It is always exciting whenever a favorite Japanese manga or anime series gets adapted for the big screen. Most of these productions, either in animated film or live-action versions, rake in a ton of revenue for the film companies due to the fanbase already built by the original manga.
However, according to one popular manga creator, such success in the box office may not necessarily benefit the manga artist who created the material.
Gintama author Hideaki Sorachi revealed the truth about how big screen adaptations affect manga creators in a Q&A section published in the 51st collected volume of his manga. A portion of the interview, posted by Japanese Twitter user @beasty__baby was translated by RocketNews24.
— 透司 (@beasty__baby) November 16, 2016
I have a question. A while ago, my mother heard that the Gintama animation film was a big hit, and commented that “(Hideaki Sorachi) must be living at [luxury highrise] Roppongi Hills since it’s so popular”. Is that true?
To tell the naked truth, regardless of how many people watch the film or how much the gross earnings are, not a single yen goes to the author. We are only paid an upfront license fee. The amount we’re paid is peanuts in comparison to the overall box office gross. The majority of the profits go to filthy unscrupulous companies such as Shueisha and Sunrise. Releasing individual manga volumes is way more profitable.
But the reason why I slog to fulfill these film adaptations, to the extent that I’m peeing blood, is because there is a place in this world that is more wonderful than a mansion at Roppongi Hills. And that place, ma’am, is in your heart.
If Gintama can reach the hearts of the masses, I wouldn’t mind living in a hill made of cardboard. The authors are the only ones who harbour such honest intentions with their creations.
So ma’am, if you’re feeling sorry for us, don’t just watch the movies, but also buy our books so that we can live at Roppongi Hills with the publishing royalties.”
The first Gintama movie, released on April 24, 2010, grossed about ¥1.07 billion ($10.4 million) in Japanese theatres. The DVD also did well, selling 119,291 units in 2011. “Gintama The Movie: Kanketsu-hen”, the second film, grossed $16.6 million in Japan and was the 8th highest-grossing anime film in Japan in 2013.
A Gintama live-action movie is set to be released next year and whether it becomes a mild success or rake in millions in the box office won’t give enough of a reward for creators like Sorachi. The fans, of course, can make a difference by going out and buying the original manga to support the creators of such awesome stories.