Why Manhwa (Webtoons) FAILED To Become The Next Big Trend In The Anime Industry

Why Manhwa Webtoons FAILED To Become The Next Big Trend In The Anime Industry 1
Written by Theo J Ellis

On the 15th of May 2020, I shared a post which started a conversation: Webtoons Are Cool, But They’re NOT The Future Of Anime.

I wrote this post in response to some nonsense that was stirring on the internet.

One example being CBR claiming Webtoons will be “the future” of anime.

cbr webtoons future article

Even Fornever World was making bold claims on YouTube about this, which I already mentioned in that article.

We’re in November 2021 now and the year is coming to an end soon. And Manhwa (webtoons) has failed to catch on, pop, and will absolutely not be the future of anime or manga.

That doesn’t mean Webtoons doesn’t have its place in the overall industry (it does), but it’s hyperbolic to claim it’s the future at this point.

That’s also true for even back then.

Let’s talk about it.

 

Why Webtoons Won’t Become The Next Big Anime/Manga Trend:

 

1. It’s too niche

webtoons art gorgeous

Webtoons or as some call it: Manhwa is basically Korean manga. The rise in its popularity is thanks to Webtoons, a company that has done well for itself.

Authors are promoted if they reach 1000 subscribers or almost 50K views per month.

The problem with webtoons and those that were adapted into anime is it’s all too niche.

This isn’t a bad thing by itself.

Think of UK Hip Hop, Korean Hip Hop, or Japanese Hip Hop. All those 3 things are niches within niches. The main thing being Hip Hop from the USA.

It’s only natural (and not surprising) that neither have outpaced or become bigger than Hip Hop.

I look at webtoons in the same way since it’s a branch from the anime and manga tree.

A niche within a niche can’t overtake the main niche. That’s just not how it works.

It’s not broad enough.

webtoons logo art

Tons of people subscribe to webtoons, and follow and read webtoons religiously. And even swear by it as far as the unique quality and stories it brings to the table.

That said, when thinking about webtoons in the grand scheme of things, it’s a niche within a niche. That niche being anime and manga, which is what webtoons relates to.

Anime and manga are niche as it is, and it’s doing well for itself regardless of it not being mainstream in the literal sense of the word.

It’s not promoted or accepted like that from a societal point of view.

Something like Webtoons which in comparison is underground doesn’t have what it takes to become the next big thing in the overall industry.

It’s not a quality issue, but a niche issue. A “cult” issue you could even say since it’s even deeper than anime and manga.

It’s a good alternative, but not a replacement.

Relevant: 15+ Manga That Won’t Let You Sleep Once You Start Reading Them

 

2. Anime and manga fans are too loyal

anime handshake fullmetal alchemist

Webtoons “looks” like anime or manga, whether we’re talking about adapted webtoons like Tower of God or just webtoons in general.

That connection matters.

That connection is why some fans who like anime and manga enjoy webtoons as an alternative. It serves a purpose and does it well.

With all that said though it doesn’t matter.

Anime fans are too loyal to what’s considered anime and manga as far as:

  • Designs.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Drawings.
  • Depictions.
  • Colors.
  • Characteristics.
  • Physique.

And all of the other elements that make anime what it is, and manga what it is. That’s why fans feel icky and get prickly when anime adaptations look NOTHING like “anime”.

The latest Cowboy Bebop Adaptation is a good example even though it’s a different topic all together.

YouTube video

Getting back on topic – The God Of High School is a recent-ish example from 2020 that shows just how niche webtoons is and how fundamentally unique it is.

The anime struggled to dominate in the way most expected it (Manhwa readers). Most just didn’t like either the art, aesthetics, or how it was all laid out overall.

Tower Of God was another story, at least in comparison to The God Of High School. But even still, it’s a niche within a niche and only certain fans want to see more of it.

When I Woke Up I Became A Bagel Girl art

As for the webtoons anime adaptations that have an “anime” feel to it, they still didn’t do so well. And didn’t seem to reach many fans at all.

When I Woke Up I Became A Bagel Girl is an example I’ll use. I hate to use sites like MAL but many webtoons like this one reflect in the ratings.

I say that for one reason and one reason only: loyalty. It speaks to anime fans loyalty in general, even if they don’t know it.

Actions always speak louder than words, and the results have consistently shown that anime fans in general have a distaste towards the style of webtoons and the adaptations.

It’s the same reason why Chinese anime shows haven’t done so well (outside of China of course).

It’s also why Chinese anime don’t have the highest ratings on MAL, or the most viewers and reviews.

Actions don’t lie, but people do with their words.

The results tell you everything you need to know about the overall loyalty for what anime is supposed to look and feel like.

 

3. The MATH doesn’t add up

webtoons vs manga statistics

All you have to do is look at available statistics to see how webtoons/manhwa measures up to manga. Or even anime.

Look at the red line. That’s Manga. See how high it is on the trends graph?

The blue line below it, which is barely visible, is webtoons. It’s basically a flatline in comparison.

manhwa vs manga google trends

And even if you change the results to Manhwa vs Manga, it doesn’t change a thing. The comparison is overwhelming.

These results are based on the past year, and even if you dial it back to years prior it doesn’t change.

This only proves how everyone who was hyping it up had no idea what they were talking about. Or they were hyping it up because they wanted Webtoons to become the future.

That’s just the reality though and it won’t be.

anime vs manga vs webtoons vs manhwa

 

And that sums it all up. It’s right there in black and white (the stats) along with my other points I’d dare anyone to challenge.

I don’t say any of this to downplay webtoons or to sh*t on it. That’s just how I see it with evidence to back it.

Recommended Next:

15+ Solid Webtoons You Need To Be Reading In 2021

The Future Of Anime: Big Changes We’re Likely To See Because Of Technology

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