The manga for Attack on Titan will have been running for six years in Japan as of September 9, but the series didn’t really start to take off until the anime debuted back in 2013, at least here in North America. As anyone in the manga industry will tell you, an anime can contribute immensely to the success of a title in print. That’s also true in Japan, but it’s especially true here where manga has always been synonymous with and propelled by the anime industry. That’s not always the case, of course, but it was certainly the case for Hajime Isayama’s smash hit Attack on Titan.
While the books saw their initial release here in North America in 2012, it wasn’t until October of the following year after the anime had finished airing that the series really began to pick up traction. But when it did, it was like nothing that anyone could have anticipated. Attack on Titan didn’t just gain traction, it blew up in the truest sense of the word. The series became so popular in North America that stores couldn’t keep up with the demand. For a long time in North America, there was the big three. One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. But with the popularity and success of Attack on Titan, it was clear that there was another front-runner in the industry.
In Japan, where the market for manga is a bit bigger, it’s not uncommon to see that kind of success. But in North America, it’s not very often that you see a series do so well. After all, there’s a reason why people refer to the trio of best-sellers as the big three. They’re so popular that even people that aren’t into anime and manga have heard of them, and it’s not uncommon for them to be the gateway into anime and manga as a whole for a lot of people. I’ve been a fan of anime and manga for a very long time, but it wasn’t until I saw the anime for Attack on Titan that my interest in the medium was renewed. That’s a big deal. Unfortunately, though, my interest in that series is starting to wane. Why? Because contrary to popular belief, too much of a good thing can be bad.
With so much success, the companies involved would have to be pretty daft not to take advantage of it. But as we’re treated to more spin-offs, merchandise, and adaptations, one has to wonder — at what point is there too much of a good thing? With Attack on Titan, I’ve pondered this question for myself many times over the years. When something becomes popular, there are always people that lose interest, that’s not uncommon. What’s interesting, though, is that it seems that people are starting to lose interest for a different reason — there’s just too much out there.
This isn’t a problem unique to anime and manga, in fact, it happens with everything beyond a certain threshold. If something is popular, there’s always the pressure to keep it going. The reason for that is simple, people need money. That’s obviously important for the publisher, but it’s true for the creators as well. What else would you do when you’re given a proverbial golden goose? If you let it go to waste, that’s ultimately bad for everyone. But at the same time, if you do too much, you run the risk of oversaturating the market. Just look back to 2008, when Guitar Hero and Rock Band reigned supreme in the video game industry before ultimately going on a long hiatus. Sure, they’re coming back this year, but they’re also doing something different this time around.
There is a such thing as being too successful, and I think Attack on Titan has finally started to reach that point. It’s not uncommon in the industry to have spin-offs, but a quick look at Wikipedia for the series will tell you that Attack on Titan is currently the source of six different spin-offs, and that’s only counting the manga. They’re also telling stories through light novels. Next month will see the release of four of those manga spin-offs launching simultaneously, on the same day of the same week. That’s a lot for one series — something that as far as I can tell seems unprecedented — so it makes sense that people like myself are starting to feel burnt out.
Hajime Isayama and Kodansha have something special on their hands with Attack on Titan, but if they continue on this path, it might collapse on them. When something is successful, there’s always room for more. But in the case of Attack on Titan, I think it’s time to dial it back a bit. When you’re releasing four manga in the same franchise simultaneously, you need to stop and consider whether or not that’s going to have longevity. There’s no question that people will remember Attack on Titan, but will the same be true of the spin-offs? It’s a bit early to tell, but as someone starting to lose interest, the answer for me is no.
I enjoyed the series and the spin-offs at first, but I think after the initial manga wraps up that will be enough for me. But, if the lukewarm reception to the newly announced anime adaptation of Attack on Titan: Junior High is anything to go by, I’m not the only one. As great as the series is, we can only take so much.Tweet