Manga Plus logo. Text: Manga Plus by Shueisha

Shueisha’s Shuhei Hosono Talks About Manga Plus


Interview With Shuhei Hosono
Location: New York Comic Con 2023
Interview Date: 10/14/2023


Anime Herald: How did you first become involved in the manga industry?

Shuhei Hosono: I joined Shueisha. I’ve always wanted to be in the manga industry. In Japan, Shueisha is one of the most well-known publishers. I’ve always been an editor. I was first involved with Jump SQ. Then, I was transferred to Weekly Shonen Jump. Now, I’m in charge of Jump+ and MANGA Plus, the app service.

Anime Herald: What made you the right person to be in charge of MANGA Plus?

Shuhei Hosono: There’s a vice editor-in-chief named Momiyama who is working with me. It was his idea to start the MANGA Plus app. One of his ideas was that, in the coming years, it would be very important to tackle the global market. I also shared that view. To do that, we created the MANGA Plus application. To go after the world market, we knew it had to be a digital publication. That’s how we came up with MANGA Plus.

Photograph of Shuhei Hosono from Shueisha's Manga Plus, at New York Comic Con 2023
Shuhei Hosono

Anime Herald: How were you able to get so many licenses on board?

Shuhei Hosono: MANGA Plus is owned by Shueisha. Most of Shueisha’s publications were transferred to MANGA Plus.

Anime Herald: In America, when changing from one medium like print to digital, you need to get approval from the original license holders.

Shuhei Hosono: That’s the case in Japan as well. We always get the approval from the writers and artists.

Anime Herald: What would you like our readers to know about MANGA Plus?

Shuhei Hosono: With MANGA Plus, you can read the latest chapters at the same time they are published in Japan. That’s unique and special.

Anime Herald: So it is a question of speed.

Shuhei Hosono: Yes.

Anime Herald: This might be a touchy subject. Speaking of speed, human translators need time to translate from Japanese to English. A machine can do so instantly. Surely you’ve heard what happened with Rugby Rumble. Do you have any comments or thoughts on this?

Shuhei Hosono: When it comes to translating into English, we have a large amount of resources and people on staff. For the other seven languages, our resources are a bit low, to be honest. In terms of using AI and new technology, it is something we are looking at. We know that we need to have somebody check the quality of the translation before we publish it.

Anime Herald: What are the other languages you publish in?

Shuhei Hosono: Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese.

Anime Herald: Have you found different manga to be hugely popular in one country, and not popular in others?

Shuhei Hosono: That’s one of the reasons we started MANGA Plus. We wanted to find something like that. Our hope is to discover titles that is popular in say Thailand or Sweden but isn’t as popular in Japan in the future. We wanted to find out which titles are unique and popular in the global market.

Anime Herald: Can you give an example of a popular that was hugely popular outside of Japan but not so popular in Japan?

Shuhei Hosono: Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin (Silver Fang) was very popular in Finland. It’s about a dog that fights a bear. Perhaps it’s because the people in Finland love dogs.

Anime Herald: What changes would you like to see come to MANGA Plus over the next year? How would you like it to develop?

Shuhei Hosono: One thing we’d like to see is for it to become easier to discover new titles that are popular outside of Japan. The other is that we’d like to help new manga artists make the next hit manga through our platform. MANGA Plus has a side service called MANGA Plus Creators, where everyone can post their own original manga. You can upload it in either English or Spanish. We’re having a lot of new artists post their original manga.

Anime Herald: Understood. Do you have any questions for us?

Shuhei Hosono: Your site is named Anime Herald. I think people are generally first interested in anime. Do you think they are also interested in manga?

Anime Herald: Yes. You’ll find that people will watch a few episodes of a lot of different anime, while they’ll follow a small number of manga very closely.

Shuhei Hosono: In recent years, with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, animation distribution has really jumped. For manga, on the publication side, we need to catch up with the speed of digital distribution.

Anime Herald: It’s generally been much easier for people to watch anime than it has been for them to read manga. Perhaps MANGA Plus might change that.

Shuhei Hosono: That’s exactly what we are trying to do.

Anime Herald: Is the French market your largest market outside of the United States?

Shuhei Hosono: Yes. They are roughly the size of the United States. The energy coming out of the French market is great right now. It’s growing very fast.

Anime Herald: Thank you very much for this interview.

Shuhei Hosono: Thank you.

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