If you think that something is different or perhaps magical about Japan’s manga, you are on the right track. That is because this umbrella term for Japan’s comic books and graphic novels literally means whimsical pictures. One celebrated master was Katsushika Hokusai. He captivated France’s impressionist movement with "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," the "Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji," and a series of sketches, known as the Hokusai Manga.
Today, manga series and animated films based on them are a serious business. Trade magazine ICv2 estimated North American demand for manga at just $250 million in 2020, in a global market worth just under $12 billion. Grand View Research projects a compound annual growth rate of almost 17% from 2022 through 2030 in North America. According to that firm, the growth rate for the North American anime market should exceed 16% from 2023 through 2030.
Supporting a massive creative community
Chief Executive Officer Shingo Kunieda, pixiv Inc.
Pixiv, an online community for creators to share and showcase their work and seek feedback, launched in Japan in 2007.
“Today, pixiv has 84 million members,” said Shingo Kunieda, the chief executive officer. “It’s now a community for all sorts of creative content, from illustrations, novels, manga, short animations, and indie games. Around 4 million creators contribute to it. They’ve posted more than 120 million pieces of work to date for people all over the world to enjoy.”
Pixiv has done much to help creators, supporting them by providing education, networking opportunities, tools, communication services, and merchandising support.
The company offers 16 different services. Four of them are particularly noteworthy. “The first is pixiv itself, Japan’s largest communication service for the creative community, focusing on illustrations, manga, and novels,” said Kunieda. "The second is pixivFANBOX, through which creators can receive ongoing support from their fans, engaging directly with them. Around 10 million pixiv registrants have used pixivFANBOX to date, generating 3.3 million posts in engaging with about 190,000 creators,” he said.
“The third key service is BOOTH. This is an international marketplace in which artists can sell their works to fans. Creators can engage directly with buyers, who can contribute any amount they want above-requested prices. There have been 490,000 store postings and registrations to date with Booth," said Kuneida. "The fourth major service is VRoid, which encompasses the Studio, Hub, Mobile, Wear, and other service channels. VRoid software enables users to create 3D avatars for the Metaverse and upload their work. More than 2 million avatars have come to life thus far through VRoid."
Helping North American creators reach fans domestically and around the globe
Artbook “Artists in the Americas” produced by pixiv
“The North American market offers tremendous potential to pixiv,” shared Kunieda. “While 35.6% of new member registrations are in Japan, North America and China each represent 15%.”
One factor driving pixiv’s popularity in North America is that Japan fascinates consumers there. The 2022 Japan Cross-Border Proof Points Survey revealed that the interest is heaviest in Japanese figurines from animated films and manga, film-related merchandise, and games and game services. Kunieda noted that over the past few years video distribution sites have become popular around the world, with Japanese animated films becoming extremely popular among North American users.
Kunieda thinks that pixiv has only seen the tip of the iceberg in that market. “We’re keen to disseminate content from American creators around the world. After all, North America is one of the world’s biggest markets for games, animation, and art.” That potential prompted pixiv Inc. to publish Artists in the Americas in March 2023 to showcase the work of 62 noteworthy creators in North and South America, in collaboration with the publisher PIE International which holds the distribution line around the world.
“We hope that the collection inspires our users to discover and interact with new creators,” said Kuneida.
Going global with PayPal
The survey previously mentioned was by PayPal, whose payment platform pixiv adopted some time back.
“We chose PayPal in response to numerous requests from users around the globe to include in our payment and money transfer options,” said Kunieda. “We selected it for three key reasons. The first is that it’s as popular as regular credit cards around the world and makes payments easy for users. Second, PayPal Payouts enables real-time payments to creators worldwide. Third, we must provide secure payment and money transfer services to creators and their fans around the globe. PayPal’s robust security ensures this. That is why many creators have asked us to pay them with PayPal.”
Pixiv hopes to flourish with PayPal. “We plan to expand our services everywhere. We aim to benefit from PayPal’s global presence. We also think that PayPal is well-positioned to take advantage of emerging web technologies. We look forward to working and growing with PayPal to provide more flexible and secure payment choices to pixiv creators and users,” said Kunieda
Artwork by ©Uki (left) and ©Tsukiho Tsukioka (right)
Freedom to play
Pixiv can look forward to a dynamic and bright future fueled by its increasingly global community. Kunieda wants to shape it into something like a giant online park that enhances the fun, creative expression around the world. “We have no intention of telling people how to enjoy themselves on our platform,” said Kunieda. “The unlimited creativity of creators from all over the world gives life to amazing content. And we want to be part of making that happen.”