Asian Fan Translation Trends 2019

Dataset: Obtained from novelupdates.com on Oct 03rd 2019.

The yearly(?) trends report using Novelupdates data. I got the data early October and then … got delayed.

Click the link to see more.

The state of affairs at this moment

Number of projects on NovelUpdates, by language

The entire catalogue at NovelUpdates is 5289. 1104 new projects were started in the
previous 9 months of 2019. Chinese projects now make up 51.31%, overtaking Japanese projects at 41.29%. Korean is a distant third for most common language.

Exponential growth of Chinese projects

Number of new projects started each month, colored by language.

Last year, I predicted new Chinese projects will increase exponentially and overtake new Japanese projects. This has occurred over the last year with almost 120 Chinese novels being started in one month. At the same time, the number of new Japanese projects has continued to decrease.

Note: Values have shifted minutely from last year. In 2018, hidden releases were not included but they were included in 2017, and now in 2019.

Dominance of multi-person translator groups

Group Projects
Webnovel 270
Baka-Tsuki 175
Flying Lines 129
Asian Hobbyist 63
Wuxiaworld 63
TapRead 59
Foxaholic 54
Creative Novels 52
volarenovels 51
wordexcerpt 47

Famous Japanese light novel translator group Baka-Tsuki has been overtaken by Webnovel as the group with the most translation projects. The next four are all Chinese translator groups. Out of 1564 total groups, 840 or 54 % are groups with only one project. Compared to last year, there are 402 new translation groups.

Note: This is based on project information so only the most recent translator for a project is included. Also, I’m assuming that one person alone cannot translate ~ 40 projects in the timespan covered by the dataset.

Word Cloud of most common words in novel titles

Most common words in project titles.

How long do you have to wait for the ending? a.k.a time to completion

Language Days
Chinese 399
Filipino 98
Indonesian 134
Japanese 343
Korean 406
Malaysian 75
Vietnamese 0

On average, it takes 365 to complete a translation compared to 279 days in 2018.

Based on the completed works data, most projects will take longer than 6
months, and of these long-running translations, a majority of them will
take more than 5 years to finish.

Top Original Publishers

Growth of projects over three years for the top five original publishers.

The number of jjwxc novels being translated has continued to rise over the last year, and has almost caught up to Qidian in the number of projects. zongheng has also overtaken 17k and pushed Ascii Media Works out of the top five.

Below is the full table of top ten publishers for this year.

Publisher 2017 2018 2019
Syosetu 136 600 749
Qidian 141 527 703
jjwxc 51 347 702
zongheng 20 81 170
17k 25 106 144
Ascii Media Works 44 133 116
Munpia 30 86 105
Fujimi Shobo 31 77 75
Kadokawa Shoten 26 88 70
Media Factory 15 75 69

Publisher descriptions

Syosetu: Japanese webnovel website (with both male and female sections)

Qidian: Chinese webnovel website (mainly aimed at male readers while its
sister site, qdmm is aimed at female reader. Has merged with Chuangshi
and Yunqi.)

jjwxc: Chinese webnovel website (a.k.a Jin Jiang Literature City, mainly
aimed at female readers.)

Zongheng: Chinese webnovel website (aimed at male readers and has
recently spun off its own female-oriented website)

17k: Chinese webnovel website (mainly targeted at male readers)

Ascii Media Works: Japanese magazine publisher (the company publishes
multiple forms of media)

Munpia: Korean webnovel website (with both male and female sections)

Kadokawa Shoten: Japanese publisher of novels (and other media)

Fujimi Shobo: Japanese lightnovel publisher

Media Factory: Japanese lightnovel publisher

Licensing

Publisher 2017 2018 2019
Webnovel 26 142 292
Yen Press 15 52 54
TapRead NA NA 50
Wuxiaworld 7 34 48
J-Novel Club 2 27 41
Volare Novels 7 29 34
Gravity Tales 5 46 30
Seven Seas 4 13 13
Chaleuria NA 4 7
J-Novel ClubSeven Seas 3 4 5

Qidian International, which has been renamed as Webnovel, has almost doubled its licensed works from the past year. Yen Press still remains in second place, followed by TapRead, a new licensee from last year, which now has more licensed novels than Wuxiaworld. Other licensees have mostly increased their licensed works, except for Gravity Tales which appears to have lost some licensed works this past year.

Random Statistics

  1. How many current projects does a translator have on average? 3.36

  2. What is the most common year a project was originally published?
    2016 with 722 projects.

  3. What is the number of “abandoned” projects? (not updated since
    2019/01/31 and status incomplete) 1954

  4. Who is the author with the most translated works? Kamachi Kazuma,
    the Japanese author of A Certain Magical Index and other light novel
    series, and has one more project than Jin Liu Fei Xiang, a Chinese
    author of Mulberry Song and other romance novels.

Conclusions

Chinese novels are now the most translated, there is a significant
number of new translation groups (402), time to completely is still
increasing, and Webnovel and TapRead are the two fastest growing
licensees.

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