ZenPlus says interest in Japanese-language manga from fans outside Japan is skyrocketing, but why?

ZenPlus is an online marketplace that sells Japanese products and ships them around the globe. To date, they’ve served customers in over 160 countries, delivering everything from food and fashion to housewares and manga/anime merchandise.

It’s that last category that we’re talking about today, because recently ZenPlus has been seeing a surge in interest from otaku shoppers outside Japan for a surprising type of item.

SN24: What’s been a big seller for ZenPlus recently?

ZenPlus: What we’ve been seeing a lot of orders for is the original, untranslated still-in-Japanese editions of manga. Every year we’ve been seeing increases of more than 400 percent in our Japanese-language manga sales. Content restrictions are less strict in the Japanese editions, and our shoppers are finding Japanese-language manga increasingly appealing as a result of overly loose or unfaithful English translations that distort the narrative.

SN24: Are the people buying the Japanese-language manga able to read them?

ZenPlus: Many of them are currently studying Japanese and deepening their understanding of the language by comparing an English-translated edition of the manga with the original Japanese-language publication. Their enjoyment comes from being able to understand the true story of the manga as they study Japanese.

SN24: Recently, though, Japanese-language manga have become widely available in digital formats. Why do you think people are going to the trouble of buying the physical books?

ZenPlus: Many people see the physical books as part of their home décor, as art. They want to see their favorite series lined up on their bookshelf, with the matching spines neatly arranged. That’s one of the best things about physical manga, and something you just can’t do with digital versions.

SN24: Which manga series have been the most popular with customers?

ZenPlus: Most of the time, the top 10, in order, are Dragon Ball, One Piece, Slam Dunk, Vagabond, Berserk, Tokyo Revengers, Yotsuba&!, Hunter x Hunter, Naruto, and Dandadan. Yanki juvenile delinquent manga sell well in Japan, but they haven’t been received well at all overseas. Action-centered manga series usually have the easiest path to becoming big hits outside Japan.

SN24: What are the advantages to customers to buying things like Japanese-language manga from ZenPlus specifically?

ZenPlus: One is that major Japanese companies deal with ZenPlus, so our prices are lower than other e-commerce sites’. I think our customers also appreciate our thorough support system. When a customer places an order with us, the supplier sends the product to our warehouse, where we check to make sure the supplier has sent the correct item and perform an inspection to make sure it’s in good, undamaged condition. Once that’s done, we ship the product to our customer via air mail. The whole process, from order to delivery, takes between two and six weeks.

After that, if there’s a problem with the item the customer can file a complaint within seven days, and if it is truly defective, a full refund may possibly be issued. Also, this isn’t really a secret, but if you register a ZenPlus membership, a coupon that anyone can use is displayed on the ZenPlus top page. It’s only a 300 yen-off coupon, but we have it there as a way of saying thank you to people who spend a lot of time browsing our site.

So if that sounds good to you, by all means, please check out ZenPlus!

ZenPlus’ English site’s top page can be found here, and if you want to jump right into its manga with both feet, ZenPlus’ collected full-series manga bundles are here.

Presented by ZenGroup