 and #41 respectively, with volume 2 capping off the list at #50. Dragon Ball has a long established audience that has been hungering for new content, so it isn’t surprising to see volumes making this list. It is a little surprising that it doesn’t crack the top 10. However, Dragon Ball Super is pure shonen, without any of the superhero elements seen in One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia, so it may not be attracting the same audience.

Superheroes have become popular in all forms of media, so it isn’t too surprising to see them in manga, and these titles aren’t even the first. But it seems there is something extra appealing about My Hero Academia that has US readers gobbling up the volumes. It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t.

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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