Before the pandemic and four years before this current date, bookstores were failing in Tokyo, Japan. Book sales were at an all-time low with the rise of e-books, and stores were on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2019, however, a shift was visible in the book market and sales started to rise steadily—the main reason, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the manga series.
Fans of the manga have, unintentionally, kept stores open since 2019, and, despite the pandemic, shops like Eiji Konno’s Konno Bookstore are flourishing. Konno recalls, during the height of the pandemic, having people lined up down the street before the shop’s opening, eager to get their hands on the next volume of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
Nonetheless, staying open during the pandemic seemed to be essential for Konno Bookstore’s success. Since March of 2020, when COVID-19 started to spread, Konno Bookstore has surged 35% – 40% from the previous year. Eiji Konno says the reason for this is that more people are working from home and visiting their local shopping districts during the day. They are discovering his shop for the first time by venturing out of their home to get more reading material—Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba being the first on their list.
Now, Eiji Konno’s store is not the only one having to thank Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba for bringing customers into their shops. Since the spring of 2020, some of the member stores of “Net21,” a joint venture company made up of small and medium-sized bookshops nationwide, have seen their monthly sales increase 70% – 80% compared to even 2019.
To date, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has sold more than 100 million copies. Since its movie release in Japan in October 2020, sales have bolstered even more. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train—based on the anime television series—broke box office records and has grossed ¥50 billion in ticket and merchandise sales. That is more than $481 million, and that number is still growing despite the manga series ending and debuting its last chapter in May of 2020.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has been such a success in Japan because of its gripping storyline, relatable characters, and inspiring mantra to never give up on family. The story of Tanjiro Kamado’s quest to save his sister, Nezuko, who forcibly became a demon, will have readers hanging on the edge of their seats. Tanjiro will do anything to relinquish the evil that lurks beneath his younger sister’s skin and will risk his life to slay the demons that get in the way of his quest to save the last of his family.
Moreover, the manga boom of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has truly saved bookstores from going under during these trying times. As of November 2020, there were only ten bankruptcies and the number is predicted to remain low throughout the coming year. Booksellers like Eiji Konno know that if there is not another colossal manga boom, it might put their stores at risk of bankruptcy. Of course, since November of 2020, manga sales had increased for fourteen consecutive months, but that number could dip at any time if readers’ favorite mangakas do not make new content.
In the end, it is apparent that Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is not going away anytime soon. Yes, the series has concluded, but its popularity has not subsided. The anime is still running and the movie is still fresh on many people’s minds across the country of Japan. People will still be buying Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga, listening to the movie soundtrack on repeat, and wearing facemasks of their favorite characters. With that said, booksellers should not worry. They should just enjoy the wild ride associated with this manga boom and the wondrous story that is Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.